British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

As the pre-election debates heats up in Britain, one thing is certain — that the country’s collective identity as either British or as citizens of wider Europe is still seriously polarized, and even the outcome of the election is unlikely to unite a divided nation or provide an answer to this complicated identity crisis.

Contrary to the simplistic view that this is as a result of immigration, some historians believe that it is borne out of a subconscious desire to return to the days of greatness that the British empire had prior to the beginning of their demise.

In the context of other large scale empires, Britain’s demise has been short-lived thus far. The Roman Empire spent 300 years falling from its pinnacle moment of greatness, clinging on to its powers by any means necessary and never submitting to other powers which may dilute their influence. Hindsight provides us the luxury of analysing the Roman Empire over the course of several hundred years and makes it easy for historians and political analysts to draw parallels between certain behaviors, such as rejecting large supranational powers and trying to retain sovereignty and power — much of the basis of the bubbling eurosceptic movement which resulted in the national referendum in 2016.

A desire to enter into new trade deals with commonwealth nations could signify a nostalgia for the past. Nations such as India and Singapore also happen to be widely emerging economies with successful, innovative and deeply competitive tertiary sectors. Some of the systems left behind by colonialism lend themselves to future partnerships, based on free-market principles and de jure democratic processes. Whether this is a tangible reality or a misplaced confidence is a matter for history to decide, but the kinship and shared sensibility between ex-colonial nations with such historical relationships is not to be ignored.

Whatever the outcome, history tells us it is difficult to reclaim the glory days of the past. Will Britain thrive as an independent nation in a global world, or is her position within a greater European superstate still the best option for economic prosperity and social harmony?

More information:

Read: Important Historical Sites of the British Empire

Read: Brexit and the British Empire

Watch: Empire Builders – British Empire

Buy: Globe Trekker – Rise & Fall of the British Raj DVD

Study Guide: The Lost World of Joseph Banks

Watch: The Grassroots Tour – Colonial Relics of the Raj

Watch: Historic Walks – Albertopolis, London: Age of Empire

Main Image: The Natural History Museum, Albertopolis, London. Pilot Productions ©

By Sofi Summers

 

 

 

Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 'New Energy' Vehicles by 2025

Chinese bus and truck manufacturer Beiqi Foton Motor plans to put 200,000 ‘new energy’ vehicles on the road by 2025. The $2.6 billion (¥18 billion) initiative hopes to develop new road transportation vehicles with hybrid-electric, fully-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Hydrogen as fuel is created by the electrolysis of water, which splits the oxygen from the hydrogen. The electrolysis process can use wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, fossil fuels, biomass or nuclear energy to generate the electricity required in a ‘green’ manner.

The vehicles will mostly be used for commercial purposes, such as public transportation and road haulage, in a bid to improve air quality and help China to battle pollution in its economic and industrial hubs.

Beijing Air Pollution, Kentaro Iemoto, Flickr Creative Commons

Beijing Air Pollution, Kentaro Iemoto, Flickr Creative Commons

Atmospheric Pollution is a well documented issue in China, and is estimated to be responsible for 1.6 million deaths a year. Many large national companies are beginning to make the commitment to developing greener practices to help combat the problem.

This level of commitment to innovation is a responsible and economically feasible way for industry leaders around the world to tackle some of the environmental damage caused by industrialisation. Environmental damage has largely been caused by ‘innovation’, but could be solved by it too.

China, despite being the worlds 4th largest producer of oil, produces just 5% of the world’s supply which is not enough to meet the demand of the nation. In 2017, China surpassed the United States as the worlds number one importer of oil. In the future, a move towards renewable energy and hydrogen as a source of fuel could see China’s crude oil consumption, among other fossil fuels, fall dramatically.

Watch our episode Tough Trucks – Morocco to see the the world’s first fully electric pick-up truck!

Main image: Toyota hydrogen fuel cell at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Joseph Brent, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Rare Mouse-Deer Caught on Camera in Vietnam

Rare Mouse-Deer Caught on Camera in Vietnam

One of our greatest pleasures is discovering cute, exotic animals that we never knew existed, and this Mouse-deer is no exception. Especially considering nobody has seen one since the 90’s!

‘Chevrotain’ otherwise known as mouse-deer (though not belonging to either family), are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world, originating in forests in South and South-East Asia, and forested parts of West Africa. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is native to Vietnam and had not been sighted for around 30 years – until now.

The Vietnamese Chevrotain had made it onto the Global Wildlife Web Size-5_Silver-Backed-Chevrotain_whiteConservation’s 25 most wanted missing species list, with specialists unsure as to whether these creatures had become extinct.

Chevrotain originating in Asia can weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg. In other words, their size ranges from a small Guinea Pig up to a Jack Russell dog. They lack antlers or horns, but have long canine teeth used for fighting. Chevrotain live mostly on plants, live in couples and give birth to one (very cute) baby Chevrotain at at time.

