Should Free Public Transport Be Provided 24/7
Traffic in major cities across America is slowly becoming gridlocked and with more
cars every year being added to this congestion it is slowly but surely becoming unsustainable.
Environmentalists have cited the harm this is doing not only to the planet but to the general health
of the inhabitants residing close to motorways.
Eliminating petrol and diesel cars from the roads and changing to all-electric would be an
ideal solution for air pollution and carbon emissions, but that would still not alleviate the
An alternative, that has been under discussion on and off for many years, is for
governments to provide free public transportation.
Those who are for this idea cite the numerous benefits, while the detractors are mainly
focused on the loss of revenue which can run into millions per year.
So which side is right?
There are approximately 100 cities worldwide, the majority being in Europe, conducting
feasibility studies and enacting trials to provide free transportation to certain sections of the
inhabitants, with the intention of phasing in further expansions over a set period of time if
Luxembourg, being one of the most congested countries in Europe per population, has
taken the brave step of allowing all of its citizens to travel for free. Their stance is that the millions
lost in ticket sales can be offset by savings in the employment of guards and the elimination of
administrative overheads, as well as increased safety for its citizens and, of course, reducing
excess cars from the roads.
France, which has plans to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040, is taking a step in this
direction and has already 23 towns offering free public transportation. Residents of these towns
utilize the free public transportation much more during the week than previously, and even more
so on the weekends, leaving their cars at home while others have opted to sell their cars
Several cities in the United States, Massachusetts, Kansas City, and Boston, to name just a
few, have been observing these European trailblazers and are trialing pilot programs of their own.
Some of the methods adopted and enacted are free journeys for people with disabilities,
free travel for children under a certain age group, free travel for the elderly, and free travel for
students as well as abolishing fares in low-income neighborhoods.
For disadvantaged groups like the unemployed without cars or alternative means of
transport, this can help by simply allowing them to attend more job interviews further afield, and
increasing their opportunities to find work.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
Overall traffic has been shown to decrease significantly during the week in regards to
regular commuters who now do not have the financial burden of daily fuel costs or the stress of
being behind the wheel in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
With that financial burden eliminated or greatly reduced, a greater amount of travelers'
wages remain in their pockets, which becomes an added bonus reflected in several ways.
Whichever demographic of a city's population has access to the schemes will have more
disposable income to spend in shops, supermarkets, clothing stores, and that translates into
increased revenue for the city in the form of higher taxes paid by those businesses.
Whether this completely offsets the income from ticket sales, it is still too early to say.
Proponents of this have suggested that an additional slight increase in fuel costs would easily
outweigh whatever revenues are lost to lack of fare collections.
However, bus drivers, mechanics, office staff still have to be paid. Will just an increase
in fuel costs for cars supplement these overheads?
Perhaps, yet other solutions can be found to make these schemes a win-win situation for
So even if it costs a little bit more to run these free travel systems, there can be no doubt
that it increases the quality of life for millions of people worldwide, from the young to the old,
from the unemployed to the environmentalist, from the disabled to the weary driver tired of being
stuck in traffic for hours on end.
How Much Work Is It To Keep A Fish Tank?
Installing an aquarium can be a room changing experience, adding a kaleidoscope of color and perpetual movement in a segment of your living space. And above all, watching different species of fish lazily swimming around a fish tank in your home can induce a form of hypnotic relaxation that can relieve the stress of many a long workday.
But can the upkeep outweigh the joy?
Depending on the type of fish, whether saltwater or freshwater varieties, as well as the size of the tank itself, can influence the effort required to keep a fish tank running smoothly. The ideal situation is to have a tank that has minimal maintenance with fish that know how to keep their house clean.
The Right Fish Tank
How big should the tank be?
That depends on the area you have available to keep it. The good news is that a larger tank doesn't necessarily mean more work compared to a smaller one as the maintenance process will be the same for both.
When choosing a tank a few features need to be considered, however, from how easy the access point is for feeding, the filtration system, the water heating system if required and how easy the water is to change, and the lighting; fish like to know whether it's day or night as well.
If you're a newbie to fish keeping, the first step to consider is the most exciting part, and that's deciding which type of fish you would like to showcase in your new aquarium. Do you fancy a diverse range of tropical fish with a myriad of colors, shapes and sizes or you would like just a couple of goldfish, meandering back and forth all day with their little cheeks puffed out?
A point to consider from the get go is that different species of fish have different care needs. And their diversity can reflect on the amount of work and attention needed to keep them fed, in optimum health, and how often the water needs to be changed.
Once the type of fish is mentally ticked off the next step is choosing the tank.
