Palestine’s Green City Tackles Water and Wastewater Management

The Arab region is believed to be one of the driest in the world– 70% of the land is dry and rainfall is sparse and the effects of climate change will only exacerbate the situation. As today is World Water Day, as well as highlighting the problems the region faces, here at Green Prophet we also want to celebrate the success stories of the region.

The planners behind Palestine’s first planned and green city called Rawabi (or ‘Hills’ in Arabic) have recently given the go-ahead for a feasibility study for a new regional wastewater facility which strengthens their commitment preserving water.

Despite initial reservations about the projects lack of solid waste and wastewater management, the recent announcement has gone someway toward alleviating environmentalists’ concerns.  The feasibility study will help plan for a wastewater treatment plant for the city and will also be “instrumental in identifying permanent solutions for the treatment of wastewater in a regional context.” More

Is the Middle East Buying into Disastrous Biofuels?

From solid gold biofuel Mercedes in Abu Dhabi to biofuel-producing algae lakes in Iran, it seems that biofuels are destined to play a part in the region’s future development. Now, Jordan has announced that it will be experimenting with planting Jatropha, a tree which produces high-quality biodiesel to be used in standard diesel cars.  But are biofuels really the solution to the Mideast’s dependency on gas and oil?

The recent announcement from the Jordanian government that it will be cultivating an oil-producing plant no doubt received a mixed reception.  On the one hand, anything which challenges the country’s heavy dependency on petroleum is surely a good thing.  On the other hand is the whole issue of whether biofuels are actually sustainable or ‘green’ fuels that should be encouraged. More

Bedouin Women Bring Solar Power To Their Villages

For many living in the harsh and desolate deserts of south Jordan, life without electricity is the norm. Either the infrastructure which provides electricity doesn’t reach them or they simply don’t have the money to afford it. However, all that looks set to change as two women bring to light the advantages of solar energy.

Two Jordanian Bedouin women have recently returned from a six-month course at a unique college in India where they were trained as solar engineers. The two women, who are illiterate and have never been employed, were carefully selected by the elders in the village to attend the course at Barefoot college in India which helps poor rural communities become more sustainable.

“We’ve been taught about solar energy and solar panels and how to generate light,” explains Rafi’a Abdul Hamid, a mother of four who lives in a tent in the deserts of south Jordan. “Hopefully when we return we will be able to teach others and use everything we’ve learnt here in India to improve our village.”

For full article see Green Prophet.

Restoring Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’- The Mesopotamian Marshlands

Marsh Arabs poling a traditional mashoof in th...

Image via Wikipedia

 

For over 7,000 years the Iraqi Marshland- also known as the Mesopotamian Marshlands- played an important role in global ecosystems by supporting rare wildlife and rich biodiversity. Located in south Iraq, the marshlands stretched to over 6,000 square miles and are believed by many to be the location of the Garden of Eden. In the 1980′s, however, Saddam drained the marshland to punish the Marsh Arabs who rebelled against him and turned their green lush wetlands into dusty deserts.

Following the 2003 war in Iraq which had its own destructive impact on the environment, a unique opportunity emerged to restore the marshlands in what has since been dubbed as ‘the largest habitat restoration project in the world’.

At its peak the Iraqi Marshlands were considered to be the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East but after the devastating draining projects under Saddam, the Marshland shrunk to just 10 percent of its original size. The Marsh Arab population dropped from around quarter of a million to just a few thousand.

One Iraqi who had fled the country under Saddam returned to find that the wetlands he knew as a child had been destroyed beyond recognition. Azzam Alwash, decided to change this and set up Nature Iraq to help re-flood and so restore the marshlands.

For full article see Green Prophet

Weighing up the Green (and Not So Green) Aspects of Hajj

According to our calculations, a pilgrimage to Mecca from the UK releases more tonnes of carbon than the average French person does in a year

In part 1 of our feature on Green Hajj, we worked out that the carbon footprint of the average UK Hajj pilgrim is pretty high. Our guinea pigs, the Hussain family released around 32.77 tonnes of carbon during their trip which means that each individual member released more C02 in their single trip than the average person in France releases per year (6 tonnes of Carbon). So how do we make Hajj more green? Well we use their experience and knowledge to suggest new ways to make the impact of Hajj easier on this old planet.

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Green Prophet: We Measure One Family Hajj Carbon Footprint

Muslims praying around Kaaba, the most sacred ...

