Add this library to your travel bucket list — because it’s super old and super pretty.

Old libraries are pretty dope.

For bibliophiles like me, walking through an old library feels like walking through a cathedral. The way the light filters through the windows, the sound of hushed conversations, the slightly rough feeling of a leather-bound book sliding out of a shelf … old libraries even have their own smell.

And there are some really amazing old libraries, like Trinity College Library pictured above, or New York Public Library, or the British Library all of which I’ve either loved visiting or keenly want to.

But if we want to talk about old libraries, the Qarawiyyin Library beats them all.

Qarawiyyin is the oldest library in the world and is located in Fez, Morocco. The first foundations were put down in the year 859, making the library nearly 1,200 years old.

Unfortunately, at nearly 1,200 years old, the library was seriously starting to show its age.

I’m talking broken tiles, no insulation, cracked beams, walls that were starting to look considerably un-wall-like … there were even exposed electrical wires and sewage problems.

And what’s worse (at least from a bibliophile’s perspective) the books were in danger! Water had started to creep into the collections, threatening the library’s some 4,000 manuscripts. If you’ve ever accidentally dropped a favorite novel into a bath before, I don’t have to tell you how quickly water can ruin books. And when we’re talking about books older than the Renaissance, even just a spike in humidity can do some serious damage.

Taken together with the crumbling structure, the library needed to be closed off to the public for at least a couple years.

In 2012, the government asked architect Aziza Chaouni to help restore the library.

And, today, it’s going to be ready for visitors again!

The pictures from inside the library look amazing. Chaouni, a Fez native, has restored the library to its original glory, revealing a distinctly elegant building full of elaborately carved windows and archways, with Arabic calligraphy built into the walls and golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

Behind the scenes, though, Chaouni’s renovations have also added a distinctly modern aspect to the library as well. Air conditioners run surreptitiously behind wooden carvings. Solar panels capture sunlight and help power the building. And, yes, they’ve even fixed the plumbing problems.

The books have also gotten their own upgrades.

An underground canal system will help drain that book-killing moisture away from the building, and a lab full of advanced machinery will help scholars preserve and digitize the rare books.

There’s even a special highly-secure room for the rarest and most valuable documents, including a 1,200-year-old copy of the Quran.

Precise temperature and humidity controls and strict security mean these super-rare, super-valuable texts and manuscripts receive the care and attention they deserve.

These changes mean that, once again, the library will be open to everyone, and it will rejoin Fez’s amazing cultural legacy.

In fact, the entire neighborhood, known as the Medina of Fez, is so amazing that the UN has declared it a World Heritage Site.

The library is also attached to a mosque and university, and it features archives, reading rooms, cafes, and even a courtyard adorned with fountains.

No definite opening date has been set yet, but the Qarawiyyin Library is expected to open by the end of the year. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI is expected to inaugurate it when that day comes.

Chaouni wants this renovation to be part of a plan to restore Fez’s status as a cultural center of Morocco, too. New music festivals have helped young people rediscover the medina and Chaouni has a plan to restore the river in Fez after years of pollution.

“I would like my kids to be able to see this heritage,” Chaouni told The Guardian.

This library’s story is particularly heartening considering how many important Islamic cultural sites are in trouble right now.

While Morocco has been more or less an island of stability, many other nations in the region have not been so fortunate. In 2013, for example, insurgents set fire to a library of historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, Mali. Farther away, ISIS has been targeting cultural sites throughout Iraq and Syria, including destroying thousands of books and documents when they raided the libraries of Mosul, Iraq.

This is especially hard to see considering the intimate and historic connection between scholarship and Islam.

Libraries are more than just a collection of books. They’re a part of our heritage.

When the Qarawiyyin Library’s founder, Fatima al-Fihri, first envisioned the library, she wanted to give her community a place of learning and wisdom.

It’s awesome to see that nearly 1,200 years later that heritage is still intact.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/add-this-library-to-your-travel-bucket-list-because-its-super-old-and-super-pretty?c=tpstream

6 items America should have on its holiday wish list to prepare for President Trump.

In too many ways, 2016 has been a rough one for America.

Way too many of our favorite celebrities died. We suffered a great deal of loss at the hands of Mother Nature. And now, this we’re capping off 12 tumultuous months with the end to maybe the most divisive, mind-boggling election in U.S. history, and many people have been left anxious about the prospects of President Donald Trump.

