I was an adorable child. No, really. I have photos to prove it. There I was, age four at the pool in the afternoon sunshine, in a cute bathing suit and gettting really, really sunburned. I got sunburned every summer of my life. Nobody took “suntan lotion” very seriously back then. Since those careless times, I’ve learned that sunburns continue destroying skin cells even years later, so our previous post about protecting children’s skin from the sun struck a note with me. I wasn’t surprised when my dermatologist told me I had two basel cell carcinomas that had best be removed. Skin cancer from those old sunburns? Probably, says the doctor.
Naturally, I never risk exposing my skin to the sun anymore, unless I slather on plenty of sunscreen before leaving the house. But commercial sunscreens are so far from natural – see the scary list of chemicals that they contain – that I was happy to find an inexpensive and effective natural sunscreen I can make by myself.
I can’t say how much sun protection factor this lotion has. I can say that I’m quite fair-skinned and burn easily, but using the lotion, I stay burn-free – as long as I re-apply it every couple of hours, which is true of commercial sunscreens also.
The lotion initially feels greasy. But once massaged on, it withstands water and sweat. It nourishes the skin, too, leaving it supple and soft.
Inexpensive, effective and all-natural sunscreen. Gotta love it.
Pyrex bowl or measuring cup that holds 2 cups volume, or two cooking pots that fit one inside the other
Pan big enough for the bowl/cup to sit in
If using stick blender, a clean towel to rest stick blender on
For storage and use: Very clean, very dry small jars, or ziplock bags, or empty, clean, and dry re-used shampoo bottles.
1/2 oz. – a well-filled tablespoon – of natural beeswax. I use beeswax pellets, but you may simply chop up a natural beeswax candle and measure the wax. When the wax melts, you simply fish the wicks out.
1/2 cup boiling water
3 black tea bags
1/2 cup sesame oil, no other
Optional: 2 drops lavender essential oil. Lavender is healing to skin itself, but it’s included here mostly to perfume the lotion. Don’t go overboard with the essential oil, especially if you mean to apply the lotion to children. Essential oils are powerful.
Make a strong tea infusion with the teabags and water. Cover and allow to steep at least 20 minutes. Remove the bags before proceeding, squeezing them out to extract as much tea as possible.
Place the bowl in a pan with water in it, or if using pots, fill the bottom pot halfway up with water. Place the smaller pot on top. Heat the water over medium heat.
Put the beeswax and oil in the bowl (or top pot). When the wax has melted, remove the bowl or pot from the heat. If using Pyrex, place it on a folded kitchen towel to prevent shattering.
If the tea has cooled down completely, warm it over a low flame. It doesn’t need to boil, just be warm.
If using a stick blender, start blending the oil/beeswax mix. If using a standing blender, pour the mix in.
Very slowly, pour the warm tea into the oil mix, blending at high speed. Keep blending while the lotion takes shape. It will become somewhat paler as it cools down and eventually become quite thick.
Add the essential oil if using, blend again thoroughly, and spoon into storage containers.
Fill a squat lotion tube, like the one in the top photo, or a small shampoo bottle, if you want to take the lotion out with you.
Keep the lotion refrigerated. It will last 3 months. Extra may be frozen – just label it with contents and date or someone may mistake it for dulce de leche.
More natural skin care suggestions on Green Prophet:
In 2009 during the height of the swine flu epidemic, Egyptian law officials ordered the culling of thousands of pigs belonging to the Coptic Christian community in Cairo. The pigs were used to chomp down the city’s organic waste, which grew to disgusting new heights in garbage city when they were killed. But now they’re back – in hiding.
Garbage city and the Zabaleen people, who turn mountains, literally mountains (or buildings) full of organic and inorganic waste into something useful has been something of a fascination for the outside world.
Teams of architects have envisioned a way to turn the teeming waste that accumulates in this corner of the city into an energy-generating powerhouse and a wonderful film was recently made to document how the Zabaleen work to recycle so much trash.
The Zabaleen have suffered since 2009. The pigs were essential to the work of consuming organic waste.
Plus, after the culling, thousands of butchers were left without work, according to VOA news, and there was no way to process the waste generated by Cairo’s 18 million residents.
The pigs were controversial – particularly in a Muslim country – but they were effective, and now there are a still a few pigs quietly doing their good work.
“Tucked behind mountains of trash and a wall of flies is a pen full of pigs – the ultimate in organic waste management – and they are making a small, clandestine comeback,” wrote Elizabeth Arrott.
But not everyone is willing to acknowledge they are there, as if drawing attention to them could provoke health officials to clamp down.
Adel Ragi, who is a member of the Garbage Collector’s Union, told the paper that foreign companies have been brought in to tackle Cairo’s phenomenal waste problem, but they just dump the waste on landfills. This is unhelpful – particularly for organic waste, which produces methane when improperly composted.
Christian farmers are trying to set up a new slaughterhouse in order to process the pigs, but they have experienced a delay from authorities.
A Coptic priest who lives above Garbage City calls the pushback a form of religious intolerance since Muslims don’t eat pork, which is perfectly acceptable among Christians.
Image of pigs near pigsty, Shutterstock
Imagine for a second that Washington D.C., London, Brussels or Denmark ran out of power for up to nine hours every single day for the last week or so. And then imagine (if it will stretch that far)that most of the country has been experiencing such cuts for the last eight years. This is Lebanon’s reality right now, and it offers a cautionary tale.
Like Israel, Morocco and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Middle East, Lebanon doesn’t generate enough energy to supply its own country’s demand.
Currently generation capacity stands at roughly 1400MW, according to the Daily Star, while demand hovers around 2500MW.
For the last eight years, rural areas have been crippled by extreme power cuts, but it is unusual for eight to nine hour cuts to reach the capital – Beirut – the country’s cultural, financial and political hub.
