The Cairns region has a rich cultural heritage, astounding natural beauty and a rich eco- system. Yet, more than 2000 years ago when Aristotle divided the earth into three types of climatic zones, each based on distance from the equator – the Frigid Zone, the Temperate Zone and the Torrid Zone – he hypothesized that human civilization could only flourish in the Temperate Zone. Cairns is 1883 km from the equator, putting us firmly in the Torrid Zone, yet people flourish in this region and have done since well before Aristotle’s time. Around half of the world’s population – some three billion people – and 80 per cent of the planet’s animal and plant species live in the tropics or what Aristotle deemed the Torrid Zone. Researchers at James Cook University (JCU) and the broader community are finding new ways to excel in the Torrid Zone. We are exploring ways to turn the social, economic and environmental challenges of living in the Torrid Zone into opportunities.