Academic's 'Geog Blog' to tell of his week in Westminster

Houses of Parliament
01 Nov 2011 14:15:00.000

Physical geographer Dr Simon Gosling is to blog his way through Parliament this week when he shadows Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, at Westminster. He’ll see first-hand how science policy is formed and how it contributes to government decision-making.

Simon, a lecturer from The University of Nottingham’s School of Geography, researches the impacts of climate change on natural and human systems. His pairing with Mr Gardiner is a good match.

Barry Gardiner MP is Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and the Environment, and a former academic and businessman. He will host Dr Simon Gosling’s time in Parliament and then spend a day later this month with Simon and colleagues at The University of Nottingham.
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Dr Gosling was selected this summer for the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, which builds bridges between parliamentarians, civil servants and some of the best UK research scientists. He has already spent a day in the MP’s constituency and Mr Gardiner will visit the University later in November.

Dr Gosling uses numerical models to research such things as how water availability will change in future years here in the UK and abroad. He has investigated how heat waves affect mortality rates, and last month explained, in the media, some implications of ‘Indian Summer’ weather conditions.

“For me, this is about getting insights into how policymakers and decision-makers use the information we scientists produce,” he said. “The experience will help guide me on how best to present my results. As scientists, we tend to overlook the competing pressures policymakers are under. We do need to spend time improving how we communicate with government.”

This ‘Westminster Week’ will let Dr Gosling experience the working life of an MP. You can follow his blog at:

The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. Over 180 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said: “We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science. From climate change to influenza outbreaks, GM food to nuclear power, our MPs have to make decisions about complex issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, more widely throughout the world.

“This means that MPs and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making. We set up the Royal Society’s MP Scientist pairing scheme 10 years ago, in 2001, to provide the opportunity for MPs and scientists to build long-term relationships with each other and have now organised over 180 pairings.

“I know many parliamentarians and scientists who have gained from the scheme, and the shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”

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The Royal Society is the UK’s national academy of science. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as a provider of independent scientific advice, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. Its expertise is embodied in the Fellowship, which is made up of the finest scientists from the UK and beyond. Its goals are to:

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• Invigorate science and mathematics education
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More information is available from Dr Simon Gosling,

Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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