Electricité du Liban reports that bad weather is to blame for the extreme power cuts this week, and repairs to the stricken Zahrani and Deir Ammar plants have been completed, adding 34 MW to the national grid as a result.
This combined with the Fatmagül fuel barge’s limited capacity caused by contaminated fuel supplied by EDL has forced the Minister of Energy to ration power over the last week – leaving the capital without energy for nearly half of every day.
Businesses, homes, retailers and anyone else without a backup generator of some sort have been forced to pause their operations, though EDL announced that service would be restored “soon.”
Turkey is sending another energy-generating sea barge in June, which should bring the capacity of both to approximately 270MW. This should in turn ease rationing by at least three hours per day, according to the Daily Star.
Image of Beirut, Shutterstock
With the hot days, the desire to spend time cooking in the kitchen dwindles, although the desire to eat remains. This past salad recipe works for hot summer days. Here at Green Prophet, we publish at least one hot-weather recipe every summer, like this easy and delicious potato salad. And of course, summer’s wild herb, purslane, is popping up in every windowbox and garden, like, well, a weed, for you to nibble on or stir into dishes. If you need more inspiration, here’s an entire summery menu plan for you to choose from.
Broccoli is in season now. Combined with tricolor pasta and other quickly-cooked vegetables, it makes a salad that satisfies fickle summer hungers but doesn’t leave the diner uncomfortably full.
Pasta Salad With Summer Vegetables
500 grams – 1 pound tri-color pasta, cooked, drained, and cool
1 small head broccoli, separated into florets
1/2 cup carrot cubes
1/2 cup baby corn cobs
Handful of cherry tomatoes, roasted or fresh and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
1- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta and drain. Cook the broccoli in a heavy frying pan with a little olive oil over medium heat until crisp-tender – 5 to 7 minutes. Cook carrots in boiling water 5 minutes or until barely tender.
Steam baby corn until tender. Drain each vegetable and allow to cool.
Toss all the vegetables with cooked pasta.
Whisk the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper together and add chopped basil. Toss with the pasta.
Note: Toss a handful of salty feta cheese cubes into this salad if you want to make it a bit heartier.
More easy, summery salad recipes:
Vegewarian is a phrase used to indicate awareness of eating less meat and more sustainably produced foods like vegetables.
Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.
Image of pasta salad with broccoli via Shutterstock.
The safety of the balloon industry is again questioned in the wake of a hot air balloon crash near Cappadocia, Turkey today that killed two, officials announced. Some 23 other tourists from Brazil, Spain and Argentina have been injured as the hot air balloon hit another’s basket mid-air while drifting over volcanic rock formations.
This is the second fatal incident for Turkey’s hot air balloon industry in the region – active for about 10 years. When I travelled to Cappadocia 14 years ago, there were no balloons for hire, at least none that I could see in sight.
Another major hot air balloon crash took place in Egypt this year when a hot air balloon caught fire, killing 19 tourists as it hit the ground.
Green Prophet’s Laurie was recently on a hot air balloon ride in Turkey, where she took some stunning photos.
Hot air ballooning is a gentle way to see our world’s beauty from above, but better safety standards might better be put into place to avoid more accidents as this mode of transport becomes more popular.
But let’s put the crash into proportion. Every day we hear of a bus crash, car accident or biking incident that kills tourists.
In the recent Turkish accident most of the surviving victims suffered bone breaks. One witness E. Wayne Ross riding in another hot air balloon told CTV news that the crash happened early in the morning, as some 100 hot air balloons took off to the skies.
“We could hear the radio chatter and we knew something was happening. There was a frantic urgent transmission: ‘Release your parachute! Release your parachute!” said Ross, whose balloon was some 200 metres (yards) away from the vessel that crashed.
“It was probably some 300 metres in the air and it descended increasingly rapidly to the ground,” he said in a telephone interview. “There was a large tear in the fabric, probably some 10 to 15 metres long.”
After the crash he reported one person on the ground with others inside the basket as ambulances arrived to the scene. Before the crash his wife had told him that she thought the balloons were travelling too close to each other.
The owner of the hot air balloon company Anatolian Balloons said one of the victims died from a heart attack, and the second while being treated at hospital.
Above is illustration image of hot air ballooning over Cappadocia.
Cartoonist Charles Schulz wrote, “Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”
A group of women in the mountains of Afghanistan, who likely never read his strip, don’t agree.
Bike riding is taboo for Afghan women, considered a marker of promiscuity and ranking on the cultural offenses index somewhere between driving and being spotted with an unrelated man. That belief eliminates a sustainable means of travel and undermines women’s mobility, creating another obstacle to accessing education. Watch a new generation of cyclists race away from the ban.
In 2006, Shannon Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit that connects American mountain communities with their geographic cousins abroad. The organization focuses particularly on women and children in conflict zones. She made her first trip to Afghanistan in 2008.
Galpin claims to be the first woman to ride a mountain bike through the Afghan countryside. Bending norms as a foreigner, she’s used her bike as an icebreaker with tribal elders in remote villages, and in bold fundraisers (she pedaled 140 miles across the Panjshir Valley, rough terrain with a 4,000 vertical foot drop).
Last year, on her 11th visit, Galpin met another cyclist who told her that an Afghan women’s national cycling team had been created. They practiced before dawn with the men’s cycling team coach, helmets atop headscarves and limbs fully covered.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Galpin, a former Pilates instructor from Colorado, told The New York Times. “I’d been in the most liberal areas of the country, and I’d never seen a little girl on a bike, let alone a grown woman.”
Inspired, she spent the past winter fundraising and returned to Afghanistan last month to distribute 40 duffel bags stuffed with tools, bike seats and jerseys. Liv/Giant, a brand focused on female cyclists, joined the effort, supplying new bicycles and another company, Giro, donated helmets and shoes.
Afghanistan has 45 licensed female cyclists, according to the International Cycling Union (ICU). Some participated in the Asian Cycling Championships last March, although four of them failed to finish. The riders hope to compete in the 2016 Olympics, but need to start earning points in the ICU nations ranking through bigger events like the Continental Championships and Women’s Road World Cup.