Cameras were set in forested areas by zoologists in order to find out, and fortunately there were multiple sightings of the mousy-looking critter. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is the first of 25 missing species that the organisation hopes to find.

Global Wildlife ConservationGlobal Wildlife Conservation

Main Image: Global Wildlife Conservation

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia’s “Matildas”

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia's "Matildas"

The bosses of Australia’s national football team have laid-down a new deal for the female Matildas meaning they will get the same 24% share of commercial revenue as the male team.

The new deal comes following the Matildas’ campaign during the Women’s World Cup this summer for female football players to receive fairer pay. The World Cup gained more support and viewership than ever before, with over 82 million people watching the final between the USA and the Netherlands – A 56% uplift on the previous games in 2015.

The public’s increased interest and support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the game, with FIFA

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

President Gianni Infantino pledging to spend $1 billion on women’s football over the next four years.

However, Football Federation Australia’s decision is the first of its kind, with clear ambitions to set precedent on how women could be paid more fairly further afield than football. The worldwide movement originally gained most of its traction in America, where the game is very big business.

Along with the issue of cash, the national team are also addressing the current differences in training between the two teams, with women set to receive the same coaching as their male counterparts; better negotiating of sponsorship deals; and providing greater parental support systems to help the players return to the game post-partum.

The female players will also be afforded the luxury of flying business class when travelling for games – a luxury previously reserved for only the male team.

Main Image: Australia’s Matildas at the Women’s World Cup 2019, Liondartois, Wikimedia Commons

By Sofi Summers

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt

Thirty coffins thought to belong to the families of high priests have been excavated from an ancient burial site in Egypt.

The sarcophagi are very well preserved, and are thought to be around 3000 years old.

Study Guide: The Ancient Egyptians

The mummies will be displayed in an exhibition at the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum scheduled to open in 2020, along with the full Tutankhamun collection.

The multicolored coffins were found in the heart of ancient Egypt – in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and have got scientists, Egyptologists and archaeologists very excited! It is the first collection of coffins of this scale to be discovered since the end of the 19th century. The Valley of the Kings is also famous as being the resting place of King Tutankhamun.

More information:

Read: Pharoh Tomb: The Pyramids Of Giza

Buy: Globe Trekker – Egypt DVD

Download: Tough Boats – Egypt Down The Nile

Buy: Empire Builders – The Ancient Egyptians

All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

All-Female Sailing Team 'eXXpedeition' on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.

The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.

Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.

The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.

You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!

All images courtesy of eXXpedition 

By Sofi Pickering

 

 

 

Submerging Turkey’s History: The Ilisu Dam

Submerging Turkey's History: The Ilisu Dam

The ancient town of Hasankeyf, Turkey faces submersion in just a few short months following the construction of a new hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river which will harness the flow of the the river to generate electricity at the expense of the areas surrounding the dam upstream.

Hasankeyf is currently inhabited by some 3000 residents, whom have a deadline of October 8th to vacate the town to their new dwellings on higher ground the opposite side of the river in the new development of ‘New Hasankeyf’. This is not an unfamiliar story of displacement; much of the world have trialed and succeeded in generating energy from renewable sources at the expense of people’s settlements. But what makes this case truly remarkable is that Hasankeyf has been continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years and has been home to some of the worlds earliest civilisations.

Study Guide: The Turkish Diaspora

A monument to these civilisations, ancient relics are found scattered across the town; Neolithic caves, Byzantine ruins and Ayyubid mosques among many others. Some of the monuments from the ancient city have been moved to the new town, but the human history that goes along with them will be left to drown. The citizens fear for the loss of their ancestry as it provides a large part of their economy through both tourism and animal husbandry.

The plans for the development of the dam have been in the making for decades, and constriction began in 2006. The Turkish government’s plans to develop the poverty-stricken Kurdish south-eastern region have been undeterred by the national and international protests, and withdrawal of support from key European banks providing funding. The government expects that the dam will contribute a much-needed $412 million to the economy on an annual basis. However, the dam is also something of a diplomatic issue too – the Tigris flows through neighbouring Iran who have expressed concerns that the new, restricted flow of the river downstream could cause water shortages in their country.

The town does not have the special protection of global schemes designed to protect such relics. UNESCO status, for example, can only be achieved if nominated by the national government. Where this national government has already condemned this citadel to extinction, it seems unlikely that protections will be awarded.

Visit Hasankayf with us in our episode Globe Trekker – Turkey 2, available to buy on DVD at the Pilot Guides Store now!

 

India’s Record Breaking Monsoon Season

India's Record Breaking Monsoon Season

India’s monsoon season is finally forecast to come to a close on October 10th this year, marking the end of the longest rainy season the country has ever seen.