In fact, the tank has to be bought first and not at the same time as the fish. This is very important and why this is crucial will be explained a little further on.
Now, fish tanks can be stylish and modern, and many are mounted on cabinets for storage of fish food and, to make caregiving easier, maintenance equipment. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and even material, plastic or acrylic, so there are a lot of options and styles to choose from.
So, before whatever fish is on your dream list is purchased, the tank has to be filled, and decorated in the manner and style you desire; some people want minimalism, just sand, and a few rocks, while others want fauna, caves and treasure chests. And then there is the source of the water.
This is a crucial component. Normal tap water can be perfectly okay to use but has to be checked for contaminants and additives, such as chlorine. Chlorinated water is harmless to humans but over a short period of time can adversely impact the health of the fish, can stress them out and at high levels can lead to death.
The solution to using the readily available tap water is to use a dechlorinator or a chloramine remover. Just a few drops will dechlorinate the water instantly and then it can be allowed to sit for a few days with the substrate on the base to ensure that it will be well on its way to being ready for its new inhabitants. After this period of sitting still the water will start to build up a certain level of much-needed bacteria.
This is called the startup cycle or biological cycle and is needed because the bacteria will contribute to breaking down not only the waste excreted by the fish, but any leftover fish food or plant degradation, and this biological cycle can take anywhere from 2 weeks to two months.
So as you can see a bit of patience and a careful initial staging procedure is required. If overlooked it can result in the death of those much sought after fish very quickly. A top tip is actually to introduce a few hardier types of fish over a period of days that can withstand this new budding ecosystem and monitor their behavior. If this trial run is successful then later on the other fish can be gradually introduced to their new home rather than being thrown in at the deep end all at the same time.
To help with water maintenance when creating this new underwater biodiversity system, a water testing kit is a must-have addition to your bag of tools. It can be the difference between life and death and should be utilized regularly to ensure that the water is not doing more harm than good to its inhabitants.
This water testing tool will also monitor the levels of ammonium and nitrates, which can become toxic to the fish if left unchecked. Fortunately, they can easily be controlled by weekly water exchanges, partial or fully if needed, and a good filtration system.
If you have a medium-size tank that holds between 55 - 75 gallons of water, then it would only require a 50% water change each week.
The size of this fish tank is comfortable for most rooms but not for all fish. Goldfish, for example, are kind of messy so for this size tank the water would have to be changed more often for this species.
Another factor that can weigh in on how easy, or difficult, it can be to maintain the tank, are fish cohabitants. Not all fish are created equal and not all fish get along. Fish, like most living things, can grow at different rates, can be bullies, some either like their own space or prefer to be in a school, some are lazy and easygoing while others like to bounce from one end of the tank to the other all day long.
It's the aggressive ones that you have to be careful of, making sure they are not placed with other fish that they are going to pick on constantly; the last thing you want to be doing on a daily basis is breaking up fish fights.
Proper research is paramount so the tank buddies do not become bad neighbors and the right habitat is amenable to all the inhabitants.
So, with proper planning, a healthy environment can be set up, which would make maintenance easier and weekly chores a breeze.
Freshwater vs Saltwater Tanks
The setting up process for a freshwater tank can be relatively inexpensive compared to its saltwater alternative - but both come with their advantages and disadvantages.
For ease of set up and maintenance, a freshwater fish tank would be easier to start with if you have little or no experience with fish tanks, and generally the fish are not as expensive to buy and are easier to take care of. To keep maintenance down and avoid problems to start with it is advisable not to introduce live plants to the freshwater ecosystem as complications can arise with the water quality. Artificial plants can look just as vibrant and the fish would react to them in exactly the same manner, whether for shelter, to hide, or for an afternoon nap.
The tank options are better, and cheaper, too, with both glass and acrylic being available while only glass is an option for saltwater. In this case, it's always better to opt for a larger size as saltwater fish tend to grow slightly larger and require a bigger environment to thrive. But the advantages with saltwater tanks lie with the sheer variety of fish available, from a myriad blend of vibrant colors to shapes, sizes and, believe it or not, characters.
And it's these extra perks that make a saltwater tank worth the extra bit of cost and effort in the setting up process. Once that is done, the differences are minor, a little extra attention to the filtration process, the water quality monitored more frequently, and a closer eye on the health and well-being of the fish.
The rewards will far outweigh any initial extra overheads or difficulties, and your new tank can be a beautiful showpiece in your home.
The Work Needed to Maintain a Fish Tank
As you can see the main crux of it is that a lot of the work comes down to the initial set-up stage. It's reminiscent of what woodworkers always say, "measure twice, cut once."
