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Building Collapse 23
Dhaka
By Anik Rahman
15 Apr 2015

Khalil (L) and Arif (R) in disbelief after the death of Saiful, a young boy in their family.

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Building Collapse 24
Dhaka
By Anik Rahman
15 Apr 2015

A rescued goat stands on some bricks after being salvaged from the wreckage of the collapsed housing project.

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Building Collapse 25
Dhaka
By Anik Rahman
15 Apr 2015

Firefighters try to rescue the missing people from the collapsed, two story house inHajipara Jheel, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The collapse of the house, which was built on swampy ground killed 12 people and more than 100 people are still missing.

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Egyptian Villages Suffer From Water P...
Cairo
By Mohamed AbouElenen
03 Apr 2015

The Egyptian village of Qalioub al-Balad has suffered from severe water pollution over the past three years. The water in the village has a putrid smell and is contaminated with impurities. To help tackle this issue, a resident of the village installed a private water treatment station, which he called 'The Popular Filter'.
This project is facing a crackdown from the local authorities, which have given monopoly on exploiting water resources to a private corporation.
Qalioub al-Balad is located in Qalioubiya, one of the three provinces of the Greater Cairo region.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Various of Qalioub al-Balad residents buying water from mobile water tank

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ahmed Nasser, Qalioub al-Balad Resident
01:40 – 02:16

“The water that comes from the tap is yellow. It used to be clean and filtered but now sometimes it comes out yellow. If you fill a glass with tap water you will see how unclean it is. We buy water, even though it is expensive, but it is better than tap water which causes kidney failure.”

Various of water distribution in the town

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mohamad Sabri, water distributor
02:35

“Before work, we clean the water hose then fill it and distribute water. We go out on a tricycle to distribute water. Each area has a specific day.” “Sometimes the Ministry of Supply inspectors come across me. I was fined before, and the only reason was that I was distributing water. The inspector took my name and started a problem. There is lawsuit still being pursued at court.” “The problem with the water is not only how it looks; some people say to me ‘I swear that I am disgusted to use the water for prayer. If it is used for cooking, the food will have a very bad smell. This is causing problems at homes.” Close-up of man filling glass with tap water
Various of Mohamad Sabri selling filtered water in the street
Various/ Close-up of plastic containers being filled with filtered water
Medium of Hasan Shaarawi, a Qalioub al-Balad resident, filling glass with tap water

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Hasan Shaarawi, a resident of Qalioub al-Balad
04:46 – 04:50

“Half of the water is black and the lower half has impurities.”

Medium of Hasan Shaarawi comparing tap water and filtered water

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Hasan Shaarawi, a resident of Qalioub al-Balad
04:58 – 05:56

“The water that the municipality is providing for us cannot be used. It is black and has a lot of a high amount of impurities. A while ago, I met someone from a company that sells water filters. They install filters and maintain them for a year. He tested the filtered water that I buy as well as the tap water. He said that the water that the municipality provides cannot be used for animals, let alone humans.” “I buy drinking water for 20 pounds a week, which we use for drinking and cooking. We use the water provided by the municipality for cleaning. The [price of tap water] went up. It is provided by private holding company. A household uses about 70 pounds worth of tap water every two months, but we do not drink it.”

Various of man distributing water

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Amal Mohammad, Resident of Qalioub al-Balad
06:02 – 06:11
“We were suffering from microbes, urinary infections and [kidney] aches because we used to drink tap water. We were told that this was because of the water. This is why we buy water. We do not drink tap water.”

Various of people buying filtered water

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Safaa Hussein, Resident of Qalioub al-Balad
06:12 – 06:27

“The problem with water is that is not clean. Some people have had diseases and kidney stones in the bile because of the water pollution. Doctors have said that the water is not clean.”

Various of Mohamad Sabri setting up tricycle motorbike and going into water treatment station

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ahmad Shubrawi, the founder the Popular Filter
06:38 – 07:09

"This tank contains regular water. This [filter] is made of pebbles, and this one from carbon. The sand and pebbles removes impurities and carbon is needed to treat the salts in the water – this is for the excess salts in the water. These two filters provide additional cleaning. Water is then exposed to something called ultraviolet’ or ‘UV’, which is the last phase that water goes through to be treated from bacteria."

