Tag: ensia

WHAT DOES THE ENVIRONMENT HAVE TO DO WITH DISEASES THAT AFFECT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

The rise in recent decades of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis suggests that factors in the environment are contributing.

In 1932, New York gastroenterologist Burrill Crohn described an unusual disease in 14 adults. The patients had bouts of abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and lesions and scars on the bowel wall. Doctors in other parts of North America and Europe were seeing it in their patients, too. They called the rare condition Crohn’s disease. After World War II, the number of new people getting inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and a related condition called ulcerative colitis) skyrocketed across the West in countries such as the U.S., Canada and the UK. In the last three decades, IBD has begun to crop up in newly industrialized parts of the world like Hong Kong and China’s big cities.

TECHNOLOGY GOT US INTO THIS CLIMATE MESS, AND IT CAN HELP GET US OUT — IF WE LET IT

Challenges of this scale require people to want to solve it, and we’re not there yet.

When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts. In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer for the 2017 Ensia print annual, IT Technology Review editor in chief and publisher Jason Pontin responds to three questions: What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? Why? And what should we be doing about it now?

The challenge in 2017 existed in 1989: the civilizational challenge of climate change. Technology created the problem, and technology plausibly offers ways to ameliorate and manage it. But we have to want to solve the problem. Great civilizational challenge of that scale requires government, academia, business and ordinary people to want to solve it, and I don’t think as a species we are there yet.

NEW WEBSITE SHOWCASES SEEDS OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Want to solve big problems? Start small.

Seeds of Good Anthropocenes, a website created by an international team of sustainability scientists, seeks to do just that. The site showcases more than 500 initiatives from around the world that, while not widespread or well known, might contribute to a sustainable future.

The purpose of the project, according to its founders, is to provide a middle ground between gloom-and-doom reports, which may inadvertently spur feelings of powerlessness and resignation, and those that are overly optimistic and risk inciting complacency. Writing in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the founders argue that we should break through this dichotomy by looking to “seeds” — environmentally beneficial tools and techniques that are neither untested proposals nor established practices. Each seed offers an idea that helps in some way to address challenges posed by the Anthropocene, such as environmental awareness, urban sustainability and equitable decision-making.