The women are also eligible for scholarships through the Olympic Solidarity Commission, which helps countries in need to develop their sports programs.
Galpin said, “They’re no different than women in Afghanistan who risk their lives to attend school or run for Parliament.” (Or who use paint and graffiti to express themselves.) “They know the only way to break the taboo is for other women to see them riding bikes.”
This goes beyond sending cyclists to the Olympics. It’s a way to shatter a standard that curtails women’s mobility. Bikes are affordable, sustainable, healthy. They allow riders to travel independently, without guardians and absent a mass transit structure.
Galpin is creating a documentary about the team titled “Afghan Cycles“, and the cyclists remain eager to speak publicly about their team, despite having received death threats.
The women need money to train, to travel to races, and to hire coaches. Sound like a project you’d like to support? Donations can be made at the Mountain2Mountain website.
Said Galpin, “Once they’ve all finished a race, they can start trying to win one.’”
Images from Afghan Cycles Facebook page
Wearing full body clothing might not be the thing for everyone in the Middle East: but cover up the very young – especially those with light skin. Middle East sun exposure in the young leads to higher rates of skin cancer later in life.
The new study by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem looked at extensive medical records of over one million Israeli adolescents before military service. They reveal how how exposure to the intense Israeli sun of young, light-skinned children increases substantially the risk of cutaneous melanoma – a serious form of skin cancer.
The incidence of cutaneous melanoma is on the rise in all parts of the world where light-skinned people live. Rates have tripled over the last decades in the United States, and the rise was even steeper in Europe.
What about in Israel? What segments of the population are more at risk and at what stage? Dr. Hagai Levine and Prof. Jeremy Kark set out to find the answers, using records of young Jewish males who were examined between 1967 and 2005.
These men were followed up by data linkage for cancer incidence until the end of 2006. Females were not included because their baseline data were available only for a more recent period.
In their study, the researchers found – not surprisingly – a quadrupled higher risk of skin cancer among native-born Israelis of European origin (including the Americas, Australia and South Africa) and those immigrating from those countries over those of North African or Asian origin.
Israel’s subtropical latitude means residents are exposed to more solar radiation than in much of Europe, and therefore the findings implicate childhood sun exposure as a clear, preventable risk factor for melanoma.
But even for those who spent their childhood in Europe, the data showed that those who came to Israel before age 10 had almost double the risk of cutaneous melanoma compared to those who arrived from Europe later in childhood.
The study of melanoma susceptibility according to countries of origin is especially suited to Israel because of the massive immigration that has taken place since the establishment of the state, bringing Jews of varying skin hues from Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.
The study on Israel and cutaneous melanoma was published recently in the International Journal of Cancer. In addition to Levine and Kark, researchers from the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps, the National Cancer Registry and other institutions participated in the work.
Israel is one of the few western countries where military service is mandatory. All Israeli Jewish adolescents are obligated to present themselves at age 17 for a medical board examination before military service (even if exempted later from service).
Consequently, use of these data provides a generally representative sample of the young Jewish population, particularly of males.
These findings, say the researchers, provide solid support for the importance of stressing the issue of childhood sun exposure, particularly in light skinned people, as a preventable risk factor for cutaneous melanoma and can aid in directing public health and research efforts.
Here at Green Prophet we urge readers to use sunscreen, and if possible that without parabans. You can try your hand at home made organic sunscreen here. And while we are on the issue, read here why sun caught later in the day is more dangerous than early morning rays.
Image of mom and baby via Shutterstock
A business man in the Gaza Strip has found a lucrative way of satisfying the urge for KFC by smuggling it through underground tunnels. It may be four hours cold, with a side of soggy chips, but for Gazans it is a taste of freedom. Oprah might like to hear this news.
Green Prophet learns about the smuggling operation through a report in the New York Times. While we like to celebrate positive eco movements that are coming to light under the difficult political situation there in Gaza –– slow food, growing food on rooftop gardens, reliance on home cooked meals (see this new Gazan cookbook) –– we also like to support food freedom and food choices, even if it means greasy, cold take-away.
When I was pregnant with my first child a couple of years ago I had a strange craving for Big Macs – without cheese. It was something to do with the secret sauce and the way it combined with the pickles and rehydrated onions that satisfied my urge. There was one week where I ate three of them to satisfy this shameful craving.
But urges in pregnant women should not be ignored. So I gave into it. Urges could be a sign of some important mineral or vitamin missing in one’s diet. I’ve even heard of strictly observant pregnant Jewish women being pardoned to eat non-kosher food combinations if her desire to eat this food is over-powering.
Over in the Gaza Strip most women (pregnant or not) have probably never tried a Big Mac (lucky for them probably) because you won’t find Western fast food chains setting up shop in a very unstable political environment.
A young entrepreneur Khalil Efrangi, 31, found a way around the blockade. According to the New York Times:
Formerly called Kentucky Fried Chicken, a KFC franchise opened in El Arish, just over Gaza’s southern border, in 2011, and in the West Bank city of Ramallah last year. That, along with ubiquitous television advertisements for KFC and other fast-food favorites, has given Gazans a hankering for Colonel Sanders’s secret recipe.
So after Mr. Efrangi brought some KFC back from El Arish for friends last month, he was flooded with requests. A new business was born.
“I accepted this challenge to prove that Gazans can be resilient despite the restrictions,” Mr. Efrangi said.
In the past few weeks, Mr. Efrangi has coordinated four deliveries totaling about 100 meals, making about $6 per meal in profit. He promotes the service on Yamama’s Facebook page, and whenever there is a critical mass of orders — usually 30 — he starts a complicated process of telephone calls, wire transfers and coordination with the Hamas government to get the chicken from there to here.
