Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

August 17, 2017 by  
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Meeting even basic needs in Gaza can be a challenge for the nearly 2 million people that live in the territory’s 141 square miles. Under  Israeli blockade, which prevents vital supplies from reaching Gaza and inhibits international trade, the Palestinians living there rely on resilience and innovation to survive with the resources they have. Squeezed out of arable land, many Gaza residents are farming upwards, on the rooftops of the dense urban Mediterranean territory. Rooftop farming is fairly new in Gaza. Starting in 2010, an urban farming project by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization equipped over 200 female-headed households with fish tanks, equipment, and supplies to build and maintain an aquaponics growing system, in which fish provide both edible protein and fertilizer for vegetables with roots growing into water, without soil. This initial design was adapted by others to suit their available resources and needs. The current model, designed and built by Palestinians, involves recycled plastic and wood being used to create garden beds, which are then planted with seeds from local farmers. Related: Gaza man’s DIY solar desalination machine can produce 2.6 gallons of fresh water every day The growing rooftop farming scene in Gaza is helping to met the needs of a population increasingly threatened by food insecurity. However, a garden is often more than simply the food that it produces. “There are many useful benefits with this project,” said Dr. Ahmad Saleh, an agricultural consultant, former professor, and community organizer who is helping to promote urban farming in Gaza. “Rooftop agriculture enables and empowers people. It allows them to find effective ways to confront environmental problems and helps create a healthier population.” Muhyeddin al-Kahlout, a former school director, sees his gardens as a social gathering spot. “We are experiencing severe power shortages and there is already a scarcity of recreational places,” he said. “Many of my friends liked the idea. Now they are starting to think about doing the same on their rooftops.” Via Sondos Walid / Electronic Intifada Images via  Mohamed Hajjar  and  David Berkowitz/Flickr

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Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

August 17, 2017 by  
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It’s garlic harvesting season, and those glorious, aromatic bulbs are now adorning farmer’s market stalls just about everywhere. Garlic isn’t just good for flavoring bread and warding off vampires: it has many great uses for your health, as well as around your home and garden. Read on to find out some of its more surprising uses, and develop an even greater love for this fine and fragrant bulb. 1. Ear Infection Remedy The ancient Egyptians used garlic for its many medicinal purposes, as did the Romans and Greeks, and it’s safe to assume that it was used for thousands of years before anyone decided to commit such knowledge to papyrus. Olive oil’s polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, while the allicin in garlic is anti-microbial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, so they work well together to treat bacterial as well as viral infections… much like the type that likes to nestle inside damp ear canals. What you’ll need and how to prepare it: The ratio of garlic to olive oil is 1:2, being 1 clove of garlic, minced (organic is preferable), to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The allicin in garlic stabilizes best in a liquid, but loses its potency quickly: be sure to use this pretty much immediately after being made. Step 1: Heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, and once warmed, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the minced garlic. Keep this on low heat for 20-30 minutes to draw the garlic’s healing properties into the oil without cooking it. Step 2: Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. You should be able to dip a fingertip into it without flinching. Step 3: Strain through cheesecloth or muslin, then use an eyedropper to administer 2-3 drops in the affected ear. Stop up the ear with a cotton ball and ask the sufferer to remain lying down for a few minutes to allow the oil to seep down through the eustachian tube.* Note: Garlic olive oil is also an effective treatment for ear mites in pet cats and dogs. Dip a cotton swab into the oil and apply to the affected ear, wait about 10 minutes, then use a clean swab to clean it away. The mites and eggs will be sloshed out, and remaining oil will help to treat the inflammation caused by their bites. Related: Researchers discover how nature makes powerful antibiotics that defy resistance 2. Topical Treatment for Cold Sores and Acne Those anti-just-about-everything properties mentioned above also work wonders for skin issues like acne breakouts and cold sores. You can just take a raw garlic clove, slice it, and rub the cut side on the affected area a couple of times a day to speed its healing. Another approach is to crush a couple of cloves through a press, and mix the garlic juice with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. Apply with a cotton ball and allow to dry on the skin. 3. Disinfecting Spray Cleaner Ideal for cleaning countertops in your kitchen or bathroom: fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar, and add 5 or 6 finely chopped garlic cloves. Let this steep for about an hour, then spray any surfaces you’d like disinfected. Feel free to add a few drops of grapefruit, orange, or lemon essential oil to both boost the cleansing properties and improve the scent overall. 4. Cough Syrup Garlic-infused honey is a startlingly effective cough syrup, especially for those dry, hacking coughs that can keep you up all night. Keeping in mind how quickly allicin’s potency dissipates, make this about 10 minutes before you’re ready to take it as a remedy. What you’ll need and how to make it: 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional) 1/2 cup honey (raw is preferable) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Mix everything together and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, and take a spoonful of it immediately. Related: DIY throat drops and cough syrup 5. Organic Pesticide for House and Garden Plants This wonderful allium’s anti-fungal and pesticidal properties means that it can work wonders as a wide-spectrum treatment for all kinds of plant-related issues. What you’ll need and how to make it: 1 large garlic bulb: remove the skins from all its cloves 2 liters of water 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap Step 1: Crush the garlic cloves well with a garlic press, and mix with the water. Let this steep for 8 to 12 hours. Step 2: Strain well, and then add the castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s unscented. Step 3: Pour into a spray bottle, and spray your affected plants. This should help to eliminate aphids, borers, caterpillars, white flies, and slugs, and deter them from returning. Repeat every couple of weeks as needed. 6. Glass Repair This only works if you have a tiny, thin crack in glass. Have you ever noticed how sticky garlic is? Well, it’s a natural adhesive! If you drop your iPad and it develops a thin crack, slice a piece of raw garlic and rub it into the break. It’s sticky enough that it’ll keep the broken sides together, at least until you can get the glass replaced properly. *As with any other home remedy, this is not guaranteed to cure advanced infections, and can possibly cause more damage if the eardrum is ruptured. If the infection seems serious, or if the sufferer is in a significant amount of pain, consult a healthcare professional. Images via Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

