Ask not what pollinators can do for you; ask what you can do for the pollinators

Pollinator balcony or pollinator garden with insect hotel in city apartment for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators
Pollinator balcony or pollinator garden with insect hotel in city apartment for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators
My pollinator balcony in early April 2021, just after sowing wildflower seeds in the planter on the left

Every so often, I get obsessed with a new topic. As a naturally curious person who gets all too easily distracted by the internet, I was surprised to receive the following email in late February this year.

“Thank you for enrolling in our course about wild bees! We will get started in 3 days.”

“Wild bees?” I mumbled while scratching my head. Until I remembered I enrolled in a course organized by a local conservationist group a couple of months prior. My interest had spiked after starting — and not finishing — an online course on the basics of entomology…


Combating climate change starts with appreciating what’s there

Podcast recommendations for podcasts about climate change, nature, biodiversity, and the environment
Podcast recommendations for podcasts about climate change, nature, biodiversity, and the environment
Visual by Kunal Shinde via Unsplash

After a sloppy 15 year hiatus, 2020 was the year I rediscovered nature. Never was I a child that loved to rummage in the mud— apparently, I didn’t like to get dirty — but I loved animals and wanted to talk to, and save, them all.

Fast forward to 2020 when going for a walk once again became an acceptable pastime for young people. At age 25, my first-ever bug phase hit me square on the nose.

The culprit? Most of the following podcasts.

1. Ologies

By now, Ologies is simultaneously the podcast behemoth of science and quirk. Presenter Alie Ward is…


My new job as a pollinator hotelier is paying off

Buff-tailed bumblebee taking flight while foraging on, and pollinating, flowers
Buff-tailed bumblebee taking flight while foraging on, and pollinating, flowers
A buff-tailed bumblebee taking flight, photo by Carolien van Oijen via Unsplash

Once you start paying attention to bees, you see them everywhere. This makes you wonder: were these little creatures there all along?

The black and yellow images you find on “save the bees” posters are cute but don’t do these pollinators’ dashing looks any justice. From fluffy hairballs to sleek designer-looking insects, I would like to introduce you to some of my guests.

I am turning my postage-stamp-sized balcony into a nirvana for pollinators, and so far, it’s going pretty well. …


Can we empathize with machines?

Erik Krull via Unsplash

Robotics is about much more than cold steel and killer drones. Although a mix of fear and awe for the future with our non-human counterparts is warranted, we shouldn’t forget about the Wall-E’s of this world.

Baby seal bots have been used to soothe the elderly suffering from dementia, and educational robots are teaching kids about computer science and programming. Although one looks like an animal, and the other one looks like, well, a robot, both are designed to appear alive.

Not by being indistinguishable from real baby seals or teachers, but by giving their users a sense of interacting…


Yup, that seems pretty accurate

Blurry neon letters spelling Google
Blurry neon letters spelling Google
Image by Mitchell Luo

Scavenging the Internet for some tips on how to safeguard my privacy online, I stumbled over this Twitter thread. It contains 30+ things Google knows about you — that you probably didn’t know about.

Using Google Takeout, you can download everything in one go. The total size of all my data? 7.5 Gigabytes.

There are obvious ones like your online queries. A personal example:
5 nov. 2011 18:08:43 — “how to make stop motion using windows movie maker”.

But it doesn’t stop there.

How about every YouTube video you have ever watched, your possible weight, and a confidence level of…


While our privacy concerns rise, we don’t know where to get started

Wenniel Lun via Unsplash

Being tech-savvy is not what it used to be. Installing a printer driver, or typing really fast and using all digits, simply won’t cut it. As technological capabilities are expanding beyond pretty much everyone’s comprehension, it is hard to keep track of the right questions to ask.

“Is there another way to escape the Zuckerberg than by becoming an undocumented mountain hermit?” is one of those questions. Or a slightly toned-down version: “are there ways to browse more responsibly that are not extremely demanding?”

To the latter, the answer is yes. Here are 5 problems and 5 solutions you can…

Toon Vos

Creator of Ivory Tower magazine with a soft spot for dystopian novels. https://www.ivorytowermag.com/

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