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Claiiiree

Claiiiree

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Reviews written

since 11/12/2005

51

Is an increasing population a good or bad thing for humanity? 01/12/2011

The Population Bomb?

Is an increasing population a good or bad thing for humanity? Is an Increasing Population a good or bad thing for Humanity? With the recent news that we have now reached a global population of over 7 billion, it is inevitable that there would be discussion about the (often negative) impact of the global population and whether we can sustain this continued growth. While it took an eternity for the earth’s population to reach just 1 billion people, (approximately 200 years ago), we have been reaching the billion milestones at an increasing rate over the last 100 years, and lately it has been taking around 12-15 years for the population to grow another billion. This trend is projected to continue throughout the first half of this century at least, although on the other hand, it is not projected to continue to accelerate the way it has done in the past, and will de-accelerate slightly. As is always the case with a Ciao Current Issue, it is necessary to put this broad question, which covers a number of complex interrelated issues into some kind of context. The negative side of a growing population is usually seen as the environmental degradation that might be caused – e.g. by burning more fossil fuels, or by the changing land use to support that population. In fact finding the positive angle i.e. “a good thing” for humanity is much harder to imagine – perhaps science and man’s collective power/intelligence being the most obvious reasons. The very term humanity also needs some consideration, as taken literally, this simply refers to ...

reveals yourself in 100 questions... 01/05/2011

Two for the Price of One...

reveals yourself in 100 questions... This is a bit of departure from my usual ramblings/arguments/high quality environmental debate , however it is my 50th review, and it tends to be the tradition to make this a personal review, so I decided to do the same. I have taken the easy route and gone for a straight Q&A option, however as many of the Q&As repeat themselves or have badly worded questions I have merged a couple together to complete the 100 –which represent two questions for each review I have written in the last 5 years. I hope it is at least partly interesting and there will be a prize for anyone who can make it to the end. Even if you don’t make it to the end, you can at least be pleased that it will be another 5.5 years before I make it to 100 reviews. So here goes, with Q1 stating the obvious… The Interrogation Q1: Name? Claire Q2: D.O.B? I am not daft enough to put that on a forum, but it is in April, and the year was ’86 which means I have just turned 25 and as I also go on to disclose I am a Taurus, then you know it was in the last ten days. Q3: Eye Colour? Q4: Hair Colour? Brown Q5: Height? 5’ 8” Q6: What is the first thing you do in the morning? Silence the clock or my phone 2-3 times, eventually get up, drag myself to bathroom for the normal routine, I’m a shower in the morning person, then I dry hair if I am going out/working but might have coffee before drying it if I am not, or have a bit of time. I hate drying my hair, it takes ages! Q7: What is your favourite TV ...

AV Referendum on 5th May! Which is fairer, AV or First Past the Post? 27/04/2011

When you have to Make a Choice...

AV Referendum on 5th May! Which is fairer, AV or First Past the Post? In just over one week’s time, the voting population of the United Kingdom are having a referendum on whether to continue with the current voting system, known as First Past The Post (FPTP), or move to the Alternative Vote system (AV). The discussion about our voting system has been going on for years, but the issue has effectively been forced by the formation of the coalition government approximately one year ago, where it was agreed that the public would be consulted on the matter. There are obviously only two possible outcomes on the matter, and the result will be determined , ironically, in a FPTP method. Of course, the bigger question on many people’s minds, including many of the parties is that neither system is much stronger than the other, and the real answer is Proportional Representation. I think I would concur with that view, although it is not quite the question set here by Ciao, and certainly not the question we all have to answer next week. That’s if the electorate bother to turn out, which to me is one of the major problems of any system. I believe that there needs to be a minimum turnout for the vote to be valid, although this is set very low, probably in line with the normal voter apathy. Proportional representation of course, means that the number of seats in parliament are allocated according to total votes, this does not work with our current voting system with one seat for every constituency, and therefore makes the current result “unfair” in ...

Oil: Is there enough left? 29/08/2010

Now: If Only the Oil Companies Owned the Sun...

Oil: Is there enough left? Oil: is there enough left? This immediately made me think this was yet another bad example of a badly worded question which has recently been added here in the cafe? “Is there enough for who?” being the most obvious question I can think of, closely followed by the fact that whether there is enough depends on our technological plans for the future (e.g. the potential hydrogen economy) and indeed, was the question simply posed by someone who has their head buried in the sand and refuses to accept the worldwide statistics on the reserves/production ratio, but instead would rather think that the “oil crisis” is simply a conspiracy theory. Hmm. I will attempt to present my understanding of oil production and use in attempting to answer this simple question. Oil is first reported to have been seen as a commercial venture back in 1850s in Pennsylvania, although earlier peoples had also seen and used oil in smaller quantities. In the UK, the Nottinghamshire village of Eakring was crucial for the early oil industry, particularly during the Second World War, despite the fact it is far inland and nowhere near the North Sea, which is much more familiar to us for our oil production at least. In the UK, offshore oil began rapidly in the 1970s and while some may think this is surprising, it did peak in the mid 1980s at around 130 million tonnes. The piper alpha disaster also had an impact on production which slumped to 90 million tonnes in the early 1990s. Production peaked again in ...

