Green Prophet Impact news for the Middle East Mon, 26 Sep 2016 08:51:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Green Prophet 32 32 Is this staple salad Moroccan or Turkish or Sephardic? Any way you chop it, it’s divine. Sun, 25 Sep 2016 10:31:26 +0000

tomato and pepper recipe

Tomatoes are full of lycopene, the cancer-busting carotenoid responsible for the reddish colorations in vegetables and fruits. Red peppers are packed with phytochemicals and beta-carotene, which flood your system with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Meet a delicious concoction that combines both in an ancient Middle Eastern recipe with decidedly modern health benefits.

Science says the sense of smell is the most potent conjurer of long-ago memories.  I say that taste runs a close second. A recent dinner with a great friend in Jaffa hurled me back to a Manhattan apartment circa 1982 and a dish whipped up by the exotic Moroccan boyfriend of my then-best pal. It sent me on a week-long hunt to replicate it.

red pepper recipesI recall how Laurent speared plump red peppers on a tin fork and roasted them above the flame on my ancient gas stovetop. He chucked them into a brown paper bag (plastic had yet to infect 1980’s NYC) and the peppers steamed inside, loosening their charred skins. He chopped the peppers, adding tomatoes, onions, and garlic, explaining in swoonable French-accented English that this was exactly how his ancient grandma did it.

(I now live in Amman, Jordan where our only bags are plastic, so I recruited some manila envelopes to stand in for brown paper bags.)

tomato recipeThat ’80s meal consisted of his deep red relish, smeared on Italian bread, washed down with many bottles of wine. Undoubtedly, a Rolling Stones record spun in the background.  I suspect Goat’s Head Soup.

Back to the future in 2016 Jaffa, Karin laid out an incredible spread of Levantine dishes, including one standout that she called a Turkish Salad.  A mushy confit of tomatoes, onions, and red peppers served up cool on a warm summer night.  The vibrant tastes triggered a taste bud explosion. She waved off our raves saying she picked it up at a local shop. A week on, I am still jonesing for that flavor. So the internet hunt began.

Google’s result for “Turkish Salad” brought up the how-to’s for what looked like a basic chopped salad. I love me a vinegary medley of minced cukes, onions, and tomatoes, but this was not the Turkish Salad I was searching for. Sweet tomato Turkish Jam (recipe here) was also off the mark.

Digging deeper, I hit the jackpot, finding two different recipes for the ruby red dish.  Seems the term “Turkish Salad” is specific to a condiment (סלט טורקי) commonly served up in Israeli restaurants. It’s typically presented as part of a trio, served side by side with humus and tahini.  Like Italian marinara, and Indian curry, there seem as many versions of Israeli Turkish Salad as there are people who make it.

So I set out to experiment on my own, using slight variations on two different recipes, just to see which would send my taste buds into delicious reverie. Here are two ways (of many) to make Matbucha, or Turkish Salad, a Sephardic savory jam.

Version #1Deep red tomatoes are kicked up by piquant spices and a hit of harissa (hot chili pepper paste). Pulse the mixture in a blender if you prefer a less chunky sauce.


  • 3 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large tomatoes chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp harissa

Heat oil on medium flame. Add onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes or until onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes, harissa, and all spices. Sauté about 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Turn off the flame, add parsley and cilantro, mix well and allow it to cool down. Serve at room temperature, or cold.

Version #2 – Much more work, but a fantastic result.  Smear it on bread or pita, eat it plain, or accompanying omelets, chicken, grilled meat, or fish.


  • 6 red bell peppers
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Char the peppers over a grill, or spear them on a fork and carefully roast over a stove top flame. Place blackened peppers in a paper bag, close the bag to allow them to steam. Boil water in a large saucepan (sized to fit 6 tomatoes). Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato. When the water boils, place tomatoes in the pot for 2 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and set aside.

Once cooled, remove the peppers from the paper bag and discard all stems. Peel off the charred pepper skins. (Skip the temptation to scrub them under water, as washed peppers will lose a lot of their flavor.) Slice them open, and remove white membranes and seeds. Dice the peppers with a sharp knife.