This also applies to fish tanks. The importance of taking the time to plan, research and set up the right habitat for the types of fish desired cannot be stressed enough. Simply ensuring that all the fish are going to make good tank buddies and that they are all going to be healthy and stress-free in their new biodiverse system, will ensure that you yourself will be stress-free.
A simple schedule can make all of this a piece of fish cake.
First, make sure the nitrate and ammonia levels are under control so as not to endanger the lives of any of your fish. This is a quick job with a water tester.
Depending on what types of fish in the tank will determine how often the water has to be changed.
On average just a 50% water change is required on a weekly basis and, although a bucket can be used to carefully scoop out the water, a submersible pump makes life a lot easier. Dangle the waste end in a toilet, or into the garden or into a bucket, and the time and effort involved will be greatly reduced. Once the tank is sufficiently empty the glass can be cleaned at this time and the re-filling can be done by a hose connected to a tap.
Periodically the filtration system needs to be checked for any blockages and cleaned, an essential part of maintaining the health of the ecosystem.
An unavoidable task of keeping a fish tank is feeding the fish. Like all living beings fish have to have a varied diet and not all fish eat the same things or at the same time. They also like to have several small meals throughout the day rather than large ones.
Overfeeding can lead to its own accumulation of problems as uneaten food will go to waste and, unlike in our above-water world, there are no rubbish collectors. And as you know rotten food does not a livable environment make, and this will reflect in the health of the fish and the number of cleanups you have to do regularly.
Some fish are nocturnal so tend to eat at different times to their neighbors, some are bottom feeders so need food that sinks to the bottom and some are omnivores, not carnivores, preferring just plant-based foods like fruits and veg for their dietary needs. Then to complicate matters some fish like to hunt for their food, so when choosing tank mates ensure that one inhabitant won't be eyeing the other as its next meal.
Overcrowding can be an issue.
The temptation when starting out is to have as many fish in the tank as possible so you have more to look at and make faces at. This can be a problem as some species prefer more fin space than others and if personal space is not respected then your new fish will become stressed out, aggressive and violence can break out.
When those potential teething problems are ironed out, the idea is to make a maintenance schedule as easy as possible to adhere to and with just a few hours a week set aside all the necessary tasks can easily be undertaken.
The time of this maintenance routine can vary or be reduced if the decorations do not include live plants, the substrate is composed of either sand or gravel, which are both easy to clean, and the fish are not messy eaters or world-beating poopers.
In a nutshell, having fish as pets isn't as easy as plopping them in a tank of water, throwing in a rock or two for decoration, and letting the good times roll.
The good news is that looking after a fish tank can be a fairly easy hobby and the reward of having a colorful array of fish in the corner of the living room can change the ambiance of a room for the better.
This underwater metropolis needs to be set up for the optimum well-being of the fish, for their health, their entertainment and if done correctly they will be swimmingly happy and content. And in return, you get to marvel and watch these amazingly beautiful creatures day in and day out for many years to come.
The question to ask at the end of the day is, are you watching the fish, or are the fish watching you?
The Permaculture of the Green Warrior
Sustainability is the keyword with the Green Warriors, a group of experienced specialists whose mission is to solve sustainability issues in the world by taking direct action to assist in self-improvement.
Essentially implementing projects in disaster zones, in conflict zones and with remote communities, where everyday life and survival is put under unbearable stress, their mission is to train people in local communities so they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to pass on that information in an understandable way to the population.
Local and time-honored traditions can be a barrier to learning a new way to do farming, for example, but if the instructor is a community member there is more of an openmindedness to learning new methods. In this manner acceptance of new information, which can seem very foreign at first, is slowly accepted and implemented.
This method of implementation has proven to be a success worldwide in improving the quality of life for thousands of people and is reflected in their willingness to adjust to better methodologies but using local resources, and even turning barren land into farmland so they can sustainably feed themselves.
More information about the Green warriors can be found on their website: https://greenwarriorpermaculture.wordpress.com/
The dedication of the Green Warriors and their process, once accepted, tends to be absorbed incredibly quickly by all, with the realization that they will be able to help themselves to rebuild their communities and their environment in a sustainable manner for now and for future generations, to alleviate whatever hardships have befallen them in their current situation, whether from famine or war or climate change.
The Green Warrior objectives, however, are not just restricted to poverty prone areas but can be repeated in urban neighborhoods and other developments in need of their input.
