As an extension of this year's Academic Book Week* theme, 'The Environment,' we asked our book authors who have published research in related fields to share their thoughts on the future of the academic book as it relates to climate change, how they engage with audiences beyond their scholarly circle to make an impact, and much more.
Read our interview below with Professor Dave Reay, author of open access book Climate-Smart Food.
The topic (climate-smart food) is a fast-expanding research area with lots of great papers appearing every week. Yet it's something that is directly affecting the lives and well being of millions of people around the world right now too. The more I looked at the threat climate change poses to our food, and the potential solutions, the more it became clear that this is a story of people. Publishing this work in open access book form would, I hoped, mean its reach was much wider and much more immediate.
Brace yourself for an awful lot more books on climate change. Public awareness has never been higher, nor the pressure for meaningful action greater. Every facet of our lives will be affected by climate change in the years and decades to come, either by concerted efforts to cut emissions or by the increasingly dangerous impacts of climate change if we fail to do enough. In every genre there will be an expanding readership looking for climate change in all its guises: actions we can take, impacts we are enduring, possible futures, indictable pasts.
Like any author, for it to change things for the better; for a few people and maybe for many more. Ultimately I wrote the book in the hope that it would help us know our food better: to better understand the people who produce it, our connections to them, and how closely our food binds us all together as we face the climate emergency.
Looking at [Springer Nature's] own environmental performance is a crucial first step in my view. Ensuring the whole publication process is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals would give the right context to the myriad books and publications that [Springer Nature] has and will produce. Default provision of open access e-books is, for me, a powerful way to help achieve this: massively enhancing accessibility and often reducing resource use and emissions too.
I work a lot with farmers here in Scotland and the challenges of climate change and food security are abundantly clear here too. Through inquiries, expert panels and commissions I'm lucky enough to get to discuss these issues with a wide range of brilliant stakeholders from government and parliament, through to food retailers and my own neighbours (I own a small farm on the west coast of Scotland). The public demand for advice and discussion on food and climate change is now huge. My main public engagement is through lots of talks, blogs, webinars and tweets (@keelingcurve). It's massively rewarding and as an academic I can honestly say that I learn more every day now than I have at any time in the last 25 years as a climate change scientist. It's busy, but it's wonderful.
About Dave Reay