As we move into the holiday season, thinking about giving back and being thankful, there are a few things America desperately needs now as we all prepare to move into 2017.

Here are six gifts you can give America this holiday season:

1. The gift of more digital and print newspaper subscriptions to keep Washington (and Trump) honest and citizens informed.

Votes aside, no election is influenced by just one factor. But this election in particular felt the brunt of fake and misleading news on social media and cable news coverage that focused more on style than on substance.

Newspapers, on the other hand, provided some incredibly thoughtful and important reporting on the election and the state of our country from Trump’s questionable history paying federal taxes to Hillary Clinton’s complex time as secretary of state. The more newspaper subscriptions we have at our fingertips, the better. Give the gift of a newspaper subscription (or share your subscription with a friend), and the entire country becomes a better informed place to be.

2. Give the gift of an LGBTQ community that understands they are all of value, no matter who they love or how they identify.

Last week, as it became clearer Trump will be our next president, calls to suicide prevention hotlines for the LGBTQ community spiked. Tragically, it’s not all that surprising Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence are peddling possibly the most anti-LGBTQ platform in party history.

Proceeds for the shirt above by Trans Lifeline go to enabling the nonprofit to help more people in times of crisis. Their services will be critical throughout the next four years.

We can also support groups like The Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign to make sure the voices of our LGBTQ friends and family are elevated and prioritized, even if a Trump White House likely won’t be listening.

3. The gift of making immigrants feel right at home in their new country.

Building a wall became a cornerstone in Trump’s campaign. Our president-elect has threatened to deport millions of people and has demonized millions more. Many immigrant children and families are understandably afraid, left feeling as though their country doesn’t want them here.

But organizations like Soccer Without Borders want every kid to succeed in America.

The U.S. branch of the nonprofit based in Oakland, California uses soccer as a catalyst to unite kids from various backgrounds and different countries through sport. The group provides educational support, creates community service opportunities, and has a great track record at helping empower kids toward academic success.

We can also support groups like E4FC, which connect young undocumented immigrants to the legal and academic resources they need to achieve their goals, and Voto Latino, which empowers Latinos to become agents of change in their communities.

4. Give the gift of a green Earth that will stay habitable for centuries to come.

Soon, we’ll have a president who’s called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese. That should be terrifying to anyone who wants their grandkids to live on a beautiful planet.

Let’s not beat around the bush we need to do a lot to combat climate change, and we need to do a lot now. We can pressure our legislators to support clean energy, do our own part to live an eco-friendly life, and maybe the easiest one plant more trees.

Through conservation nonprofit American Forests, we can gift new trees to plant on behalf of others, and help offset our collective carbon footprint. Each tree costs just $1 to be planted, so you can see how a $25 or $50 gift can certainly grow into a huge impact.

5. The gift of security for every person seeking to access their right to an abortion.

Trump who once suggested women should be “punished” for having an abortion has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who would flip Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that confirmed a person’s right to choose. This means well-funded and accessible clinics are more important now than ever before.

By supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, its advocacy wing, PPact, and local chapters in your area, we can avoid going backward.

The Clinic Vest Project is one group helping clinics like Planned Parenthood do their work by providing vests, like the one seen above, to the friendly human shields that escort women from their cars to the facility entrance, oftentimes through aggressive protesters. That walk can be a painful and intimidating experience for someone who might already be in a vulnerable state, so these helpful, supportive people wearing colorful vests to show they’re an ally are crucial.

6. The gift of more diverse children’s media because representation matters, now more than ever.

Kids are feeling anxious and uncertain on the heels of the election especially children from groups that have been mocked or criticized during the campaign, like immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people. It’s important we reassure them that, yes, they are loved and that we’re a society that values diversity and inclusion.

Children’s books that make this point clear like “Promised Land,” which follows the interracial love story of Prince Leo and his farm boy crush, Jack should be in playrooms and classrooms across the country.

Fortunately, more and more children’s books reflect the diverse world we live in, and many other titles are exemplifying why it matters our kids see themselves in the pages between their fingertips.

