Sandy blows climate change back onto agenda

Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in the US. Photo copyright EUMETEOSAT 2012

Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in the US. Photo copyright EUMETEOSAT 2012

By Dr Jeffrey Mazo, Managing Editor, Survival; Research Fellow for Environmental Security  and Science Policy

Stuck in my hotel in Washington DC channel-zapping for hours during Hurricane Sandy last week, I was surprised not to hear one mention of global warming in connection with the storm, despite the almost non-stop coverage that pushed even the close-fought presidential election out of the headlines.

Admittedly, this was a limited and idiosyncratic sample of the coverage, and people began blogging and writing about Sandy and global warming quickly enough. And I was in DC for a series of meetings and lectures at IISS-US and SAIS on the consequences of catastrophic climate change. At my (rescheduled) events the question of whether Sandy was a manifestation of climate change came up again and again.

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Survival for iPad

Survival ipad app screenshotBy Dr Jeffrey Mazo, Managing Editor, Survival

The new Survival for iPad app, released today, is one of the most exciting things I’ve been involved with in nearly a quarter-century of journals publishing. You can buy individual issues, starting with the February–March 2012 issue, which hit the newsstands last week. They have all the content of the printed version, but we have the facility to add audio and video of interviews with authors or recent, relevant IISS events, and colour versions of photographs, maps, figures and other graphics. The diagrams in the article by Dean Wilkening on ‘Does Missile Defence in Europe Threaten Russia’, for example, are particularly striking. We are also able to include Wilkening’s technical appendix, absent from the printed version.

Using the free iPad app to purchase an issue is like buying an issue of Survival : Global Politics and Strategy from a bookstore or newsstand. If you are an IISS member or a subscriber to Survival, there is no change: you still receive the printed version of each issue, and you can view all the individual articles electronically via the IISS website.

Survival is one of the first journals in the field of global politics and strategy to take this step. It has been a long time coming. In 1993, as a partner in a small academic press, I was on a conference panel on the future of scholarly publishing. It was the year that the now-ubiquitous PDFs first appeared, and predictions of the demise of the printed book and journal were rife. But I sounded a note of caution: regardless of technological advances, it would be at least 20 years — when a new generation of researchers who had grown up in a digital world would begin to emerge — before electronic publications would seriously challenge the printed word.

It’s been nearly 20 years, and everyone now downloads and shares PDFs, even if many people still print them out to read. More and more people have e-book readers such as the Kindle: the IISS began publishing e-book versions of Adelphi Books and Survival issues last year. But there is still something about the bound volume and the printed page, with its 500-year pedigree, that makes it the most enjoyable information technology.

Until now. Apple’s iPad and similar tablets are still a minority pursuit, but soon they will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. And the quality of the online reading experience and the ease of getting around have taken a quantum leap, even over web-based publications.

But one other thing I noted in my 1993 talk: print will never die until someone invents an electronic book that you can read in the bath. Forget jet-packs; Apple, I want a waterproof iPad.


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