Typically, the monsoon season lasts through the months of June to September, and draws in before the end of September. The last time the nation saw such a long monsoon period was in 1964, when the rains did not withdraw until the October 1st.

There has been extensive flooding across the northern regions of India due to this year’s rainfall, and it is estimated that the flooding has caused over 100 deaths. Collapsing homes and drowning are responsible for many of the deaths. The rain was initially forcasted to be no more than average, but India has gone on to experience the highest rainfall in 25 years.

The floods have also damaged some of India’s summer crops such as cotton and soy, but the additional rainfall is expected to be of benefit to the winter crops that the nation grows such as chickpeas, wheat and rice. The additional rainfall will also restore reservoirs and ground water supplies for the coming dry seasons.

India is known for its hot, tropical weather. In general, April to June provides the hottest and most uncomfortable weather. The monsoon rains come shortly after and last through September. The cooler weather lasts from November to mid-March, with fresh mornings or evenings and nice dry, sunny days in-between.

More information:

Read: Destination Guide: India

Read: Trekking in East India

Watch: India’s Independence Railroads

Buy: The Story of Tea DVD

By Sofi Pickering

13,000 Japanese Volunteers Welcome Tourists At The Rugby World Cup

13,000 Japanese Volunteers Welcome Tourists At The Rugby World Cup

13,000 Japanese volunteers from across the nation are this welcoming the arrival of rugby fans from all over the world.

The record-number of volunteers, known as “Team No-Side”, are assisting tourists and fans around the venues as well as at nearby transport points, while some are working for VIPs such as government, business and popular culture figures from around the world.

For the duration of the Rugby World Cup, more than 400,000 visitors will arrive for the games which began on the September 20th and run through until the November 2nd. The games are being held in 12 cities across the nation including Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka.

2011 Rugby World Cup, Jean Francois Fournier Photographe, Flickr Creative Commons

2011 Rugby World Cup, Jean Francois Fournier Photographe, Flickr Creative Commons

In the initial recruitment drive, over 38,000 people applied for the 10,000 positions, attracting applications from people from all over Japan – of all genders and generations. 13,000 candidates were eventually selected for the roles and have been training in the 12 centres around the country since.

The roles are completely unpaid and with no expenses covered, however many view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and of great importance to Japan. The event is the first major rugby tournament to be held in Asia, and the Japanese are bound by a sense of pride and duty to showing off their nation’s best side.

Akira Shimazu, the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee CEO, is banking on Team No-Side to help make the tournament a success.

“I want them to present the tournament together as the face of the historic first World Cup held in Asia, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Shimazu.

This is the first of many more important events to come to Japan, with the Summer Olympics and Paralympics returning to Tokyo next year!

More information:

Read: WOW: What’s On Where In September

Buy: Empire Builders – Japan

Download: Adventure Golf – Japan

 

Main Image: Tokyo, Nicholas Cole, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

New scientific research has discovered DNA in the water of Loch Ness that suggests that it may be home to Giant Eels. This kind of discovery isn’t unusual in itself, however in the Scottish Highlands the news has been received with much excitement. You see, since the 6th Century, the whole world has been trying – and failing – to find solid evidence that a ‘monster’ exists in this lake. A monster called Nessie.

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

The Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’,  is in folklore a large lake-monster which has been allegedly sighted over many years. It is described as being a large creature with a long neck that protrudes from the water in several places. She has also, interestingly, been described as being “serpent-like”.

Generally speaking, the scientific community has always regarded the Loch Ness Monster as a phenomenon without a biological basis and has explained sightings as hoaxes and incorrect identification of other objects.

However, scientist from the University of Otago have this week discovered the DNA of Eels which could explain the both the origin and the subsequent sightings of the Lock Ness Monster. Professor Neil Gemmell, who led the team, has said (of the discovery) that it is not impossible that the lake contains mutant giant Eels which occasionally surface and are sighted as ‘Nessie’.

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Professor Gemmell explained that: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness. Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Loch Ness is the largest lake by volume in the British Isles, and is 230 metres deep at its deepest point. The Loch Ness legend is big business for the Scottish Highlands, with some estimates suggesting that Nessie is worth $54 million to the Scottish economy each year. Looking out for the infamous lake monster also made it into the top 20 bucket list items of Brits.

Other similar Lake Monster phenomena such as Nessie include the ‘Ogopogo’ in Okanagan Lake, Canada; and ‘Champ’ of Lake Champlain which straddles the border of Vermont and New York State.

More information:

Read: In Search of Nessie: Scotland’s Elusive Loch Ness Monster

Watch: Globe Trekker – Scotland

Download: Adventure Golf – Scotland

Main Image: Loch Ness from Fort Augustus Scotland, Dave Conner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering