Jennifer Nickel

The root cause of unsustainability? - Priority One

Aug 09, 2012

First of all, a thank you to Bryan Walker for reflecting on Bill McKibben’s recent Rolling Stone article in which he names the fossil-fuel industry (his major focus) as rogue and public enemy number one.  Since the writing is so stark it takes some reflecting and it is nice to get to see others doing so too. In this post I’d like to build on the concept.  It’s by no means new, but I often like to bind a few links together in a blog – you may have noticed this.  I also like to keep my posts short, so I’ll only mention my biggest reflections. Last week I came across a YouTube video titled ‘John Perkins on Globalisation‘.  John Perkins is best known as the author of the book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit … Read More

Video contests are fun! - Priority One

Jul 23, 2012

I really enjoy video contests on the internet! Videos are such a great communication tool! There was one recently by Sir Richard Branson.  He crowdsourced ideas on how to ‘Screw business as usual‘ – an action follow-up to his book release.  For a sustainability nut like me it’s so inspiring to watch others go to the trouble of making a video to communicate what they believe in.  I’ve tried it once or twice and found it’s pretty hard work! The internet is full of video contests, but just for Sciblogs readers I wanted to mention one that has recently closed to entries and is now open for voting.  It is run by Project Reason; they like running this competition each year to stimulate critical thinking.  If you are interested to see the finalists videos, click here.  I … Read More

New beginnings, and How@ Trading Science? - Priority One

Jul 13, 2012

Something that I didn’t anticipate when I started my Sustainable Practice course at Otago Polytech is that I would learn so much about social, governance and economic sustainability – way more so than the environmental aspect that everyone first thinks of when I mention the S-word. I think learning about those other aspects really influenced my recent decision to move back to Hamilton though.  After all, as you learn you start picking up on different things in your environment that then go on to influence your decisions.  Times ahead (globally) are looking a bit volatile and Auckland just couldn’t offer my situation the same comforts that I feel Hamilton can. So, I said my goodbyes to those in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (lovely people – biologists and chemists – who will go on to make many many more … Read More

Play Pounamu - Priority One

Jun 07, 2012

Whilst Pounamu was instigated as a nationwide game to attract ideas in regards to what could happen if New Zealanders were more scientifically literate (my interpretation), it looks as if it is turning into a thought-outlet for all of the ideas that New Zealanders have for managing our resources and activities better (i.e. in a more sustainable way). The positive imagination cards featured are heavily trending towards the eco-friendly and people-friendly.  Look at it, there are many people in New Zealand that care about our environment (no logical surprise really, as it allows us to LIVE!) and their ability for people to meet their needs (again no surprise, as this makes us HAPPY!) We all just want to live and be happy, don’t we? Have a look, have a go… play here. The game is a great invention. It … Read More

The Science in Sustainability - Priority One

Jun 05, 2012

Wouldn’t it be great if we used our scientific knowledge to come up with some basic principles that would ease our understanding as to whether something is or isn’t sustainable in the long term? Well, back in the 1980’s when the warnings about the detrimental environmental effects of our ‘activities’ were already quite reasonable, a Swedish doctor and cancer scientist wondered just that. His name is Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt and specifically he wondered whether the scientific understanding of cells could be used to come up with guidelines for the requirements of the continuation and wellbeing of human life. Obviously no small task! So after he began he sent his work to over 50 other scientists and doctors to ask for their input, and after many revisions they came up with somewhat of a consensus.  This formed the base of what … Read More

Four decades of Ecological Overshoot leaves us with…? - Priority One

May 15, 2012

Isn’t it fun hearing about how the world is heading towards disaster? No? Well, you’d think so! because we just keep churning out report after report (and scheduling the odd meeting) with increasingly dire predictions as time goes on.  Creating these reports is quite the rapidly growing niche. We must want to hear about this, or perhaps, the topic has just finally fallen within the range of our short-termism – is collapse really just around the corner? I don’t know.  I don’t even know what that means.  My whole life has been lived in the exciting world of growing excesses that are the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.  Even if we manage to keep kicking the ball along, to keep the “collapse” a while off, I’ll still get to see it. Goodie! What’s the opposite … Read More

My curiosity of everything can’t be tamed - Priority One

May 07, 2012

So… time for a revamp of this blog, to match the revamp of my life. I’ve been quite inactive and erratic (blog post-wise) in the past because I had no idea what I was doing!  There was lots of interesting stuff to share, but I had no theme!  I was a young recently graduated scientist who, in hindsight, just happened to study genetics because it was a new and exciting field… then applied it to seahorses because they needed some attention (and are just plain cool creatures! and the project promised  scuba diving!!)… oh and then somehow ended up in a Cancer Research lab.  All the while I wondered ‘what actually excites me?’ This world has so many exciting discoveries turning over, and so many options are possible (worldwide at least – in NZ a little luck may be needed … Read More

The Scale of the Mind Blowing Universe - Priority One

Feb 27, 2012

The nature of science often entails the measurement of things to aid our understanding of them.  And if those things and their scale are common to us then we can easily comprehend them.  However, anything that falls outside of this range results in mind blowing… Get comfortable, click here, and scroll wide-eyed to fully enjoy the neuron explosion 🙂 Thank you to Cary and Michael Huang ( for providing this cool science communication tool! … Read More

Weathering Fights & Science – what’s it up to? - Priority One

Oct 28, 2011

For those who like a little humour to go with the news… there is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Wednesday’s “Weathering Fights” episode tackles the biggest climate change story of the week… the BEST (Berkley Earth Surface Temperature) study; already addressed earlier in the week by Gareth’s post and Science Media Centre coverage. At 0:50 he recaps Climategate … by 2:50 he gets to the BEST study… and at 3:50 comes his main point – that considering how much noise was made about Climategate it might have been nice for its debunking to get a little more coverage on American cable TV news! Following this, he launches into the next segment titled “Science – what’s it up to?” which takes the mickey out of yet more US republicans that believe scientists are evil and in it to get rich and that all … Read More

Welcome Ban Ki-moon - Priority One

Sep 06, 2011

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was very popular at the University of Auckland today. Multiple lecture theatres were packed to the brim with people excited to watch his speech titled ‘New Zealand and the world: Sustainability and security in a time of global transition’. He is in Auckland to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, after visiting the Solomon Islands and Kiribati as part of a ‘Pacific’ round-trip.  The previous UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, visited New Zealand back in 2000. I am particularly encouraged to hear that this man, who intricately understands the pressures facing the world and is so committed to spreading the urgent message of action and unity required to mitigate and adapt to climate change, is going to be in discussions with New Zealand Government leaders (e.g. there is a one-on-one meeting scheduled with John Key this … Read More