Religious Islamist governments don’t always see eye to eye with America and the ideals of the West. Fifteen years ago when I was in Syria, those same fast-food shops you could find in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Israel or Jordan were non-existant in Syria. Though Syrians craving a burger could get their fill eating a local variety, usually with odd names that vaguely sounded like the famous chains.
Politics, ideology and healthy food choices aside, there are no Kentucky Fried Chicken chains in Gaza. But smugglers have found a way to bring it through the illegal underground tunnels that link Gaza to a black economy in Egypt.
Most officials in Egypt turn a blind eye to the tunnels run by the Hamas Government. The tunnels offer an alternative to the Gazan blockade. Israel only allows certain necessary items through the land-based border crossing. While live animals, even lions and other zoo animals, complete cars in pieces, and sewage floods are making it through the tunnels, for about $27 Gazans can now get a taste of the west, and the Colonol’s secret blend of herbs.
Image via notionscapitol
Just months after announcing that the ruinous scheme to construct a land and sea bridge between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is still on track, officials from both countries have jointly pledged to protect the Red Sea and its compromised ecological bounty.
Ministers from seven countries that participated in the 15th session of the Regional Organisation for Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) met recently in Jeddah to discuss climate change, development, improved waste management facilities and programs, and other threats to the Red Sea’s fauna and flora, Al-Shorfa reports.
During the meeting, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement that they would both devote expertise, research and training to the mutual goal of promoting their shared water’s health; they have also announced their commitment to understanding what changes to expect as a result of rising global temperatures and subsequent climate disruptions.
At least, this is what Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, head of the kingdom’s Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection told the paper.
“Efforts are under way to maintain a clean environment for the Red Sea and life in it, especially in Saudi Arabia, to preserve its natural beauty and resources,” he said.
Jameel Hassan of the department of wildlife studies at the Egyptian Ministry of Environmental Affairs chimed in as well with a commitment to developing nature reserves and ecotourism.
So far, however, Egypt in particular has failed miserably to protect any of their coastal areas from human encroachment.
Head north to the Mediterranean and you will find miles and miles and miles of semi-developed holiday homes constructed with concrete, and without proper consideration for sewage, etc.
Saeed Basyouni from the Tourism Development Authority adds that new recycling facilities will be built as part of the scheme and old ones will be resurrected.
All of this is great, but fails to consider the ways in which the land and sea bridge is expected to cause considerable harm to the Red Sea’s ecosystem.
Part of the bridge will be constructed right on the Ras Mohamed National Park, we reported in an earlier article.
Still, the fact that there is even dialogue about the issues signals enormous progress.
Image of the Red Sea at Sharm el Sheikh, Shutterstock
When authorities discovered a lab full of marijuana plants in a bomb shelter beneath an all girls Orthodox Jewish school south of Tel Aviv, they proposed that outsiders must be responsible – because Haredim girls would never smoke pot, right?
A queer smell arose from the bomb shelter of the Kiryat Gat school for Haredi girls located about 35 miles south of Tel Aviv, The Jerusalem Post reports.
One teacher followed her nose, so to speak, and stumbled upon a professional growing lab in a bomb shelter below the school, which was complete with all the special lamps and irrigation technology required to grow twelve marijuana plants in a dark, enclosed space.
But here’s where it gets funny. Perhaps to divert negativity away from the Orthodox community, law enforcement officials were quick to say they will explore the possibility that a stranger to the school had coveted the space for their illegal drug operation.
In fact, they are going to launch a full-scale undercover operation to root out the bad guy (girl?) with an attitude reminiscent of that recently directed towards 269life vegan activists who protested the meat industry with decapitated animal heads scattered in visible public places in Tel Aviv and surrounding neighborhoods.
Most rabbis consider all kinds of smoking to be a form of self-endangerment, so – given marijuana’s mild mind altering qualities caused by the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – it’s probably safe to say that finding a pot growing lab at an Orthodox school is pretty darn scandalous.
However, and this is the case with so much in Israel, the country has a split personality when it comes to marijuana.
Expressly illegal, though rarely penalized when used for personal consumption, the plant is legally cultivated for people suffering from chronic illness. The heavily guarded Tikkun Olam farm in the Galilee, where Jesus once walked, is the biggest source of the country’s medical marijuana.
The government dishes out special licenses to ensure those suffering from cancer and other crippling diseases can seek relief from the plant’s palliative properties.
Researchers with the Hebrew University have even developed a marijuana pill, according to the New York Times, in preparation for the day when the world is evolved enough to permit export of such a thing.
As for the girls, they’ll be on their best behavior while the cops are snooping around. Unless they found our Moroccan love potion spiced with pot?
Image of indoor marijuana garden, Shutterstock
I had expected this brand new ‘hot doc’, Fuck for Forests, doing the European circuit to be more sensationalist, funny, perhaps even poking fun during its portrayal of a radical group based in Berlin who produce pornographic material to raise money for environmental causes. Ultimately, though it didn’t sensationalise, it did disappoint, and I’m frustrated at its lack of coherency and structure.
I had heard of ‘Fuck For Forest’ a while back, and enjoyed their website, which has plenty of free images, perhaps defeating the point – although images of human beauty draped in foliage and enjoying their naked bodies in natural spaces is a great thing.
I certainly support that message and hope that their work, with its stated noble aims, might go some way to promote healthy nudity and sexuality in a shaming society.
The film, made by Michal Marczak, picks up on what clearly is a great story.
However, it becomes a semi-psychological profile of the individuals involved in ‘FFF’, yet I felt afterwards it doesn’t clearly portray their vision, or it slowly unpeels that they have little coherent vision, and the camera actually starts to pan between the characters, not allowing a central figure to emerge and dominate the narrative.
One of the main characters is Danny, newly arrived and in possession of a wonderful voice and eclectic dress sense. He has deep personal issues of estrangement, and an other-worldly sense of commitment to his cause, as seen in the closing shot where he asks a group of disaffected Palestinians to come and protest naked with him outside the German Parliament.
