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To Bee or Not to Bee?

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Certain species face disruption of their environment, often with serious consequences for mankind. The question is what, if anything, should we be doing about it? Nick Slawicz investigates.

Human behaviour directly affects both animal and plant kingdoms. The sprawl of humanity – not to mention the need to feed, clothe and house some seven billion people – impacts considerably around the globe. Estimates of the scale of this impact vary, but news coverage continually warns of species becoming endangered as a result of human wastefulness and irresponsibility.

The image of a lone polar bear on a shrinking ice-floe has become photographic shorthand for the environmental cost of climate change. But there are other iconic indicators. For instance, the rising price of traditional fish and chips in the UK is a direct result of cod overfishing in the North Atlantic. Despite efforts to combat this spanning 20 years, cod stocks still haven’t recovered. It’s a hit to our wallets, but an even bigger hit to the region’s marine ecology.

Of course, Atlantic cod and polar bears aren’t likely to vanish completely from the face of the planet, thanks to conservation programmes, fisheries, protective legislation and public awareness. But this protective action only reminds us that we cannot ignore threats of extinction.

The question of extinction is widely debated with regard to climate change. A great many ‘lost species’ turn out to be not lost at all; and, while in 1979 Norman Myers claimed in The Sinking Ark that some 40,000 species become extinct every year, some scientists argue that the figure could be more much lower – 25 species a decade since 1600.

More so than extinction, then, the real damage to ecosystems is likely caused by subtle shifts in the balance of individual species, which in turn affect the surprisingly delicate interplay between species groups. Although a degree of population flux is natural, many ecosystems are now facing dramatic equilibrium shifts with which they are ill-equipped to cope.

Many such shifts are clearly the result of human activity, such as global warming, logging in the Amazon and overfishing of marine stocks. But other shifts, such as those affecting honey bees, are caused more subtly. Do we need a different approach, and, if so, what?

Honey bees might lack the photogenic appeal of polar bears or the immediate impact on human eating habits of Atlantic cod, but their survival has become far less assured over the past few decades. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or Honey Bee Depopulation Syndrome (HBDS), is now a recognised complaint of apiarists and honey farmers the world over.

Although questions about the long-term decline of feral bee populations were raised almost 40 years ago, it wasn’t until 2006 that commercial beekeepers were hit by massive population losses. In each of the next four years, around a third of managed bee populations failed to survive the winter. This constitutes an enormous loss, especially when additional summer losses are taken into account.

A declining bee population means far more than a global honey shortage. Estimates suggest that honey bees pollinate a third of the crops we eat, giving their presence in the agricultural world a value of approximately £26 billion per year.

Likely causes vary. Many place the blame squarely on human shoulders. Global warming can cause flowers to bloom early, thus disrupting yearly cycles; pesticides damage bees’ food sources; and electromagnetic radiation interferes with bees’ navigation. But, while it can seem that every environmental lobby is adopting the disappearance of bee colonies as “proof ” of inevitable ecological disaster with little in the way of hard evidence, there might be another explanation.

A recent joint study by the US Army and academics from the University of Montana in Missoula suggests that bee deaths might be caused by the interaction between a virus and a fungus, both of which need to be present to impact on apian health. This, of course, raises other questions. If CCD is a natural crisis, can an interventionist approach be considered ethical? Should the law of the wild take over?

The simple fact is that, while no one knows for certain what causes CCD, we ignore at our peril the huge ramifications such a seemingly insignificant ecological shift is having on human agriculture and society as a whole. We need a solution that will not only save billions of pounds in lost crops, but will also help to sidestep the dangers of having to adopt new and aggressive fertilising methods to maintain crop yields.

Being green is no longer about a hands-off approach to the environment; it’s too late to leave it as it was before humanity showed up. We must face facts and be practical. Without new agricultural methods, such as those pioneered by Norman Borlaug in the 1970s, up to a billion more people – a sixth of the world’s population – may have gone without enough food. Without conservation programmes many of the world’s most recognised exotic species – mountain gorillas, orangutans, giant pandas and so on – would have significantly lower numbers in the wild.

It seems logical, then, to aim for a solution that benefits both animals and humans. If we as a species can preserve the honey bee whilst ensuring that ingrained farming methods are maintained, it seems clear that intervention – in this case, in the form of developing a fungicidal cure that should help to reduce the CCD crisis – is sensible. As we take pains to enable other species to flourish, we must also intervene for our own sake at times, especially when said intervention helps to keep the balance.

After all, Homo sapiens is a pivotal part of our ecosystem too.

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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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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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