Peel the blanched tomatoes, starting at the bottom X cuts. Cut the tomatoes in half and scrape out the seeds. Remove the green stems too. Dice the remaining tomato pulp to a similar size as the peppers.

Mince the garlic. Add olive oil to a large non-stick sauté pan. Cook the garlic, peppers, and tomatoes – stirring constantly – on high heat.  When the mix begins to bubble, turn the heat down to medium. Season with salt and all spices. Let the tomatoes and peppers cook down to the consistency of a spread, stirring occasionally to avoid burning as the liquid evaporates. As with Version #1, allow the matbucha cool.

End note: Serve it up as a sandwich spread, a dip for bread or veggies, or as a brilliant topping for pasta, fish, or chicken. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a non-reactive glass jar. It also freezes with good results.

Which version do you prefer? And – as importantly – what music do you like to eat it to?

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France’s new ban on plastic throwaways should be extended globally Sat, 24 Sep 2016 13:50:00 +0000

France bans plastics

France has passed a new law that bans cups, cutlery, plates, and takeaway containers made from plastic. It’s The part of the nation’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, which will also carry out a ban on plastic bags in grocery shops and markets beginning in July. The law comes into effect in 2020.

French President Francois Hollande says the law aims to make France ‘an exemplary nation in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying its energy model and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources’.  Viva la France! But why stop at its borders?Arash Derambarsh, a municipal councillor for the commune of Courbevoie in Paris, has called for the ban on single-use plastics to be implemented across Europe. Derambarsh is an environmental action figure; he previously led a successful campaign to ban French supermarkets from throwing away unsold food products.He told The Independent, “This problem of recycling exists in all European countries. We have to pass the same law in all European countries to tackle this very important problem of waste.”  He describes the new law as one part of a circular economy of waste disposal, one of several legislated measures to reduce waste production and divert remaining waste from landfills.

The law requires all plastic single-use items to be made from biologically-sourced materials that can be composted after use.

It’s not rocket-science. Bans on free-issue plastic shopping bags have been on national law books for over a decade. The Republic of Ireland (enacted in 2002), Denmark (2003), Belgium (2007), Mexico (2010), Wales and Italy (2011),  Scotland (2014), and England (2015) all tackled the problem with legislation.

China, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda Botswana, Kenya and Ethiopia have enacted total bans. The United States does not consider it a federal issue, instead leaving it to states, counties, and cities (since 2013, at least 17 states, and 98 cities and counties have enforced bans).

The Middle East has been slow to join in, despite having many of its main touristic venues and natural habitats seriously polluted by uncollected plastic garbage. EcoMENA reports that some governments have tried to raise public awareness and incite behavioral change, but full-bore bans – with rigorous enforcement – have not been enacted.

In 2009, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water launched the “UAE free of plastic bags” initiative. Dubai Municipality launched a “No to Plastic Bags” campaign to eliminate 500 million plastic bags from circulation. Smaller scale efforts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait encourage clean-up campaigns in seas, deserts and cities, but do not deter usage of disposable plastics.

In 2014, Jordan announced plans to ban plastic bags and wraps used in food sales, but two years on there is little evidence of policy enforcement. In 2017, two years after the initiative was first raised, Israel passed a law that halted free issue of plastic bags at all large supermarket chains.  The law also imposed a full ban on very thin plastic bags (less than 20 microns).

Hurghada, Egypt became the first plastic-bag-free governorate with a 2009 ban which also generated employment opportunities for women who create reusable cloth bags to replace plastic ones.

The French law moves beyond bags to include food industry single-use plastics. France is the first nation on the planet to do so, an action that could be repeated everywhere to forcibly halt our culture of waste. Predictably, the law faces opposition from the European packaging industry, who claim that the ban violates European Union rules on free movement of goods and protection of manufacturers.

Pack2Go Europe, a Brussels-based trade organization representing manufacturers, has said it will fight the new law and work to prevent its adoption by the rest of the continent. “We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law,” Pack2go Europe secretary-general Eamonn Bates told The Associated Press. “If they don’t, we will.”

