The Anthropocene is official – but what does this mean for the future health of planet Earth?

By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London

In recent months, there has been increasing academic and public discourse over the continued damage modern lifestyles are inflicting on our planet. The term ‘planetary health’ has emerged as a catch-all for addressing issues as diverse as climate change, plastic pollution, antibiotic resistance, increasing meat consumption and poorly-planned urban expansion as well as a call to action to address the challenges of the Anthropocene – the ‘Age of Man’ – which recognises that the challenges the Earth currently faces are, largely, inflicted by humans. There has never been a more pressing need to ensure the scientific community has a common platform from which to research, understand and influence action on the environmental damage inflicted by the modern lifestyles enjoyed in the developed countries of the Global North.

Urban smog in China.
Photo: Pixabay

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Truly international expertise on tomato production

By Rachael Russell

Rows of Tomatoes in a Greenhouse

Ep Heuvelink’s Tomatoes is part of CABI’s Crop Production Science in Horticulture series. First published in 2005, it became an essential resource for growers, extension workers, industry personnel, and horticulture students and lecturers. Since then, our knowledge on tomato has greatly increased; tens of thousands of scientific papers have been published and the tomato genome has been sequenced, reinforcing it as a model fruit-bearing crop. Great progress has been made in open field and greenhouse production, and in our understanding of tomato crop physiology, fruit quality and postharvest physiology.

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What do bees ‘see’ and how does it inform our understanding of vision?

By Adrian Horridge, F.R.S.

Bees are familiar to all, and tests to discover what they see can be repeated in any temperate part of the world, requiring little basic science but lots of thought to grasp this anti-intuitive but wonderfully adapted newly described visual system. In advance of World Bee Day on the 20th May, I look here at the importance the visual system of the bee, and the journey to establish this understanding.

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Cultures don’t meet, people do: Ethnocentrism and essentialism

By Arjan Verdooren

There is a goal that virtually all methods and models of intercultural communication have in common – explicitly or implicitly. This goal is countering ‘ethnocentrism’: the tendency to assume one’s own worldview as normal and natural, and judge others on the basis of this worldview. Ethnocentrism is associated with closed-mindedness, inflexibility and feelings of superiority: things that can safely be considered bad for intercultural interactions. My argument is however that an emphasis on avoiding ethnocentrism is not always enough to improve intercultural communication in today’s world.

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Intercultural methods, models and approaches aim to make trainees aware of their own cultural socialization and of other cultural views and habits.

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TEFL Tourism: Author Interview

There is evident lineage between the concepts of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) and tourism, represented through evocative marketing material, the commoditisation of the TEFL product, teacher motivations and experiences. Yet, to date there has been no recognition of these links within industry or academia. With this in mind, Dr Hayley Stainton has introduced a new concept of ‘TEFL Tourism’ – the experience of teaching English overseas, whilst partaking in a substantial amount of tourism-based activities.

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Growing agriculture: nutrition community points the way to achieving SDG2 by 2030

By Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have launched a race to transform our world for the better little more than a decade from now. The goals are idealistic, setting a high bar for every aspect of quality of life, from health and education to gender equality and climate action. SDG2 seeks to eliminate global hunger by 2030. But as we move closer to that deadline, achieving SDG2 seems further away. Recent years have been particularly disheartening, with the number of undernourished people continuing to rise annually. In 2015, there were 784 million hungry people in the world; in 2016, 804 million; and in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, that number reached 821 million people. Adult obesity also continues to worsen in rich and poor countries alike: More than 1 in 8 adults, or 672 million people around the world, are now considered obese.

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A woman examines and sorts iron beans in Rwanda. Nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, such as biofortification or homestead food production systems, may be well suited for increasing people’s consumption of high-quality diets. Photo courtesy of IFPRI (Mel Oluoch/HarvestPlus)

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Tourism and animal welfare: a 21st century dilemma

There is a strong link between tourism and animals, whether in zoos, marine parks, or on safari. Tourists encounter animals in many different situations: photo opportunities, street performances, animal rides and specialised ‘sanctuaries’ such as elephant homes and tiger temples. Tourism may benefit wildlife, by funding wildlife animal conservation, as well as providing vital income for local communities, but the exploitation of animals in animal entertainment can be a cruel and degrading experience for intelligent sentient creatures.

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Tourists encounter animals in many different situations

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