Reintroducing the bear and wolf to Britain: valuable for our ecosystem or too dangerous to be attempted?

This morning while watching the news, it was mentioned that across Europe (although particularly in the Eastern countries) we are seeing a variety of long lost animal’s being reintroduced into their old habitats. This has revived somewhat the debate in Britain as to if animals once at the top of the food chain here, such as the brown bear or wolves, should be reintroduced.

Now, I remember reading up on the topic a few years ago when it was (I think) last brought up at a National Level (rather than for just the Scottish highlands) and I was stringently against the idea for reasons I’ll come on to, and this recent debate hasn’t changed my mind.

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The Brown Bear was last seen in Britain probably around 1000 years ago. Despite their occasionally cuddly appearance  there should be no doubts as to how immensely powerful they are in the flesh.

I mean the effort to introduce animals such as the beaver and lynx as well as those such as the bear and the wolf will undoubtedly have positive effects on our natural eco-systems. I was reading research done by Nature England which stated that beavers could reduce the risk of flooding which would be excellent, and also we have a rather large deer problem in Britain which would be helped a lot by introducing creatures such as the Lynx and Wolf who would begin to hunt them (preventing the need to cull herds). On the other hand, the modern landscape of Britain must be taken into account on such an issue; and the general consensus among experts is that we do not have a sustainable environment for these creatures to live in without significant risk to either people or their livelihoods. As much as people may say that highland farming is not important or ‘too small’ to be significant clearly don’t understand that for their new eco-system to work it’s got to build upon what we have now and not what they want to have.

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The Wolf; last seen in Britain around the beginning of the 18th Century. Powerful beasts with a pack mentality, close control would need to be kept to avoid groups of them demolishing herds or even people who venture into the lovely British countryside.

Organisations such as humansandwolves.org argue that these species have considerably more positive than negative effects on our society, our economy, and indeed, on our eco-systems. However, I don’t think the extra £300 (rising from £500 to £800) in income for deer estates has as much influence on anything meaningful to the majority of people as the supporters are suggesting.

I have read a few different articles on the topic, and I find most commentators saying that such animals pose a threat to humans in argument against the supporters of the reintroduction who state that properly educated humans will have no fear from the animals in their natural habitat. However, and I think this is something to be stressed, what about when the animals venture out of their natural habitat? Let’s take an example of the common fox; over the last couple of decades we have seen an explosion in the levels of ‘urbanised’ foxes moving out of their natural homes in the countryside and setting up shop in cities, towns and urban areas. Not only this, but the competition for food has meant foxes being in the news for breaking into houses, stealing food, terrorising people and even attacking humans; most shockingly, the young. Now, I don’t have any expert opinions backing up the idea that given 20 years wolves or even bears may have lost their fear of the urban environment, however in the modern environment with suitable habitats shrinking it means its ever more likely that these creatures could very well move ‘out of the wild and into civilisation’. It may not even be cities, but towns or villages. Situated much closer to their habitats in the countryside and with a much less imposing human presence, as the animals become ever more confident attacks will, I would say, rise dramatically.
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The urban fox has developed into just as much a menace to city-goers as to country bumpkins (such as myself!) 

Don’t get me wrong, I most certainly don’t want to see any of these species go extinct, or anything like that, but I most certainly don’t want to see them suffer by being forced into an area too insufficient for them to the point where they are forced into conflict with humans. Because if that does happen, it’s not a fight that’s going to turn out well for the creatures, the supporters of reintroduction or the attitudes of the public towards sustainability and creation/cultivation of clean eco-systems.

Post Script; All images courtesy of Google.

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An alert to the threats to Europe

I found this ‘letter’ and thought it tied in quite well with my previous post regarding Syria – its credited with coming from he famous comedian John Cleese, however a little bit of reasearch has dug up the fact it looks like its actually not by him at all!

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

— John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person A final thought -“ Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.”

Yes Prime Minister: The 2013 Revival

“All the important decisions that affect us [Scotland] are taken in London! Have you any idea what that feels like?”

“Of course I have, all the important decisions that affect us are taken in Brussels!”

 
Yes Prime Minister is a Political Satire from Great Britain, focusing on the role of the Prime Minister, his close advisers and the way in which they combat the problems they have to face in running the country.

 

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The new ‘Team’ left to right: Clare Sutton (Zoe Telford), Sir Humphrey Appleby (Henry Goodman), PM Jim Hacker (David Haig) and Bernard Wooley (Chris Larkin).

The original run of Yes Prime Minister ran from 1986 to 1988 and consisted of two series focusing on the situations that PM Jim Hacker (excellently portrayed by Paul Eddington) and Civil Servant Sir Humphrey Appleby (played superbly by Nigel Hawthorne) found themselves in. It followed on from the popular ‘Yes Minister’ and was just as successful, not to mention extremely accurate. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, announced it was her favourite show.

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The Original ‘Team’ left to right: Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), PM Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) and Bernard Wooley (Derek Fowlds).

