Monday, 28 December 2009

Tsunami - Five Years Later

It was five years ago, at Christmas time 2004, that the tsunami struck in Indonesia. Photojournalist Abbie Trayler-Smith recently returned to the city of Banda Aceh, to discover how UKaid from the Department for International Development has helped people to rebuild their lives.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Green School in Bali, Indonesia

The mission of Green School Bali is to give its students a holistic and green education. The school made of bamboo has open classrooms covered by roofs of alang-alang, and there is greenery all around. The school founders, Canadian John Hardy and his American wife, Cynthia, put their jewelry business up for sale two years ago to get the funds for their green project.

They make sure that the students get a pragmatic education and first-hand exposure to the art of growing crops, understanding aquatic systems, appreciating renewable energy and endorsing waste and water usage. Green School aims to have the lowest carbon footprint of any international school anywhere, through use of bamboo and rammed earth for its buildings, growing its own food in its gardens, and plans to generate its own power from the river.

Now, the Paris-based group Akuo Energy has come up to set up a “renewable energy lab” for the children. Self-composting toilets are there to promote cleanliness, and a biodiesel generator and some solar panels ensure that the proposed “off the grid” building makes the most of clean energy.

The school has 150 students from 23 countries.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

African Children Are Being Poisoned By Discarded Electronics

A recent expose on revealed that many electronic products discarded by developed nations like Germany, the U.S. and Britain end up in Africa, and they’re poisoning the continent’s children with harmful toxins like lead, cadmium and mercury.

In a region of Accra, Ghana, nicknamed Soddom and Gomorrah, tons of the developed world’s electronic waste such as discarded computers is shipped there every year, with most of the items being disassembled and burned by local children. The poverty-stricken children, some as young as eight years old, even harvest the leftover scrap metal to sell, exposing themselves to large amounts of heavy metals and carcinogenic fumes.

This not only affects the health of young children, but a soil and river analysis conducted last year by a Greenpeace scientist also found extremely high levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls.

The same happens in other countries such as Nigeria, Vietnam, India, China and the Philippines. The UN estimates that about 50 million tons of e-waste is thrown away each year, with much of it ending up in developing countries. It costs about $5.30 to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor from Germany, but only costs about $2.20 to throw it on a ship to Ghana.

Although dumping unauthorized e-waste in poor nations is prohibited, the system is largely unregulated. It was recently found that Germany is shipping about 100,000 tons of discarded electronics south each year, even though the country has some of the strictest e-waste laws.

This e-waste problem doesn't seem to be getting much attention - perhaps it's time it was.

Via: ABC
Photo via: Guardian

Friday, 18 December 2009

Santa's High-Tech Eco-Sleigh

For years, Santa has been riding the same old wooden sleigh pulled by reindeer. But this year GE Global Research has designed a new Santa sleigh that comes with 10 of the company's green -focused ideas displayed this year.

The concept Santa sleigh has incorporated 10 of the best green ideas from GE. It has icephobic coating to keep it free from snow, self-powered OLED lighting in the front of the sleigh for better visibility, Ceramic Matrix Composites for sleigh blades and GE Sodium Batteries to store energy and supplement power. The sleigh has a frame made from carbon fiber composite materials and features like GE’s Trip Optimizer, wearable RFID sensor, wireless medical sensor, asset intelligent tracking tech to know his whereabouts and a 500GB holographic disk.

“We do have cool technology that could make Santa’s life a lot easier,” writes physical chemist Anit Duggal.

Via: GE Reports

Thursday, 17 December 2009

WFP Stove Initiative To Protect Women And Environment

This week the World Food Programme (WFP) launched a pilot project to provide fuel-efficient stoves to women in Sudan and Uganda, to reduce the risk they run of being attacked while gathering firewood and to protect the environment from desertification.

“Women and girls should not have to risk their lives and dignity – and precious trees should not be lost – in the simple act of trying to cook food for their families,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran during a press conference at the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen. "The SAFE stoves launch will help protect them and the environment with practical and urgently needed solutions."

Refugees and women who live in drought conditions are forced to walk far into the bush to collect firewood. They chop down trees and uproot grasses, harming the fragile eco-system and often go into unsafe areas, risking attack and rape.

WFP’s Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE) project will distribute of fuel-efficient and “improved mud” stoves to assist almost 100,000 women in North Darfur. These stoves consume less firewood and lower health risks associated with smoke.

Project partners include Women’s Refugee Commission, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment programme (UNEP).

Monday, 14 December 2009

Rebuilding Lives In Myanmar

This video is a glimpse of what life is like for the most vulnerable people in Myanmar - particularly those hit by the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta. The video was produced by the World Food Programme.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Copenhagen - CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change

The “CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change” is a live multimedia art exhibit that aims to transform peoples’ perception of climate change and to inspire sustainable solutions. The CO2 Cube shows just how much one metric tonne of CO2 is (1 tonne of CO2 = 8m³) - around the size of a three-story building. The interactive project shows the monumental scale of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere by human activity.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Sustainable Fashion Show In Copenhagen

A fashion show 'Innovating Sustainable Fashion' was held in Copenhagen on December 3 prior to the conference. It was organised by the Center for Responsible Design in cooperation with Copenhagen Fashion Fairs, to support sustainable fashion in the lead-up to COP15.

The 19 collections on the catwalk were chosen from more than 60 entries to the sustainable design competition.

“We focus on design students, because they will be working in the industry very soon, and it is important that they make the right decisions,” said Peter Dammand, teacher at the Danish Design School, who sees environmental, ethical and financial concerns as the three cornerstones of sustainable fashion.

Five prizes were handed out in three categories: Design For Inclusion, Design Considering Use, and Design For Environment. Tobias Noe Harboe from the Danish Design School was awarded the first prize that came with a cheque of 15,000 Danish Kroner, for his sci-fi inspired design.

All designs are exhibited at the Danish Design Center from December 8 until January 31.

Story & Photo Via: COP15 Copenhagen

Friday, 4 December 2009

Solar Powered Camel Clinics

Some of Kenya’s camels are carrying the solar-powered mini fridges on their backs as part of a test project that uses camels as mobile health clinics. It is hoped that the eco-friendly transport system will provide a cheap, reliable way of getting much-needed medicines and vaccines to rural communities in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The Nomadic Communities Trust has been using camels as mobile health clinics in isolated areas with few roadways in Kenya, but up to now has been unable to deliver medicines and vaccines that require refrigeration. In 2005, Nomadic Communities Trust partnered with California’s Art Center College of Design’s Designmatters and Princeton’s Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) to create a lightweight and durable solar-powered refrigerator that can be strapped to camels’ backs in order to transport chilled medicines and vaccines.

The mini fridge is housed in a bamboo saddle that is lightweight and durable enough for camels to easily carry it across miles of rough terrain. The solar panels can also be used by the mobile clinics for lighting and refrigeration in the field.

Designmatters‘ executive director, Mariana Amatullo, said the project was designed with a budget of only a few thousand dollars and the device was tested on the Bronx Zoo's camels to save money.

The fridges are currently being tested on camels in Kenya and Ethiopia, but Amatullo says the system could be used by any rural communities with access to camels. If the project gets enough funding, it will be implemented in 2010.

Via: ChangeObserver
Photos: Designmatters

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