Antimicrobial resistance in the 21st century — Future Microbiology special focus issue

There are few global public health issues of greater importance than antimicrobial resistance in terms of impact on society. Many existing antimicrobials are becoming less effective and the development pipeline for new antibiotics is at an all-time low. Thus, change is needed to address antimicrobial resistance. This complex global public health challenge is tackled in a timely special focus issue of Future Microbiology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Future Medicine Ltd. —> Read More

Message in a Belizean bottle: think global, act local and step up plastics recycling

Long Caye, a Caribbean island 47 miles off the coast of Belize, is awash in plastic.
Long Caye, a Caribbean island 47 miles off the coast of Belize, is awash in plastic. Here, students of Wake Forest University’s coral ecology class size up the never-ending problem. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Who left their trash behind on this remote Caribbean island? Then I realized. It wasn’t left. It arrived. An endless flotilla of refuse heedlessly sent from afar. It’s heartbreaking.

The image of a lone bottle washing up on a remote tropical island is the clichéd stuff of literature, movies and New Yorker cartoons.

But what about the image of thousands of bottles, millions even, washing up on shores as near as the Outer Banks, or as far away as the Caribbean island where I spent a week in early March with a coral ecology class from Wake Forest University?

Each of those bottles carries a message, and it’s this: our actions here have an impact there. We produce and consume far too many disposable, single-use plastic containers. And we don’t safely dispose of, or recycle, nearly enough of them.

Look at it this way, argues Sylvia Earle, the 79-year-old pioneering marine biologist and oceanographer whom I met recently, “What we must do is acknowledge a sea change in attitude, one that acknowledges we are a part of the living world, not apart from it.”

IN THE LATE 1960s, a NASA engineer named Jackson Lane Edwards II purchased a tropical island called Long Caye (pronounced key) some 47 miles off the mainland of Belize in Central America. It’s part of the six-island Lighthouse Reef Atoll, home to the Great Blue Hole made famous by Jacques Cousteau, and surrounded by the second-largest, and today, the healthiest coral reef on earth.

Trouble in paradise.

Long Caye is tiny, just 2.5 miles long and barely a mile —> Read More

Balloon mapping False Creek

Author flying a weather balloon camera rig in downtown Vancouver. Photo Credit: Stephen Jackson
Author flying a weather balloon camera rig in downtown Vancouver. Photo Credit: Stephen Jackson

False Creek, a narrow inlet bordering downtown Vancouver, is a site of multiple histories and fluctuating shorelines. Today, the banks of the creek are lined with public art, residential neighborhoods, a science museum, re-zoned sites for real estate development and a network of parks lined with walkways and bike paths. Less than a century ago, the shores were teeming with industrial activity, initially spurred on by the logging industry. Before that, for thousands of years, First Nations people hunted and fished along its shores. The ebb and flow of human activity has determined the geography of this shoreline though most significantly in the last couple hundred years.

Historically, False Creek was much wider and longer than how it appears today. Below is an image that local Vancouver historian John Atkin shared with me that overlays the original size of the creek onto a map of downtown Vancouver.

Former extent of False Creek over a map of Vancouver from 1995. Credit: creator unknown

Unfortunately, we were unable to identify the original creator. If someone reading this post has a lead, please leave a comment and I will make the proper attributions.

Below is a map I made of False Creek from images collected using a point and shoot camera strapped inside a plastic juice container, clipped to a kite string that was tethered to a five and half foot red weather balloon.

Aerial images stitched into a map of False Creek overlaid on Google Maps. Made with MapKnitter. Credit: author
Aerial images stitched together into a map of False Creek overlaid on Google Maps. Made with MapKnitter. Photo credit: Author
<img src="http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/files/2015/03/false_creek_balloon_map_02-600×432.png" alt="Map of Central Station in downtown Vancouver. This used to all —> Read More

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