For those of you who stayed up into the early hours to welcome in 2016, you may not have realised that you were in fact bidding farewell to an entire geological age!  However, an international scientific panel have now been charged with defining the so-called Anthropocene, on the basis that humanity's impacts on Earth should now be regarded as pervasive enough to justify a separate classification.  The formal start date has not yet been determined but will mark the beginning of the "Great Acceleration", when the human population and its consumption patterns suddenly speeded up.  All rather sobering. However, welcoming in a geological epoch will certainly go down as an "I was there" moment for future generations.  The previous Holocene epoch lasted almost 12,000 years!

A CBRE report published on Friday entitled Core Cities, Core Strengths takes an in-depth look at the UK's cities beyond London.  The report analyses some of the key ingredients for city success.  These include the usual pointers towardsstrong civic leadership and "inter and intra-urban accessibility" - for which The Weekly simply read transport infrastructure!  However, the report also focuses on the need for cities to build a distinctive "brand" in specific sectors, often centred around the talent pools and research capabilities of the universities.  The birth of graphene at Manchester University is cited as an example of Manchester's world specialism in materials science.  So why does this matter?  According to CBRE, the volume of international investment is now so significant that even London is struggling to absorb it.  The UK cities that can best demonstrate they have all the key ingredients for success therefore have a unique opportunity to capitalise on the continuing appetite for the regions.   

There is no hiding it; returning to work after the extended Christmas holiday period can feel rather depressing.  Add into the mix the January 2016 cocktail of geopolitical tensions (most starkly demonstrated by North Korea's disputed H-bomb), concerns over the Chinese economy, falling oil numbers, and weak global trade figures and you'd be forgiven for heading to the nearest pub, or wine bar to drown your sorrows.  Unfortunately it would appear wine, beer and spirits are no longer guilt-free remedies for the January blues.  New guidelines issued by the Chief Medical Officer this week have dramatically cut recommended drinking limits - rubbishing the idea that even the occasional tipple has any health benefits.  Bad news indeed.  But if there is any consolation in all this, at least this doomsday report will provide added impetus to those struggling through a self-imposed "Dry January" to stick with it.     

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