Research on soil ecology, fertility apps and climate change influencers was presented yesterday at our Annual International Conference being held in London.
Plenary speaker Maria Puig de le Bellacasa from Warwick University spoke to a full house of delegates about the ‘story of soil’ and the complexities of the human-soil relationship. Describing the current troubled landscape as one of biological ecocide, historic overuse and degradation she showed that with careful re-connection and repair, our understanding of this exhausted resource to which we are essentially connected, could be restored.
She said: “We need to accept our individual role in this ongoing eco-social catastrophe and understand that nature is not just a resource for us, we are a resource for nature. Soil’s future, and therefore our future, could become much brighter if we change our thinking. We can share stories of better land regulation, farming efficiencies, avoiding pesticides and domestic composting and in this way nurture hopeful ecological futures.”
Digital fertility apps used to prevent or achieve pregnancy were under the spotlight in a session presented by Josie Hamper from Queen Mary, University of London. The apps, which monitor reproductive cycles and fertility signs, have become an important source of information about reproductive health and form part of a wider digital health movement that geographers are using to explore reproductive rights, responsibilities and governance. In her presentation, Josie relayed how fertility tracking, which is now sensitive enough to include earlier pre-conception stages, is changing how women will think and act to plan their reproductive health in the future.
Recent research, by Steve Westlake from Cardiff University, discovered that there is an “appetite for leadership” when it comes to tackling emissions from aviation, and leaders who take a stand by giving up flying influence the behaviour of others. The study of 380 people showed that around half of respondents who knew someone who had given up flying said they fly less because of this person’s behaviour. The study also showed that three quarters of the group’s attitudes towards flying and climate change had altered as a result, especially if the influencer was a high-profile leader. Steve concluded: “Leading by example by giving up flying appears to send a powerful and effective message that, along with structural changes in transport provision and different government policy signals, a shift away from flying as a social norm could form part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions”.
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