Review of the Year 2009 01/01/2010

365 Days in the Noughties...

Review of the Year 2009 I have been really quite inactive with writing on here in 2009 only entering one competition during the year together with my review of 2008 posted one year ago. I do hope to return to being able to write more, including product reviews in 2010 and so I thought I would start as I mean to go on with a review which sums up the year 2009 in a couple of thousand words. I have used the same headings as I used for my previous two reviews. I hope it isn't too depressing, despite the fact that the economy and the war seem to dominate the news lately – anyway lets begin with: Environmental Matters I am going to start at the end of the year as this was surely THE event of 2009 - The Copenhagen Summit - which was held in December 2009. The hope was that a legally binding agreement would be produced, which would mitigate climate change and its effects. An agreement is needed as the current Kyoto protocol effectively concludes in two years time. In the end it wasn't to be. As always the case in these debates, developed nations have more power than the developing world. A non legally binding was finally agreed between a few countries, including the US and China as well as Brazil, South Africa and India. The main discourse in these international talks is that the developed world has effectively passed on the externalities to the rest of the world, who are now paying for the earlier industrialisation that caused certain greenhouse gases to rise, increasing global average ...

Should world debt be forgiven? 01/11/2009

Does "Dropping the Debt" miss the point?

Should world debt be forgiven? Over the last ten years, there have been a number of global initiatives and campaigns to cancel debt owed by the world's poorest countries. While some countries, including the UK have written off some of its debts, the problem is still insurmountable for the world's poorest people, living in total poverty and often without access to basic human needs such as clean water. This causes disease, and high under five mortality rates as well as low life expectancy for individuals in the poorest countries. There are poor health and education systems, and birth rates are usually higher than in developing nations, for a whole host of different reasons. But does Dropping the Debt actually miss the point? One of the earliest public campaigns was that of Live Aid in the 1980s, an event that was repeated 20 years later in 2005 when the G8 Summit was being held in Scotland. At this time the leaders of the richest nations did commit to doubling their aid levels by 2010. The £40billion debt of the most Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) was also written off under a mechanism which determined how much debt was sustainable by individual countries. The Jubilee 2000 (now the Jubilee Debt Campaign) originally wanted the debt to be called off by the year 2000, as a moratorium and a chance for those countries to begin again. Obviously this goal was not achieved or the HIPC initiative would not have been required. There have been other reasonable cancellations of debt, under the ...

Government to offer up to £5000 towards a brand new electric car! Will this encourage you to purchase one? Write us your opinion! 01/11/2009

We Don't Think About Future Generations-They Will Never Forget Us

Government to offer up to £5000 towards a brand new electric car! Will this encourage you to purchase one? Write us your opinion! This month’s current debate is centred on the recent news released in April that the government intends to provide a £5000 incentive for consumers to purchase a new Electric Vehicle (EV) or hybrid vehicle in 2011. The other similar article of news of course, in the motor industry, is that, effective from today, it is possible to trade in a ten year old car for scrap and receive a £2000 discount off the price of a new vehicle. Presumably the intention behind both of these transport policies is the concept that we will cut carbon emissions by switching to cleaner vehicles, although I am not sure how green the latter policy is - or indeed how joined up they both are. But that is a subject for another day. The question posed then is whether the £5000 incentive will encourage the author i.e. me in this case, to purchase an electric vehicle. AS always with a “Ciao Debate” the first challenge is to tackle the question itself. I feel that a review on whether I would be encouraged to purchase an EV or not, is not really what constitutes a current debate, as that is a simple matter of choice for me, and not of much value to anyone else. I feel the real question here is to debate the pros and cons of this policy from a number of angles including Societal, Technological, Environmental, Economic and Political considerations. Background information on the £5000 initiative (or the Political) The scheme itself was announced in April by Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary. The ...

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, United Kingdom 23/08/2009

Under the Boardwalk..

Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, United Kingdom Wicken Fen, situated between Cambridge and Ely, is the National Trust's first nature reserve, acquired in 1899, and a wetland of significant importance due to its biodiversity in both species and habitat. There are over 7000 species of Mammals, birds, plants and invertebrates which have been recorded here. It is one of the last surviving Fens in Western Europe and is one of a few remnants of the Great Fen, which covered 6500 Sq Km and dominated the landscape of East Anglia. Now only 0.1% of the Great Fen remains, including Wicken Fen, which is the largest at just 4Sq Km. The Fen itself is easy to reach from the A14/A10 roads. As I was visiting the Fen in connection with university, my thoughts over the last few miles of the journey to the Fen were dominated by the different land use that has occurred over the years, from a shiny new-looking business park to a mixture of private and council housing, then some agricultural and industrial use prior to reaching the residential village of Wicken, where a small brown National Trust sign guides visitors down a lane to the Fen itself. (The dominating thoughts for this year's course for me are to assess 'environments' across time and space, through risk and uncertainty and through the respective values, power and action of those who use/need/enjoy that environment - so that might not be everyone's initial thoughts..!) There is plenty of parking for visitors, and the Fen attracts quite a number of walkers/bird-watchers etc ...

Your Personal Review of 2008 13/02/2009

Crunch Time?

Your Personal Review of 2008 It barely seems a year since I wrote my review about the events of 2007, and here we are again having celebrated the dawn of 2009 last night. I thought I would take the time today to reread my earlier review, given some of those events are almost forgotten about now - and also to reflect on the events of 2008. I have used the same major headings as I did last year, to help me reflect on what seemed to be a difficult year all round. But let's start with: Environmental Matters Last year was reported to be the third highest loss producing year on record, due to natural disasters, such as the Cyclone in Burma, Earthquake in China and Hurricane Ike. Altogether 220,000 people were killed in disasters such as these, and the losses ran to over $200 billion. At home in the UK, the weather seemed a bit of a wash out, and I can't really say there was all that much variation from month to month. We had a very snowy Easter, which might seem a little unusual, and I seem to remember that was about the snowiest period of the year, but Easter was about 2-3 weeks earlier than a typical year, which would help to explain why we are not used to snowy Easters. Several species of butterfly (up to 60 varieties) are expected to migrate to British shores as the temperatures become more intolerable on the European mainland, and species such as the Red Admiral now lives here all year round and are continuing to move northwards. Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska caused a storm when ...

Your personal review of 2007: Which events stand out for you? 23/12/2008

May Peace Prevail on Earth

Your personal review of 2007: Which events stand out for you? For me personally, there were many highs and lows in the news in 2007 across the globe. I am still concentrating on my Environmental Science degree and so those kinds of stories are the articles I most like to read. From a personal point of view I was delighted with my results for the year, even though it was challenging at times, but I did make some achievements towards my own personal goals which include my health, my happiness, my education and ensuring my future is a positive one. I was delighted to be able to visit Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire in March to be able to experience this fantastic environment and I was delighted with my university results, if a little surprised as it means I am on track for a first (not that I am that hopeful I can repeat it again this year). Here then are the key global and national news stories that have stuck in my mind or influenced me in the last 12 months: The Weather and the Environment The weather and the Environment were very much in the news all year across the globe. The end of 2006 saw the release of several key publications, the Stern Report, the Fourth Assessment from the IPCC and the perhaps more widely viewed film by Al Gore entitled An Inconvenient Truth. The lengthy and very technical Stern Report (which I did read in full over several months) concluded that greenhouse gases have risen in line with economic growth (and therefore as a result of the impact of man's action). Stern also concluded that urgent action ...

Christmas Holidays: Are you a crazy shopper or a conscientious buyer? 14/12/2008

It's Crackers Really

Christmas Holidays: Are you a crazy shopper or a conscientious buyer? Christmas has come around again, and I have not done any shopping whatsoever, and I have not got any motivation to do any at the moment either. Bah Humbug. I have mixed feelings about the whole Christmas holidays to be honest. I actually get a bit sad and I have felt that emotion for quite a few years, mainly because it reminds me of people in my family who I miss for whatever reason they are not here….. I also find the whole thing just commercialised and I think there is a lot of pressure which ultimately makes people go into debt. I am a Catholic and it is a Christian holiday, and I know that lot of people celebrate Christmas regardless of religion around the world, but I do find the food and spending excesses a bit embarrassing in a lot of cases, and a little bit wasteful in many regards when so many people have so little. So I guess it is no surprise that I think I am a conscientious shopper, not a crazy shopper. I leave it far too late to actually BE crazy, doing what little I can get away with …I kind of wish that the whole holiday season could be condensed a bit, and then we can all enjoy it without worrying about things which are not really that important - I mean the run on the supermarkets is really quite wasteful, but everyone is panicking, all for one day. Oh dear..that is not a good start is it, well I did warn you..I should probably make a note never write a review in this mood. I do eventually do some shopping and buy some gifts, usually as I ...

