Maurice Picow – Green Prophet Good news that impacts the Middle East and your world Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:33:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Maurice Picow – Green Prophet 32 32 Arctic ice melt is rocking world weather Sun, 08 Jan 2017 08:48:36 +0000 polar

Polar vortex, the term attributed to the recent frigid weather patterns that recently put much of North America, Europe and even the Middle East into the deep freeze, is now slated to become even more frequent, due to the increasing melt-down of the earth’s Arctic ice cap. The polar bears are moving south and if you are living in a warm or tropical country, now might be a good time to get a second citizenship!

This phenomena is caused by a weakening of the normal jet stream air currents that encircle the earth’s arctic regions, due to higher than average summer temperatures. As a result, these “meandering” jet stream air currents are now dipping into the more southern regions, bringing with them frigid Arctic air.

Fortunately, these polar air dips usually last only a week or two; but they are intense enough to make northern American cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York City experience frigid temperatures of well below zero; often combined with heavy snowfall and strong winds. Many European cities experience intense these winter weather bouts as well. Climatologists and other scientists studying the adverse weather patterns are now tying these jet stream dips to faster than expected melting of Arctic ice, especially in the polar region.

polar vortex is making crazy weather

Melting polar ice fields are exposing more of the dark Arctic Ocean surface, which absorbs more sunlight, resulting in an even more accelerated melting factor. The result are increased ocean temperatures, which  cause the newer layers of Arctic ice to melt even faster.

snow on the western wall, jerusalem

Many climatologists are now attributing this to mankind’s continued reliance on fossil fuels, combined with other human influenced depletions of the earth’s natural environment. In regions such as the Middle East, people now experience more adverse weather patterns, including crazy summer “heat domes” that will make many areas (like Jerusalem above) uninhabitable by 2100.

polar vortex, arctic weather change

“We are now in “uncharted territory,” says Prof Jennifer Francis, an Arctic climate expert at Rutgers University in the US. “These rapid changes in the Arctic are affecting weather patterns where you live right now.”

Read more on human caused climate change issues:
It’s not the tide. It’s not the wind. It’s us.
Will the polar vortex “dip” freeze the Middle East?
Time to Adapt to Climate Change

]]> 0
CNN: The Sixth Mass Global Extinction has arrived Tue, 20 Dec 2016 09:41:09 +0000 161207134536-vanishing-elephant-carcass-1-super-169

Whether it’s disappearing elephant herds in Botswana, dying coral reefs in Australia, or near silence of small tropical tree frogs in a Central American rain forest, the vanishing of animal and plant species all over the world is finally being directly attributed to manmade causes. This mass nature depletion, despite previous “wake up call warnings” is now occurring at an even faster rate than biologists and climatologists had previously imagined.

A recent CNN program, Vanishing, dealt with a variety of creatures presently in danger of simply vanishing from the face of earth due to direct and indirect influences of global warming,climate change; and human caused decimation. Ranging from some of the earth’s smallest animal species, such as coral and bees, all the way to the earth’s largest land mammal, the African elephant, the program gives a graphic account of how many of these animal species are in danger to becoming extinct.

Starting with African elephants living in Botswana, one of Africa’s largest remaining concentration of the species, the number of elephants remaining have dwindled dramatically in the past 10 years; and by more than 20% in the past few years alone: “If present elephant depletions continue at this rate, the entire elephant population here
could be gone in the next 20 years,” said a Botswana based zoologist.

Although elephants and other large animal species like giraffes are more noticeable as being severely endangered, the fate of many small creatures are mentioned as well. These include Oregon bumble bees, Central American rain forest amphibians like tree frogs; and coral reefs off the coast of Madagascar. These animal species in particular appear slated to become part of the Sixth Mass Extinction, according to the CNN program.

As pointed out in the program, the resident bumble bee populations of many areas have declined so dramatically in recent years that local farmers are now importing bees to be used to pollinate their crops.

One of the most graphic examples of mankind’s adverse influence on natural habitats, according to the Vanishing documentary, takes place on the Pacific Midway Island atoll. Located virtually midway between the continental USA and Japan,  The atoll is home to large colonies of albatrosses and other marine birds. It is also a “collection point” for huge quantities of plastic wastes that wash up on the island’s beaches from the ocean. Located in the vicinity of what is known as the Great North Pacific Gyre, this plastic waste is often ingested by the birds, eventually killing them.

The tragic result are large number of dead birds; their gullets literally filled with this plastic material the birds thought to be food. Studies of the large “plastic island” waste patch in the Pacific Gyre estimate it to be larger than the American state of Texas.