Bates believes there is no proof the biologically-sourced materials are more environmentally beneficial and that the ban might exacerbate pollution worse as people may increase littering, thinking the products degrade instantly when exposed to natural elements. It’s a view shared by Daniella Dimitrova Russo from the Plastic Pollution Coalition (read her Op Ed on the matter – link here).

Perhaps edible plastics are the way to go? Feed the world by literally eating up potential litter. There’s an idea to chew on.

Image from Metro UK

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Skittles, Risk and Statistics Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:46:28 +0000

skittles-louisiana-candyI’m going to thank Donald Trump Jr. for providing a simple way to visualize our decisions regarding human refugees. He said that we should pretend that “those people” are skittles, not someone we could ever imagine being a loved-one– capable of thought, compassion, joy and loss as we believe of ourselves.

In junior Trump’s analogy, a bowl full of skittles represent men, women and children who somehow escaped bombings and other violence in their home and who somehow avoided drowning and starvation as they made a perilous journey across the Mediterranean, through Europe’s muddy hinterlands into your candy bowl. Now we are to imagine that there is one poisonous terrorist skittle in our candy bowl. Eat this and you will die.

Assuming we can stomach a moral worldview which equates human lives to candy, there is another problem– and another bowl of skittles.

Bowl #2 is a mandatory skittle bowl. You must eat from this one even though you know that many of its skittles are poisonous. How many? Well, let’s get back to bowl #1.

If each skittle represents a Syrian refugee taken into the US this year, there are 10,000 skittles. And how many are poison? Should we assume that the LA shooters and the Boston bomber brothers, the Orlando gay hater, the Jersey bomber and Saint Cloud stabber all belong in bowl #1? No, none of these were among the Syrian refugees the US took in this year but since we’re pretending, let’s assume that we can count all of them. That’s 8 poison skittles out of 10,000. So to fit Trump junior’s analogy, we need to resize our bowl to 1250 skittles, one of which is poison.

But we still have our mandatory skittle bowl #2.  Sticking with Trump junior’s skittle-human life equivalence principle, lets assume there are 300 million red, white and blue skittles in bowl #2.

The poison skittle in bowl #1 represents death from a terrorist. The poison skittles in bowl #2 represent death from other causes. In the US these deaths are tracked by the Center for Disease Control (CDC.) So we know that for each terrorist poison skittle in bowl #1, in bowl #2 we would need:

At this point I’m going to pause and say that I wish the U.S. government could shift a tiny fraction of its $5 trillion anti-terrorism spending into developing a cure for cancer and heart disease. Together these diseases are about 70,000 times more deadly than terrorism. But sadly, they are not the only cause of non-terrorist deaths. Bowl #2 must also contain these poison skittles:

  • 4700 poison alcohol skittles
  • 2000 poison car crash skittles
  • 2000 poison gun violence skittles
  • 2000 poison suicide skittles
  • 452 poison HIV skittles

And a few hundred other poison skittles representing deaths from bathtubs, furniture, prescription drugs and various other causes that other countries might classify with the catch-all  “death by misadventure.”graphic_novel_from_syrian_refugee_child

If you’re reading this, you’ve already survived mandatory skittle bowl #2 and now you have a choice. Do you take your next mandatory skittle straight from mandatory bowl #2? Or do you save thousands of lives by first pouring in the contents of bowl #1, infinitesimally increasing your risk by adding one more poison skittle to mandatory bowl 2 which already contains 80,000 poison skittles? You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Do I feel that unlucky?’

Images by Jene Bradbury, Green Prophet’s Laurie Balbo. The drawing is by a Syrian refugee child at Zaatari camp in Jordan.

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Want to picture nature? Here are 5 camera choices for beginners going pro Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:29:38 +0000
Hossein Zare Photography, photoshop, Iranian photographer, dreamscapes, landscape photography, city photography, digital manipulation, environmental art

Hossein Zare Photography, Iranian photographer

Do you coo over pictures of baby animals, become indignant when we see images of pollution running into rivers, and love to see the faces of the people who fight to make our planet better? Like us, we love telling stories in pictures. And taking pictures is an essential way to speak to the human heart and to educate about this place we call home. Have you always dreamed of being a photographer? Shooting the world as it goes by, always striving to grab the perfect shot? This is easier today than ever before thanks digital cameras.

