Peru’s ancient water systems can help protect communities from shortages caused by climate change

Harvesting wheat in the Peruvian Andes.
Shutterstock.

Susan Conlon, University of Bristol and Kevin Lane, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Water is essential for human life, but in many parts of the world water supplies are under threat from more extreme, less predictable weather conditions due to climate change. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Peruvian Andes, where rising temperatures and receding glaciers forewarn of imminent water scarcity for the communities that live there. Continue reading

Gaslighting: from partners to politicians – how to avoid becoming a victim

Controversial picture of President Trump and the First Lady holding an orphaned child following the mass shooting in El Paso.
The White House

Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol

President Donald Trump’s statement on the horrific mass shooting in El Paso on August 3 that killed 22 people and injured 24 covered a lot of ground. From video games and mental illness to the death penalty, the president drew attention to many variables – but not to the semi-automatic guns that are often used in mass shootings. Instead, he claimed that “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun”. Continue reading

Remembering Why We Ride – putting a positive spin on the story of cycling

Before Channel 5 aired their broadcast Cyclists: Scourge of the Roads?, described by The Guardian’s Peter Walker as ‘the worst, most scaremongering, inaccurate, downright irresponsible programme on cycling’, I’d already conducted a brief analysis of tabloid coverage of cycling to confirm what I and many other cyclists have felt for a long time: that we get a lot of bad press. Continue reading

Climate-driven extreme weather is threatening old bridges with collapse

The damaged bridge near Grinton. July 2019 Picture: Danny Lawson/ PA
Maria Pregnolato, University of Bristol and Elizabeth Lewis, Newcastle University

The recent collapse of a bridge in Grinton, North Yorkshire, raises lots of questions about how prepared we are for these sorts of risks. The bridge, which was due to be on the route of the cycling world championships in September, collapsed after a month’s worth of rain fell in just four hours, causing flash flooding. Continue reading

How can researchers engage with policy?

Policymaking is a complex and messy process; the evidence base is just one factor in decision making. Image from Sausages, evidence and policymaking: The role of universities in a post-truth world, Policy Institute at Kings 2017

Blog by Dr Alisha Davies, Dr Laura Howe, Prof Debbie Lawlor, Dr Lindsey Pike

Policy engagement is becoming more of a priority in academic life, as emphasis shifts from focusing purely on academic outputs to creating impact from research. Research impact is defined by UKRI as ‘the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’. Continue reading

Extinction Rebellion uses tactics that toppled dictators – but we live in a liberal democracy

XR protesters getting carried away. Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA.

Oscar Berglund, University of Bristol

After occupying parts of central London over two weeks in April, Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) summer uprising has now spread to Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Bristol. All these protests involve disruption, breaking the law and activists seeking arrest.

Emotions are running high, with many objecting to the disruption. At the same time, the protests have got people and the media talking about climate change. XR clearly represents something new and unusual, which has the power to annoy or enthuse people. But what led it to adopt such disruptive tactics in its efforts to demand action on climate change? Continue reading

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls

Trump’s poll numbers went up after high levels of Russian troll activity, though Clinton’s didn’t go down.
AP/Mary Altaffer, Chuck Burton

Damian Ruck, University of Bristol

When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered.

But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump. Continue reading

E-cigarettes: why I’m optimistic they will stub smoking out for good

Shutterstock/Lumen Photos

Jasmine Khouja, University of Bristol

There are over a billion smokers across the world – a habit which causes more than 7m deaths per year. We have known that smoking kills for decades, but this simple fact has not been enough to persuade every smoker to quit. Continue reading

Older and poorer communities are left behind by the decline of cash

File 20190515 60554 1gg9he7.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
An increasingly rare sight.
ShutterStockStudio / Shutterstock.com

Daniel Tischer, University of Bristol; Jamie Evans, University of Bristol, and Sara Davies, University of Bristol

A future without cash seems almost inevitable. Recent statistics paint a damning picture: while cash accounted for 62% of all payments by volume in 2006, this dropped to 40% in just a decade and is predicted to fall yet further to 21% by 2026. Continue reading