Diverse kids’ media shouldn’t be confined to books, though film, toys, and TV series are just as crucial. Shows like Nickelodeon’s “The Loud House” and coloring books like “Dream Big! More than a Princess” can be awesome tools that encourage our children to be confident in who they are and understand that they matter.

America has always been the sum its parts. The combined contributions of those of us who live here are what makes it great. Let that inspire you to kick off 2017 with a clear head, a big heart, and a determined spirit.

No one’s disputing that this year has been a rocky one in more ways than we’d care to admit. But we made it.

If you’re on edge about what 2017 will mean for you and your loved ones under our new president, don’t feel helpless fight to make sure America stays true to all the values that make us the great country that we are.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/6-items-america-should-have-on-its-holiday-wish-list-to-prepare-for-president-trump?c=tpstream

The Netherlands held a competition to design new refugee housing. These are the winners.

In 2015, nearly 60,000 refugees arrived in the Netherlands needing a place to live.

The Netherlands is a small country, just more than half the size of West Virginia, so housing all of them was going to be a challenge. As the worldwide refugee crisis continues, innovative solutions are needed so that the people fleeing civil war and sectarian violence have a safe place to live.

In this case, the solution involved, in part, opening up an old abandoned prison as temporary public housing. It was a less-than-ideal situation to say the least.

The country was determined to do better.

In January 2016, the Netherlands launched a design competition called “A Home Away From Home” in which entrants were tasked with designing temporary housing for refugees and disaster victims.

All of the winning designs rethought the idea of public housing, adding amenities and innovations to make the buildings more like fully functioning homes than simply a bed to sleep on.

The winners of the contest recently appeared on display in Amsterdam as part of Dutch Design Week and included things like solar power, water purification systems, and ingenious use of space and material.

This Farmyard shelter is designed to transform vacant farmland into mini villages.

The cube design of the Farmland means dozens can be stacked, placed together, and moved easily. The architects of this design imagined the miniature villages establishing a “DIY economy” with local towns.

Another designer created these styrofoam towers as perfect low-waste housing for refugees being processed at reception sites.

They’re insulated, waterproof, fire resistant, and very cost-efficient. They have all the amenities of an apartment beds, a sink, a toilet, a shower, and a kitchen table and can easily be rigged up with electricity.

Comfort City is one designer’s solution for cities that don’t have enough space to house a large number of refugees.

Every part of the Comfort City design is modular and adaptable, meaning it can be easily constructed in empty industrial buildings or even abandoned prisons while providing the homey comfort that abandoned prisons tend to lack.

Then there were designs like this modern Solar Cabin that can actually generate revenue and electricity.

Its solar paneled roof actually generates more energy than is needed to power the home, so the occupants can sell electricity back to the local grid to make a profit.

And finally, this sleek cube design actually comes with a built-in water purifier.

The cubes are Finch Evolutionary Wooden Buildings and are portable, easy to construct, and run on solar-powered batteries. They also have a vacuum toilet system that recycles water on site, making the whole thing self-sufficient.

We’re going to need more and more of this type of housing and way of thinking about the refugee crisis.

Home is a concept many of us take for granted, but it’s not a small thing. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, and human.

The current refugee crisis hasn’t showed signs of slowing down, and with climate change creating more and more dangerous weather systems, we’re likely to see climate refugee numbers grow sharply. All of those people are going to need places to live. Innovative solutions like these help them to not only live, but live with dignity and opportunity.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-netherlands-held-a-competition-to-design-new-refugee-housing-these-are-the-winners?c=tpstream

Poland Unveils Glow-In-The-Dark Bicycle Path That Is Charged By The Sun

Cycling is one of the most eco-friendly ways to travel, and thanks to this solar-powered bike lane that glows in the dark, it just got even moreso.


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The luminous blue cycling strip, which can be found near Lidzbark Warminski in the north of Poland, was created by TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o. It’s made from a synthetic material that can give out light for up to ten hours at a time once charged by the sun throughout the day. Although the concept was inspired by Studio Roosegaarde’s Starry Night bike lane in the Netherlands, the technology is quite different as the Dutch version uses LEDs whereas this one is entirely dependent upon solar power. It’s still in the testing phase at the moment, but let’s hope that this bright idea will be implemented in other countries in the very near future. (h/t: inhabitat)

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Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/glowing-blue-bike-lane-tpa-instytut-badan-technicznych-poland/

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Elon Musk’s energy company is making glass shingles that double as solar panels.