However, he isn’t given the central role of the film, and I feel the narrative lacks a structure to hang around, perhaps as the group is composed of strange characters who ebb and flow with their wavering energy levels.
It is clear that ‘FFF’’s philosophy is well intentioned but not so well thought through.
Standing round, smiling either inanely or looking either hostile or vacant, the film does include sex scenes, including a public copulation, where the male, Tommy Hol Ellingsen, smears his sperm mingled with his partners menstrual blood over his face, and declares it “organic”.
It is a rare documentary that leaves the viewer wondering is it the style or the subject that is discordant and under-developed? A few hours after viewing I realise it is actually both. It is a tough proposition to make a documentary about sexuality, without being either gratuitous or academically distant.
The most interesting parts of the film are when the group approach people to come join them and be photographed naked, or filmed having sex. They share the statistic at about 1 in every 10 they approach agree and shed their inhibitions. That is a fascinating study, which the maker could have explored a bit more, including an early scene where a chap with a lot of emotional baggage gets photographed naked in an inner-City park to try to heal.
Naturally enough, they manage to raise a huge sum of money to take to donate to Indigenous groups in the Amazon region, but here is where the well intentioned plan beaches.
When they arrive there, they are welcomed, taken into the forest and the heart of the human community, even given a traditional herb to create hallucinations and open up parts of the mind to a more enlightened state.
But in an excruciating scene, where the group attempt to articulate their vision to the locals, and offer up their overflowing wallet, the community want specifics from them like jobs or self-directed job creation, not idle hand-outs from oddly dressed Westerners.
The group leaves bruised, mis-understood, their vision in tatters, for want of poor research and naïve ambitions. The group splinters, and they all go off on separate journeys.
I’m curious where they all are now, and if they have abandoned the lofty ideals that created ‘FFF’.
A follow up film, going deeper into the individuals involved, finding and following a central point of tension that shifts the narrative down a different course, and more of a challenge to the ‘us against bottled-up society’ as well as how the group might attempt further outreach to the peoples living within the forests, would be welcome.
Fuck for Forest trailer:
::Fuck for Forest website (warning – the site is loaded with explicit images (eco-porn) that should not be viewed by people under 18)
The Lower Jordan River, the baptismal river of Jesus, has been dead at its source for some time. For the first time in ages, Israel is releasing native waters via a pump back to the historic waterway.
Christian pilgrims to Israel may be thrilled to have a chance to bathe in the historic Jordan River, believed to be the original baptismal river of Jesus. It’s clean, safe and totally free.
Pilgrims arrive to the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee (where mysterious objects are still being found) at Yardanit, get off the bus and within a few hundred yards are themselves in the river in white robes.
I can understand the appeal but was put off by the whole idea that these pilgrims aren’t really baptizing in a river, but a standing pool created for tourism. The real river actually starts as a sewage pump outlet further downstream.
A series of dams on the Sea of Galilee block water from flowing to the River Jordan. The story is really sad. What ends up in the real “river” is effluent and all types of waste, and those brave souls who disregard the warning and dip into the water on the Jordan side far downstream are taking their lives into their hands.
By the time this wastewater flows down to its final destination it is merely a trickle of sewage, if it reaches the end at all.
This is what I learned a few years ago while on a Jordan River tour with the eco group Friends of the Earth Middle East. (That’s me above checking out the sewage pipe at the Jordan River’s source).
Local newspapers are now reporting that the Israeli Government along with various interest groups have decided to turn on a pump from the Sea of Galilee to restore the Jordan River’s native habitat. Some 1000 cubic meters of water will be pumped into the river every hour.
Recharging the Jordan River is a great idea our friends at Friends of the Earth maintain, but much more water will be necessary to bring it up to healthy levels, they assess.
They say that some 30 million cubic meters a year will not be enough to renew the Lower Jordan River. Something magnitudes bigger, 400 and 600 cubic meters would be needed for restoration, and Israel should allot 220 million cubic meters to do its part. It should be noted that the Jordan River is shared between three major stakeholders: Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Peace making over a river important to all people is a very easy way to start real peace efforts on the ground.
The irony here is clear: the first international LEED certified housing complex is built by an oil research facility in Saudi Arabia. Though in some ways, the construction of the King Abdullah Petrolum Studies and Research Center (KEPSARC) is not so surprising.
Pioneering the sustainable and green building movement in a country with a growing population and dwindling resources seems like a smart economic move for any industry.
In addition to 191 houses with 11 house types, the residential campus boasts conference areas, a data center, four utility buildings and communal areas such as library, dining hall, recreation center, natatorium, mosque and supermarket.
The somewhat isolated community is meant to serve as a spacious and modern community for KAPSARC’s international employees and their families.
The 200-hectare site also includes a photovoltaic (solar) energy field and bio retention swales, which are meant as both functional and visual statements.
When the project was initiated, LEED for homes was not available outside the US.
KAPSARCs architects, the American design firm HOK, and the US Green Building council worked for a number of years to establish a pilot program. KAPSARC is among the first to participate.
In CityScape magazine, Roger Schweyer, project designer and senior architect at the American design firm HOK insists the sites benefits extend beyond its residents, “As an institution, Saudi Aramco (the world’s largest oil production company and the project’s developer) is interested in moving beyond the oil industry, and championing new business opportunities in the Kingdom.
“Sustainable design and construction is a major industry targeted.”
One question we are left with – why didn’t they go for the Middle East-friendly eco standard Estidama?
Images via HOK
This post is sponsored by ABI LED Lighting – your source for energy-saving LED lighting for home, office and commercial venues as well as grow lights for sustainable farming. www.abilights.com / email@example.com
As of recently, there has been much encouragement from industry sources for the use of solar power on rooftops. Mounting photovoltaic panels on rooftops of residential and office buildings or industrial facilities can be beneficial for they can provide electricity and create a surplus that can be fed into the grid.
