Message from the President—March 2021

March 31, 2021
John Shine

The Australian Academy of Science is proud to have played an active role in assessing the science of climate change since the 1970s.

The Academy has just released ‘The risks to Australia of a 3°C warmer world’, a major report in which we have called on the Australian Government to accelerate Australia’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 to 20 years. This is one of 10 recommendations in the report.

Even if the world’s governments meet their current Paris pledges on time, Earth is likely to reach average global surface temperatures of 3°C above the pre-industrial period during this century, with significant consequences. The report focuses on the consequences of 3°C of global warming for four areas of importance to Australia’s future: ecosystems; food production; cities and towns; and health and wellbeing. It also focuses on Australia’s contribution to what must be done to stay well below 2°C to limit these impacts.

I encourage you to read the report and the Academy’s media release, and share these links with your networks. The media release also has a short video that can be shared.

This month the Academy also released a statement supporting a petition signed by 90 scientists, including 22 Academy Fellows, calling for Kathleen Folbigg’s immediate pardon and release from jail. Ms Folbigg was convicted and jailed in 2003 for murdering three of her children and the manslaughter of her fourth, but the Academy argues she should be pardoned based on the significant scientific evidence of natural causes of death for her children. The petition is currently with the Governor of NSW.

The Academy has completed its first assessment of how its activities align with and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We found extensive alignment across all we do and will continue to monitor our contributions to achieving the goals.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate the 24 leading scientists who we recently announced as recipients of our 2021 honorific awards. From early-career scientists to those who have undertaken a lifetime of research, the awards promote their achievements and acknowledge the creativity and sheer persistence that research requires.

Have a safe and happy Easter, and I hope you enjoy reading this month’s newsletter.

John Shine

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