Soil and water pollution in China

Soil and water pollution is an increasing problem in China. Soil contamination occurs in most countries with a lot of farmland, heavy industry and mining. In Ukraine, for example, which has all three, about 8% of the land is contaminated. However, China is the world’s largest producer of food and of heavy industrial commodities such as steel and cement. China’s soil contamination is so great that it is impossible to remove all the contaminants. The country has many brownfield sites (contaminated ...

Japan’s changing demography

Japan’s ageing population is having a number of impacts – some demographic, some social and economic and even some technological! Japan has entered a vicious cycle of low fertility and low spending that has led to a huge decline in lost GDP and a population decline of 1 million people, all since 2012. One commentator has suggested that it is death of the Japanese family. A 2016 study conducted by a Japanese research firm found that even though nearly 70% of ...

Tourism in Cuba

Many people in Cuba are poor. Average purchasing power parity is around $11,500 but there is widespread inequality within Cuba. For example, a typical state employee makes $25 a month. Tourism has the potential to create jobs and raise incomes but there are far fewer tourists in Cuba than there ought to be. One of the main constraints on developing the tourist sector has been the government: Cuba is a communist dictatorship in a time warp. The big hotels, majority-owned by ...

Changing mortality in England and Wales

Better health care and improved living conditions has led to a continuing fall in mortality in England and Wales since the end of the Second World War. Between 2003 and 2013, life expectancy in England rose by 3 years for men and 2.3 years for women. Deaths among the elderly are expected to push up the mortality rate eventually, but probably not until after 2025, when many of the population reach their late 70s and 80s. However, in 2012 and ...

Family planning in South Korea

For Koreans wishing to have a child in 2017, there is good news. Starting in July 2017, those receiving infertility treatment will be guaranteed three days of unpaid leave per year. At the same time, paternity leave will increase from KRW 1.5 million (c. £1000) to KRW 2 million (c. £1250) fir fathers staying at home to care for their second children. Thirdly, the government plamns to have infertility treatment covered by health insurance  from September 2017, and finally, from ...

Singapore’s smart city

With the rate of Southeast Asia’s urbanisation projected to increase from 48% in 2015 to 65% in 2050, there is mounting pressure on governments to find solutions to challenges and improve their efficiency in the distribution of public services. Driven by the desire to improve sustainability with minimal resources, the adoption of smart infrastructure can significantly improve a city’s business climate, environmental awareness and standard of living. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, across Asian cities the demand for smart city ...

Poverty in the UK damaging children’s health

‘Stark inequalities’ and high rates of child death, obesity and ill-health were all highlighted in a report on child health in the UK. Children living in the most deprived areas are much more likely to be in poor health, be overweight or obese, suffer from asthma, have poorly managed diabetes, experience mental health problems and die early. Children in the UK have higher death rates, obesity and ill-health than in much of Europe. The UK could do far more to improve ...

US bank, Citigroup, plans new operations away from London after Brexit

The US bank, Citigroup, has been in talks with Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Netherlands in search for new European base once UK leaves EU. Citigroup currently employs 9,000 people in the UK, and a further 12,000 people across the EU. Citigroup has set out 25 criteria to weigh up which financial centre in the European Union will house the new operation it expects to set up due to decision of the UK to pull out of the European Union ...

British ash trees may resist dieback disease

Genetic analysis shows native British ash trees may be more resistant than Danish ones to the deadly fungus that has spread across Europe. The ash is one of Europe’s most common trees. Ash dieback fungus first appeared in the UK in 2012, and has spread rapidly since. It is now found in more than half of the country. It has already affected 90% of trees in Denmark and threatens to all but wipe out ash trees there. The new genetic research ...

The Arctic Resilience Report

Scientists working on climate change in the Arctic warn that increasingly rapid melting could trigger 19 polar ‘tipping points’ with impacts felt as far away as the Indian Ocean. Temperatures in the Arctic have been as much as 20C higher than average and Arctic sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year. According to Marcus Carson, one of the lead authors of the Arctic Resilience Report, the warning signals are getting louder, and they have ...