Category: Policy

Imperial in the news: the future of climate change in schools

On Monday, The Guardian reported moves by the Government to remove the topic of climate change from school geography lessons.

The situation raised concerns among policy makers and researchers. Under the new proposals the curriculum for geography up to the age of 14 would not specifically teach anything about climate change or its social and political implications.  The science of climate change would instead be taught in chemistry classes..

Policy makers argue that there has been a positive impact by the current generation in tackling climate change, thanks in part to debate and discussion in geography classes. This could be lost if pupils are taught the ‘building blocks’ of climate science, but not the social or political implications of the topic in the future.

Imperial in the news: asthma research

This week has seen the publication of two important studies about asthma – one relating to the fall in the number of children being admitted to hospital with asthma since smoke-free legislation was introduced in England in 2007, and one on occupations where workers are likely to develop the disease.

The study about the reduction in hospital admissions for children was led by Dr Christopher Millet [School of Public Health] who was interviewed by the BBC. The story gained a lot of coverage, including the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Huffington Post, Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Independent featured an editorial.

Imperial in the news: ash fungus

“Ash everywhere,” cricketers say when they bowl out an opponent, referring to the stumps and bails that are made from this wood. Unfortunately, imported trees carrying ash fungus and other diseases are the suspected causes of an outbreak of Chalara ash dieback, which could cost up to £1.3billion to the economy.

The Times has reported that a number of products could still stop the spread of the disease. One developed at Imperial is a fungicide that is taken up naturally by the plants and could possibly be produced at just 10-30p per diluted litre. Visiting researcher Hans Dobson [Centre for Environmental Policy] believes that it would take around 10 litres to cover a hectare, but tests for the product will take time and with winter approaching, the window to act is diminishing.

Imperial in the news: cancer conference

To mark the centenary of the birth of Sir Richard Doll, who first published evidence of cigarette smoke causing cancer in the 1950s, one hundred of the world’s leading scientists gathered at the World Oncology Forum in Lugano, Switzerland, to make international commitments to tackling smoking.

The Independent reported on the possibility that smoking will single-handedly be responsible for the deaths of up to one billion people in this century if current trends aren’t addressed. The Guardian looked at the shortcomings in developments of anti-cancer drugs and cancer-preventing measures, and the huge variations in treatment and survival rates in different countries.

Imperial in the news: pension predicaments

People currently in employment will pay more into their pensions for less return to cover the previous generation’s own pension agreements, the Guardian reported today.

In the late 1970s, pensioners received around a third as much as workers each year. By 2010-2011, the average retired household had a disposable income of £17,700, compared to £35,000 for a working household – more than half.

Imperial’s Professor James Sefton [Business School], a former advisor to the Treasury, said that younger people are effectively subsidising the older generation. “I think they should be angry. I think the deal they are getting is poor,” he said.