Global tributes have flowed for Professor Will Steffen, the eminent climate scientist and communicator who passed away on Sunday night in Canberra. The sense of shock, and irretrievable loss, is palpable.

Steffen, 75, had pancreatic cancer. He spent a career advancing climate science, and doggedly – bravely – fighting for policy change. Devastated colleagues told how he worked tirelessly for the climate cause, until he could fight no longer. They recalled his fierce intelligence, and his willingness to stick his neck out through Australia’s long, wasted years of climate denialism – even in the face of abuse and death threats. Younger scientists shared stories of Steffen’s kindness, his patience, his endless well of optimism.

Today in The Conversation, three of Steffen’s friends and colleagues remember the giant of a man.

CSIRO’s John Finnigan recalls his final conversation with his dear friend, and describes how Steffen’s pioneering ideas changed the way we think about Earth’s limits. Pep Canadell, also of CSIRO, tells how Steffen helped create global climate research networks even in the dusty era of fax machines. And the ANU’s Steve Lade reminds us what Steffen knew most keenly: that humanity must transform its mindset from exploitation to stewardship if we, and our planet, are to survive.

The Conversation, too, owes a debt of gratitude to Steffen. A prolific and highly valued author, Steffen had a gift for communicating the most complex climate science to our readers. His precise, suckerpunch prose could take your breath away. He seamlessly blended scientific fact with heartfelt truths; his writing left no doubt that rapid climate action was both a scientific and moral imperative. The Conversation is better for Will Steffen’s stellar contributions, and we will miss him.

Nicole Hasham

Energy + Environment Editor

We’ve lost a giant: Vale Professor Will Steffen, climate science pioneer

John Finnigan, CSIRO; Pep Canadell, CSIRO; Steven J Lade, Stockholm University

Mountaineer and scientist Will Steffen said climbing was similar to science: “That’s the buzz you get in science when you solve a big problem and suddenly see how it all fits together”

Pay, safety and welfare: how the new Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces can strengthen the arts sector

Kim Goodwin, The University of Melbourne; Caitlin Vincent, The University of Melbourne

The centre will importantly function as a point of contact and referral for arts workers who have nowhere else to go for support.

Major publishers are banning ChatGPT from being listed as an academic author. What’s the big deal?

Danny Kingsley, Australian National University

Academic authorship was never straightforward. Now ChatGPT is making it even more complicated.

Back-to-school blues are normal, so how can you tell if it’s something more serious?

Vanessa Cobham, The University of Queensland

Many kids are nervous about starting a new school year. But some children will experience a level of anxiety about school that causes them significant problems.

Paramedics could sound early warnings of child abuse or neglect – but they need support and more training

Simon Sawyer, Australian Catholic University; Alex Cahill, Australian Catholic University; Daryl Higgins, Australian Catholic University; Navindhra Naidoo, Western Sydney University; Stephen Bartlett, Queensland University of Technology

With more than half a million notifications of suspected child maltreatment each year in Australia, we need to explore the better use of our health-care workforces to prevent maltreatment.

The nightmarish underside of the dream factory: how Babylon captures Hollywood in the 1920s

Jennifer Frost, University of Auckland

Damien Chazelle’s new film Babylon has both relevance and resonance today.

Guide to the classics: Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey – a dense, strange journey through addiction

Jamie Q Roberts, University of Sydney

Published in 1821, Thomas De Quincey’s dense, strange work created the archetype of the drug addict as cultural figure. Part story, part memoir, part essay, it mines the highs and lows of addiction.

Hipkins revives Labour’s fortunes – but the election will be about more than ‘bread and butter issues’

Richard Shaw, Massey University

The cost of living is important. But there are even bigger problems rumbling beneath the surface of New Zealand politics that the MMP electoral system may be ill-suited to deal with.

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