Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Globalization


Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

Concepts: Society, John Zerzan, Peak oil, Globalization, Poverty, Civilization, Sociocultural evolution, Culture


Heatwaves are important climatic extremes in atmospheric and oceanic systems that can have devastating and long-term impacts on ecosystems, with subsequent socioeconomic consequences. Recent prominent marine heatwaves have attracted considerable scientific and public interest. Despite this, a comprehensive assessment of how these ocean temperature extremes have been changing globally is missing. Using a range of ocean temperature data including global records of daily satellite observations, daily in situ measurements and gridded monthly in situ-based data sets, we identify significant increases in marine heatwaves over the past century. We find that from 1925 to 2016, global average marine heatwave frequency and duration increased by 34% and 17%, respectively, resulting in a 54% increase in annual marine heatwave days globally. Importantly, these trends can largely be explained by increases in mean ocean temperatures, suggesting that we can expect further increases in marine heatwave days under continued global warming.

Concepts: Globalization, Climate change, Weather, Ocean, Time, Scientific method, Global warming, Climate


Alien insects are increasingly being dispersed around the world through international trade, causing a multitude of negative environmental impacts and billions of dollars in economic losses annually. Border controls form the last line of defense against invasions, whereby inspectors aim to intercept and stop consignments that are contaminated with harmful alien insects. In Europe, member states depend on one another to prevent insect introductions by operating a first point of entry rule - controlling goods only when they initially enter the continent. However, ensuring consistency between border control points is difficult because there exists no optimal inspection strategy. For the first time, we developed a method to quantify the volume of agricultural trade that should be inspected for quarantine insects at border control points in Europe, based on global agricultural trade of over 100 million distinct origin-commodity-species-destination pathways. This metric was then used to evaluate the performance of existing border controls, as measured by border interception results in Europe between 2003 and 2007. Alarmingly, we found significant gaps between the trade pathways that should be inspected and actual number of interceptions. Moreover, many of the most likely introduction pathways yielded none or very few insect interceptions, because regular interceptions are only made on only a narrow range of pathways. European countries with gaps in border controls have been invaded by higher numbers of quarantine alien insect species, indicating the importance of proper inspections to prevent insect invasions. Equipped with an optimal inspection strategy based on the underlying risks of trade, authorities globally will be able to implement more effective and consistent border controls.

Concepts: International trade, Border, Border control, United Kingdom, Insect, Globalization, Europe


Western lifestyles differ markedly from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and these differences in diet and activity level are often implicated in the global obesity pandemic. However, few physiological data for hunter-gatherer populations are available to test these models of obesity. In this study, we used the doubly-labeled water method to measure total daily energy expenditure (kCal/day) in Hadza hunter-gatherers to test whether foragers expend more energy each day than their Western counterparts. As expected, physical activity level, PAL, was greater among Hadza foragers than among Westerners. Nonetheless, average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners after controlling for body size. The metabolic cost of walking (kcal kg(-1) m(-1)) and resting (kcal kg(-1) s(-1)) were also similar among Hadza and Western groups. The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure. We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences.

Concepts: Costs, Energy, Culture, Difference, Globalization, Cost, Metabolism, Obesity


Prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is increasing globally, with the greatest projected increases in low-income and middle-income countries. We sought to quantify the proportion of Cochrane evidence relating to NCDs derived from such countries.

Concepts: Globalization, Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane Library, Evidence-based medicine, Disease, World Bank, Randomized controlled trial, Poverty


Globalization describes processes of greater integration of the world economy through increased flows goods, services, capital and people. Globalization has undergone significant transformation since the 1970s, entrenching neoliberal economics as the dominant model of global market integration. Although this transformation has generated some health gains, since the 1990s it has also increased health disparities.