We all know the feeling. Looking at your energy bill can be a lot like this:

Electricity is expensive. Renewable energy could help, but the technology has its hurdles to overcome, including cost, availability, and infrastructure.

There’s also another psychological barb: A lot of renewable energy tech is kind of goofy-looking.

So Elon Musk has a new plan. He wants to make solar power super pretty.

On Friday, Elon Musk announced that his company would make glass roofing shingles that double as solar panels.

There have been solar shingles before, but what makes Tesla’s different is they’re incredibly pretty. Compared to those big, bulky, blue ping-pong tables we probably normally think of, these are downright artistic. Musk hopes by making the panels visually attractive, they’ll entice more homeowners to add them to their roofs.

They showed off four different types of tiles:terra cotta, slate, textured glass, and smooth glass.

They work like thousands of little solar panels all hooked together.

They’re basically mini-solar cells covered in a durable glass coating that will protect them from the elements. They can be designed to match different shapes and styles to fit the house.

The shingles will likely be out of reach for most homeowners at first. Tesla hasn’t announced a price, but a similar product by Dow costs about $20,000 for a small patch of 350 shingles. Tesla’s website does suggest that with the lower utility bills they’d end up paying for themselves, however, and government incentives could help too.

All that said, for now, they’ll probably be similar to Tesla’s first electric cars a cool device for people who are really into new technology. But they could end up becoming more popular: Think of all the people driving electric cars now. And we have seen solar power in general get massively cheaper in the last few years, a trend that is likely to continue.

This is a neat example of how renewables could end up integrated into everyday life.

Right now we depend on just a few huge power plants, but in the future inventions like this combined with more affordable energy storage options could turn our homes, offices, and garages into mini power plants.

This could not only help us transition away from fossil fuels and toward more green energy, it could also be a lot cheaper and make the market more dynamic.

Which would probably make everyone more like this:

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/elon-musks-energy-company-is-making-glass-shingles-that-double-as-solar-panels?c=tpstream

The Maori just took Standing Rock solidarity up a notch with their viral war dance.

A recent wave of support seems to be reviving spirits in Standing Rock, North Dakota, as pipeline protests continue.

Since Aug. 22, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with many protestors, have stood their ground protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline a 1,172-mile pipeline that will pump oil dangerously close to the tribe’s water supply. Despite the fact that protestors have by and large remained peaceful “protectors of the water,” authorities have injured many and arrested hundreds.

But the world’s been watching, and people across the globe refuse to just sit by and witness the inhumane treatment these protestors are experiencing simply for trying to protect their land.

Support is being sent in many forms from the tangible to the virtual.

In just the past week, hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook “checked in” to Standing Rock to help protect protestors from possibly being tracked by law enforcement. A crowdfunding campaign to help with legal and camp costs that had a goal of $5,000 just broke $1 million. Actor Mark Ruffalo delivered solar panels to the protest grounds so they had access to sustainable energy.

One of the more resonant reinforcements to date, however, was a powerful, visual message of solidarity from the Mori the indigenous people of New Zealand.

These Mori people are doing a haka a dance and war cry traditionally performed on the battlefield, but it is often done today as an expression of pride, unity, and strength. According to Tylee Hudson who shot the video, this group was doing an Utaina haka, which specifically symbolizes working together for the greater good.

She said she hopes the haka will remind her indigenous brethren that they’re not alone in this fight. The video has more than 900,000 views. Other similar videos, like one of a man performing a haka on the front lines at Standing Rock, have started popping up too.

The message of unity across tribes has been sent loud and clear.

And thanks to Facebook groups like Haka Standing with Standing Rock, with its over 27,000 members, that message will continue to reverberate around the world. As their haka declares in its first line, “The challenge has been laid down.” Now it’s time for others to pick up the gauntlet and join the fight.

But the haka is more than just a battle cry and more than just a powerful expression of solidarity. It’s a whole culture of people standing behind a cause that’s all too familiar to them.

The Mori tribes, like so many tribes in America and around the world, have experienced oppression akin to what the Sioux are going through at Standing Rock.

Hudson is a member of the Ngati Awa and Thoe Mori tribes, which he says are no strangers to government pushback.