“In the next 12 months, we will see a constant increase of solar infrastructure. Not only standalone facilities, but to actually power our villas, our parks, our residential communities,” said Ivano Iannelli to The National. He is the chief executive of the government-owned advisory company Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence.
However, the legislation may reach some hurdles. Other countries that receive solar energy from small-scale sources, suppliers receive a feed-in tariff from the government. This is a tactic that is under consideration in Dubai. Feed-in tariffs are usually above the market rate, making installation for the solar technology profitable.
“Feed-in tariffs are part of the different activities that are being looked upon,” he noted.
Despite the tariffs being under consideration, industry players are still interested in the appeal for Dubai’s move towards solar energy. SolarWorld, one of Germany’s biggest solar panel producers, opened a showroom in Dubai Creek where its product will be sold by local distributor PTL Solar.
Reliant on fossil fuels, solar energy is a possible alternative energy source for Dubai to take advantage of. The Emirate is already seeking to generate five percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030 and last year, the Dubai Supreme Council for Energy announced its plans for the Mohammad bin Rashad Al Maktoum Solar Park; the contract was awarded for the first plans to take place in October.
Solar energy will also divert attention away from Dubai’s power plants’ reliance on natural gases, which are imported.
The expense is especially high during the summer months when air conditioning is frequently used and the emirate must turn to costly liquefied natural gas.
This expense is then passed on to consumers with a fuel surcharge. Fortunately, solar panels are becoming cheaper as the technology advances and fierce competition controls the prices.
Thanks to the emergence of solar energy, Dubai can also reach its goal of reducing the carbon footprint of its power generation – like Abu Dhabi, which launched the Shams1 Concentrated Solar Plant (CSP) in March 2013.
Shams, impressively, at 100 megawatts, is the largest solar installation in the Middle East. Green Prophet visited Shams earlier this year and you can see pictures here. This installation will contribute to the Emirate’s plan to derive seven percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.
We are rooting for them.
They can’t read or write but a couple of brave Bedouin women from Jordan travelled far and wide to help their villages become solar powered. The biggest struggle yet may be with their husbands: We’ve covered this hopeful story of Solar Mamas, Bedouin women from Jordan who went to Barefoot College to learn how to solar power their villages. We’ve interviewed the women from solar mamas, and have reviewed the film Solar Mamas, a documentary movie about their journey.
We’ve even covered their plight as these women face pressures in their village from this “wild idea.”
Not long ago Green Prophet was invited to a Skoll Foundation Conference in the UK. Our resident blogger and documentary filmmaker James met the director of Solar Mamas, the film, and was compelled to review the film for us once again.
Here’s his take on the movie Solar Mamas, and why you should watch it:
As readers of Green Prophet know, I’ve spent a fair amount of time amongst the Bedouin population of the Negev Desert in Israel, exploring various cultural and sociological issues that affect their society, and watching various solar initiatives either developed from within, or as Bedouin-Israeli co-operation projects.
I filmed this story in the Negev Bedouin village of Um Batin where the gift of solar technology has enabled a father to have medical equipment that will greatly enhance the life of a very sick child:
I was excited to hear about a new documentary film about a solar initiative with the Jordanian Bedouin population, and met the director, Egyptian-American Mona Eldaief in Oxford recently at the Skoll Foundation Conference.
The Skoll Foundation, a leading social entrepreneurs network, work in partnership with the American Sundance Institute, supporting their ‘Stories for Change’ programme, which films inspiring social change happening around the world. The organization also funds great social programs like those done by Friends of the Earth Middle East in Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
Mona’s film, ‘Solar Mamas’ follows such a project and its many trials and tribulations within the Jordanian Bedouin village of Rawat Bandan, and focuses upon Rafea, the solar mama of the title, and her family.
It is fair to say that much of the film focuses on tension between Rafea and her husband, which represent the wider issues prevalent within the Bedouin community, both in Jordan and in the Negev; the clash between traditional male power within the home and community, and a growing sense of women’s empowerment, through education and employment. Having the husband and wife as antagonist and protagonist at the core of the documentary make for an absorbing film.
Somewhat in the middle of this is the Government, and the film’s ‘fixer’ character is Raouf Dabbas from the Environment Ministry, who seems to be in a constant state of exasperation, negotiating between husbands and wives and broking power deals within family units, as well as arranging the contact with the Indian school, and bringing its founder, Bunker Roy, to Jordan. In early scenes, we see some of the pioneering work Roy has done around the world within rural communities, which gives context to the project being initiated in Jordan.
From my studies in the Negev Desert, given that the Bedouin are such a traditional culture, these changes are happening so fast the sparks flare up time and time again, as the older male custodians find their authority eroded and both women and the younger generations embrace the opportunities that the new values that a modern lifestyle will bring, like cars instead of camels, solar panels instead of firewood and gas.
The first shot of the film shows Rafea emerge from the family tent, then clearing scrub wood in the desert for fire. It is a really powerful scene, with her saying in voiceover: “my life is the same routine.”
We see her devotion to her children, her rootedness in her place and her culture, but also that she has a yearning for something else – change, travel, education, greater wealth etc, and a Government Initiative brings the head of the Barefoot College to her village to talk about the education and training offered at the School in India.
This is where Rafea and others from the village do eventually go and study, and learn how to put together the components for solar energy and create a simple set-up, but for Rafea the journey, and subsequent journeys backwards and forwards between her village and the college in India bring up so many inter-personal struggles for her, she becomes a martyr for struggle and change within her community.
A key scene shows Rafea in her tent discussing her feelings with other women, as the call of the Muezzin sounds outside: “I want to explore the world and I want to learn,” Rafea says, to be met with the response: “we understand but the situation is hopeless.”