Concepts: Neoliberalism, Trade, Capitalism, World Bank, Economy, Free market, Globalization, Economics


Dengue is currently regarded globally as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease. A history of symptoms compatible with dengue can be traced back to the Chin Dynasty of 265-420 AD. The virus and its vectors have now become widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly over the last half-century. Significant geographic expansion has been coupled with rapid increases in incident cases, epidemics, and hyperendemicity, leading to the more severe forms of dengue. Transmission of dengue is now present in every World Health Organization (WHO) region of the world and more than 125 countries are known to be dengue endemic. The true impact of dengue globally is difficult to ascertain due to factors such as inadequate disease surveillance, misdiagnosis, and low levels of reporting. Currently available data likely grossly underestimates the social, economic, and disease burden. Estimates of the global incidence of dengue infections per year have ranged between 50 million and 200 million; however, recent estimates using cartographic approaches suggest this number is closer to almost 400 million. The expansion of dengue is expected to increase due to factors such as the modern dynamics of climate change, globalization, travel, trade, socioeconomics, settlement and also viral evolution. No vaccine or specific antiviral therapy currently exists to address the growing threat of dengue. Prompt case detection and appropriate clinical management can reduce the mortality from severe dengue. Effective vector control is the mainstay of dengue prevention and control. Surveillance and improved reporting of dengue cases is also essential to gauge the true global situation as indicated in the objectives of the WHO Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control, 2012-2020. More accurate data will inform the prioritization of research, health policy, and financial resources toward reducing this poorly controlled disease. The objective of this paper is to review historical and current epidemiology of dengue worldwide and, additionally, reflect on some potential reasons for expansion of dengue into the future.

Concepts: Malaria, Virus, Future, Infectious disease, World Health Organization, Globalization, Public health, Epidemiology


From the foods we eat and the houses we construct, to our religious practices and political organization, to who we can marry and the types of games we teach our children, the diversity of cultural practices in the world is astounding. Yet, our ability to visualize and understand this diversity is limited by the ways it has been documented and shared: on a culture-by-culture basis, in locally-told stories or difficult-to-access repositories. In this paper we introduce D-PLACE, the Database of Places, Language, Culture, and Environment. This expandable and open-access database (accessible at brings together a dispersed corpus of information on the geography, language, culture, and environment of over 1400 human societies. We aim to enable researchers to investigate the extent to which patterns in cultural diversity are shaped by different forces, including shared history, demographics, migration/diffusion, cultural innovations, and environmental and ecological conditions. We detail how D-PLACE helps to overcome four common barriers to understanding these forces: i) location of relevant cultural data, (ii) linking data from distinct sources using diverse ethnonyms, (iii) variable time and place foci for data, and (iv) spatial and historical dependencies among cultural groups that present challenges for analysis. D-PLACE facilitates the visualisation of relationships among cultural groups and between people and their environments, with results downloadable as tables, on a map, or on a linguistic tree. We also describe how D-PLACE can be used for exploratory, predictive, and evolutionary analyses of cultural diversity by a range of users, from members of the worldwide public interested in contrasting their own cultural practices with those of other societies, to researchers using large-scale computational phylogenetic analyses to study cultural evolution. In summary, we hope that D-PLACE will enable new lines of investigation into the major drivers of cultural change and global patterns of cultural diversity.

Concepts: Humanities, Civilization, Sociology, Natural environment, Ecology, Anthropology, Globalization, Culture


Agroforestry systems and tree cover on agricultural land make an important contribution to climate change mitigation, but are not systematically accounted for in either global carbon budgets or national carbon accounting. This paper assesses the role of trees on agricultural land and their significance for carbon sequestration at a global level, along with recent change trends. Remote sensing data show that in 2010, 43% of all agricultural land globally had at least 10% tree cover and that this has increased by 2% over the previous ten years. Combining geographically and bioclimatically stratified Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Tier 1 default estimates of carbon storage with this tree cover analysis, we estimated 45.3 PgC on agricultural land globally, with trees contributing >75%. Between 2000 and 2010 tree cover increased by 3.7%, resulting in an increase of >2 PgC (or 4.6%) of biomass carbon. On average, globally, biomass carbon increased from 20.4 to 21.4 tC ha(-1). Regional and country-level variation in stocks and trends were mapped and tabulated globally, and for all countries. Brazil, Indonesia, China and India had the largest increases in biomass carbon stored on agricultural land, while Argentina, Myanmar, and Sierra Leone had the largest decreases.

Concepts: Globalization, Forestry, Agroforestry, Climate change, Carbon capture and storage, Remote sensing, Sierra Leone, Global warming


Male circumcision (MC) status and genital infection risk are interlinked and MC is now part of HIV prevention programs worldwide. Current MC prevalence is not known for all countries globally. Our aim was to provide estimates for country-specific and global MC prevalence.

Concepts: Estimator, Genital wart, Globalization, Genital modification and mutilation, HIV, Circumcision, Penis