by Karen Stroobants

Are we still able to think big, to imagine a better world than the one we currently live in? Rutger Bregman, a young Dutch historian, certainly thinks so. I have been following his activities for a while now, as he strongly believes in the concept of ‘a basic income for everyone’, and so do I. Although the idea is appealing, it is hard to establish firm arguments that cannot in any way be refuted by critics, and maybe even by realists. So when Bregman announced that he was about to publish a book, ‘Utopia for realists’, I knew it would be my next read.

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“In these cases, what seems to be crucial is the connection between efforts to reduce inequality and to adopt technologies in sectors such as water and waste management, which are absolutely crucial for Climate Change policies. In terms of policy, it appears that ‘socially just’ is very close to ‘environmentally sustainable.’”

By Nicolás Valenzuela-Levi

Public interest on income inequality increased during the last decade. Among scholars, one of the aspects that has been researched is how does income distribution affect innovation and technology adoption. On the one side, hopes for long term economic development highlight the need to understand what drives innovation. On the other side, inequalities are fuelling social unrest and public debate on what is the fair distribution of opportunities and benefits in our societies. Consequently, the question about the link between income inequality and innovation is becoming more and more attractive.

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The Special Issue 2017 is dedicated to the tensions between science, technology, policy and inequality. Inside we have articles by four wonderful authors covering gender, income inequality, solar panels, universal basic income, network technologies and much more. Look no further for a glimpse into the ongoing negotiation between society and science.  

The Special Issue contains:

Women and Solar Home Systems in Rural Bihar, India by Shivi Chandna
A Look at the Attrition of Women in STEM by Sumana Sharma
Book Review: Utopia for Realists by Karen Stroobants
Income Inequality and the Internet of Things by Nicolás Valenzuela-Levi

With Editor’s Note by Victoria Plutshack

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“Bees and other wild pollinators are fascinating, beautiful, and vital to our food production. They have pollinated our crops for millennia; now it’s time for us to return the favour.” – Dave Goulson, DEFRA

by Erin Cullen

Pollination is the process of pollen being transferred to the female reproductive organs of a plant and fertilisation taking place. Pollinators (which include honeybees) are vital to the process of pollination in flowering plants. Therefore pollinators provide vital ecosystem services which include food production as well as being important for biodiversity and conservation. With the need for food production to increase, now is an important time for pollinator security. However, their numbers are in decline. This piece will consider the legislation in place to protect pollinators both at a UK and international level, and examine the evidence collected by scientists to determine its efficacy. Although government commitment to biodiversity is strong in the UK, patchy legislation means that this commitment may not translate into protection for pollinators.

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Most diseases have sudden well-defined symptoms, but isn’t forgetfulness just a part of ageing? How do you know when you should be concerned? 

by Philip Lindstedt

With the increasing life expectancy of the global population age-associated diseases stand to become the greatest plague of the 21st century. Indeed, in the U.K. dementia has recently overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death. While not through a lack of effort, the development of effective therapies for dementias, especially Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form, has been woefully unsuccessful. Policy makers around the globe have settled on a deadline of 2025 for a single effective therapy against Alzheimer’s in order to mitigate the potentially immense cost of the care burden. Although some candidates appear promising, recent high-profile failures showcase the difficult path towards 2025, casting doubt on the possibility for researchers to meet their deadline in the current policy paradigm.

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