“Our role as kaitiaki, or guardians of the land, and tino rangatiratanga, the right to self-determination, is forever contested and challenged by the government,” Hudson wrote in an email. Mori tribes often debate settlements with the government over land and rights, a common tale for most indigenous people.

It’s one reason so many different indigenous tribes have joined the Sioux in their fight at Standing Rock. They, more than most, know what it’s like to have their rights ignored and ultimately overthrown.

There is, however, a sliver of hope in all of this unfair treatment.

Efforts made by the Mori recently resulted in a settlement with the New Zealand government wherein human rights were granted to the Te Urewera rainforest. It’s just one example of a government recognizing the importance of the land not only to the people living on it, but to the world as a whole.

It will be much tougher for the Sioux to gain ground against Energy Transfer Partners, the private company funding the pipeline. But, they’ve got an army of support that is fed up with this injustice and growing stronger by the day. In fact, a $2.5 million donation was reportedly just made by an anonymous donor to release everyone who’s been arrested at Standing Rock.

There are many ways you too can show support without heading to the front lines.

You can sign this Change.org petition to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can donate to the Sacred Stone legal defense fund, as the legal battle over DAPL is ongoing. You can also send specific, much needed supplies to the campground. Or join the Haka Standing with Standing Rock group to find out more and to enjoy the performative spirit of those uploading their own haka to show support.

The Sioux, like the Mori, and indigenous people all over the world, are fighting a war they’ve been fighting since colonization of their lands began. It’s the fight to be treated fairly rather than pushed aside as they have been for centuries.

It’s time for all of us, indigenous people or not, to stand behind them in any way we can, and shout to the powers that be with all our might this is not how you treat people, is not how you treat the land, and this is not how you treat a culture.

There are few battles that warrant impassioned war cries more.

Watch the full Mori haka here:

Mori Solidarity with Standing Rock Te Whare Wnanga o Awanuirangi #standingwithstandingrock

Posted by Tylee Hudson on Saturday, October 29, 2016

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-maori-just-took-standing-rock-solidarity-up-a-notch-with-their-viral-war-dance?c=tpstream

The sky is about to get quieter, thanks to these innovations in air travel.

If you live near an airport or have driven by one, you may have noticed something: Planes are pretty loud.

That’s gotta get old. Image via iStock.

There are 87,000 flights in the sky on any given day in the United States. That’s a lot of air travel. What does that mean for the people on the ground looking up?

For the millions of people who live in communities surrounding airports, plane noise from takeoff and landing is part of their everyday life.

It’s a constant noise that can be frustrating and take a toll on the mind and body.

According to a study in the NIH’s Environmental Health Perspectives journal, the impact of noise exposure goes beyond hearing impairment and can also negatively affect blood pressure, stress levels, and sleep.

Noise isn’t the only concern with all the air traffic. The environment feels it, too.

Similar to other transportation vehicles, airplanes release many pollutants into the air. With the industry’s growth in size comes more noise and pollution.


Air traffic worldwide. GIF via pinyponsi_cgr/YouTube.

This may seem like it only affects people living near airports, but with air travel demand expected to double in the next 20 years, the demand for flights and airports to host them is only going to increase.

For many people, traveling less isn’t an option. So innovators have come up with some more realistic solutions for the environmental and noise pollution problems.

What about a plane that’s 100% powered by solar energy?

Solar Impulse 2, changing the aviation game. Image via Steve Jurvetson/Flickr.

There’s one out there now! It’s called the Solar Impulse 2, and instead of using jet fuel, it generates electricity from the solar panels on its 236-foot wingspan. Incredible.

It’s going to be a while before any of us step foot on a plane operated in this capacity, but the fact that clean energy is part of the conversation and is working is huge.

Or, for instance, a plane engine that’s 75% quieter.

The company, Pratt & Whitney, has spent the last two decades developing a new engine for airplanes called the PurePower Geared Turbofan engine, which entered into commercial service January 2016. Their goal was to make an engine that is quieter and more sustainable for the Earth, and so far theyre delivering.

Their new engine reduces the plane’s noise footprint by 75%, which means a whopping 500,000 fewer people can hear the aircraft taking off compared to a typical plane without it.

That’s a lot of lives no longer interrupted by the sound of a plane overhead. And because of that, airports could potentially extend runway hours to allow for more service.