But what to buy?

Sometimes more isn’t better, when you are starting out. So we’ve made a list of 5 cameras that work well for beginners. Of course sometimes a simple cell phone camera will do the trick, but other times when you want to go deeper, get higher resolution, precise details, only technology will do.

Here are our choices.

1. Canon EOS 1200D (Rebel T5)

The bad news is that you might outgrow this camera. The good news is that it should be easy for you to learn on and has the right kind of functionality to see you quite a ways into your journey in photography. It’s small size is a plus (130 x 100 x 78 mm or 5.1x 3.9 x 3 in). Additionally, the EOS 1200D features an 18 megapixel APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm) CMOS sensor. This sensor manages extreme swings in lighting. This model also shoots high-quality video in HD 1080p at 30 fps.

The camera’s optical viewfinder will help you compose great photos with its 3-inch LCD monitor on the back of the unit. Unfortunately, you can’t share photos right from the camera with this model. You’ll need a memory card to upload your pictures to a computer for sharing.

However, the creative possibilities enabled by access to the wide range of Canon EF/EF-S lenses, and the ability to shoot RAW images, make up for the absense of social capabilities on the Canon EOS 1200D. These are the real reasons this camera is a winner. A companion app for iOS and Android will walk you through all of this models’ functions and teach you about DSLR photography in general.

You can buy a Canon 1200D (T5) with an 18-55-mm kit lens for under $500.00.

2. Nikon D3300

The D3300’s 24.2MP sensor performs well in many conditions. It produces sharp, crisp images and doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter. Like the Cannon above, this model’s guide mode is helpful for beginners. It will teach you how to compose and take a great picture as well as how this camera specifically works. The 18-55mm kit lens is collapsible which is incredibly convenient. Most photos happen on the go, after all.

There is no wifi or touchscreen display, just like the Canon EOS 1200D. You can buy a plug-in wifi adaptor if you really want that functionality.

3. Pentax K-S1

You can really make a statement with this camera. It makes an impressive show of itself and comes in a variety of colors for the ultimate in customization. The Pentax K-S1 has a robust 20-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. This means it takes incredibly sharp pictures. It also has an ISO range up to 51200, and can burst shoot at 5.4 fps.

This camera lets you record Full HD 1080p at up to 30 fps and all settings are easy to adjust from the rear interface on the device. Another reason this camera is good for beginner photographers is it also has a guide that will display explanations and instructions for using the camera’s features right on the built in screen. This camera measures 120 x 93 x 70 (4.7 x 3.6 x 2.8 in) and weighs 558 g (19.7 oz). Sorry guys, this one isn’t wireless either, but you can use a Flucard memory card for wireless sharing. The K-S1 costs under $400.00

4. Nikon D5300

Sometimes you just get more bang for your buck if you’re willing to buy a slightly older model. That’s how it is with the Nikon D5300. It has everything you need and many of the same features as the newer Nikon cameras. For instance, it has a 24.2MP sensor with the same maximum ISO25600 sensitivity as the D5500. It also shares EXPEED 4 image processor and 39-point autofocus system with it’s newer family members. It doesn’t give you touchscreen control but you’ll never get lost on a shoot thanks to the on-board GPS. The battery life on this model is a little worse than the D5500, but it can still go harder and longer than many other cameras of comparable quality.

It can be yours for under $600.00 with some savvy online shopping.

5. Sony A58

If you want to try your hand at Translucent Mirror Technology instead of following the DSLR pack, the Sony A58 may be for you. The user experience is pretty similar to a DSLR so you shouldn’t have much trouble adjusting to it.

The tech on the Sony A58 includes a 20.1-megapixel APS-C Exmoor CMOS sensor which works with with Sony’s BIONZ image processor to deliver an impressive ISO range of 100 to 16000. You also get fast burst shooting up to 8 frames per second. Video is no problem for the Sony A58. It can shoot HD video at up to 25 frames per second.

