Why the threat climate change poses to food is a story of people

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The Source
By: Lucy Frisch, Sun Mar 22 2020

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Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

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.

Why did you choose a book as the medium for publishing your research?

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.

What do you think the future of books looks like, especially those on topics related to climate change?

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.

What impact would you like to see your book have?

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.

How can publishers work with you to make sure your research can make a difference on environmental issues?

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.

How do you engage with practitioners, policymakers and/or the general public to make a difference through your research?

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.

Learn more about publishing a book at Springer Nature

About Dave Reay

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Dave Reay is Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He has studied climate change for over 25 years, from warming impacts in the Southern Ocean, through carbon fluxes in forests, to greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands and agriculture. Dave has authored over 100 articles on climate change, including 6 books and is also an advisor for the Scottish Government on rural policy and climate change. His latest project involves managing his farm on the West Coast of Scotland to sequester a lifetime's carbon emissions.



Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

Lucy Frisch is a Senior Marketing Manager on the Outreach and Open Research team, based in the New York office. She has a passion for storytelling and works to humanize the research published across Springer Nature with a focus on the researcher experience.