In a region closer to home, the Middle East, the demise of animal species is no less alarming. The last lion was killed in Palestine more than 150 years ago; and the few remaining leopards in Israel and Jordan are now on the critically endangered list. This also goes for the once common Syrian bear; now seen more in zoos than in the wild. Hoofed animals such as the oryx and Nubian Ibex are also on the endangered list. These are only a few of formerly indigenous mammals that have either become extinct or are in danger of becoming so due to human encroachment and climate change.

It may be already too late to significantly reverse these disturbing trends. But at least we need to make a more concerted effort to save what’s left of the world’s animal species. If not, humankind will be directly affected by this Sixt Mass Extinction as well.

Read more on wildlife extinction and endangered species threats:
Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction – wake up call, folks!
Oceans spiralling downwards, threatening life on earth
Israel Animals Killed by Economic Development

Photo of elephant climate change victim by CNN

]]> 0
Join the urban farming movement Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:56:18 +0000 urban-farming-in-the-city
Urban farming, whether found in large urban cities like Chicago, or in a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem, is rapidly becoming a worldwide movement. All it really takes is a small, available plot of ground, an accessible rooftop on a warehouse or other urban building; or even a large balcony in a private home for growing a wide variety of fresh garden produce.

City dwellers are now enjoying the pleasure and personal benefits of growing their own garden produce, which is often very expensive when purchased at local supermarkets and green grocers. Urban farmers who lack experience in growing their own veggies are receiving assistance from urban farming organizations, such as one called Urban Farming, a Michigan based NGO, which is making a big impact on turning American and other urban communities into active participants in the global urban farming food chain.

Urban Farming has helped establish local community farming projects in American urban locations such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco and St Louis. Besides giving local residents the opportunity to participate in growing their own garden produce, Urban Farming is also helping to bring people together into a stronger sense of working together as a community. Part of the produce grown in these community farming projects is given to local food banks for distribution to needy people.


In water and land scarce parts of the Middle East, urban farming is coming into its own. A good example is taking place in Cario Egypt (photo), where a number of urban farming projects are turning rooftops into blooming urban gardens.

Cairo suffers from a combination of extreme population density, combined with a chronic lack of available vegetable produce. Local urban organizations such as the Egyptian Food Sovereignty Project, has established successful urban farming projects in this city of more than 12 million people.

Another M.E. urban farming example is taking place in the West Bank, where Palestinian refugees are now growing vegetable produce in rooftop gardens in a Bethlehem refugee camp. It all goes to show that successful urban gardening projects are possible virtually anywhere. All it takes is a bit of available space and a willingness to be involved in helping to green the planet.

Read more on urban farming projects:

Chicago’s urban farming produces fresh veggies all year, 24/7

Brooklyn’s Gotham Greens builds world’s largest rooftop urban garden

Sow much good farmer a CNN hero for spreading her seeds at the urban farm

Photo of urban farming in the city by

]]> 0
Pee power may be best alternative energy bet yet Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:16:21 +0000 mechanicalen-pee-power

Finding a viable alternative energy source to create low cost bio energy may be closer than we think. Some of these sources include energy from trash and algae as fuel for our future energy needs. Another alternative energy source, comes from a “product” usually discarded as a waste substance: urine. The use of urine as a
fuel source was previously written about when a group of high school students in Lagos Nigeria created a practical way to separate hydrogen from urine and then use it to power a generator to create electricity.

Going one step further, a research engineer from the University of Sorona State in Northern Mexico has found a way to use urine’s natural ability as an electrolyte to separate to separate oxygen from hydrogen in common urine and create a viable biofuel.

The engineer, Gabriel Luna-Sandoval, claims to have invented a machine that transforms urine into a biogas that can be used to provide power to heat water in kitchens, bathrooms, and other household uses. The conversion process developed by Dr. Luna-Sandoval involves inserting electrodes into a square plastic container holding the urine. The charged electrodes then separate oxygen and hydrogen from the urine with the hydrogen being used as a biogas.

Luna-Sandoval’s prototype device creates enough biogas to provide His invention provides enough heat for a 15-minute hot shower, using only 15 to 20 millilitres of urine. Cooking food like beans for one hour requires only 70 to 130 millilitres of urine, he says.

He is also thinking about the oxygen separation process as being beneficial for astronauts in space travel. “An average adult person “produces” around 1.4 liters of urine a day, which normally is thrown away. Why not put this waste material to good use, he says. The device Luna-Sandoval created has received attention from the government’s National Science and Technology Council, which featured it in a recent article.

This is just another idea for making use of a waste substance that is normally flushed down the toilet.

