Environment and Ecology

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Me and the Biospheres: A Memoir by the Inventor of Biosphere 2

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Me and the Biospheres / John AllenMe and the Biospheres:
A Memoir by the Inventor of Biosphere 2

By John Allen

Anyone suffering from the Global Warming Blues will cherish this uplifting account of the most ambitious environmental experiment of our time: Biosphere 2, a miniature Earth under glass, the world’s largest laboratory for global ecology. John Allen’s memoir, Me and the Biospheres is a rich and complex narrative, filled with rollicking adventure, exceptional camaraderie and mind-bending science.

Covering three acres of Arizona desert, Biosphere 2 contained five biomes: a 900,000-gallon ocean with coral reef, a rainforest, a savannah, a desert, a farm and a micro-city, all housed within an air-tight, sealed glass and steel frame structure. Eight people lived inside for two years (1991-1993) setting world records in human life-support, monitoring their impact on the environment, while providing crucial data for future manned missions into outer space.

Almost as astonishing as the structure is the story of how it came to be. Back in 1969, Biosphere 2 was a mere seed in the luminous mind of writer, actor, philosopher, inventor, and scientist John Allen. He prepared for the manifestation of Biosphere 2 by assembling smaller projects: the creation of a ship to study ocean and river ecologies and cultures; a rainforest enrichment project; a theater group; a world-class art gallery and more. As awe-inspiring as the great cathedrals, Biosphere 2’s building and operation demanded the efforts of the most diverse team of scientists, engineers, artists and thinkers from around the world with whom John Allen worked closely for decades.


Johnny Dolphin / John Allen

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John Polk Allen, aka Johnny DolphinJohnny Dolphin is the nom de plume of John Allen
- explorer, author, poet, playwright, scientist, - in 1963 he gave up his New York international project development career to make a two year journey around the world living with the legendary avant-garde and Berber scene in Tangiers, Morocco, then continued dressed as an Arab hiking and hitch-hiking across N. Africa to the Pyramids and Karnak to study the origins of civilization. Deciding to move toward the tribal areas and explore the area of the origins of humanity, he traveled up the Nile, with tribal chiefs and shaman from the South Sudan to Lake Victoria, then journeyed on through Uganda, Kenya, to the sacred Zambezi, then returned north to stay in Swahili Mombasa before taking third class passage with refugees to the Rann of Kutch. From there he wandered through the physical and metaphysical realms of Hindu Karma yogins and Tibetan Lamas. Then he encountered America again working as a stringer to a foreign correspondent and in a hospital on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Though he had published some poetry before, he emerged as an accomplished author with the first book of his authoritative Novel of the Sixties, "Thirty-Nine Blows on a Gone Trumpet". Since then, he has chronicled a personal and social history of the essence of the places he has been through novels, poetry, short stories and plays.

John Allen, inventor and co-founder of the Biosphere 2 project - the world’s largest laboratory for global ecology. Biosphere 2 set a number of world records in closed life system work including, among others, degree of sealing tightness, 100% waste recycle and water recycle, and duration of human residence within a closed system (8 people for two years -- see www.biospherics.org ). Allen began the first manned Biosphere Test Module experiment in September, 1988, residing in the almost fully recyclable closed ecological system environment for three days and setting a world record at that time.


LEAP Trabzon 7th Working Committee Meetings have been held

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Trabzon Uzungöl

LEAP Trabzon 7th Working Committee Meetings have been held /

Under the Capacity Building in the Field of Environment Project, in the scope of third component, LEAP Trabzon Working Committee Meetings have been held on 19-20 October, 2010. 

Having facilitated by REC Turkey consultants Sema Alpan Atamer and Sinan Özden; Waste, Water and Wastewater, Air Pollution and Noise, and Zonning working committees came together and have been informed about the current situation of the LEAP studies. Also, action plans and verifiable indiators are estimated and discussed in the context of the Project. Next meetings will be held on 23-24 November 2010, in Trabzon.

