HRH The Prince of Wales and Dr Emily Shuckburgh co-author Ladybird climate change guide

Trinity alumni His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Dr Emily Shuckburgh have co-authored a Ladybird guide to climate change, together with environmentalist Tony Juniper.

Dr Shuckburgh is Deputy Head of the Polar Oceans Team at the British Antarctic Survey and was a Senior Rouse Ball Scholar at Trinity in 1999, following her PhD and a Trinity scholarship to study mathematics. Prince Charles was a student at Trinity, 1967-1970, where he studied archaeology and anthropology, and then history.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh
Dr Emily Shuckburgh

The ideclimate-change-ladybirda for the book – the first in a new series of Ladybird Expert Books for adults – emerged after Prince Charles returned from the Paris Climate Change Summit of 2015 and discussed the issue with his friend and former equerry, Sir Nicholas Soames, MP.

The Prince turned to Tony Juniper, a special adviser to the International Sustainability Unit, and to Dr Shuckburgh, who researches the role of polar oceans in the global climate system.

The three authors – and artist Ruth Palmer – collaborated on presenting a clear, accessible and authoritative introduction to climate change. Dr Shuckburgh said:

This included sitting together and going through the text quite literally word by word. The final product is infused with the voices of each of the authors.

The greatest challenge was to boil down a broad and complex topic to some 5000 words, without losing essential nuance, while keeping it readable. Our primary concern was to ensure the robustness of the evidence presented in the book and hence we erred on the side of a dry presentation of the facts.

Just like an academic publication, the book was subject to peer review, arranged by the Royal Meteorological Society. ‘Each page of the book is accompanied by an online annex which links to the peer-reviewed literature,’ Dr Shuckburgh said.

For a scientist awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to science and the public communication of science, co-authoring a lay guide to climate change – and for such an iconic book brand – was too good an opportunity to miss.

I feel a strong sense of responsibility as a climate scientist to communicate widely the findings of my research.

I hope people find the book presents the evidence in an accessible way that enables readers to come to their own conclusions regarding the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as the scale and urgency of the challenge it poses.

It was important to us too that along with detailing the risks, the book highlighted the opportunities for innovative low-carbon and climate-resilient growth that could improve the quality of people’s lives around the world in many different ways.

In the foreword to the book, Prince Charles writes:

I hope this modest attempt to alert a global public to the ‘wolf at the door’ will make some small contribution towards encouraging requisite action; action that must be urgently scaled up, and scaled up now.

The Ladybird Expert Book on Climate Change will be available from 26 January 2017, alongside volumes about quantum mechanics and evolution.

Dr Shuckburgh discussed Extreme Weather as part of the Darwin College Lecture Series 2017.

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