Read more on alternative energy ideas:
Algae returns as fuel for our future
Pee power is making electricity from urine in Africa
Energy from Trash to Become Reality with $17 Million Israeli Investment

Photos of Gabriel Luna-Sandova and his urine processing device by 

]]> 0
Swallowing poop pills is good for your gut Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:01:42 +0000 poop microbiome pills

The presence of poop and poop products in our daily lives has been receiving increasing attention for some time. News stories include the discoveries of meat products fed with faeces and pumped with toxic contaminates. From a product standpoint, creating recycled paper products from poop have also been covered. But swallowing a pill full of poop to maintain good health? Has this idea gone too far?

The use of microbiome therapy, literally transferring healthy human gut microbes from one person to another, is very beneficial to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in human intestines. This therapy, now being capitalized on by a company named Seres Therapeutics, literally involves taking human faeces from recognized “stool banks” and then cleaning and processing it into capsules of “poop pills” to be used to maintain the correct bacterial balance in human intestines. Human intestinal “bug balance” often decreases with age, or following over usage of antibiotics.

People having a severe bacteria imbalance in their intestines can be afflicted with severe intestinal ailments such as Clostridium difficile, a severe gut infection that can strike people after extensive use of antibiotics, which wipes out their existing gut bacterial levels. Although medications such as probiotics are often recommended in these cases, the poop pills being developed by Seres seem to be more directly connected to the source of the problems.

Scientifically, the process of transferring faecal bacteria from one person to another is known as a faecal microbiota transplant. The ability to do this by simply swallowing a pill or capsule is awesome. Seres’s main competitor is an actual stool bank called that provides stool samples of “pure poop” to medical practitioners for microbiota transplants. This idea does not sound good to most people, however. This is why a pill from a company like Seres may be a better alternative for people suffering from gut-related conditions like Clostridium difficile.

Read more about poop-related issues:
Israeli meat fed with feces and pumped with toxic contaminates
What recycled paper products from poo look like
Iron rich whale poop essential in Middle East habitats

]]> 0
Experiencing New York’s High Line revision Thu, 06 Oct 2016 17:46:40 +0000 img_0020

Gotham’s green foliage projects in large urban communities like New York City and Chicago, not only produce year around vegetables; but also help preserve vestiges of former wild pastoral glory.

An excellent example of efforts made to put abandoned urban space to good use as a garden park is the High Line urban grasslands park in New York City’s Chelsea district. An abandoned above ground rail line has been converted into a public park and botanical garden, known locally as simply the “High Line”.

This green eco park stretches from West 12th and Ganesvoort Streets, all the way north to the Penn Central rail yards on West 34th Street. During a recent late summer visit to New York City, it was a pleasure to visit High Line and stroll along its long, winding route, interspersed with a multitude of trees, shrubs and prairie grassland plant species, many of which are nearly extinct in their native locales.

The various grasses, shrubs and other greenery planted there were indigenous to American prairies in states as far east as Ohio. Many of these prairie locations have long since disappeared, having been replaced by farmland and modern urbanization. For this reason, the idea of planting such greenery in the heart of America’s largest urban metropolis was conceived in the early 1990’s.

Walking through this modern day Garden of Eden, it’s easy to see that it offers something for everyone, including various art forms, food delights, scenic views of the Hudson River, pastoral greenery; and various views of New York City itself, especially the picturesque Chelsea neighborhood.


The High Line project is an excellent example of what can be done to utilize a now abandoned rail transportation structure, instead of tearing it down. Similar green projects are now being undertaken in other parts of the city; including the river port area and former warehouse districts. A Low Line project in Manhattan looks to create new food sources from space age technologies.

In the Middle East, urban greening and farming projects are nothing new. Urban Egyptians have been engaged in urban agriculture projects for years.  Hydroponic greening goes all the way back to ancient Babylonians with their legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Read more about greening and farming urban areas:

Japan rents out hydroponic gardens to busy city dwellers

Chicago’s urban farming produces fresh veggies all year 24/7

Brooklyn’s Gotham Greens builds world’s largest rooftop farm

Egypt’s Urban Agriculture Movement is Growing

]]> 0
Solar powered plane (finally) completes round-the-world flight Tue, 16 Aug 2016 20:27:41 +0000 Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse, the world’s first intercontinental solar energy powered aircraft, finally touched down last month in Abu Dhabi after completing a round the world flight. The flight took more than a year to complete, after originally taking off from Abu Dhabi in March, 2015.

