• Voting in the Eurovision song contest is less about the music and more about geopolitics.
  • Japan’s central bank just appointed its first female director in 138 years.
  • The larger the ecosystem, the faster it declines when things go wrong.
  • Moths may be just as important as bees when it comes to pollinating plants.

1. Voting in the Eurovision Song Contest is about more than the music

The Eurovision Song Contest is no longer a strictly European affair with entries from as far away as Australia. But when it comes to voting for the winning song, geopolitics plays as big a role as musical taste, according to new research.

Viewers were first invited to vote for their favourite song in 1999 and since then it has been alleged that voting reflects national loyalties. Now academics at the universities of Glasgow and Stirling have found social affinity, shared languages and past conflicts all influence voting.

The researchers say Eurovision voting “captures more complex elements of relationships, which are driven by emotions, familiarity, psychological distance, and feelings of intimacy”. Countries that vote for each other also do more business together, they say.

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Ireland has had the most Eurovision Song Contest victories.
Image: Statista

2. The Bank of Japan appointed its first female executive director

In a country ranked 121 out of 153 nations in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report, the appointment of the first female executive director at Japan’s central bank for 138 years was bound to make headlines.

Although 47% of the Bank of Japan’s workforce are women, they hold only 13% of the top jobs. So Tokiko Shimizu is bound to be seen as a role model for women seeking equality in a male dominated world.

Shimizu becomes one of a team of six directors managing the bank’s operations and her appointment is likely to be part of its efforts to diversify its management, according to Reuters.

3. Ecosystems: the bigger they are, the harder they fall

We have all seen images of the ravages wrought on earth’s ecosystems by climate change. But now new research says that the globe’s biggest ecosystems will collapse faster than smaller ones if nothing is done to reduce warming.

Researchers at the universities of Bangor and Southampton analyzed data from ecosystems ranging in size from small ponds to the Black Sea. Their findings show that the larger the ecosystem, the faster it will collapse if compromised.

They warn that the Amazon rainforests could be gone in less than 50 years and the Caribbean coral reefs in just 15 years. The University of Southampton’s Professor John Dearing, who led the team, said: "We need to prepare for changes in our planet's ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged."

How does the World Economic Forum encourage biological diversity?

How does the World Economic Forum encourage biological diversity?

In the last 100 years, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields, and all of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are now being fished at or above their sustainable limits.

These trends have reduced diversity in our diets, which is directly linked to diseases or health risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.

One initiative which is bringing a renewed focus on biological diversity is the Tropical Forest Alliance.

This global public-private partnership is working on removing deforestation from four global commodity supply chains – palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

The Alliance includes businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people and communities, and international organizations.

Enquire to become a member or partner of the Forum and help stop deforestation linked to supply chains.

4. Busy as a bee? Moths are just as important pollinators

We may need to rethink the image of the bee buzzing from flower to flower, as the main pollinator of earth's plantlife. New research, published this week, says fluttering nocturnal moths may be just as important in the cycle of plant reproduction.

Rapid declines in the world’s bee populations in recent years, blamed on agrichemicals and loss of habitat, have led to a search for solutions and even alternative pollinators. But now a team from University College London have highlighted the important role that moths already play in pollination.

They say that moths’ “pollination transport networks” are larger and more complex than bees and some plant species rely more on moths than bees for pollination. Nearly half of the moths they studied carried pollen and a fifth carried pollen from more than one plant species.