For detailed information please visit LEAP Portal (www.yecep.org)


Habitat Ecology Learning Program

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Habitat Ecology Learning Program 

habitat-ecology-learning-program.jpgThe Habitat Ecology Learning Program (HELP) is an exciting interdisciplinary curriculum designed for students in the upper elementary grades. HELP encourages students to use language arts, life sciences, social studies, and math to explore the richness of ecology. This hands-on program consists of six modules: How Nature Works*, Rain Forests*, Grasslands, Wetlands, Deserts, and Temperate Forests. 

HELP is designed to be extremely flexible. It can be used as a stand-alone year-long curriculum, or incorporated into your existing program as an exciting, motivational supplement. One of the most successful approaches to integrating HELP in your school is to spread the program over grades 4–6, covering different modules each year. 

Each HELP module contains roughly 22 detailed lessons and can be taught in sequence with other modules or by itself. The lessons can be incorporated into time blocks allocated to science or other disciplines; at its core HELP is a life-science program that lends itself to interdisciplinary implementation and to team teaching. 


Biosphere 2

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Biosphere 2
is a 3.15-acre (12,700 m2)[1] structure originally built to be an artificial, materially-closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona (USA) by Space Biosphere Ventures, a joint venture whose principal officers were John P. Allen, inventor and Executive Director, and Margret Augustine, CEO. Constructed between 1987 and 1991, it was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems in a structure that included five areas based on natural biomes and an agricultural area and human living/working space to study the interactions between humans, farming and technology with the rest of nature.[2] It also explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth's. The name comes from Earth’s biosphere, Biosphere 1, Earth's life system and the only biosphere currently known. Funding for the project came primarily from the joint venture’s financial partner, Ed Bass' Decisions Investment, and cost $200 million from 1985 to 2007, including land, support research greenhouses, test module and staff facilities.



The Xstrata Treetop Walkway

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The Xstrata Treetop Walkway // London // UK // Marks Barfield Architects


Marks Barfield Architects have designed a 18-metre-high walkway through the canopies of sweet chestnut, lime and deciduous oak trees in Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London. The 400-tonne steel structure was designed to blend in without harming its sensitive environment. 

The Xstrata Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens opened on 24th May 2008, Kew Garden’s ‘Year of the Tree’, to over 9,000 visitors.  The walkway takes visitors 18m high into the tree canopies for a birds-eye view of Kew, providing insights into the special role of trees in our breathing planet and the intimate views of a deciduous woodland and its inhabitants from within the tranquillity of the leaves.

In conjunction with the Walkway, an underground ‘Rhizotron’ exhibition space is attached which explores various themes associated with tree root biology, climate change and the relationship between tree roots and microorganisms. Its appearance is inspired by a natural cracking within the earth to reveal a dark and dynamic space rich with exciting and educational content.


Man and Ecology: An Islamic Perspective

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Environmental Crisis

"When the earth is shaken with a (violent) shaking,
And the earth reveals what burdens her,
And man says: What has befallen her?
On that day she shall tell her story...." (Qur'an 99:1-4)

Environmental Crisis - Global Warming

In light of today’s environmental crises, many secular and religious  scholars have begun to look into underlying philosophical causes for man's rapacious attitude towards his environment. Part of this search involves a look at root philosophies affecting the human outlook and interaction with the world and the responsibility religion shares in creating the attitudes and philosophies that have led to the desecration of nature that has occurred in the past few centuries and which seems to be accelerating in our times. As Ziauddin Sardar writes;

“The roots of our ecological crises are axiomatic: they lie in our belief and value structures which shape our relationship with nature, with each other and the lifestyles we lead.” (Sardar, Ziauddin. Islamic Futures. New York; Mensell Publishing Limited. 1985. pg.218)


Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

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Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

Architect Marks Barfield is to design a £13 million “eco” mosque on a 0.4 hectare brownfield site in Cambridge.


England’s historic city of Cambridge, with its world-famous university and idyllic countryside, will soon count a mosque amidst its stunning skyline of spires. But this isn’t just any old mosque. In fact it is the first-purpose built mosque in the city which also happens to be environmentally-friendly!

