Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

August 10, 2017 by  
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Mushrooms are not a common crop in Syria . With government blockades creating food shortages, however, Syrians in embattled rebel strongholds like Douma are increasingly turning to mushrooms as a substitute for meat. As years of drawn-out sieges place meat and other staples of Syrian cuisine beyond most people’s reach, The Adala Foundation, a local nonprofit, began brainstorming alternatives. “We turned to cultivating mushrooms because they’re a food that has high nutritional value, similar to meat, and can be grown inside houses and basements,” Abu Nabil, an engineer who is project director of the group, told AFP . Mushrooms have proven to be a good source of protein and mineral salts, according to Muayad Mohieddin, Adala’s director. In addition, mushroom farming requires neither copious space nor deep pockets. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms There was just one problem: “This type of cultivation was totally unknown in Ghouta before the war,” said Mohieddin. Growing bags of mushrooms in a climate-controlled room known as the incubator, Adala has managed to distribute 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of mushrooms a week to 500 people across Douma and other parts of Eastern Ghota at no cost. “The distribution is free for the poorest families, and for those suffering malnutrition or spinal cord injuries that need lots of nutrients,” Abu Nabil said. Many of the project’s recipients were unfamiliar with mushrooms and had never eaten them before. One psychosocial center organized a workshop to teach people how to cook with mushrooms. Others turned to the Internet for tips. “On the first day, I fried them up with some onions, and on the second day I cooked them in a yoghurt sauce,” said Abu Adnan al-Sidawi, who received mushrooms through Adala. “Mushrooms are delicious cooked and we liked them in the yogurt sauce.” Via AFP Photos by Harshal Hirve and Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

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Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

Brilliant Tesla solar cell roof rotates to naturally cool proposed desert home in Iran

August 10, 2017 by  
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Tesla appears to be taking aim at revolutionizing homeownership and architects are taking note. Hot on the heels of Tesla’s eagerly awaited solar roof, Tehran-based BMDesign Studios created Alavi House, a home in Isfahan, Iran that’s to be finished with Tesla’s new and seemingly invisible solar cells. Optimized for solar, the Alavi House will produce more energy than it needs and feature a smart and operable double-skin to promote natural heating and cooling of the home. Named after its clients, the 550-square-meter Alavi House is proposed for a site at the foothills of the Zagros Mountain range at the edge of a desert . Due to the arid climate, the architects used the prevailing winds from the south and southwest to inform the roof’s sloped shape and direction. “With a roof tilted toward East, we can create effective zones of negative pressure at the climax of the roof helping to ventilate the building naturally through most of the year,” wrote the architects. “Controllable vents, at the climax of the roof have a sucking effect, together with the large openings to the south of the building. Air filters by flowing through a broken line of evergreen trees (Cedrus deodara) and over a pool in the outdoors and then by passing over an indoor garden of Snake Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) which is known to be a great air purifier (NASA Clean Air Study) and over a pond.” Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof The home is finished in concrete save for the double skin on the sloped roof that would be clad in the nearly imperceptible Tesla solar cells installed 30 centimeters above the roof. The operable double skin roof can rotate open to allow the sun to heat the concrete roof and warm the interior. Alternatively on colder days, the roof rotates close to provide shade from the sun, while simultaneously optimizing conditions for generating solar energy. The 194-square-meter solar roof would feature 104 solar modules capable of meeting a minimum of 29,000 kWh a year, far exceeding the average electricity consumption of an Iranian household. Insulated glazing wraps the building on the south side to let in natural light and frame views of the cherry orchard and mountains. Communal areas are placed on the ground floor and include a tv room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom that are connected to an indoor landscaped area and pool next to the outdoor pool. The upper level contains two master bedrooms and library. + BMDesign Studios Via highsnobiety Images via BMDesign Studios

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Brilliant Tesla solar cell roof rotates to naturally cool proposed desert home in Iran

The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees

June 22, 2017 by  
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Unlike the United States of America, the prison population and crime rate in the Netherlands has been steadily decreasing for years. As a result, the country’s government is repurposing correctional facilities into housing for refugees who are waiting to be granted asylum status — a process that usually takes a minimum of six months. Not only will the refugees not be required to work, they will be supplied with educational materials to learn Dutch, ride bicycles and build connections within the local community. After the number of migrants exceeded 50,000 in one year alone in the Netherlands, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) proposed a solution for the overflow of refugees: transform empty prisons into temporary housing for families and individuals escaping war. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and photographer Muhammed Muheisen captured the scoop by dedicating the past two years to photographing the refugee crisis as people traversed across continents. After hearing rumors that penitentiaries were being converted to house migrants in the Netherlands, his interest was piqued. He told National Geographic , “I didn’t exactly understand. I thought they feel like they are in prisons.” Related: Green roof with bee hotel tops energy-neutral fair trade building in the Netherlands After waiting six months to get permission to visit the prison and take photos, Muheisen spent 40 days touring three different facilities, meeting residents and documenting their lives. “We’re talking about dozens of nationalities,” he said. “Dozens. The whole world is under this dome.” The refugees will be able to live in the centers for a minimum of six months and are free to come and go as they please. Additionally, they are supplied with resources needed to acclimate to the new country, learn Dutch and even ride bicycles. According to one Syrian man, the prison gives him hope for his future. The refugee told Muheisen, “If a country has no prisoners to put in jail, it means this is the safest country that I want to be living in.” Via National Geographic Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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Sweden passes law to become carbon neutral by 2045