Rafea’s husband is the key sticking point in all of this. He feels her place is in the home, with the children and the routine of the household. He is shown numerous times lying down, it is implied he is lazy and his role as provider is questioned, and when Raouf Dabbas visits and calls he smiles and says he does understand the situation and wants there to be change – but at his stubborn pace!
Like many relationships across many cultures, how one person is able to fulfil their own urge for change, travel and advancement, within the bounds of their own personal circumstances, is a key tension, and as most of us will experience this – with all the pain of break-ups and disagreements, it is fascinating to watch and experience it (within the manipulated structure shown to us through the edit process of this film) here.
I felt while watching that the story of bringing solar technology to a small and remote desert village, is almost peripheral – the actual catalyst of change could actually be anything. The shots of the women in India in the classroom learning the technology and passing their exams are great to watch and funny too, providing relief and inspiration in contrast to the trauma that Rafea is going through. Then finally when the shipment of equipment actually arrives, is assembled and there is the final “let there be light, Hamidullah (praise be to God)” moment, brings the arc of the story to completion. There is a final twist with Rafae’s husband, which I won’t reveal here.
‘Solar Mamas” is an important film that takes the viewer right to the heart of a remote Bedouin village and the central issues of tradition and change faced by one family.
I resonated deeply with the story as I’ve experienced it first hand in the Negev, and as a Western anthropologist coming in to study and experience the life of Bedouin culture, know that the weight of expectation placed upon the Bedouin to embrace alien opportunities and technologies is huge (read the story about Arava Power and the Bedouin here). Managing expectation and change is key. However, you don’t need to have been to these communities to get a lot from the film. It deals with very real human emotions, and takes the viewer on a journey of discovery and inspiration, with very real benefits to a society without many amenities that we take for granted. It charts a very real solar harnessing and transformation project in the deep desert.
WATCH SOLAR MAMAS BY CLICKING BELOW
Kuwaiti graphic designer Mohammad Sharaf serves up powerful pictures based on current events, salted with modern Middle Eastern humor and instantly provocative. Take a look at his image of a veiled woman on a bike with a man riding behind her, a reference to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Vice’s recent decision to allow women to drive motorcycles as long as they were accompanied by a male guardian.
“I read about the announcement in a newspaper and couldn’t believe it. I thought it was really funny and far-fetched so I decided to create this artwork,” he told the Saudi Gazette. Titled “Allowed”, the artwork created a buzz on social media sites and attracted international press attention.
Anais Nin nailed it when she quipped, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
Sharaf’s father was an avid artist, their home filled with paintings and the tools of the trade. With his dad as teacher, he started painting at an early stage.
When Sharaf was seven years old, his father was banned from exhibiting his political paintings at local art shows. Disillusioned, the elder Sharaf stopped all artistic activities, including lessons to his son. The theme of censorship arises in another of the artist’s posters, see below.
Sharaf’s political and social artwork relies on simple backgrounds and uses of a limited color range, most commonly black, white, and red.
“I developed my style from different artists such as Emil Ruder and Reza Abedini,” he writes. “As for colors, I try to link to the Russian propaganda and Constructivism art movement. Their posters were critical of the system and politics in a unique way. They were bold, funny and social. They were direct and indirect. They used very limited number of colors and cheap materials because of their poor economic status. I mix all.”
He’s passionate for Arabic calligraphy, and it’s a recurring feature of his work.
An art school teacher inspired him to create political and social artwork. Urging that an artist should be an active member of society, she kickstarted his creation of posters highlighting local and regional issues.
Over the years, Sharaf has witnessed radical change in the Gulf art scene. Young people are more enthused and interested in art and design, and dozens of galleries have opened. Artists are taking risks, and making bolder statements against the status quo.
After “Allowed,” Sharaf was contacted by organizations wanting to republish his artwork. His work appeared in German news magazine, Der Spiegel. “I was contacted by a German bicycle museum to have it showcased there and also an NGO from Finland to have the illustration on a book they will be publishing soon.
Word of mouth is helping him gain an audience, He established Sharaf Inc., his own art studio, and is currently selling his images on t-shirts, with future plans to sell prints and paintings.
He says, “For me, I think that the best reward ever is to see my work published and being distributed all over the world.”
Images via Mohammad Sharaf’s website
Tel Aviv’s Nir Meiri recently unveiled Marine Light – a curious lamp shade made entirely of seaweed wrapped around a spindly metal frame.
Eaten by coastal people all over the world and prized for its gelatinous and nutritional properties (see bottled algae superfood), and its use is being investigated for seaweed as biofuel, marine algae is harvested for everything from dental moulds and wound dressings to deserts.
But we’ve never seen a seaweed lamp shade before.
“Ancient cultures have appreciated and utilized seaweeds for different uses,” Meiri says on his website.”Today, seaweeds are cultivated and harvested on a commercial scale, as a result of a growing interest driven by environmental concerns.”
Meiri encloses the shade’s metal frame with seaweed that is still wet, according to the designer. Then, once it dries, the marine algae shrivels down and conforms to the shade’s shape.
Once dry, he applies a preservative to the seaweed so that it doesn’t completely rot or flake off; the resulting lamp shade produces a luminescent glow that brings the sea indoors.
“Through the unconventional use of seaweed as a main material for a domestic environment, the product plays on the tension between the artistic and the commercial,” says Meiri.
Materially, the Marine Light is a sensible environmental choice as well since there are no algae shortages in the world and it reproduces very quickly.
This is the second funky lamp we’ve featured this week. If you haven’t already seen it, check out this clever lamp powered by the kinetic energy of shifting sands.
Charles David Keeling began recording CO2 levels at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory in 1958, back when concentrations hovered at around 315 parts per million. Five decades later and that number has soared to 400ppm and his son told Yale Environment 360 we’re unlikely to stop it from rising any time soon. Director of the Scripps CO2 Program in California, which is designed to make climate change science accessible to the lay person, Ralph Keeling said that the number 400 is a milestone mostly because it’s a nice round number that people can grasp.