Technologies for better air traffic control make airplanes way more efficient.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been working on modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system through what it calls NextGen. Instead of relying on old-school radar-based tracking for air traffic control, the NextGen technology uses more satellite procedures.

According to The Dallas Morning News:

“This technology promises GPS-based tracking as well as new data sharing and communication tools that will allow for more efficient flight paths, better navigation through inclement weather and quicker taxiing times on takeoff and landing.

That increased efficiency translates to fuel and cost savings for airlines, fewer delays for passengers and less air and noise pollution.”

The coalition ASCENT is all about reducing the environmental impact of aviation.

The group, made up of 16 leading U.S. research universities and over 60 private-sector stakeholders, is figuring out how to reduce noise, improve air quality, and reduce the climate impact of aviation today.

Through research, ASCENT (the Aviation Sustainability Center) is rethinking the technology, operations, planning, and sustainability within the industry. It’s quite a big job.

There is no one single solution to overcome the noise and environmental impact of the planes in our sky.

But it is encouraging to see how much more we know now, and how companies are realizing that more sustainable and greener operations aren’t just good for the world, but good for their bottom line.

Flights are cheaper and more accessible than ever before. We should be able to fly to our destinations without harming the Earth and the people in our path.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-sky-is-about-to-get-quieter-thanks-to-these-innovations-in-air-travel?c=tpstream

This fisherman’s incredible, hidden underwater forests may change food as you know it.

When Bren Smith was 14, he dropped out of high school and went to sea.

Smith was born and raised in a small fishing village called Petty Harbour, in Newfoundland, Canada. Petty Harbour is 700 miles east of Maine, and it juts out into the Atlantic like the herald of the entire North American continent. It’s so tiny that it’s basically just a few saltbox houses painted in bright colors, helping fishermen find their way home in the fog.

Smith worked on boats for years, and he loved his job.

“That’s where I want to spend my days,” he said. Smith is now in his mid-40s. Pictures of him show a lean, bald man with varying stages of beard. He says that like a lot of fishermen, he fell in love not so much with the ocean itself, but with the feeling of working on the ocean.

“Farming the ocean is really meaningful work,” he said. “There are certain jobs, traditional jobs, like coal workers who help power the country, steel workers who helped build the country, and fishermen and farmers, who help feed the country there’s real satisfaction and meaning that comes with that.

But under the ocean’s surface, things weren’t going too well. One day, the jobs seemed to just disappear.

The Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland, are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. And at some point, they must have seemed endless. In 1968, fishermen brought home over 800,000 tons of cod from those waters, for instance. That’s more than the weight of eight full aircraft carriers.

But starting in the 1970s, the cod’s numbers started to fall. Overfishing, trawling, dragging, and government mismanagement destroyed the cod stock. And after centuries of being one of nature’s greatest wonders, in 1992, the Canadian government told Newfoundland’s cod fishermen that they couldn’t go out fishing anymore. There were essentially no cod left to catch.

As the Earth changes, jobs go away.

The ban on cod fishing snapped the economic backbone of hundreds of rural Newfoundland communities. Over 40,000 people lost their jobs. Some fishermen got government assistance or found new jobs on land, but Smith says the real shock ran much deeper than that.

There’s a famous story in Newfoundland, Smith said, about a former fisherman who got a government buyout a check to beach his boat, essentially “and then every morning he drives down to the dock at 5 in the morning, with his brand-new truck he bought with that government check, and drinks himself to death looking out over the ocean, wishing he was working at sea.”

This tragedy wasn’t about money, you see. It was never about the money. Instead, losing that job meant losing part of their culture. It meant losing a sense of meaning.

Smith had been working elsewhere, but watching his hometown’s collapse affected him. So Smith changed jobs, looking for work that was truly sustainable. Over the years, he tried a bunch of different things, but it never seemed to work out. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy put an end to his oyster farming idea, for instance.

Realizing that he needed to adapt, Smith decided to invent a new job altogether. Now, he’s what he calls a “3D ocean farmer.”

Smith owns and runs the Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut, but oysters are only part of what he does. He’s actually growing an entire forest underwater.

