Archive for September, 2013

IPCC’s report on climate change produced

As reported by The Telegraph, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has produced the first part of its latest assessment on climate change. The report is the fifth by the IPCC and the first in six years.

Each assessment report is published three volumes – the first now has been published and the final two parts will be released in 2014.

It has taken scientists six years to put the report together with input from 800 experts and citing more than 9,000 scientific studies.

The initial part of the report will focus on the science of climate change while the second and third parts will look at the impact of climate change and what can be done to mitigate it.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body which was established in 1988 by the United Nations.

See The Telegraph’s feature.  Photo: ALAMY

 

 

Squirrelpox Vaccine – progress made

In the 19th century a small number of American grey squirrels were introduced to Britain and it is well known that they are now pushing the native red squirrel to extinction – a human induced ecological disaster.

In recent years it was discovered that the greys carry the squirrelpox virus which doesn’t harm them but induces a horrible lingering death in nearly all red squirrels that become infected.  Until 2012 it was believed that the disease was confined to mainland UK, but last year it was discovered also in Ireland.

The Wildlife Ark Trust is a small UK charity raising funds to sponsor research into the development of a squirrelpox vaccine to protect reds against the disease.

An effective vaccine candidate has now been discovered but it needs to be developed and the charity is raising money towards the next phase of research costing £198,000.

Contact the charity for further information.

Photos by Sarah McNeil

Green Shack Project – Explained

Want to know more about The Green Shack Project from Touching the Earth Lightly?  This video is a great place to start.

Climate Week in NYC from 23-30 September 2013

To celebrate Climate Week in New York City, The Weather Company is bringing together some of the biggest leaders in government, science, industry and NGOs, for a day of story-telling and ideas generating on how to reduce the impacts of climate change.
David de Rothschild will be speaking at the event, so if you’re in NYC on September 26th and are interested in joining the discussion head to http://bit.ly/1ePKwsk and RSVP as space is limited.
If you’re not in NYC during that time, don’t worry, the whole conversation will be streamed live on the website! #cwnyc.

Click here to find out more.

Thanks to MYOO and Plastiki for sharing.  

The Guardian International Development Achievement Award 2013 – Vote Now

Mr Illac Diaz’s project combines a recycled plastic bottle, a capful of bleach and distilled water and the result is the ‘Litre of Light’ which provides light to more than 350,000 households in ten countries around the world  without the need for electricity.

This low cost, sustainable design is now a global movement for which the process and  the instructions are entirely open-sourced and spread using traditional and digital social networks.

Illac has been nominated for the Guardian’s International Achievement Award 2013 and the deadline to vote is midnight GMT on Monday 16 September 2013.

Cast your vote for Illac NOW and be part of the Liter of Light revolution.litreoflight

Architecture for Humanity – leadership change announced

Architecture for HumanityArchitecture for Humanity received a very early StFF grant for its Container Studio project in 2009.

On 7 September 2013 its founders, Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair announced that they will step down after 15 years of leading the charity – Kate on 30th September 2013 and Cameron 6th April 2014, the organisation’s 15th Anniversary.

It’s great to see something you started evolve into an institution. We are excited about the future of the organization and plan to continue lending support in whatever ways we can.

Kate Stohr, co-founder

Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz. “Founders of Architecture for Humanity Step Down, Launch Five-year Plan” 06 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 13 Sep 2013. <http://www.archdaily.com/425693>

5000 Mile Project – Update

 

David and Katharine have just launched a DoNation campaign for September asking supporters to pledge to do something to help the environment – cycling to work, turning off PCs etc.  Anyone who pledges to do something for their expedition will automatically be entered into a grand prize draw!

Learn more here.

The couple have less than 800 miles left to run now and are organizing a 10km run in central London on 26 October followed by a soup and bread get-together to raise money for their charities.   Details will be shared via their FB and Twitter pages.

Countdown to the Finishline

From Trash to Treasure: Plastic Bottle Schools

The following interview with Josh Talmon is reproduced from a MUZE post dated 8 February 2012.

In Guatemala, a nonprofit is helping communities turn plastic bottles into schools.

It takes a village to raise a child. In some areas of Guatemala, it also takes thousands of plastic bottles. By building schools lined with plastic bottles and inorganic trash, Hug It Forward is addressing two prevalent problems in Guatemala – a lack of safe infrastructure for schools and a growing mountain of trash. The model works like this: Guatemalan children and adults collect the many plastic bottles within their community, stuff them with discarded plastic bags and wrappers, and together they build a school insulated with those very bottles.

With 15 schools completed, 2 in progress, and many waiting to be funded, Hug It Forward is working to spread its Bottle Schools across the globe. Muze recently sat down with three “full-time volunteers” and founders of Hug It Forward – Josh Talmon, Zach Balle, and Heenal Rajani. Together we talked about convincing people that they’re not crazy, their “100% Non-Profit” model, and how they plan to bring a Bottle School to a country near you.

Muze: It seems as if whenever I read articles or watch videos from the press about this project, it’s described as a “crazy idea.” Was there resistance to this project at first? Did people think you were crazy?

