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Renewable energy: the foundation of a blue and green tomorrow

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At the end of this month, we will be publishing our Guide to Renewable Energy. Simon Leadbetter explores some of the issues around one of the four foundations of a blue and green tomorrow.

B&GT writes about sustainability in four areas: what we invest in, how we travel, how we create energy and what we buy or consume.

Renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro, tidal, wave, geothermal) generates a highly charged debate with very little real insight. As we have often witnessed, there seems to be little desire to let science or evidence get in the way of a strongly held prejudice.

On one side of the debate, there are those who feel that renewable energy is an expensive subsidy junkie, inefficient, intermittent, unreliable and an eyesore – probably all of the above. To this group, fossil fuels are the simple answer, as they are currently available, relatively cheap, with high energy density and dependable – we’ve been burning coal for about 5,000 years.

On the other side of the debate are those who see a limitless supply of clean energy from domestic natural sources such as wind, sun, tides, waves, rivers and geothermal.

Hovering between both positions is the potentially explosive issue of nuclear power.

The debate is so heated, that those who support renewable energy have resorted to euphemisms to describe it, such as ‘good’, ‘green’, ‘new’ and ‘alternative’. Renewable energy was always a misnomer;  a more accurate name for these sources would be ‘clean’ or ‘limitless’ as opposed to fossil fuels which are dirty and finite.

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun – Ralph Nader

Our position is simple. Relying on fuel sources that are running out; have been one of the major causes of war, environmental degradation and health problems; and have to be imported from unstable or unsavoury regimes is unsustainable.

Our windswept island sits on a treasure trove of clean, limitless and domestic energy, which I stress, is clean, limitless and domestically available.

New technology represents a huge strategic opportunity in research and development, something that the British are particularly good at, which would be a boon to our intellectual property and export industries.

New technologies are often expensive and inefficient in their early days – the first computers cost billions at current values and filled warehouses. Costly prototypes need to be developed and some technologies will fail. Such is the burden of innovation. However, anyone who argues that nuclear, oil, gas and coal have not had a smorgasbord of subsidy during their developmental period is dishonest or delusional.

We'd go for the left image over the right every single time.

Those who argue against clean and limitless energy due to its reliance on subsidy should naturally oppose the future development of nuclear, coal, oil, gas energy and innovations such as the internet, the aeroplane, landing on the moon, and medicine as these all depend on massive subsidies of education and research. Cars have only taken off as the preferred mode of transport because the Government subsidised road building.

Regardless, while it was expensive in its early days, the price of solar and wind energy will reach parity with, and then become cheaper than, fossil fuels in a few short years.

Arguments about intermittency are also misleading, as it has been demonstrated that a combination of clean, limitless and domestic ‘renewable’ sources can easily create the base load we require. The North Sea is a terrifically windy and wavy place, the sun almost always rises and it’s about 650 – 1,200 degrees Celsius 80-100km beneath the earth (22.1°C per km of depth). You can boil a kettle at 5km. For reference the deepest oil wells are over 12km.

We also sit on several of the largest tidal flows in the world. We know the movement of tides to the minute unless someone’s nicked the moon since we last checked.

We are close to storing intermittent sources too so the problem of intermittency simply goes away. Technology has a tendency to progress, which those who favour fossil fuels seem to be in denial about when it comes to renewable energy. Those pesky scientists and their evil plans for progress.

Reliability comes with time and anyone who witnessed the Kuwaiti oil fires, Torry Canyon, Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, Three-mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukishima, might want to question the reliability of fossil or nuclear power sources. Do Russia and the Middle East feel like a particularly reliable source to anyone?

When it comes to nuclear power, we think it is a genuinely dangerous distraction from focusing on clean, limitless and domestic energy. If you accept nuclear as part or all of the solution, you are committing the country to the biggest subsidy junkie, endless problems with radioactive waste storage and the national security issues around proliferation. If we, the UK, can have civilian nuclear power, why not Iran?

All of this circles round to energy efficiency.

We can have a domestically produced, clean and limitless energy supply but we can also massively cut our usage and costs through energy efficiency. By insulating buildings, developing new efficient technology and investing in high-speed mass transit such as rail, we can massively drive down domestic and commercial energy use meaning we need to generate less electricity.

This makes economic and environmental sense for individuals, businesses and government. Reducing the pollution from burning fossil fuels also makes sense for the health of our people and the finances of our health service.

There are two futures.

Imagine a country with a cheap and limitless supply of clean, domestically produced energy, which can export the excess energy it produces. Imagine a country that leads the world in clean technology and energy efficiency with tens of thousands of new jobs created to insulate our buildings and develop, build and install valuable and exportable innovations. Imagine emptier roads and clearer skies as more and more people and goods travel by high-speed rail. Imagine a self-sufficient, confident nation.

Or, imagine inexorably rising energy bills that depend on the vagaries of commodity market speculators and foreign dictators, ever more wars to protect our fossil fuel supplies. Imagine a nation that abandoned a lead in world-class innovation to focus on inefficient and dirty technology. Imagine gridlock on the roads and ever-expanding airports. Imagine a nation in decline.

It is abundantly clear that vested interests that depend on the current energy model and have deep pockets are spending millions on propaganda to preserve the status quo that benefits the few – them and their shareholders. They have many powerful, well-rewarded friends in politics, business and the media who will happily bang the drum. But, follow the money and, corny though it is, think about the future you are creating for your children with your choice of energy supply.

We choose clean, limitless and domestic energy every time.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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