From the shore, Smith’s farms don’t look like much just a few buoys bobbing up and down in the surf. But running beneath those buoy are long ropes from which dangle kelp, seaweed, mussels, and scallop nests. Below, resting on the sea floor, Smith has cages full of oysters. Clams live in the mud below those cages. And holding it all together are heavy, hurricane-proof anchors studded along the edges.

The result looks a lot like an underwater garden or kelp forest.

These 3D farms might actually be one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture in the world.

Unlike many common foods, Smith’s seaweed and shellfish need no land, fresh water, or fertilizer. Kelp also grows extremely quickly.

And while seaweed is largely absent from the American diet, it’s a really common food in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Many American chefs are now testing it in their menus.

There are secondary benefits to the environment from the underwater farms as well. The kelp can trap carbon, removing it from the atmosphere and reducing the impact of global warming. Shellfish can help filter pollutants and excess nitrogen out of the water. The farms can even act like coral reefs, providing a hiding place and habitat for other creatures.

“The best fishing in the entire area is surrounding our farms,” said Smith. “We have seals, we have ducks, we have sea horses all these different species that are returning to our areas.”

Because of what he’s learned, Smith is now helping other fishermen start underwater farms too.

In addition to running his farm, Smith is in charge of GreenWave, a nonprofit that helps other farmers start their own 3D ocean farms. They have a blueprint for 3D farmers to get started as easily as possible. The GreenWave team also helps farmers evaluate locations and feasibility, get permits, and set up and expand their farms.

GreenWave is still a small operation just a handful of people working toward something they believe could change the world. But what they’re doing is actually working, and they’ve even been awarded the 2015 Buckminster Fuller Prize for ecological design. They’ve also just opened a big new project, a seaweed hatchery, to help farmers supply other farmers with seed.

Ultimately, Smith thinks we could build a whole new food system using 3D ocean farms.

He wants to break the logic that leads to big, industrial farms on land and create a whole new kind of food industry one that has sustainability and food justice at its heart.

For example, GreenWave doesn’t charge farmers extra for seed, and it encourages farmers to only use local species. A farm in California won’t grow the same kind of seaweed and shellfish as a farm in Maine, a practice that can help keep our food system safe from climate change and disease. And Smith says the minimum wage in their processing plants starts at $15 an hour.

There are still a lot of hurdles, of course. Americans still aren’t known for their love of seaweed. And it seems like GreenWave will need to build a lot of their infrastructure from scratch, too. But these obstacles do not seem insurmountable.

To me, the most encouraging part of this story is that we can revive the kind of job Smith fell in love with.

Sometimes it’s easy to think of conservation like a museum, trying to capture the world in some unchanging, static preservation, like a bug under glass.

But that’s not what Smith is interested in. For him, the question has always been as much about economics as environmentalism. The question isn’t “How do we make sure things never change?” The question is “How do we prepare for the future?”

“We need to build a new economy, we need to feed people, we need to create jobs, and we have to give people meaning if we’re going to save the planet,” Smith said. He finds that the work on his farm still has that meaningful heart that propelled him to the ocean as a teen.

As Smith put it, we have to find the space for “jobs we can still sing songs about.” And we can.

Whether that’s transitioning coal miners to solar power-plant workers, oil drillers to dam workers, or fishermen to ocean farmers, we can reinvent the old industries into the new.

We can still have jobs you fall in love with.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-fishermans-incredible-hidden-underwater-forests-may-change-food-as-you-know-it?c=tpstream

3 dire reasons why I’m so mad the debates didn’t bring up climate change.

The epic, dramatic three-part saga known as the presidential debates is finally over.

They were some of the craziest debates weve ever seen, but one glaring, ozone-sized hole stood out: climate change. None of the moderators asked about it.

Here’s the thing: Climate change factors into nearly every topic the candidates spoke about. Climate change is about our planet, about conflict, about health, about science, about jobs, about international relations so it’s wild that we didn’t hear about it at all. As science-loving dudes, we’re frustrated.

In honor of the debates ending, here are some examples of why talking about how our planet is changing really, really matters. This is the stuff that should have been discussed:

Take national security and the refugee crisis, for instance.

Our politicians may still be making up their minds about the validity of the warming of our Earth (real talk: Scientific consensus around this is real. It’s not a political issue.), but our armed services divisions are already calling climate change a “threat multiplier” and “accelerant of instability.” They’re integrating it into all their plans.