The 2013 revival takes the show into the modern day, with modern day problems. The Jim Hacker of today faces economic crisis, possible salvation from Kumranistan, European concerns, coalition factions and threats of Scottish rebellion.
David Haig takes on the role of Jim Hacker, newly elected PM in a coalition Government. Henry Goodman takes on the role of Sir Humphrey Appleby. Chris Larkin plays Bernard Wooley, the Prime Ministers Private Secretary. Clare Sutton, Special Political Advisor to the PM, (a role which has been increased from its position in the original) is portrayed by Zoe Telford. It also features Robbie Coltrane!*

The relationship between Hacker and Appleby in the original was fantastically created, so it was clearly going to be extremely difficult for Haig and Goodman to replicate this; however I think they successfully pulled it off. The acting of Eddington and Hawthorne made the characters so unique and loved in the original, I think that Haig and Goodman struggled (rightfully) to fill those positions, however it was boosted considerably by the relationship between the two which managed to ensure the situations still remained clever and funny. One thing that I did find disappointing however is that I don’t think Chris Larkin’s portrayal of Bernard holds a candle to the brilliance of Derek Fowlds. He doesn’t seem to hold the position in the same way which Fowlds had managed to.

The story which the revival is centred on is also very well chosen for the modern day and is littered with particularly humorous situations. The show starts with the PM’s need to fix the economic crisis, ensure his Coalition doesn’t split, keep Scotland in the Union, see through the bureaucracy of the Civil Service and placate a sex-pest Kumranistan foreign secretary. Jim Hacker takes to office about as naturally as he did in the original, and it makes for fantastic viewing.

To conclude, if you are a fan of comedy, political satire, or of just laughing, then this show is for you. However, don’t exclude the original for fear that it’s too old, or not relevant. As good as the 2013 revival is, the original was truly hilarious. Overall? 8/10. A must for anyone who loves to see the British Government at its best….. And worst.

“Do you not feel that yes and no are too narrow in their application?”

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*Although only for one episode

Europa Universallis 3: England 1399 to 1589

Is it just me, or are games based on Alternative Histories just brilliant?

Let’s take Europa Universallis 3. In my current campaign, starting at 1395, its been about 155 years and England has used Colonialism to conquer most of the Northern and Western Africa as well as a chunk of Eastern South America. I also control parts of Northern France (Brittany and Calais). It’s funny the way things work out. The English Empire is growing larger than it ever actually did.
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Here be England – you’ll see I’ve left Scotland alone to the North, but for political reasons I have also been forced to leave parts of Ireland unconquered. 

Unfortunately, Portugal beat me to most of the available areas on the coast of eastern North America, but using my place in South America, I’m going to try and take the area where Mexico would be and dominate the southern hemisphere. I don’t fancy a war with one of the largest nations in the world which has been a loyal ally for over a century and a half, so I’ll leave Portugal be as long as possible. In a couple more years, I should be able to integrate the Spanish Crown into my own and combine our Empires – makes me wish I hadn’t blocked Spanish expansion in the Americas.

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Here are my few possessions in Continental Europe. Luckily, France isn’t too bothered about Brittany or its Western Coast. But by God they don’t half want Calais back.

So, what’s my diplomacy looking like you might ask? Well I am allied to Spain, Portugal and a couple smaller nations across Europe. France hates us, the African nations don’t trust us and most of Europe don’t care about us. Brittany keeps demanding the ‘return’ of Calais, even though four successive wars over it have failed. Scotland is proving to be something of an oddity. They quite like us, and we have a Royal Marriage, however they refuse to accept any closer diplomatic relations. The only way I will be able to form Great Britain is by taking them over through war, however they are allied to France and I think another nation in Europe – I’d rather not lose my foothold in France just yet, which would most likely happen if I started a war on two fronts.

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As you can see, I also hold pretty much the entirety of the African West Coast. I also hold the tip of the South, and parts of Madagascar. I’m planning on using it as a jumping point between myself and Asia, but don’t tell them!

Financially and technologically we aren’t doing too well. Our tech is lacking behind the other leading European Nations by a few levels which could be important should we ever go to war. The English treasury isn’t exactly low, but it’s weak and could be considerably increased if I didn’t need to fund such a large empire for the time period. I think my lack of decent tech is the reason I’ve only been making minimal increases in Northern Europe – if we were equal, I have little doubt Burgundy would now be within my grasp.

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I’m also a majority shareholder in South America. This means not only to I have the monopoly on slaves from Africa, but also tobacco, gold and sugar cane!

Next step troubles?
France and Burgandy – I have a feeling Calais is going to cause more strife in the later half of the 16th Century. I am also in a predicament in I don’t know if I should integrate Spain, or risk it and hope I eventually inherit the entire country. As it is, I am going to try and avoid war for as long as possible – I am technologically outmatched and as such I think its far more profitable for me to keep investing in a large colonial Empire. South-North America is under my control, Portuguese expansion is slowing and I hold more of South America and Africa than any other state.

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And here is the jewel of my Empire. My very large North American colonies. Sure, they kick up a fuss every few decades, and wheat (their primary product) isn’t too useful, but it gives a huge base of operations in the West. Okay, it’s not that useful. I just want to make sure 1776 never happens. Pity Portugal got in there and snapped up the 13 colonies before I even knew what was happening.

Overall, I’d say the future looks bright for the English. And this is a bloody good game.

Post Script:
I should get around to actually reviewing this game soon. Its somewhere on the list anyway.