There is also an on board 2.7-inch LCD screen that conveniently tilts for your comfort and an OLED electronic viewfinder. You can make it yours for around $500.00, complete with an 18-55-mm lens.

 Time To Choose
Any of these cameras would be great for you as a beginner. Before you pull the trigger, why not try to save a little money with a coupon website like Frugaa? It’s easy to do. You just visit the coupon site and search or browse for your favorite electronics retailer. You’ll see a list of participating online stores. Find a coupon you want to use and copy it to paste during checkout at the retailer site.

In just a few steps you can save some money. That’s a picture that’s always in focus.

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Internet of Things – From Smart Fridge to Smart City Tue, 20 Sep 2016 04:58:54 +0000

BioThink, biomimicry, Iran, Mohammad Ghezel, green transportation, hybrid energy, solar energy

Like Cloud, Big Data and other technological buzzwords, the definition of the Internet of Things (IoT) is often stretched to fit a corporate sales pitch. IoT. But what is it? The internet of things connects ordinary objects to the internet. So now we can Google missing luggage and use an online dating service to match our socks? The reality of IoT is only slightly less imaginative. IoT promises to become the technological bricks and mortar that helps us build smart cities.

nest labs google

Someone peeked inside the refrigerator. A jar tilted against the rubber seal preventing it from re-closing tightly. The door was slightly ajar for only about an hour. But the incandescent refrigerator light bulb had done the damage. Ninety-five percent of its 15 watts went into heating the well-insulated box and spoiling $50 worth of food. It had happened before. It would happen again. So I jury-rigged an alarm that squeals every time the fridge light comes on. The alarm annoyed my family, but a neighbor asked me to make one for him. A photoresistor, a battery and a piezoelectric beeper shouldn’t cost more than $5. But when I researched these 1970s vintage components, I learned that they had evolved into microprocessors and eventually the internet of things.

I found a $5 device capable of measuring temperature and humidity and transmitting the results over WiFi. It could post,“Hey stupid, you left the fridge open again!” on my Facebook wall when it detects a temperature rise.

I showed this to an Iraqi architect who immediately saw how it could be used to improve the curing of pre-stressed concrete– a process that should rely more on science and less on gut instinct and luck. What else can be done with this internet of things?

When Ireland squandered too much of most abundant resource (rain) — smart water meters were installed on millions homes. These devices measure water consumption, detect leaks and transmits its findings via a smart-meter network to a monitoring truck which passes this information to the billing department. My electricity meter does the same thing.

Worldwide the growth of this technology is approaching the frantic pace of PCs, smart phones and the internet itself.  IoT is already implemented in some cars to put drivers in touch with mechanics and tow companies in the event of a break-down or crash. Cars can also notify each other of road hazards and traffic congestion.

smelly fridge

SamTech of U.A.E. uses IoT to track buses, taxis and other vehicles. GreenQ of Israel uses IoT to track garbage.  Silicon Oasis is installing IoT for smart streetlights in Dubai. flux is using it to listen to the health of plants. Smart thermostats like Nest can adjust the temperature of your home when it detects that your smartphone (and presumably you) are nearing the house. And last but not least, IoT is being used for refrigerators. Refrigerators can send a recommended grocery list based on what my family has used and at what rate and remind them when they are eating too much unhealthy food. It can even show its contents via a video display so there is no longer a need to open the door and peer inside and risk leaving the door open.

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The Silicon Valley for agriculture to be built in Denmark Sun, 18 Sep 2016 07:38:13 +0000


We all need better food in our lives.

Now Denmark is putting its stake in the ground and ploughing ahead with new ideas. It’s working with leading architects and is making investments in a making huge investments in a balanced whole-systems and ecological approach to growing our food.


William McDonough + Partners, GXN, 3XN Architects, BCVA and Urland have put together the master plan the Agro Food Park (AFP), which is built on an existing hub of agricultural innovation center. The firms designed a connection between research and business and urban agriculture to the needs of food of tomorrow can be me without further degrading our planet.