After years of dealing with overcrowding at various small sites across the city, the growing Muslim community decided that it was time to take action. By the summer of 2008, a strip of land and an old warehouse has been purchased and plans for the new mosque were underway. However rather than simply building a mosque as quickly as possible, it was decided from the very start that the mosque would follow environmental sustainability principles.

Europe’s first Eco-Mosque

“Islamic civilization has been based on the rejection of waste as an under-estimation of God’s blessing and so in the construction of the new mosque here in Cambridge, we were very much in the forefront of the local environmental movement in that we are using the latest heat pumps, conservation technology and green roofs so that we’ll have an almost zero carbon footprint,” commented Chairman of the Trust, Tim Winter who is also known as Abdul Hakim Murad.



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Damanhur Eco-SocietyThe Damanhurians consider the planet a living being to be respected and protected. This principle translates into great attention to the environmental impact when developing all the settlements of the Federation.


Damanhur has always invested many resources in the acquisition and rehabilitation of woodland areas, previously exploited only for fire-wood, where the under-wood had been destroyed, forcing the animals out, to find a new habitat. In order to return the woods to their original state of health, the citizens of the Federation, in collaboration with experts from the University of Turin, started, years ago, an important program of tree surgery and tidying up.

Damanhur Eco-SocietyThe achievement of self-sufficiency in energy is one of the most important objectives for Damanhur.

Today, the Federation is self-sufficient in 70% of water supplies for bathrooms, thanks to solar panel installations; 35% of electricity supplies from photo-voltaic installations and small hydro-electric turbines; 90% of supplies for heating with wood, obtained from looking after the woods. In addition, 35% of Damanhurians use bio-diesel cars (there is a supply pump on the territory of the Federation) and 40% have cars that run on methane or liquid gas.

The new settlements of the Federation are growing with careful planning for the environmental and energy aspects:

for example, the so-named ‘Buche’ project, i.e. the extension of the Temples of Humankind, foresees an installation of top of it of 4,000 square metres of photo-voltaic panels, equal to a production of 500 kW.

MbM and EdilArca, two businesses started within the communities, construct, throughout the whole of Canavese area, avant-garde houses, designed to make the best use of water, energy and heating resources. The systems of the houses already in existence, on the other hand, are gradually reconverted through the installation of solar and photo-voltaic panels and systems to collect the rain water.

Damanhur Eco-SocietyThe Village Council of Vidracco, supported by the Damanhurian administration of ‘Con te, per il Paese’, is looking into the rehabilitation of an abandoned cave, to transform it into a photo-voltaic energy centre.

‘Aval’ and ‘Fattoria’, two Damanhurian nucleos have been given the ‘Green Home’ award by FEE Italy. FEE is an international foundation, with its base in Denmark that gives awards to constructions where the quality of life is based upon low environmental impact and attention to consumption; it is the same organisation that has recognised the activities of the Damanhur Education Association as an Eco-School.

Organic farming and self-sufficiency in food is a priority objective for Damanhur: presently, around 50% of food needs are covered. The Federation has pigs and cattle and fish farms; it produces vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese, oil, cereals and bakery products, wine and honey. In 1998, it opened ‘Tentaty’ in Valchiusella, the first co-operative to distribute organic products. All the food on sale is checked by the analysis laboratory in Damanhur, so as to be sure that it does not contain GMOs.


Non-Formal Education for Sustainable Development in Turkey

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Hideki Maruyama

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) began in 2005. What does this term mean? What is new about ESD, and in what respects is it broader than "Education for All" and the Millennium Development Goals? The author first reviews the framework of ESD and then describes a case study of sustainability in Turkey, relating to help with recovery from an earthquake. Hideki Marayuam is a researcher at the Department for International Research and Cooperation of the National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER) of Japan.

