Climate science for all! A new science journal to keep an eye on

I’ve written before about the problem of paywalls in academia. I view them as a needless barrier to people’s ability to learn about pretty much all topics, or to do things like check the veracity of claims made by dishonest actors. It’s especially galling given how much research is publicly funded, and the inherently collaborative nature of science. Not to sound like an anarchist or anything, but when it comes to knowledge especially, I believe that all belongs to all. Science has always been a collaborative effort, even when some scientists treat their colleagues as competitors or enemies. Research is done based on the work of those who came before us, and any contributions we make will be just one stone in the foundation of what our descendants will create, if we can manage to give them that change.

All of this is to say, I’m pleased to tell you all about a new, open-access climate science journal.

Oxford Open Climate Change is a broad reaching interdisciplinary journal that aims to cover all aspects of climate change, including its impacts on nature and society, as well as solutions to the problem and their wider implications.

The journal will publish research from physical and biogeochemical aspects to social impact and response assessments; from economics and integrated assessments to health, politics, and governance; and from natural to technical solutions. The journal will play a key part in disseminating research findings across traditional fields, and removing siloes in readership seen in more traditional discipline specific journals.

Oxford Open Climate Change embraces openness principles which will further contribute to both the dissemination and the reuse of the published materials. The journal will include both invited contributions and regularly submitted contributions, as well as special issues that consider key problems from a wide range of disciplines. Article types will range across multi-disciplinary reviews, research articles, research letters, short communications, and editorials. Rigorous peer review is central to all content.

Hat tip to my dad for making me aware of this.

When I say the journal is new, I do mean new. It’s had a grand total of two issues so far. Their Rationale and Opening Remit makes a good case for the nature of the climate crisis, and while it doesn’t link that to the fact that the journal’s open access, I think it’s a point worth making. Leaving aside my earlier-mentioned beliefs about paywalls, it is outrageous that there is a financial barrier to accessing information about what may be the biggest crisis ever to face our species. We cannot adapt to climate change, or meaningfully slow its advance, if we keep treating everything in life as part of a competition.

Beyond that, I like what I’m seeing so far. The fact that it’s so new means I can actually read through everything they’ve got in a reasonable amount of time, and even give you an overview! The editorial section, in addition to their rationale and remit mentioned above, includes a clear call to go beyond the inadequate emissions targets currently set by most nationsand for wealthy nations to actually use their wealth to deal with this global emergency.

In particular, countries that have disproportionately created the environmental crisis must do more to support low and middle income countries to build cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies. High income countries must meet and go beyond their outstanding commitment to provide $100 billion a year, making up for any shortfall in 2020 and increasing contributions to and beyond 2025. Funding must be equally split between mitigation and adaptation, including improving the resilience of health systems.

Financing should be through grants rather than loans, building local capabilities and truly empowering communities, and should come alongside forgiving large debts, which constrain the agency of so many low income countries. Additional funding must be marshalled to compensate for inevitable loss and damage caused by the consequences of the environmental crisis.

The fact that our “leaders” continue to obsess over profits and private property is a clear symptom of a mental rot spread throughout our ruling classes. Looking at history, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising to see how little they value human life, but this blind charge towards extinction honestly makes me worry about the possibility of nuclear war in the near future. In the meantime, we continue to do what we can to take power away from these people, so we can save ourselves, and give them the treatment they apparently need.

The “Short Communication” discusses the geopolitical issues surrounding geoengineering technologies like reflecting a significant portion of sunlight away from the Earth. Obviously, that’s something that would affect the entire planet, and thus everyone on the planet, or at least every nation, should have a say in whether or how it’s done. Given our current inability to cooperate at a global scale, I think it’s worth thinking about how we might go about building coalitions like that.

The research articles make for a good introduction to the breadth of topics that Open Oxford Climate Change means to tackle. The first article has everything you might need to know about the diets of a particular Canadian polar bear population,  followed by a discussion of “sustainability” in fast fashion, and the use of a fashion show as a vehicle for climate communication. I doubt there’s much interest in me going through everything they’ve published so far, but it seems that they intend to publish research that covers every aspect of climate change, from the study of past climate shifts and analysis of current climate sensitivity, to politics and culture.

I count this journal as a little bit of good news, both in terms of access to research, and in terms of the ability for the general public to actually see the work that’s being done. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

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