Image via Wikipedia

Last year, my auntie and her family- the Hussains– did one of the most important things that a Muslim can do in their lives. They fulfilled one of the five pillars of Islam and went to Hajj which is a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. However, as a journey required by every Muslim who can afford it, concerns have been raised about the impact of this annual pilgrimage on climate change due to aviation, waste and litter. If every year around 3 million people make the journey, what is their carbon footprint? Also how can we ‘green’ Hajj to make its impact on the planet gentler?

In the first installation of a three-part feature, I will be totting up the carbon footprint of the Hussain family’s pilgrimage from the UK to Mecca. Now, I am not claiming to be some carbon expert who has measured their journey accurately, I just wanted to look at the major aspects of the pilgrimage and their environmental implications. Stay tuned for part two where the good and bad (environmental) aspect of Hajj are explored and part three where suggestions are made to help ‘green’ Hajj.

See full post at Green Prophet.

Green Prophet: No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change

Getting to grips with climate science and all the different aspects and solutions to climate change can be a difficult thing- why not get the no-nonsense guide?

Maybe it’s just me but I think that one of the most difficult things about being a climate activist isn’t remembering to put out the recyclables for collection on a Wednesday but rather getting to grips with climate science. Maths and science were never my strong points at school and the most basic of climate science seems to be explained by boffins who way over-estimate my knowledge/abilities to be actually useful. So when I heard there was a ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ to climate change which included climate science I was pretty eager to get my hands on a copy. Thankfully I was not disappointed as the handy pocket-sized guide was easy to read and follow, and didn’t skimp on depth and detail either.

The tiny 200-page book in broken down into three sections which consist of a couple of chapters: the science, the solutions and the way forward. This makes it easy to follow and although you could dip in and out and use the chapter you want, I highly recommend you follow the set out structure on your first read at least.

It’s well written with clear language, useful examples and lots of metaphors (it can’t be coincidence that the writer- Danny Chivers- is also a poet) which makes everything doubly clear and easy to understand. It feels like every unnecessary word was cut out and the language kept refreshingly jargon-free, personal and engaging.

See full post at Green Prophet.

Green Prophet: How to Live a Car-Free Existence

My latest post at Green Prophet about why I chose not to drive a car and why I think going ‘car-free’ should be encouraged.

Although people seems to think that driving a car is as natural as.. well walking, the fact is that driving cars is a pretty new phenomena in the wider scale of things and everyone owning a car is an even newer trend. How did we get here? Well it wasn’t a coincidence, we were guided here by a number of factors: advertising, rising income, growing consumerist culture and the crafty work of some car manufactures.

According to the No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change by Danny Chivers (which I recently reviewed), back in the early 1900′s companies like General Motors and Firestone aggressively bought out public transport systems in the US and then shut them down. Over a hundred commuter rail systems were closed and thousands of kilometres of rail tracks were pulled up. In fact, the poor state of public transport seems to be a (rather short-sighted) motivation behind why most people resort to driving cars. As Chivers points out, “the US love affair with the motor car was really more of an arranged marriage.”

See full post at Green Prophet.

Image via ecastro on flickr.

Can Planting Trees Really Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict?

by Arwa Aburawa

There is this strange place where the green environmental movement and the Israel-Palestine conflict meet which I find simultaneously inspiring and problematic.

Inspiring because some good must come out of the tree-planting co-existance stuff even if it is hard to quantify and mostly seems to be feel-good vibes for international funders. Problematic because there are sinister undertones to some of the ‘green’ actions that, for example, diminish the gulf of inequality between Palestinians and Israelis, ignore the political dimension (causes) of the ecological conflict or fail to see that some tree-planting is just plain old ‘greenwashing’.

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What Happened To Islam’s Environmentally Friendly Architecture?

My latests musing on why so Muslim countries have abandoned Islam’s simple and sustainable architecture in favour of brash Gulf-style monstrosities. Here’s a snippet:

From luxury architecture in Mecca to the blinged-out buildings of Dubai, it seems that Islamic architecture is all about opulence and grandeur. The bigger and the more lavish- the better but it hasn’t always been like this. In the past, Islamic architecture relied on natural materials and some of the most iconic Islamic buildings were ones of simplicity and modesty– think the Kaaba in Mecca. Mud was something that was heartily used and architecture sought to reflect the environment rather than to outshine it…

Full article ‘What Happened to Islam’s Environmentally Friendly Architecture‘ at Green Prophet.

 

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