The 2.3 tonne aircraft was piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Picard and his associate André Borschberg, another Swiss adventurer, businessman and pilot. They managed to spend 23 days of actual flight time in the air by alternating piloting the craft, which has a wingspan of 72 meters (236.22 ft). Powered by 72,000 solar cells, the flight was challenged by adverse weather conditions, over heating storage batteries, and extreme cases of fatigue due to having to fly in a cramped, single seat cabin. But it was a landmark moment for history.

Solar Impulse 2 is a similar version of the previous solar powered plane, Solar Impulse, that made history when it flew a non-stop flght from Madrid, Spain to Rabat, Morroco and back again in July, 2012. This flight, part of which occurred during the night, helped to show that solar powered flight is possible under the right conditions. The Solar Impulse 2 flight, which also included night flying, often flew at an altitude of up to 29,000 feet during the daytime and glided at a lower altitude of 5,000 feet during the night to save energy.

The last leg of the journey, from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, was especially difficult due to a large amount of air turbulence: “It was very inspiring though as I neared my final destination, knowing this had been accomplished without the use of conventional fuel” says Picard.

Before the Solar Impulse project began, Picard, together with another adventurer, Brian Jones, made history by being the first persons to fly around in earth in a high altitude balloon. This journey, in March, 1999, lasted 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes.

The Solar Impulse 2 journey was plagued with difficulties: financial ones as well as mechanical difficulties. These included having to be grounded in Hawaii during the winter of 2015 to 16 because of overheating batteries. Flying the plane was often extremely difficult due to the cramped flight cabin and not having heating or pressurization. The single pilot seat also had a built-in toilet.

Despite these difficulties the flight gave the men a great sense of achievement of flying around the earth, powered only by the sun: “Now I really want to leverage this demonstration and create a world council for clean technologies,” says Picard, who hopes this feat will help bring the contribution of alternative energy to help combat the ravages of climate change.

“This is a historic day for humanity,” said UN Secretary Ban K. Moon.

Indeed says Green Prophet!

More articles on solar powered flight:

Would You Fly by Sun and a Solar Impulse?

World’s First Solar-Powered Transcontinental Flight in Pictures

Solar Impulse Plane Finally Conquers the Atlas Mountains

]]> 0
Amazing birdmen jet fly over Dubai Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:47:59 +0000

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s birdmen Yves Rosset and Vince Reffet flying their jet propelled wingsuits over and through one of world’s most futuristic cities, Dubai. The two air daredevils, each strapped into specially designed and constructed wing suits staged a 10 minute acrobatic jet flight at a location best known for its edifice audacities; including the world’s current tallest building, 2,716 foot Burj Khalifa. (It’s also the world’s largest poop-producing tower!)


The jet propelled wing suits, which first passed successful flight tests in Finland in October, 2005, propelled the two aeronauts at heights well above Burj Kahalia and at speeds of up to 120 mph. Their amazing test flight and air acrobatics is shown here in the following video:

 Each specially fitted wingsuit has two small turbo jet engines attached to it. According to test data from previous jetmen flights, each jet engine provides around 16kgs of thrust, and is primed with a mix of butane and propane. Once ignited, the engines operate on a steady supply of kerosene based A1 Jet fuel.

This jet fuel burns at around the rate of 0.5 litres per minute, on full power, for each jet engine.Judging from the amount of exhaust smoke being expelled from these jetpacks, this extravagant air show display does not appear to be very environmentally friendly, to say the least.

Of course, there is some excitement to this kind of flying, if you take into account that these birdmen are realizing their dream of actual uninhibited human flight. Maybe the next step will be doing such a feat using renewable energy instead of polluting A1 jet fuel. The damage to Dubai’s environmental habitats, due to so much construction and the artificial islands in the Arab Gulf, is very sad indeed. Areoacrobatic displays like jet powered wingsuits do not appear to offer much of a contribution to improving the local enviromental scene there.

Read more on un-green issues affecting the Arab Gulf region and the world at large:
It’s not the tide. It’s not the wind. It’s us.
Crazy heat dome will mean no one can live in Arab Gulf by 2100
Amazing “Atlas” tracks Arab world habitat destruction over time


]]> 0
Chicago’s urban farming produces fresh veggies all year, 24/7 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 06:11:06 +0000 Farmed Here special hydroponic growing project

Hydroponics and new, high-tech urban agricultural techniques are now growing fresh food in the middle of Manhattan and other large metropolitan centers globally. People are catching onto the taste and business opportunities of urban agriculture: find it growing in Middle Eastern cities such as Cairo, Egypt too!

