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Showing posts from April, 2018

From meatless meat to trustless trust – can Blockchain change the way that we work together to create knowledge in smart cities?

Smart Cities apply technology, connectivity and data to the urban experience, but they could easily become Fake Cities. Their factories still produce things – but they are staffed by robots. Their cars still take you where you want to go – but they are driven by autonomous systems. You can hold their digital products in your hands – but only via a smart phone. In the worst case, Smart Cities trade down authentic human experiences for something artificial, virtual and ersatz. But can the Smart City ever trade-up and improve on the original?Take food as an example. Scientists are perfecting cultured cells to grow synthetic meat in laboratories. Far from producing an unpalatable substitute, the result is said to be nutritious and tasty. As the world’s population grows rapidly, meatless meat is seen as a carbon and resource efficient alternative that could represent “the future of food”. In their recent report partners in the UnLoCK consortium considered whether Blockchain and Distributed L…

Rural energy access: A global challenge

Energy affects all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) A statement made at the beginning of a rural energy access session at the Global Challenges Symposium on 12 April 2018.  To give some context for those who aren't aware, the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity (see UNDP). As the goals are interconnected – tackling affordable and clean energy will mean also tackling the issues associated with the other goals.
During the session led by Dr Sam Williamson, held in Bristol and co-organised by the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment, four issues were discussed with Nepal as a case study:
How does a lack of energy access impact rural lives?How can technology enable access to modern sustainable energy?What are the key economic and policy interventions to ensure successful rural energy access projects?What is the social impact of having access to energy in rural communi…

Dadaism in Disaster Risk Reduction: Reflections against method

Reflections and introductions: A volta The volta is a poetic device, closely but not solely, associated with the Shakespearean sonnet, used to enact a dramatic change in thought or emotion. Concomitant with this theme is that March is a month with symbolic links to change and new life. The Romans famously preferred to initiate the most significant socio-political manoeuvres of the empire during the first month of their calendar, mensis Martius. A month that marked the oncoming of spring, the weakening of winter’s grip on the land and a time for new life.
The need for change Having very recently attended the March UKADR conference, organised by the Cabot Institute here in Bristol, I did so with some hope and anticipation. Hope and anticipation for displays and discussions that conscientiously touched upon this volta, this need for change in how we study the dynamics of natural hazards. The conference itself was very agreeable, it had great sandwiches, with much stimulating discussion …

CAP should be replaced by a sustainable land-use policy

Whatever your thoughts about Brexit, one thing most agree on is that it offers an opportunity to rethink how we in the UK look after our agricultural land.  The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has long been a source of resentment. It accounts for 40% of the EU budget yet has systematically failed to address, in some cases even exacerbated, the biggest concerns in European agriculture. Unlike most transnational sectoral market correction schemes, even much of the general public are aware of its shortcomings.

CAP is formed of 2 pillars. Pillar 1, which accounts for the 70% money spent, is simply a payment for land owned. The more land you own, the more money you get. This promotes large-scale mono-cropping, and acts as a rigid barrier to entry for young would-be farmers. Pillar 2 makes up the rest of CAP’s budget and consists of agri-environment schemes. Whilst well intentioned, Pillar 2 promotes an agricultural divide, where some land is responsibly stewarded while other land is inte…