Top 10 Ciao Users I would Like to Meet 07/12/2008

Come Dine with Me

Top 10 Ciao Users I would Like to Meet Wow, I have got major writers block. Either that or nothing important is happening in my life that warrants a review. So as I am coming close to my three year anniversary, and actually five years since I joined Ciao initially, I thought I would have a stab at an old Café favourite… Ten Ciao Members I would like to meet - otherwise known as my Ciao Dinner Party I have thought long and hard and all these members are part of my circle of trust, but I have put them in alphabetical order so that there is no accusations of favouritism. So let's begin: 6chris6 Chris lives in Greater London and has been on Ciao for about a week less than I have. He had actually ratched up about 20 reviews, but for some reason he got Ciao to delete a few of them to stop him going "red". Weirdo. He has only got five reviews published and one of those on E numbers is overall exceptional. I think I first got talking to him after I wrote my gmail review, and he commented saying he wanted to try it, so I offered an invitation. I am generous to a fault with my invitations LOL. That was in 2005, it is all very different now. So occasionally we have chatted on gmail talk and he is great for emails. He has been doing a degree in his spare time Chris is a single Dad who looks after his two young children, so I think he joined Ciao for the same reason a lot of people do, for a bit of a hobby and to chat to people as well. He has introduced me to lots of other lovely people and some nights we can ...

What are your thoughts on Britain's worst downturn in 60 years? 05/10/2008

Small is Beautiful...

What are your thoughts on Britain's worst downturn in 60 years? What are my thoughts on Britain's worse downturn in 60 years? Well my first thought is whether it is one of those Ciao debates that is not entirely accurate with its heading . I don't know for certain that it IS actually Britain's worse downturn in 60 years. Earlier this year it was briefly reported that we had a higher GDP per capita than the US. My second thought is how relevant the 'downturn' in Britain fares in relation to the rest of the world; it does appear that most of the developed world is in financial crisis; banks with strange names like Fanny Mae are in trouble in the US (no wonder with a name like that); the Irish government have guaranteed savings in their big banks, and we have not only nationalised a couple of banks, Gordon Brown has had a hand in the LloydsTSB/HBOS merger, to save the latter, and our savings are now guaranteed up to £50,000 (£100K for joint accounts) up from £35,000 a few days ago. So most of us will be ok then, no need to do another run on the High Street Bank, is there….? There are problems in other parts of the developed world too - and I cannot imagine how hard it is for developing nations to get access to cash in the form of loans, if these big western banks are in trouble. Then there is the question of measurement. How is the downturn being measured? The media are keen to bombard us with measures of rising energy prices, lower house values, and rising food costs, but are they indeed the complete picture, or are they a short ...

The Final Call - In Search of the True Cost of our Holidays - Leo Hickman 04/10/2008

Last Call for the Planet?

The Final Call - In Search of the True Cost of our Holidays - Leo Hickman Whether we like it or not, tourism does have a massive impact on the environment as a whole. Granted it has positive effects, particularly in developing countries on their GDP. But the damage it is doing might one day be greater than any benefit, if it continues to grow relatively unchecked as it is doing at the moment. The book "The Final Call: In Search of the True Cost of Our Holidays" is published by Eden Project books, and was first printed in 2007 a fact that becomes apparent as you read through the very up to date text. It is the third in a series of ethical living titles by the same author. Leo Hickman himself is originally from Cornwall, close to where the Eden Project now stands, although he now lives under the flight path to Heathrow airport - and it is perhaps the endless noise, night and day, of living in such a place that made him think about the impact of tourism on a global scale. He also writes for the Guardian newspaper, and he famously tried to live as ethical a life as possible for a year. The book itself consists of 13 individual chapters focusing on different aspects of tourism at different destinations within the world. I guess the cynics will immediately say that this is hypocritical to travel to 13 destinations just to write a book about it, and they might have a point, but this voyage of discovery is something we would all do well to read, even if it makes us think just a little bit more before we make our next travel plans. I am pretty ...

ciao.co.uk 14/09/2008

It's not all about the Money

ciao.co.uk Ciao is an international web based company predominantly based in European countries, including the UK, but has recently entered into the American market, perhaps in anticipation of its acquisition by Microsoft Corporation. The primary purpose of Ciao is to serve as a place where individuals can upload product reviews in a central location, the purpose being that potential purchasers can read these reviews and factor them into their buying decision. The writers of the reviews (The Members) provide a star rating, with five stars being maximum, and one star being the minimum rating. The benefit of these to consumers is that they can see at a glance whether the consensus of opinion is good, bad or indifferent. Ciao also serves as a price comparison site, again for the consumer. I think this part of the site is not as well understood by members as a general rule, although I use it occasionally if I wanted to buy something electrical for example, as it can be quite useful., if the quality of review is maintained. The site also provides some basic 'technical data' for the products it lists. This might be basic information about the product or service, which can be used to filter down products, and might relate to the format of DVDs, technical information on electrical products, the number of bedrooms in a hotel, the number of pages in a book and its ISBN number, and so on. Unfortunately, a lot of the site's writers do not always realise this or see the value, and this ...
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