The original food park opened in 2009 and is owned and run by The Danish Agriculture & Food Council. William McDonough + Partners said it is expected to “create synergies among the many existing tenants while building an ecosystem inviting new entities to further strengthen products and expertise developed within the hub.”

Related: Creating a food and expert network for urban farmers


“Embracing Agro-Urban Ecosystem Design, the AFP treats urban and agricultural development together as a unified, productive and restorative ecosystem,” said William McDonough + Partners.


“By integrating the carbon cycle and other ecological processes into large scale urban systems and their surroundings – buildings and energy flows, water cycles and wastewater treatment, land use and food production – the AFP creates economic value within the urban and agricultural infrastructure.”

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Meet the Mad Men for urban and small-scale farmers Sun, 18 Sep 2016 06:49:07 +0000
Farmed Here special hydroponic growing project

Have a special farm, growing hyper-nutritious food? Nick Burton, Founder of the State of the Soil agency helps small business farmers craft the messaging and media to sell what’s grown at a profit.

Urban farming. High-tech farming. Modern farming, or maybe it’s traditional farming? However you call it, farming in the US is shifting against the tide of large-scale monoculture, chemical company-controlled mega farming, where farmers measure success by operating at smaller loss than the year before. The farming industry is on the verge of collapse. Oil prices are dropping, seedstock prices are quadrupling and with mega billion dollar mergers like Bayer and Monsanto looming, US farmers fear the absolute worse is yet to come.

We know the world feels what happens to the US: the current breadbasket to the world in many staples such as corn and wheat.

Thousands of new farmers in the United States are revolting against the system in their own gentle way, by farming with dignity and doing things differently than factory farming. They are creating small business farms in all shapes and sizes from hydroponic greenhouse farms to one acre organic specialty crops farms.

The problem for these farmers isn’t growing. They learn what to do, they love it, and they grow successfully. Their problem, says Nick Burton, in the green business for 20 years and a hydroponic farmer for 3, is now building a media and branding services to modern farmers –– because most do not know how to market and brand themselves.

Burton (pictured below) started a new business growing hyper-local greens for Texans and has nailed the packaging, email lists, and is growing a booming business out of Paris, Texas called the Victory Lunch Club. Burton’s company supplies artisanal salads to your office desk.


Burton gets behind your urban farm or smallhold farm brand, and tells your story to your market

He found marketing and media was his calling, his purpose for changing the world and has since created a new business, State of the Soil. It is intended for growers and farmers of all stripes, using any medium and system for farming. State of the Soil is like your Mad Men advertising agency if you are a small or medium sized farm business holder.

As the company builds out, it will be building conferences and events, starting with an online speakers event this coming January – register here.

The company will support community growers through social media, it will create events, and will provide educational resources to the people who have started farming and want to learn more.

Services will be affordable and not multiples of thousands of dollars, which the conventional ag industry has normally changed for its events and services, so no one but managers of chemical companies and financiers could afford to attend.

Burton is putting farming back into the hands of men and women. If you are keen on joining the urban farming movement, get your message and story right for the farmer’s market. Burton will show how it’s done –  sign up here.

Meet Nick at NYC AgTech week happening next week September 19 to 24. 

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World deforestation: we’re losing a forest the size of NYC every 2 days! Sun, 18 Sep 2016 06:13:00 +0000

unsustainable development, Turkey, Taksim Square,

This is an issue of global concern. Climate change, urbanization, and resource depletion (more mouths to feed, burn wood in stoves for, graze more cattle for) is still happening at a fast an alarming clip, influencing our planet’s ability to store CO2 emissions, and protect diversity. We hate scare tactics, but put it into scale and see how much we are losing compared to reference points you can understand.


Via eCO2 Greetings

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Sustainable technology trends in sun, wind and air Sun, 18 Sep 2016 05:57:59 +0000

World's largest solar farm

Technology is a driving force of innovation. Everything we build, adapt and refine, generally has the express purpose of making our lives on this planet easier. Whether it’s transportation, growing food, or the sending and receiving of information, technology exists to solve a problem or streamline a process. Nevertheless, the environmental cost of this technology is vast. For example, the average carbon footprint for the manufacture and use of an iPhone is between 55kg and 75kg depending on the model.

