This month, we are celebrating the publication of our 1000th open access book at Springer Nature. We took this opportunity to interview the three editors* of our 1000th open access book, Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility: Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health to ask them why they published this book, why they chose open access and what advice they would give to book authors.
In conversation with Christina Emery, Marketing Manager, OA Books
Al-Delaimy: The book is well worth this milestone given the gravity of climate change and the impact on health, as well as the type of unique disciplines involved in this book that would appeal to a wide range of readers.
Ramanathan: Given the current COVID-19 crisis, this book will be an important reminder for everyone that, unless we take action on climate change, it could mushroom into another global crisis.
Sánchez Sorondo: The appeal of this book lies in the fact that it anticipated the themes that are now emerging more clearly with COVID-19, which proves the influence of climate change for good or for worse in terms of health, such as with COVID-19. For example, without understanding climate issues, it would be impossible to explain why COVID-19 hit certain regions very hard, such as Northern Italy, and not others, such as Mexico, despite very few preventative measures being taken.
Al-Delaimy: We saw an opportunity of scholars coming together as part of a symposium at the Invitation of the Pontifical Academy and given the focus on health impact from climate change, there weren’t as many books out there with such a focus compared to more general climate science books. We also wanted this book to appeal to the scientists and the public, which is unique by itself because books usually appeal to one or another and not both types of readers.
Ramanathan: This is the first of its kind publication that brings in climate scientists, health care providers, policy leaders and faith leaders to address this defining problem of our generation.
Sánchez Sorondo: The book is topical because this is the first global and glocal study on the effects of climate change on human health.
Al-Delaimy: We did not want financial cost to be an obstacle facing the low income countries and their populations who might not afford paying for the book. The book is focused on vulnerable populations in many of its chapters and we wanted these populations to have access to it whether in schools, universities or the lay public.
Ramanathan: The issues we discuss are vital sources of information for all people, including the vulnerable populations, who need access to this book.
Sánchez Sorondo: Given the crucial ideas expressed in the book, open access is the best way to circulate them universally.
Al-Delaimy: By having this book become available to the public we can use it to educate and develop some consensus about the science in this age of misinformation.
Ramanathan: Open access with sufficient publicity will enable interested people across the world including those in developing nations to access the book.
Sánchez Sorondo: According to our experience, open access is the most effective and most sustainable way to circulate ideas. The Pontifical of Sciences has been following open access development for quite a few years and in fact all the material we produce is published in open access on our website.
Sánchez Sorondo: With the contribution of the Vatican, the staff of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the collaboration of the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Society, thanks to the mediation of our Academician Professor Ramanathan.
Al-Delaimy: I have published open access articles and it makes a major difference for many of the academics who needed such articles but whose universities in low and middle income countries do not have subscriptions. My field of global health is about providing access to science to everyone to help address global health issues, and climate change is a major global health issue.
Ramanathan: Yes, I was the chief editor of a book by UC Press: Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions. Students readily download the book and use it.
Sánchez Sorondo: As mentioned above, when open access emerged, we converted all the publications of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences into open access, because it is more universal, more sustainable, and has greater circulation for less cost. It is the way of the future.
Al-Delaimy: I am Section Editor of the journal Current Environmental Health Reports by Springer and that is how I reached out to the editorial boards of Springer and they were very interested in publishing the book.
Sánchez Sorondo: Springer is one of the best publishers. The fact that Springer has adopted this modern approach is a guarantee of seriousness.
Al-Delaimy: We have a wide global network and we plan to send the link to the book wide and far to achieve the most benefit.
Ramanathan: Using our wide network of colleagues, United Nations, WHO, our state government and others.
Sánchez Sorondo: Our idea is to advertise the book through our vast network of Academicians and their institutions, as well as through our websites www.pas.va and www.pass.va and through the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and its partners.
Al-Delaimy: Open access books are the future. We need to embrace it and support this approach. People have become used to having access to every app, social media, and material on the internet for free, so science should not be excluded and be available for free and to be shared. Sharing the truth of science must not encounter any limitation because, unlike material goods, the more it is shared, the more it grows.
*About the editors:
Professor Wael Al-Delaimy, Epidemiologist and Professor of Global Health at the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego.
Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.