Josh Talmon: Yeah, sure, at first it might seem crazy. They might think, wow, these guys are saying that we should collect all this trash – why would we pick all this trash up? Why would we put it in bottles? How the heck is this going to turn into a school? I think when they see an example and when they see that other communities have done it before them, then there’s a lot less skepticism. It helps, too, for people to talk to those other communities and see the school in use and the kids in the classrooms and, hey, look at that, the building made with bottles isn’t falling over!

Muze: You describe your business model as being “The 100% Non-Profit Model.” What does this mean and why do you think it’s so important to highlight this aspect of your organization?

Zach Balle: What that means is that 100% of public donations goes directly towards building Bottle Schools. If you donate $50, every dime will be spent in communities that need a school. This 100% Non-Profit model is sustained thanks to conscious businesses that help cover our overhead. We’ve also started offering one-week “voluntourism” trips through our partner organization, Serve the World Today, which gives anybody the opportunity to come help build a bottle school and discover the rich culture of Guatemala. It costs $1000 to be a “voluntourist,” which covers all their expenses except for flights. Additionally, we also ask these volunteers to raise $500, often through a site called StayClassy, and 100% of that money goes directly towards building Bottle Schools.

So in that way, our model is a little bit different in that we don’t have a traditional fundraising model. Our volunteers are really doing all the work for us – they’re raising the money, they’re coming down here, they’re telling their friends, and that helps us out so much since we don’t have to go and spend big money on big events and fundraisers. We have them, our army of volunteers, raising the money and spreading the word for us!

Josh: Yeah, it’s important to realize that we’re merely facilitators for our volunteers. We just help people have the opportunity to come down here, have an amazing experience, and then go back home and share it with their friends and family.

Muze: How would you describe the communities that you are helping in Guatemala?

Heenal Rajani: Most of them are remote communities in the mountains and volcanoes of Guatemala. We’re working in a lot of underserved areas where they’re gone years without recognition from the government or traditional NGOs.

Josh: We’ve met some really incredible, friendly, and motivated people. The Guatemalans that we work with might not be wealthy, but they’re incredibly rich in culture, in family, in community, and they’ve been so welcoming and appreciative.

Muze: What do you believe is the greatest challenge or obstacle for Hug It Forward?

Zach: Unstable governments. This is the only thing that will stop us from building more Bottle Schools and expanding the program to other countries. Also, natural disasters – hurricanes, mudslides, volcanoes, etc.

“It’s important to realize that we’re merely facilitators for our volunteers.”

Muze: And on the flip side of obstacles and challenges, what do you think is the key ingredient to the program’s continued success?

Zach: I think getting the information out to anyone who can use it is the key ingredient. The idea is to constantly update our Bottle School manual, which teaches people how to build a school, so anyone can use it, whether it’s in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, or South America. It’s not sustainable for us to fly around the world and bring this idea to different places on our own. It’s not about us as people, but what this idea can do to change the world.

Muze: It seems that the goal of the organization is to step aside and really let the people in these communities take control and ownership of this project. Why do you feel that this is important and how successful has this been?

Zach: It’s been extremely successful and I think it’s key for a long term, sustainable program. If we were to just roll in there and build it our way, flip them the keys, and say, ‘Here’s your school!’ then I don’t think it would be as successful. If the people in the community have put in their own blood, sweat, and tears and somebody else comes along and terrorizes the school or vandalizes it, there’s going to be ramifications and that person will be held accountable. They really own this thing. This is their school.

“If you donate $50, every dime will be spent in communities that need a school.”

Muze: You must meet all sorts of amazing and inspiring people while working on this project. Can you share a story of someone you’ve met who has inspired or motivated you?

Josh: There’s Marcos Xe. If you watch the video on our website about the second Bottle School that we built, you’ll see Marcos. He was one of the community members there that really helped out. After the school in his community was built, he reached out and developed a relationship with a nearby community, about 30 minutes away, and invited them to come check out his village’s Bottle School. The visitors were impressed, so Marcos was really encouraging and said, yeah, start collecting your bottles! Let’s start putting inorganic trash into those bottles! Then this other community started clearing land themselves to build their own school. That’s the grassroots and kind of organic feel that we’re going for here. And that just happened on its own, without any of us from Hug It Forward getting involved. Now that this other community is getting established, though, we will be helping them with funding, but what’s really cool is that Marcos and this other community took the initiative on their own. That’s what it’s all about!

Muze: What’s the next step? Where do you see Hug It Forward going in the future?

Josh: For us, our next steps as an organization in 2012 are to really focus on the Bottle School manual. We want to get to the point where someone can just find this document online and do everything themselves to build a bottle school– from empowering the community and collecting bottles and trash to raising funds and construction details. It would also be great to have an online forum where anyone from Peace Corps volunteers to community leaders can answer each other’s questions about how to get these school’s built.

We’re also hoping to expand into other countries. Construction’s already started for a bottle school in El Salvador and we’re hoping to help start a school in Guyana by June.

Mike Irvine is a researcher and writer at Muze.

- See more at: http://muzes.org/stories/from-trash-to-treasure-plastic-bottle-schools-2/#sthash.ZGtzX0bu.dpuf