Real solutions are needed in a myriad of conflict and urban areas to tackle the challenges and to overcome the hardships facing a world full of inequalities, natural and man-made disasters
These effective strategies have proven to work and have assisted many communities to develop a better way of life so they can fend for themselves rather than relying on aid from NGOs or foreign intervention, helping themselves to grow their own crops
and become self-sufficient.
Can You Grow Onions in Aquaponics?
Onions are a staple diet for millions of people around the world and are grown in a myriad of environments to add flavor and texture to many a dish.
The idea of growing onions in an aquaponic system is not only possible but maybe a preferred method of farming to achieve a growing system that would reap a more organic harvest than traditional outdoor planting.
With a bit of planning it can be done and, being a hardy crop to grow, transplanting the humble onion into an indoor aquaponics system is a fairly straightforward process.
Let's have a look at how this system would work.
Onions and Aquaponics
Growing onions in a field is a labor-intensive farming method and requires pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals to eliminate pests and diseases. And they need a lot of watering.
There are several new revolutionary ways to grow crops over the last few years that have enabled city dwellers to grow onions, fruits, vegetables, and even grapes in an urban environment. These methods have breached centuries of traditional farming and have, in many cases, made it possible to grow staple food products in areas previously unviable and unachievable.
All these systems rely on regular maintenance techniques and nutritional systems to assist in the growing process, and any failure in the chain can lead to a lost or diminished harvest.
In aquaponics, the best of each of these techniques are utilized in a controlled environment to nurture the growth of onions, while the downsides of many of them are discarded.
No pesticides or chemicals are used, the time-consuming maintenance process is eliminated and even the harvesting process is simplified.
Aquaponics is about harnessing the power of nature itself to create a self-sustaining eco-system. It works by converting the natural waste of fish into nutrient-rich water that is transported through the system to be absorbed by the roots of the onions, and then the cleaned water is returned to the fish tank.
Once the system is installed there is very little ongoing work or maintenance required. This closed-loop aquaculture works harmoniously with the onions and the fish flourish mightily within this self-contained eco-system.
How to Grow Onions in Aquaponics
Creating a continuous cycle is the tenet of aquaponics.
This particular method requires an aquarium, a pump to move the water back and forth from the aquarium to the roots of the onions, a grow bed where your onions will be located, and a selection of fish for the tank itself.
The grow bed can either be placed on top of the aquarium or off to the side. The grow bed, or flood table as it is also called can simply be a plastic tray or a large container as long as the support structure is strong enough.
Once you have decided on the location and how big you want your aquaponic farm to be, select the size of the aquarium. By using an aquarium instead of a solid container, gives you the benefits of having and enjoying your pet fish while growing your new onion crops at the same time.
At this stage prepare the fish tank as normal by dechlorinating the water and then allowing sufficient time for the bacteria to build up over the following weeks.
This is the starting point to set up your very own fully integrated ecosystem. It works by having the natural waste from your fish being broken down into nitrates, and then a pump carrying these nitrates to feed the roots of the onions. Nitrogen is then released by the plants, cleaning the water which is then safe to be pumped back to the fish, and then the cycle is repeated.
This process is on a continuous loop and the only time water has to be added is if there is a marked level of evaporation or if it is transpired by the plants.
Three Ways to Grow Onions in Aquaponics
There are essentially three types of aquaponics that are used depending on growing experience, the space available, and the scale desired.
The Deep-Water Culture Set Up lets the onion roots drop into the water and take nutrients directly from the water. This method is suitable for a larger scale operation.
The Nutrient Film Set Up is where the roots are left to dangle in a PVC pipe drilled with holes. The water is drawn into the pipe to run over the roots, delivering much-needed nutrients before being fed back into the tank. This method is suitable where space is a consideration and is flexible enough to allow crops to be grown vertically, horizontally, up walls, or even hung from ceilings.
The Media Bed Set Up is the last method and is the most convenient for home growers with little experience, and who opt for a smaller-scale operation. Here the plants are seated in a bed of expanded clay pebbles or gravel, and a pump draws the water from the tank to flow over the roots.
Normally onions require space between the next clove to grow as about a dozen shoots sprout above ground. In aquaponics the bulbs can be set a mere inch apart, allowing more to be grown in a smaller area.
Caring for your Onions in Aquaponics
Growing onions with aquaponics will give you the option to decide how big you want to grow, whether your intention is to feed a small household or a community of onion lovers.
It all depends on the size of the area you have available, from a ledge in your bedroom to a large greenhouse in a nearby field, and, of course, what your goals are. Even the strain of harvesting can be mitigated with the grow bed set to a height totally at your discretion for comfort.
