Book review: Can Science Fix Climate Change?

Grace Paget, science writer, reviews ‘Can Science Fix Climate Change?’ by Mike Hulme (Polity Press).

Nominations for our Book Awards 2015 are now open.

indexHulme effectively establishes the debate surrounding the issue of tackling climate change in his book Can Science Fix Climate Change? and explores the emerging technology that is set to resolve it. After thoroughly taking the reader through the science behind geo-engineering and the different techno-fixes that are being proposed by climate scientists, it is clear that Hulme has an axe to grind with the advent of radical technology in this panic culture he describes.

The book successfully presents the pressing issue that is climate change and its author, a Kings College London Professor, pays careful attention to the sense of emergency that, almost like no other uncertainty, enables the media to strike fear into almost anyone who will listen.

The book is a definite read for those who are interested in modern approaches to tackling climate change and anyone who wishes to delve into a more rational presentation of the issues that appear to impact our relationship with the natural world and the fate of our planet. It is also a good source of wider reading for A-level biology climate change topics.

Can Science Fix Climate Change? provides an interesting discussion that may be useful to a wide range of readers, which is why I would like to nominate this book for the Society of Biology Book Awards 2015.

If you’ve read an outstanding biology book or textbook recently – nominate it for our 2015 Book Awards.

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Code of a Killer: deciphering the science

By Professor David Hornby FSB, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield and Director of Research and Innovation, Liverpool Life Sciences UTC

code_killerLast night I watched the concluding part of the ITV drama Code of a Killer, in which the Leicestershire police, led by DCS David Baker, (David Threlfall) sought the help of Alec Jeffreys (John Simm) to identify the rapist and murderer of two young girls in the early 1980s. I discussed the background to the science in an earlier blog post, but here I’ll talk about the scientific climate of technology and discovery surrounding molecular genetics in the late 1970s – early 80s. Read more »

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The reality of illusion

By Veronica Wignall, Society of Biology volunteer

dressThe Society of Biology is supporting a talk on That Dress and the Illusion of Reality by Professor Bruce Hood FSB at Questioning Reality, an Ri Lates event, on Friday 17th April.

Recently a picture of a dress divided the world in an unprecedented debate about its colour: was it white or gold, or blue and black? The neuroscience of visual illusions has been thrown into the spotlight, revealing the tricks our brains play on us – and how they help us to survive. Read more »

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You’re not alone in hating impact factors

By Rebecca Nesbit

Hands up who hates impact factors. Everyone? Then why do we still use them?

I believe one of the reasons is that we think the people at the top use them. There is no doubt some truth in this, though I was relieved to discover that many influential people are willing to speak out against them.

A journal’s impact factor – the average number of times its recent articles have been cited – is now used to assess institutions and individuals. In this video, Professor Martin Chalfie describes why this is a ‘horrible’ use for them: Read more »

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Will antibiotics be useful in the future?

Professor Nigel Brown FSB, President of the Society for General Microbiology, is writing an article each month for The Bridge, a local magazine delivered to every home in the villages of Corsley and Chapmanslade in Wiltshire. anti

Readers will be familiar with going to their GP and expecting a prescription for medicine – quite often an antibiotic. Farmers will be used to vets prescribing antibiotics for their livestock. Since the 1940s antibiotics have been ‘magic bullets’ to treat a whole variety of diseases. Before the commercial production of penicillin during the Second World War, people and animals could die of infections that are now easily cured with antibiotics.

Read more »

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The value of the patent system

Rob Andrews resizedRobert Andrews is a European patent attorney and has worked for Mewburn Ellis LLP since 2006. Robert is running the patently valuable workshop at the Society of Biology on March 10th 2015.

Innovation in biological science has allowed for unprecedented improvements in public health: all the way from processes we now think of as basic – pasteurisation, anaesthesia, vaccination – through to the technology allowing for ‘3-person IVF‘, modern society has benefited from the insight of researchers in the field of biology.

Given the benefits that flow from innovation, it is in our interest as a society to encourage the development of new technology – but how can we do this? Read more »

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Diversity and blogging

Rebecca Nesbit is one of the tutors on the upcoming Society of Biology Writing for a non-specialist audience course.

Rebecca Nesbit, Society of BiologyDiversity was a long way from my mind when, during my PhD, I made my first explorations in writing popular science. At first, my writing simply a way to discover new science and share it in a more engaging way than I had done in my materials and methods chapter.

Now that writing has shaped my career, I find blogging a powerful way to explore a huge range of topics, and diversity is one of them. Read more »

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Listen to the debate: Eradicating Malaria: Can we do it? Should we do it?

2014 SBDP AS OF 19 OCTOBER 655In 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates committed themselves to eliminating malaria worldwide. Today, it has been eliminated in 111 countries but can it be eradicated worldwide? If it can, would the resources be better spent on other developing world health initiatives? Would controlling the disease be more beneficial than elimination?

During Biology Week 2014 we invited world leaders in Malaria research to the Royal Institution to debate vaccination, treatment, mosquitoes and policy.

Watch a power point presentation to accompany the debate and listen to the full debate… Read more »

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Improving life with cystic fibrosis

By Grace Paget, science writer

CF patient with her medication. ©Cystic Fibrosis Trust

CF patient with her medication. ©Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Before I started volunteering for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust I had some knowledge of the genetic disorder from learning about it in biology lessons, but I had very little understanding of just how much of an impact it has on the people who have it and their families.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-shortening condition that cannot be developed or caught as those who have it inherit a faulty gene. Around one in 25 people in the UK carry the faulty gene and as the condition is recessive, if both parents have this gene there is a 25% chance that their child will have cystic fibrosis and a 50% chance that their child will be a carrier.

This gene is known as the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) and is responsible for instructing the production of a protein channel, which controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells in the body. If this gene is faulty then the protein may either be missing or non-functional; resulting in the condition, which causes the lungs and digestive system to become so clogged with mucus that breathing and digesting food are made extremely difficult. Read more »

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