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Agriculture needs to evolve to meet a growing population and calorie intake. It is predicted that production will need to increase by 60% by 2050. The challenge is heightened by the need to also decrease resource use. For example excessive irrigation lowers the water table, effectively making water a non-renewable resource as it is extracted faster than it can recharge. A promising solution to agriculture’s problems is big data.

Big data can increase yield, decrease resource use, reduce food waste and help food safety. It is beneficial for both the environment and the economy. Sensors collect information on soil quality…

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Agriculture is a cornerstone of human society. With continued increases in efficiency and output, it has been able to sustain an ever-growing population. Previously, efficiency boosts came from selective breeding, pesticides and notably fertiliser. Now the main space for improvements is digital technology.

Pesticides

Pesticides were a crucial part of the ‘ Green Revolution ‘ that led to huge increases in agricultural production. Pesticides reduced damage to crops, increasing yield, leading to social and economic gains. However, they came with environmental and social costs.

The main problem with pesticides is environmental contamination. Pesticides administered to crops can travel in the air…

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Hidden hunger can be defined as a micronutrient deficiency, particularly in iodine, iron, zinc and vitamin A (Harding et al., 2017). Approximately ⅓ of the population suffers from a form of malnutrition (Amoroso, 2018), hidden hunger commonly overlaps with other dietary diseases, such as obesity. While hidden hunger exists everywhere, the worst affected areas are rural and the vast majority of cases are in Africa.

It is very difficult to measure hidden hunger, so it is estimated by looking at risk factors and diseases associated with the relevant deficiencies e.g. iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A (Gödecke, 2018). For iron…

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Motorised transport in cities has a number of problems associated with it, from congestion to increased danger to residents and most notably air pollution. Transport being the greatest contributor to urban air pollution (Rajé et al., 2018). While the health effects of traffic is clear, there is also an economic cost. For example, traffic congestion in São Paulo cost $17.8 billion in 2012 or 1% of Brazil’s GDP (Davido, 2014). It is likely that the future will see an increase in motorised transport, especially in the lower to middle income countries as increased motorisation is seen as an indicator of…

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Modern cities face a number of problems, from dangerous levels of air pollution to increasing demands for affordable housing. These problems will only become more pressing as 68% of the global population will be urban by 2050. The amount of urban green space has long been contested and has come to light again recently, as Paris struggles to increase urban green spaces while providing social housing.

Paris and London have comparable population densities of 1015 residents per km and 1405/km respectively. However, Paris has only 6m 2green space per resident, where London has 45m 2. London’s vast green spaces can…

2019 has been a great year for the UK’s energy sector, as more energy is being produced from carbon zero sources (47.9%) than fossil fuels (46.7%). This is the first time that it has been the case since the industrial revolution. The remaining 5.4% comes from burning biomass, which is neither carbon zero, nor a fossil fuel.

10 years ago coal produced one third of the UK’s energy, but in the first 5 months of 2019 it has accounted for just 3%. Renewables on the other hand have increased from 2% to 25%, with wind farms producing 18.8% of the…

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Agriculture is essential to our existence and the sector is coming under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact. However, with the population increasing it will be under greater stress than ever before. We will need to feed 9 billion by 2050, with 70% of that in urban areas (Al-Chalabi, 2015). This will mean that by 2030 we will have ⅓ of the arable land that we had in 1970 (Benke and Tomkins, 2017). Previous agricultural revolutions have relied on chemicals to increase yield, at the cost of the planet (Besthorn, 2012). …

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Fast fashion, an environmental crisis or the democratisation of fashion? With Boohoo offering a mini dress for £2.85 and Missguided a bikini for just £1 have we finally hit rock bottom?

For years stores such as Primark, Zara and H&M have offered new designs each month, going from 4 seasons to 12, the average lifespan of a garment down to just 1 week. 80 billion pieces of clothing are bought each year, giving $1.2 trillion to the fashion industry. Of all these purchases, the US throws 85% away. That’s 1.7 …

David Sobel, an American educational writer, is famous for his quote “ no tragedies before grade 4 (9 years old)”. This is a thought that can be aptly applied to climate change education. It is of course vital that climate change becomes a part of the curriculum the world over, especially considering that those currently in school will face the brunt of climate change. However, the question remains, when and how should climate change be taught in schools?

In a recent Australian study, it was found that 50% of 10–14 year olds were deeply concerned with climate change and it…

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The agricultural sector accounts for approximately 12% of global emissions, but in lower income countries it can account for over 50% of national emissions. Thankfully, the agricultural sector’s emissions have decreased by 20% between 1990 and 2015. The majority of these reductions have come from technological adaptations to increase the efficiency of agricultural production. Gone are the days of a farmer working their land with hand tools, artificial intelligence now allows farmers to improve their efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. …

Alex Canal

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