June 22, 2017 by  
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Sweden just took a huge step towards becoming even greener than they already are. A new law passed by the country’s parliament will slash carbon emissions all the way down to zero by 2045. The move makes Sweden the first country to upgrade its carbon goals since the 2015 Paris Agreement . A cross-party committee prepared the law, which then passed with an overwhelming majority, bringing the goal to become carbon neutral from 2050 down to 2045, and puting in place an independent Climate Policy Council. The law calls for an action plan that will be updated every four years. Related: Norway moves up zero emissions target to 2030 According to New Scientist, Sweden already obtains 83 percent of its electricity from hydropower and nuclear energy . They met a goal to obtain 50 percent of energy from renewables eight years before their target. They’ll work to meet this new carbon neutral objective in part by focusing on transportation , such as through increasing use of vehicles powered by electricity or biofuels . Sweden aims to slash domestic emissions by a minimum of 85 percent. And they’ll offset any other emissions by planting trees or investing in sustainable projects in other countries. Femke de Jong, European Union Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch , said Sweden has a high chance of success, and other countries in Europe could follow suit. “With the Trump decision to get out of the Paris Agreement, Europe is more united than ever and wants to show leadership to the world,” de Jong said. Public resistance can be an obstacle to cutting emissions, but according to New Scientist in Sweden there’s an unusually high amount of support for environmentally friendly policies. But de Jong warned the country must also show leadership in forests, not simply emissions. They were recently accused along with France, Finland, and Austria of attempting to weaken rules to obscure emissions from burning wood and deforestation . Via New Scientist Images via Håkan Dahlström on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Sweden passes law to become carbon neutral by 2045

IKEA builds replica of real Syrian home inside flagship store

November 9, 2016 by  
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https://vimeo.com/190261411 Nestled between IKEA’s plush and modern furnishings, the unexpected and tiny 25-square-meter Syrian home offered a sobering glimpse inside the life of Rana, a refugee woman and her family of nine. The installation was based on Red Cross footage of Rana and her two-bedroom apartment in Damascus built from rough concrete blocks and sparsely furnished with a few thin mattresses and plastic window coverings. IKEA’s iconic posters and price tags were used to tell the stories of refugees and the struggles they face, and also offered instruction on how to help through donations. Related: IKEA Unveils Solar-Powered Flat Pack Shelters for Easily Deployable Emergency Housing In an interview with AdFreak , POL art director Snorre Martinsen said his agency strived to replicate Rana’s home as accurately as possible. The installation was on display from October 17 to October 31, 2016. Around 40,000 people are estimated to have visited the Syrian home replica weekly. The campaign successfully raised 22 million euros for the Red Cross’ efforts in Syria. + POL Via AdFreak Images via POL

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IKEA builds replica of real Syrian home inside flagship store

World’s largest 3D printer will recreate ISIL-destroyed Syrian ruins in London and New York

December 29, 2015 by  
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In August, Islamic State militants destroyed most of the Temple of Bel in Syria, an ancient gateway that connected the Roman Empire to Persia. The 2,000-year-old temple had previously been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and that honor is perhaps part of the reason members of the group decided to blow it up. Now, as a symbolic gesture of remembrance and solidarity, the surviving arch will be recreated by the world’s largest 3D printer and the duplicate models will be erected in London’s Trafalgar Square and New York City’s Times Square. Read the rest of World’s largest 3D printer will recreate ISIL-destroyed Syrian ruins in London and New York

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Climate wars: National security, clean energy converge at COP21

December 9, 2015 by  
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What does the war in Syria have to do with corporations buying clean energy? More than you’d think, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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Syria withdraws seeds from Doomsday Vault as bombs disrupt crop research

October 19, 2015 by  
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When you think of doomsday preppers, you probably think of folks with a basement full of canned food, hand-crank radios, and batteries. In Norway, though, the government has taken a different kind of doomsday precaution by saving seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault . The world’s largest secure seed storage has been in operation since 2008, accepting deposits from around the world to resupply agricultural fields in the event of a major crop-devastating natural disaster. Now scientists are making a major withdrawal from the seed bank for the first time, but not for reasons they anticipated. The war in Syria has interrupted the work of scientists in Aleppo, making it necessary to recover wheat seeds from the so-called ‘Doomsday Vault’ for planting. Read the rest of Syria withdraws seeds from Doomsday Vault as bombs disrupt crop research

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Researchers smuggle ancient seeds out of Syria to save agricultural heritage

September 22, 2015 by  
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A unique collection of seeds is safe from destruction in Syria after scientists managed to smuggle their precious cargo out of the country. Since 2012, scientists from The International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), located just outside of Aleppo, have been working to protect their seed bank. The bank holds one of the world’s most important seed collections, preserving ancient seeds as well as seeds from staple food crops, like wheat and barley. The researchers have managed to get 140,000 seed packets out of the country. Read the rest of Researchers smuggle ancient seeds out of Syria to save agricultural heritage

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A tower of 3,000 tiny ceramic shops criticizes London’s crazed consumerism

September 22, 2015 by  
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