Non-Formal Education for Sustainable Development in Turkey

UN Statistics: Horray, we are not poor

UN Statistics: Hooray, we are not poor
Source: WELT-SICHTEN 2/3-2008, p. 54

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development started in 2005. EFA could be more important for many countries because it shows clear numerical targets, but Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is more ambiguous because "sustainable development is a term that everyone likes, but nobody is sure of what it means." (Daly, 1996) When development is generally mentioned, we tend to think of economic development and human development. Sustainability is often used as the term for how to make international cooperation activities continue when external funds stop. But ESD covers wider topics and contains the complex but integrated relationships among economic, ecological, social and political systems - more than education only - needed to keep economic develop ment sustainable or to nurture the sense of nature conservation. In addition to the new view and scope of ESD, the contents should be considered because necessary knowledge and skills are different across cultures. Islamic societies, for instance, may not "depend" on the global framework.


Habitat for Humanity Turkey

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Habitat for Humanity Logo

Habitat for Humanity Turkey 

Habitat for Humanity Turkey

Country profile
Although we work in nearly 100 countries worldwide, we do not have, at the moment, any active programme in this country.

Housing need

In Turkey, housing is a complex social issue. Thirty years ago, three quarters of the population lived in the countryside and a minority lived in major cities. Now, the situation is reverse. Most villagers who migrated to the cities looking for work could not afford decent housing so they built temporary shelters in the outskirts. These shelters soon became neighborhoods of shacks, with no piped water or electricity. Poverty and crime became main characteristics of these growing urban slums.

Into this environment of substandard housing, which ignored earthquake hazards, came the tragedies of August 1999 tremors and aftershocks. Cheaply built, illegal housing lies at the heart of that earthquake disaster. It explains why so many houses crumbled like packs of cards. Much of the housing in poorer urban areas was substandard. It was constructed from mud brick and was unable to withstand the impact of a strong tremor.


Resource-Based Economy

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The Venus Project

The term and meaning of a Resource-Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.

A resource-based economy would utilize existing resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, industrial plants, etc. to enhance the lives of the total population. In an economy based on resources rather than money, we could easily produce all of the necessities of life and provide a high standard of living for all.


Physalia, A Huge Amphibious Garden Cleaning Waters Across Europe

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Throughout the world, our rivers and our drinking water is horribly polluted by industry, by waste both chemical and human.  Vincent Callebaut Architects have envisioned a floating monument to green conscious urban living– one that not only traverses the rivers of our cities, but cleans their water in the process.  The Physalia Amphibious Floating Garden uses a bio-filtration system to clean our rivers much like a typical aquarium filter, but in this case the filter itself is the garden on its surface.  The Physalia is covered in four gardens, exterior and interior, that provide foliage and awareness to its visitors, while taking in water from the river below and filtering it before it returns.  Sure, we may never see on of these beyond the rendering stage, but we appreciate the vision of Vincent Callebaut.  [vincent callebaut architects via freshome]

physalia 6 RRojm 5638 Physalia, A Huge Amphibious Garden Cleaning Waters Across Europe

From Vincent Callebaut Architects, this impressive project is meant to navigate through the rivers in Europe in order to clean water and make it drinkable. Its name comes from “Physalia physalis”, meaning “water bubble”. It is a project whose idea came from a major global issue which is the fact that one billion people nowadays don’t have access to drinking water. The giant bubble will actually be a floating garden, completely independent in terms of energy. It is said that the prototype will even make more energy than that consumed. Solar cells and a double pneumatic membrane will form the roof of the construction and similar technologies will be used in order to reach its energy goal.  Inside there will be four amazing gardens called “Water”, “Earth”, “Fire” and “Air”.  The giant Eco gadget, once built, will be present on the waters of Seine, Thames, Volga, Danube, Escaut. We do not know when this incredible looking structure will be let lose, however we are looking forward to it. -via

physalia 9 fpt9o 5638 Physalia, A Huge Amphibious Garden Cleaning Waters Across Europe

physalia 8 4XqXm 5638 Physalia, A Huge Amphibious Garden Cleaning Waters Across Europe

physalia 5 FGovD 5638 Physalia, A Huge Amphibious Garden Cleaning Waters Across Europe


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