The UN just passed a historic treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide

July 10, 2017 by  
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Could world peace be on the horizon? Last Friday the United Nations passed a total ban on nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent WWIII from breaking out. The 10-page document, entitled Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons , was inspired after the U.N. reopened discussion of a global nuclear ban in March of 2017, prompting 2,500 scientists from 7 countries to sign a petition urging nuclear disarmament. Now that the first-of-its-kind ban has passed, some are optimistic for a world in which the threat of nuclear war no longer exists. In a press briefing last Thursday, U.N. conference president Elayne Whyte Gomez said, “We are on the verge of adopting the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons . She added, “This will be a historic moment and it will be the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to be concluded in more than 20 years. The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years.” TIME reports that more than 120 countries are prepared to adopt the treaty. The United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, on the other hand, are boycotting the initiative – supposedly because they are armed with nuclear weapons. In fact, the handful of countries has suggested strengthening the nearly 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which gives only the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China (the five original nuclear powers) the right to keep their destructive arsenal. Related: Climate change threat is as serious as nuclear war, UK minister warns Despite this, 122 member states voted in favor of negotiating “a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.” North Korea was the only nation that did not participate in the voting. Singapore abstained, the Netherlands voted against the decision and eight other nations voted yes . In a joint statement , the U.S., Britain, and France wrote: “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” The three countries explained, “a purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and security.” Though the nuclear disarmament is controversial, Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, is certain nuclear weapons need to be banned to preserve life and ensure a habitable planet for future generations. She said , “If the world comes together in support of a nuclear ban, then nuclear weapons countries will likely follow suit, even if it doesn’t happen right away.” Via TIME , Futurism Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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The UN just passed a historic treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide

World’s cutest solar farm in China is shaped like a panda

July 3, 2017 by  
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Who says solar panel installations can’t be adorable? The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China is shaped like the country’s treasured animal – and the first phase offers 50 megawatts (MW) of clean energy . Panda Green Energy installed the array under an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to advocate for renewable energy . The first phase of the giant panda solar station was just connected to the grid . There’s a new contender for the cutest solar farm in the world: the Panda Power Plant, which will have an aggregate installed capacity of 100 MW. The black parts of the panda, such as the ears and arms, will be comprised of monocrystalline silicone solar cells, with the grey and white tummy and face composed of thin film solar cells. Related: China is now the largest producer of solar power in the world In addition to providing clean electricity , the panda solar stations are part of an effort to promote sustainable development among China’s young people. A youth activity center at the Panda Power Plant targeted at schoolchildren will detail the benefits of solar power . The 100 MW Panda Power Plants will be able to offer 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green power in 25 years, according to the company, saving 1.056 million tons of coal and reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tons. Panda Green Energy plans to install more panda plants in the upcoming five years as part of their Panda 100 Program in Belt and Road areas, which are part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s economic development strategy also known as the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. As the strategy is targeted at cooperation among Eurasian countries, some of the panda plants could be built outside China. The UNDP also plans to promote renewable energy in China with China Merchants New Energy , the largest shareholder of Panda Green Energy, through summer camps and design competitions. Via pv magazine , Panda Green Energy , and United Nations Development Programme Images via China Merchants New Energy and Panda Green Energy

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World’s cutest solar farm in China is shaped like a panda

Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

July 3, 2017 by  
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Ireland is one signature away from banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . After the country’s House of Representatives, the Dáil Éireann, passed a fracking ban the end of May, Ireland’s Senate, the Seanad Éireann, followed suit the end of June. Now the bill just needs Irish President Michael Higgins’ signature before Ireland bids farewell to the controversial practice. “We’ve made history,” said Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who introduced the bill, after the vote. President Higgins is expected to sign the bill “in the coming days,” according to the Fine Gael Party . France, Bulgaria, and Germany are the only other European Union states to have banned the practice onshore so far. Related: Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels “Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water, and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.” According to The Irish Times, politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland supported the bill. A public consultation earlier in 2017 drew 8,000 submissions, with just one opposing the ban. Environmental activists touted the bill as protecting people, the environment, and water quality in the country. There are large shale deposits in multiple counties in Ireland such as Sligo and Leitrim, the counties McLoughlin represents. Irish communities will be safe from the negative impacts of fracking seen in towns and cities in the United States, according to McLoughlin, where states are beginning to consider fracking bans . Earlier this year Maryland joined Vermont and New York to ban fracking , and they were the first state with gas reserves to do so. Via The Irish Times and EcoWatch Images via Friends of the Earth Ireland and greensefa on Flickr

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A public-private recipe for sustainable urban development

June 19, 2017 by  
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The private sector is eager to help address the challenges of rapid urbanization. Here’s how the United Nations Global Compact is helping inspire collaboration with cities and community governments.

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A public-private recipe for sustainable urban development

How hybrid energy storage aids corporate sustainability

June 19, 2017 by  
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What happens when a single battery isn’t enough? Why solutions that include multiple technologies could be beneficial for companies that need to manage renewable energy assets.

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

May 15, 2017 by  
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Over 7.5 billion people now reside on planet Earth , according to the World Population Clock . But with more people could comes less access to resources like food and energy . A global population of 7.5 billion people has far-reaching repercussions – including increased greenhouse gas emissions , strained food supplies, and increased total consumption, according to Charity organization Population Matters . Population Matters says that population growth could keep some countries in poverty , and it intrudes on land needed by wildlife . Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie told edie.net , “We will see cutthroat competition for shrinking resources which will include not just fossil fuels but productive land and water, pushing prices up not just for consumers but for the businesses and industries which need them too. Huge potential markets like much of sub-Saharan Africa will be stuck in poverty and we’ll see political instability arising from population and migration pressures, including conflict over resources.” China has the most people in one country; 1.38 billion people live there. India is next with 1.34 billion, followed by the United States with 326 million. The United Nations thinks our global population will hit 10 billion people by the year 2056. Related: Scientists say the world is “one crop breeding cycle away from starvation” Currie warned that while businesses may see increased global population as the opportunity to gain more customers, too much growth won’t be good for our planet – or business. He said, “Growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet and fewer consumers is ultimately better for all of us. Business must start recognizing and adapting to that reality. With action now, we can limit population growth and eventually reach sustainable levels.” We’re currently using up the resources of 1.6 Earths , and we’ll need 3 Earths by 2050 unless we can alter our consumption patterns. + Population Matters Via edie Images via Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino on Flickr and McKay Savage on Flickr

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

May 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Over 7.5 billion people now reside on planet Earth , according to the World Population Clock . But with more people could comes less access to resources like food and energy . A global population of 7.5 billion people has far-reaching repercussions – including increased greenhouse gas emissions , strained food supplies, and increased total consumption, according to Charity organization Population Matters . Population Matters says that population growth could keep some countries in poverty , and it intrudes on land needed by wildlife . Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie told edie.net , “We will see cutthroat competition for shrinking resources which will include not just fossil fuels but productive land and water, pushing prices up not just for consumers but for the businesses and industries which need them too. Huge potential markets like much of sub-Saharan Africa will be stuck in poverty and we’ll see political instability arising from population and migration pressures, including conflict over resources.” China has the most people in one country; 1.38 billion people live there. India is next with 1.34 billion, followed by the United States with 326 million. The United Nations thinks our global population will hit 10 billion people by the year 2056. Related: Scientists say the world is “one crop breeding cycle away from starvation” Currie warned that while businesses may see increased global population as the opportunity to gain more customers, too much growth won’t be good for our planet – or business. He said, “Growth cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet and fewer consumers is ultimately better for all of us. Business must start recognizing and adapting to that reality. With action now, we can limit population growth and eventually reach sustainable levels.” We’re currently using up the resources of 1.6 Earths , and we’ll need 3 Earths by 2050 unless we can alter our consumption patterns. + Population Matters Via edie Images via Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino on Flickr and McKay Savage on Flickr

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Earth’s population just hit 7.5 billion people

Peter Bakker on the compelling necessity of the UN Global Goals

May 3, 2017 by  
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In 2000, the United Nations passed the Millenium Development Goals, eight goals to improve the lives of people in developing nations. In 2014, the UN expanded them into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), interconnected global goals to eliminate the world’s most pressing problems from hunger to gender equality. “The SDGs are the greatest gift the UN has given to the world,” said Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council and UN World Food Program ambassador against hunger. 

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