What does an “accelerant of instability” mean? Take the Syrian refugee crisis: The conflict in Syria is a massive, messy tragedy, but climate change played a role in at least part of it, according to Columbia University professor Marc Levy. Severe drought and ruined crops both potential effects of climate change exacerbated Syria’s already unstable system prior to the crisis.

The rest of the world is not immune, either. There are already climate refugees in places like Kiribati, Vanuatu, and, yes, even the United States.

OK, that was one thing, but there was another big topic on everybody’s mind:jobs and the economy. Well, guess what…

Climate change costs a lot. Superstorm Sandy cost New Yorkers $50 billion. This year alone, at least 12 over-a-billion-dollars-lost weather and climate disasters have hit the U.S. And, yes, climate change is likely contributing to these kinds of storms, wildfires, and droughts.

Other costs include funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and building climate-proof infrastructure like seawalls and flood control all of which takes considerable dough. By 2100, the U.S. could be paying nearly $2 trillion every year because of climate change.

It’s not all bad news, though: Renewable energy could also create a ton of new jobs. While the shrinking opportunities in unclean energy are rightly on some people’s minds (lookin’ at you, Ken Bone), new initiatives could help workers make the transition to renewable jobs.

Climate change could even affect our health care.

Its a good thing that Obamacare got rid of that stuff about pre-existing conditions, because climate change is now a pre-existing condition that makes health issues worse for certain people.

Warmer temperatures may mean more mosquitoes and ticks and more habitable places for the little blood-suckers. That might also mean more insect-borne diseases like malaria and Zika. Heat stroke could go up too, as well as air pollution.

So why do we need to talk about climate change? Because it affects our health. It could even make our allergies worse (noooooo).

Let’s get real: Theres a reason the entire United Nations met in Paris last year to talk about our changing planet.

195 nations came together at the 21st Conference of the Parties, and the fact that they all actually agreed on something was historic. That puts climate change directly at the center of international diplomacy.

Regardless of who is sworn into office on Jan. 20, climate change will be a huge part of the job for the next four years.

If we cant even talk about our planet, maybe the current debates arent the best way to help us live more informed lives.

We deserved a chance to hear the candidates talk about climate change, to at least hear whether Donald Trump still thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax (except when he doesn’t). And we deserved to hear about what Hillary Clinton plans to do to help us adapt as our planet changes.

We cant be discussing our kids’ futures without also discussing what kind of future were giving them. That’s why the climate change conversation matters.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/3-dire-reasons-why-im-so-mad-the-debates-didnt-bring-up-climate-change?c=tpstream

Bill Gates thinks the 1% should foot the bill for renewable energy, and he’s offering the first $2B.

Whatever you might think of him, Bill Gates is a man who knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

After all, he is the richest man in the world. And while money isn’t necessarily an indication of intelligence, he’s clearly doing something right.

(I don’t say this lightly either; I’ve been a loyal Apple user for 22 years, and even I can admit the guy’s had a few good ideas here and there.)

But when Gates says something like “We need an energy miracle,” he’s got my attention.

Gates recently sat down for a lengthy interview with The Atlantic about energy, the economy, and innovation.

Specifically, he talks about the relationships between research and development (R&D) and public versus private funding and how a historical look at the radical advancements in cancer treatment, the Internet, and more could serve as a guide for the future of the clean energy industry.

Sure, there are some people who have interpreted the article as an attempt by Gates to justify his refusal to divest from anything related to the fossil fuel industry. But at least in this case, he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

The whole interview is worth a read. It’s an eye-opening look at the intersections of energy and economics.

A lot of the issues he addresses about the current climate threat boil down to the never-ending debate between public and private sectors, between capitalism and socialism. But as Gates rightly points out, those issues are not nor have they ever been black and white.


(Gates does, of course, point out that companies like IBM and Google are the random flukes that keep the venture capital machine going.)

If you want to make a difference, join us in demanding that our world leaders take action at the upcoming Paris climate talks.

Maybe that way we won’t be have to choose between cash or the survival of the human race as our only two choices for return-on-investment. Because if “life itself” is not incentive enough to inspire innovation, what else is left to do?

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/bill-gates-thinks-the-1-should-foot-the-bill-for-renewable-energy-and-hes-offering-the-first-2b?c=tpstream

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