Nau mai haere mai - and welcome to this week’s newsletter.

“Climate change isn’t lurking around the corner ready to pounce. It’s already upon us, raining down blows on millions of people.”

These are the words of Inger Anderson, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme, speaking at this week’s launch of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report arrived in an already grim week and it delivered a stark reality check.

Climate adaptation researcher Judy Lawrence contributed to a chapter about climate impacts in Australasia, and as she and her colleagues write, this decade will be crucial - it’s the narrowing window of time during which we have to both prepare for impacts we can no longer avoid and make significant cuts to emissions to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5℃.

Even at the current 1.1℃ of warming, we already face inevitable climate impacts such as ongoing sea-level rise, and our coastal cities will bear the brunt of it. Our shoreline is our first line of defense, writes Massey University's Bruce Glavovic, who also contributed to the IPCC report. While the coast faces some of the highest climate risks, it’s also where innovative climate-resilient development can happen.

As always, there’s a lot more to read in this newsletter and on our homepage, including Paul Spoonley’s fascinating article tracing the line from QAnon to the protests at Parliament.

Many thanks for your ongoing support and interest. Take care and all the best, kia haumaru, noho ora mai.

Veronika Meduna

New Zealand Editor: Science, Health + Environment

IPCC report: this decade is critical for adapting to inevitable climate change impacts and rising costs

Judy Lawrence, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Alistair Woodward, University of Auckland; Anita Wreford, Lincoln University, New Zealand; Mark John Costello, University of Auckland

As the impacts and costs of climate change increase over time, New Zealand’s financial systems could become less stable and the government less able to support those affected.

The extremism visible at the parliament protest has been growing in NZ for years – is enough being done?

Paul Spoonley, Massey University

New Zealand has a high concentration of extremist alt-right groups relative to similar countries. The challenge now is to head off hate crime and violence.

IPCC report: Coastal cities are sentinels for climate change. It’s where our focus should be as we prepare for inevitable impacts

Bruce Glavovic, Massey University

Globally, about a billion people living in coastal cities are at risk of climate hazards. The impacts go well beyond the coast and could affect us all, with disruptions to supply chains and trade.

What are the rights of children at the parliament protest – and who protects them?

Claire Breen, University of Waikato

The prime minister and police have asked that children be removed from the protest at parliament – but the situation is legally and logistically complex.

Ukraine crisis: how do small states like New Zealand respond in an increasingly lawless world?

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

International law has been breaking down for over two decades, meaning New Zealand must find new ways to promote peace and security.

The NZ anti-vax movement’s exploitation of Holocaust imagery is part of a long and sorry history

Giacomo Lichtner, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Political activists on both the left and right have long appropriated the rhetoric and symbolism of Nazism and the Holocaust, a tactic usually based on ignorance and false equivalence.

Two years on from the first COVID case, New Zealand’s successful pandemic response still faces major challenges

Michael Baker, University of Otago; Amanda Kvalsvig, University of Otago; Matire Harwood, University of Auckland; Nick Wilson, University of Otago

Now that Omicron infection is widespread, the government could improve trust by phasing out travel restrictions and border isolation and reviewing vaccine mandates to ensure they are proportionate.

Shortages, price increases, delays and company collapses: why NZ needs a more resilient construction industry

Suzanne Wilkinson, Massey University; Monty Sutrisna, Massey University; Regan Potangaroa, Massey University; Rod Cameron, Massey University

The construction sector has long suffered from lack of co-ordination, poor planning and vulnerability to shocks. If the country’s building and infrastructure needs are to be met, that has to change.

NZ’s confirmed COVID case numbers are rising fast, but total infections are likely much higher – here’s why

Dion O'Neale, University of Auckland

With access to testing limited and without other ways of measuring likely infection rates, New Zealand’s confirmed COVID cases are likely to be just a fraction of the total.

From our foreign editions

Transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth, UN climate adaptation report warns: Which path will humanity choose?

Edward R. Carr, Clark University

An author of the report explains the damaging effects climate change is already having and why adaptation is essential.

Mass starvation, extinctions, disasters: the new IPCC report’s grim predictions, and why adaptation efforts are falling behind

Mark Howden, Australian National University; Joy Pereira, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia); Roberto Sánchez, Colegio de la Frontera Norte

The IPCC is the global authority on climate change. Their new report paints a worrying picture of climate impacts already affecting billions of people, economies and the environment.

The hacker group Anonymous has waged a cyber war against Russia. How effective could they actually be?

Jennifer Medbury, Edith Cowan University; Paul Haskell-Dowland, Edith Cowan University

There’s an alleged global network of cyber activists operating under the Anonymous name. Knowing who is responsible for what will become increasingly difficult as more cyber attacks happen.

Russian capture of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant threatens future research on radioactivity and wildlife

Carmel Mothersill, McMaster University

Heavy military vehicles may have kicked up radioactive soil around Chernobyl, and with fighting nearby there’s a danger of harming the concrete shelter containing the radiation of the leaking reactor.

Rising sea levels may threaten 70% of Africa’s heritage sites by 2050

Joanne Clarke, University of East Anglia; Lena Reimann, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Michalis Vousdoukas, European Commission's Joint Research Centre; Nicholas P. Simpson, University of Cape Town

Hundreds of Africa’s heritage sites are exposed to sea-level rise and coastal erosion in the future.

We’re analysing DNA from ancient and modern humans to create a ‘family tree of everyone’

Yan Wong, University of Oxford; Anthony Wilder Wohns, Harvard University

How we’re linking together genetic material from thousands of people - modern and ancient - to trace our ancestors and the history of our evolution.

Swift: ejecting Russia is largely symbolic – here’s why

Alistair Milne, Loughborough University

Most media coverage has tended to focus on the Swift payments messaging system as the crux of Russia sanctions, but it’s actually peripheral.

Ordinary Russians are already feeling the economic pain of sanctions over Ukraine invasion

Peter Rutland, Wesleyan University

Soaring inflation and a run on the banks signal that punishing sanctions resulting from the invasion of Ukraine are already inflicting economic pain.