“So this is really a moment for human awareness,” he said, “just like passing a 50th birthday.”
“This is a point to think about where we are in the course of the rise of carbon dioxide. It feels a little bit like we’re moving into another era, in that somehow between 350 and 400 parts per million feels like a certain kind of range of CO2, and now we’re moving into a different range.”
He said that in order to keep levels from surpassing 400ppm, we would have to reduce fossil fuel consumption by up to 60 percent, right now, something that is essentially not going to happen.
Not only would it be virtually impossible to get the whole planet behind the idea, it would be financially crippling.
As a result, we are on track to reach 450ppm in the next 20 to 25 years and further exponential escalations thereafter.
Keeling estimates that the earth’s CO2 concentration last reached 400ppm between two and four million years ago during the mid-Pliocene era.
Combining methane and other heat-trapping gases with CO2 emissions, Keeling told Yale Environment 360 that we are probably going to double pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gas concentrations by the middle of this century.
Reluctant to present himself as a problem solver, Keeling suggests that adopting more fossil fuels and eliminating unrealistically low energy prices might take us one step closer to averting the worst.
:: The Guardian
Image of dead tree trunks, Shutterstock
The online ‘zine Foreign Policy posted its “worst countries for journalism” with the Middle East grabbing three of the Top Ten slots. As we scour the media, we already see how this fares for environmental reporting which is practically non-existent in the Middle East.
How can change occur if we’re not free to write about sensitive issues like human rights and the environment?
According to the 2012 census by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), there are 232 journalists in prisons worldwide, over half being held in the Middle East, the most of them surprisingly in Turkey.
Bahrain = 1 Saudi Arabia = 4 Israel and Occupied Palestine = 3 Iran = 45 Syria = 15 Yemen = 1 Uzbekistan = 4 Kyrgyzstan = 1 Iraq = 1 Turkey = 49
Read about this region’s biggest muzzlers of free expression, below:
The world’s most repressive country is showcase Muslim democracy and NATO darling, Turkey.
A New Yorker article published last year stated, “According to the Journalists Union of Turkey, 94 reporters are currently imprisoned for doing their jobs. More than half are members of the Kurdish minority, which has been seeking greater freedoms since the Turkish republic was founded, in 1923.”
CPJ’s 2012 census counted 49 jailed reporters, but The Friends of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener (named after two imprisoned writers) maintains a list of 104 journalists currently imprisoned there. Another 800 face charges, and scores more have left their jobs because of government pressure.
“The government wants to set an example; it wants to intimidate,” investigative journalist Ertugrul Mavioglu told The Guardian. “Journalists are being told, ‘There are limits on what you are allowed to say.’”
Andrew Gardner, Turkey specialist at Amnesty International, added, “This prosecution forms a pattern where critical writing, political speeches and participation at peaceful demonstrations are used as evidence of terrorism offenses.”
Attorney Meral Danis Bektas said Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, openly threatened journalists and dictated what they wrote. Bektas said: “All of the defendants stand trial for doing their jobs. Free press and freedom of expression are cornerstones of democracy. Without them, democratic political participation becomes impossible.”
The government denies the journalists were arrested for their work as members of the press, instead citing terrorist offenses.
Iran earns the silver medal for jailed journalists, with 45 behind bars as of December 2012.
The government controls all television and radio broadcasting, banning coverage critical of specific topics and events including national nuclear policy and the economy.
Internet access is skyrocketing, but content is restricted and censored and users risk persecution for online activity.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) was blocked following the 2009 election and the number of disabled political sites grows exponentially. A 2010 Computer Crimes Law legalizes government internet surveillance and criminalizes online expression.
Cybercafes are obliged to record customers’ personal data and browsing histories. Last year, a national intranet was finalized, aimed at cutting Iranians’ connection to the worldwide web.
In 2012, Iran banned 250 ”subversive” books and closed the professional association “House of Cinema” that supported 5,000 Iranian filmmakers and artists. Don’t count on reading Lolita in Tehran, and forget about seeing the movie.
Journalists receive reporting licenses at the pleasure of the prime minister. According to the CPJ, 28 licensed writers were killed in 2012 and 15 more were incarcerated by the end of that year.
Syria’s 2001 Press Law gives the state full control over all print media. It forbids reporting on issues of national security and allows the state to determine whether information is factual or not. Violate the law and face up to three years in prison with fines reaching $20,000.
The 2011 Media Law guarantees the “right to access information about public affairs” and bans “the arrest, questioning, or searching of journalists”, yet ironically bars publication of content that affects national unity and security, and incites public unrest. Guess who makes the determination?
Image of Turkish protestor under arrest by Sadik Gulec/Shutterstock.com
Ice hotels are fairly commonplace in northern countries where temperatures regularly fall below freezing, but that didn’t stop the Sharaf Group from opening an ice lounge in the middle of the desert.
The latest in a string of improbable Dubai attractions, the Chillout Cafe offers hot drinks and food in sub-zero temperatures.
Everything inside the Chillout Lounge is made from ice, including the picture frames and curtains, according to the Daily Star.
The tables, lighting fixtures, bar tops are all carved out of giant blocks of ice, while seating areas are, thankfully, covered in fur.
Guests who step out of the outdoors, which easily reach 40C in peak summer, are equipped with designer parkas, boots and hats to keep them warm inside, where temperatures hover at -6C.
They’re given one hot beverage and can order from a small menu which helpfully includes an “eco-friendly sandwich.”
A newly wedded man, a Saudi travel agent, told the paper that the Chillout Lounge was the first stop on his honeymoon trip.
It costs $17 for a recommended 40 minute visit, which comes with the necessary winter gear and one hot beverage served in an ice vessel! Meals are extra.
Like the indoor ski slope, which is home to a colony of penguins, an ice lounge in the middle of the desert must involve an exorbitant energy expenditure, even if attractions like these boost the local economy.
:: Daily Star