Urban farming in midwestern American cities like Chicago has had its limitations due to adverse winter weather conditions at least 9 months a year. New indoor farming techniques use vertical farming, special indoor LED lighting and hydroponic systems that pump soybean and kelp-infused water through a temperature and humidity-controlled system, nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

This unique hydroponic farming system is at Bedford Park, about 15 miles (25 km) southwest of Chicago. The Bedford Park project, being carried out by a company known as Farmed Here is housed in a 90,000 square foot warehouse. The project produces a number of green vegetables and herbs; including basil, baby greens, broccoli, and kale.

Farmed Here is just one of more than 821 agricultural projects found under the Chicago Urban Center Agriculture Mapping Project  that includes anything from small private urban projects to multi-acre urban agricultural farms.

Farmed Here’s CEO Nate Laurel, a venture capital investor in his own right, put $13 million into the project that has a combined investment of more than $50 million USD. He says that this investment is worthwhile, considering the demand for fresh vegetable produce in the Chicago metro area alone.

“The greens market for Chicago alone is $400 million dollars,” he says. “Given the market is so big, it’s so top of mind for people to know where their food came from and how it was grown”, he adds.

Urban faming projects have also gone big-time by a rival company, Brooklyn based Gotham Greens, which opened a 75,000 sq. ft. rooftop farm in Chicago’s Pullman Park quarter in November 2015. In contrast to the LED lighting used by Farmed Here, the Gotham Greens project also uses natural sunlight, that is absorbed through a translucent roof. This idea is more in line with the traditional greenhouse lighting idea.

Dallas, Texas is also getting into the urban farming business: it has opened the office for Flux Farm, Inc., a company (founded and co-owned by Green Prophet’s Karin Kloosterman) to bring space-age artificial intelligence to predict and optimize the growth of plants in controlled environment growing. This company aims to connect urban farms everywhere for data, community and eventually selling produce grown. The company is piloting its technology at an urban indoor hydroponics park in Massachusetts.

Michelle Obama urban gardening

The idea of urban farming has also been promoted by Michelle Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama, and who also hails from Chicago. The First Lady launched an urban gardening project in a section of the White House grounds in the Spring of 2012. Her urban gardening project has given her the title of First Lady of Urban Gardens.

More articles on urban agriculture projects:

Grow fresh food in the middle of Manhattan? Meet Henry
Brooklyn’s Gotham Greens builds world’s largest rooftop urban farm
Egypt’s urban agriculture movement is growing!

Photo of Farmed Here urban agriculture project by Fast CoExist; Photo of Michelle Obama in urban garden by NPR.Org

]]> 2 Japan rents out hydroponic gardens to busy city workers Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:22:06 +0000 hidroponic lettuce farms

What do you do if you live in a cramped, workaholic country like Japan and still want to grow veggies in your precious, quality leisure time? This desire to be a weekend urban farmer is relevant for other locations too. Hydroponic farming projects are fast becoming popular everywhere, including Egypt and other parts of the Middle East.

Japan, in particular, has an acute land availability problem for people who cannot afford traditional weekend countryside retreats for gardening due to being confined to high-rise urban environments.

To help make gardening a reality for more city dwellers, a Japanese company Tanabatake Sukusuku now offers rental hydroponic growing containers on a monthly basis.

Opened in 2014 by Kajima Tatemono Sogo Kanri Co., a Tokyo based building and maintenance company, individuals and families can rent small hydroponic growing containers or “beds” and choose from 51 kinds of vegetable seeds; or bring their own.

“A cityscape becomes dark when the number of vacant buildings increases. Lights for gardening can illuminate the city, and I hope the greenery of the vegetables is like a downtown oasis and refreshes passers-by,” says Tsuneaki Ihana, who works in the company’s technical information section.

The rental space idea appears to be gaining popularity as more people are becoming involved. Staff advisors are on hand to assist with various aspects of hydroponic gardening, including humidity and temperature control and measuring the correct amount of fertilizer required.

American companies like flux are building the “brains” for hydroponic gardens and farms, to make it easy and hassle-free, and tell Green Prophet that multi-billion companies from Japan have contacted them to see how urban farming can go wide in Japan: Hydroponics can green city rooftops and grow high quality food for the discerning Japanese, but it’s also is a great hobby for Japan’s growing senior population. The government wants them engaged but they can’t bend over to tend to regular soil gardens. Hydroponic gardens can be raised on tables or built on walls on solve this problem.

One part-time gardener in Japan growing food this way said that it would be much harder to look after such a project if done from home and enjoys the flexibility community-style farming allows: “Here, I can casually enjoy farming when I have time,” she says.

Read more on urban and hydroponic agriculture:
Gaza produce on the menu at swanky American event in Jerusalem
Saving our food and planet requires bubbles
Khalifa hydroponic farms paying off

Photo of hydroponic lettuce farms by Pengertian Hodroponik

]]> 0