Less water is used due to the closed-loop ecosystem, with hardly any at all being wasted. With this
consistent water availability, the bulbs have a tendency to start sprouting quickly as long as the temperature range of between 55°F to 75°F is maintained.
Aside from the importance of having the correct temperatures, having the ph level right is just as crucial, but it can be a little tricky. The onions, the fish and even the bacteria being formed in the water are three distinctly separate living organisms, and all have different ph requirements.
This ph level can be affected by the fish waste, and that can adversely impact the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients, which will reflect negatively on the lives of the fish. So, as you can see the balance of the eco-system as a whole has to be finely tuned regularly.
The optimal range of ph for aquaponics is between 6.8 to 7.2. To ensure a continued harmonious system, it is advisable to monitor this neutral ph balance on a daily basis to avert any wild fluctuations and to keep within this ph safe zone.
And the type of fish selected for this project can make the task of maintaining your onion farm easier also.
One of the ideal types of freshwater fish to use is, believe it or not, is the humble goldfish. They tend to excrete large amounts of waste so your onions won’t be short of nutrients in the conversion process.
But koi can be used, as well as tilapias, and really any hardy fish will do that require minimum maintenance. After all, the beauty of aquaponics is not just the onions you will be growing tenderly, but the aquarium full of colorful, interesting fish that you will be enjoying at the same time.
Harvesting Aquaponic Onions
Aquaponics is a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish and goes hand in hand with sustainability. This collaboration uses less water which is cost-effective and good for the environment and produces 100% organic produce.
Really there is no limit to where your onion crops can be grown with aquaponics and an added bonus is that the growing times are accelerated. This results in a quicker crop of onions being harvested more frequently and, due to this system being so self-contained and self-reliant, the whole interconnected process becomes a game-changer in the field of growing onions.
All in all, aquaponics combines all the new innovative growing methods together with the flexibility to be scaled to fit over a small aquarium filled with an array of multi-colored fish, or scaled upwards for a much larger industrialized farming operation.
Can there be a better way to grow your onions?
Apple Watch: How To Use ‘Water Lock’ To Eject Water From Your Smartwatch
It can be so easy to forget to take off your Apple Watch when in a hurry and jumping in the shower, or into the deep end of a swimming pool. It happens. More often than we care to admit. And if it does the immediate concern is that your watch is ruined beyond repair and only useful as a showpiece with at best intermittent working features. But with the Apple Watch Series 2 and above that doesn't have to be the case.
The previous first-generation version, the Apple Watch Series 1, was made to be splash and water-resistant but not waterproof, meaning that it could get wet if it was raining or from sweating for example, and be fine, but was not recommended for full underwater submersion. To improve on this situation, the Apple Watch Series 2 and above has been designed to withstand submersion to shallow depths in swimming pools and even immersion in the sea. However, it is not advisable for use in activities like scuba diving or jet skiing where the high water velocity can be perhaps forceful enough to potentially penetrate through the watch seals.
An innovative "Water Lock" feature has been developed for the Apple Watch Series 2. It engages automatically when a swim activity is selected, working as a lock and load system, and can be the difference between a good and a bad day. When turned on, the watch display face is unresponsive to touch, preventing any accidental input of water while submerged, however briefly. When out of the water, it's simply a matter of tapping the Water Lock icon then turning the Digital Crown, in either direction, to unlock the screen, and whatever water inside the watch will be ejected from the speakers. It is advisable, however, that if worn in a shower, that soaps or shampoos should not be poured over the watch and care should be taken with direct exposure to aerosolized deodorants or perfumes as they can adversely affect the seals. Sudden impacts and wearing the Apple watch in a sauna or steam room, for example, can affect the durability of the water-resistance capacity and should be avoided to maintain the longevity of your smartwatch.
Locked and Loaded - The Apple Watch Series 2
Since its inception the Apple Watch Series has pushed the envelope, striving to improve on the features and technologies on each new rendition. There is a marked difference between Series 1 and Series 2 and each subsequent model has taken several bold new strides forward. The "Water Lock" feature has become and is now standard in the Apple Watch Series 2 models and beyond, and since its introduction in 2016, has become an invaluable tool in Apple's bag of tech tricks.
What the "Water Lock" feature offers is peace of mind where before there was only uncertainty. Where the previous Series 1 version only offered a water resistance capability to what amounted to just a splash rating, the Apple Watch Series 2 allows the wearer to go just that bit deeper underwater without fear of loss or destruction.
The Apple Watch Series 2 "Water Lock" feature is an invaluable addition and a great protective feature for one of the best smartwatches on the market, which since 2016 has allowed its wearer to enjoy more underwater activities like never before.