However, emerging technologies are reducing environmental pressures across the board. This is in part to large companies taking a positive stance on sustainability. For example, Nike has stepped up to the plate to show others that recycling on a large scale is possible with its Reuse-A-Shoe program. Web hosting companies such as 1&1 made known their own green efforts, demonstrating how their data centers are some of the most energy efficient worldwide, preventing upwards of 30,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere every year. Even in the banking sector, financial organizations are doing their share, as The World Bank has earmarked $16 billion to mitigate climate change in 2016 alone.

But a lot of credit is also due to ingenious inventions by lesser-known start-ups and inventors. These technologies operate with the intention of reducing carbon output, producing clean energy and depolluting water source; in essence, to mitigate the damage our current technological advances have caused.

Bladeless wind turbenergy-bladeless-wind-towerines

Wind turbines have been a staple of renewable energy for a while. However, for all the good they do, they are large, incredibly noisy, and not particularly friendly to bird populations. Vortex Bladeless is one company working on a turbine that leaves behind the cumbersome blades of conventional turbines. Instead, their models will harness power via the vibrations caused by wind. Two bladeless models exist for domestic and industrial use, and the carbon footprint is 40% less than traditional turbines.

Air filtration towers


Cities such as Delhi and Beijing suffer from very poor air quality. Daan Roosegaarde and Bob Ursem recognized this and designed a seven-meter tall filtration tower, which sucks in polluted air and expels it smog-free. Currently situated in Rotterdam, the tower is able to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour.

Solar roofing


Solar panels are nothing new, but tech mogul Elon Musk is taking it one step further. His solar energy company, SolarCity, proposes not just installing solar panels onto roofs to power homes, but instead to make the roofs themselves out of solar panels. As Musk himself says, “It’s a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof.” This technology, combined with the Tesla Powerwall – proprietary technology from one of Musk’s other endeavors – will effectively allow homes to exist off the power grid, and generate completely clean energy.

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Jordan gets its first craft brewery, causing ire among Muslim clerics Sun, 18 Sep 2016 05:22:14 +0000


If you’ve ever visited a Middle Eastern country, one noticeable difference to Europe is restriction on alcohol. Muslims are not allowed to drink according to scripture (read why Muslims don’t drink here) so depending on the ruling government, access to alcohol may be restricted to your local hotel or nearby speakeasies (big in Iran) or it may be available widely, like in Turkey.

Some Middle East Muslims do choose to drink alcohol, with brewing traditions that span back to ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian times (try our recipe for Tej, Ethiopian honey beer), and not all of the Middle East is Muslim. And read about this 5000 year old microbrewery found in the Holy Land.

Yazan Karadesh, a local Arab Christian from Amman, for instance has started brewing Jordan’s first craft brewery, hoping to compete in the $22 billion US craft beer market. He went through a difficult experience getting the permit and the land on which to brew (according to this article in Haaretz). He eventually found Christian-owned land in a Christian suburb called Fuheis.


Karadesh’s brand brewed in Amman is called Carakale Brewery. It is infused with Middle Eastern flavors, unique to the region, he says.

Taybeh beer from the West Bank, Israel is one of the more notable beers from the region. There is also Shepherd’s and Wise Men’s Choice.


Pouring some of Palestine’s finest beer, Taybeh.

But Jordan’s Yazan Karadesh wants his own in Amman: “Alcohol might be taboo but you can find alcohol and buy alcohol easily in the market,” he says.

Craft beer is a good alternative to cracking the monopoly that beer makers such as Carlsberg and Heineken own in the Middle East region.

Dancing Camel brewery with 2 locations in Tel Aviv is cracking through the monopoly in its own way. It already infuses its beers with local flavors such as pomegranate. It was Israel’s first craft brewery and by many standards has influenced a whole culture of craft beer making in the entire region.

This movement of craft beer making joins the local DIY movement in the Middle East. Trends such as urban farming (hydroponics), craft making and returning to a simpler lifestyle is taking root.


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