Various of water treatment plant

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ahmad Shubrawi, the founder the Popular Filter
07:16 – 10:09

“Many people have complained how the water smells and tastes, until we started this project, with the help of God. We asked how to filter water. Some people cannot afford to buy small filters to use them at home, which is why we started this water treatment station. The problem is that the government refused to give us a license. How will I be able to get a license? Can I say to the government: ‘Your water is not clean, therefore I will clean it and sell it?’” “We brought an engineer who is specialised in building water treatment facilities. We first analysed the water to know what is needed to purify it. We analysed the water provided by the government at a laboratory called Burj al-Arab to figure out the equipment or substances that we need – whether the water has excess iron or bacteria; any substances that are present in excessive amounts. Based on that, we started this treatment and we have working for three years.” “This project is a substitute for government [services]. We are relieving the government. If we shut down, people will not stay quiet. People have found an alternative. When we asked for a license the government refused to grant it to us. From time to time, the Ministry of Supply inspectors fine us because we do not have any license. You know that we do not have a license. They just file random report against us for not having a license. You should give us a permit.” “The water that we sell is more affordable to people than buying a filter. Filters that perform seven-step purification have a short life and their maintenance is costly. A filter costs about 1,500 to 1,600 pounds if it has a good quality. If you buy water from me…in the summer, a family of four to five members would use about three jerry cans a week. Each jerry costs four pounds, so this is a total of 12 pounds. Four pounds include home delivery, but if a customer picks it up from here, it could cost 2.5 pounds. Not all customers come here because it would cost them the same as the price that includes the delivery charge. A family of four to five members would buy water for 12 pounds a week – multiplied by four, that would be 48 pounds, let us say 50 pounds per month and 600 pounds per year. A home filter costs 1,500 pounds and would last for two years even if it was maintained. The motor could be burned and the pipes could be clogged. This is why people prefer to buy [filtered] water.”

Various of water treatment facility
Various of The Qalioubiya water company headquarters
Various of Mustafa Mujahid, Head of the Qalioubia water company

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mustafa Mujahid, Head of the Qaliyoubia water company
11:09 – 13:33

“[Private] water treatment companies are spreading information among people that the water provided by the Qalioubiya Potable Water and Sewage Company is not good. The water that they are using could be our own purified water. They are making a profit from this. They are pushing people to be suspicious of the water quality. I can confirm before you and to all citizens in Qalioubiya that the water we produce does not suffer from the slightest problem. The problem we are facing is the lack of water, which is affecting citizens. The building of water stations is still ongoing in order to cover the large population’s needs. The recent transgressions have also had a negative role.
Conditions specify that in order to obtain a license for a private station, the authorities that provide related services need to be consulted. The authorities in this case are the water company. Some people have started to cooperate with us and followed the law. On the other hand, we shut many businesses down and some people work illegally and do not consult with us at all.
As I told you at the beginning, these stations are only installed in deprived areas, where water is not potable. People have installed manual water pumps, which extract water from our own network. If you analyse the water that is being extracted by these pumps you will find that it is pure and conforms to standards. People extract water illicitly from the grid in order to avoid paying fees. Water is being stolen on a large scale.”

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Les eaux cachées [FR SCREENER]
Fez, Morocco
By Joe Lukawski
11 Feb 2015

FR SCREENER

Hidden Waters tells the story of water in Fez, Morocco, the cultural practices surrounding it, and those who aim to save it for future generations. In the medieval medina of Fez, water was once the motor of medieval commerce and industry as well as a source of well-being and luxury for its peoples. Today, as the old hydraulic system falls into disrepair and the river running through Fez is threatened by pollution; inhabitants of the medina depend on modern water sources that become more expensive as each well dries up and each old water channel breaks down. Can Fez’s famous waters be saved?

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Central Asia's Dissappearing Aral Sea
Muynak
By TTM Contributor 100
28 Nov 2014

Photos by Alexey Volosevich.

Moynaq used to be the biggest port on the Aral Sea, now the site of one of the biggest ecological disasters of the last half-century. Our contributor looks into the state of the sea, and the affect the sea's disappearance is having on a local population that once hosted a thriving fishing industry.

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Toxic Waste Trade 16
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
26 Nov 2014

A statue, the Monte Carlo of Leipzig as people call it, looks over New Lakeland. Right next to it, the central dump Cröbern, is one of Europe's biggest toxic waste dumps.

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Toxic Waste Trade 01
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

The BMG/SVG Naundorf "waste treatment plant" received over 40,000 tons of dangerous waste from the central Cröbern dump. There is to this day no trace the toxic waste said to have been re-routed there.

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Toxic Waste Trade 02
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A member of local citizens' initiative who has filed a criminal complaint against S.D.R. Biotec has been fighting to expose and punish of the waste trade in the region for years. A farmer since 1991, in the former GDR he worked as an electronic engineer. He now keeps up the farm belonging to his parents.

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Toxic Waste Trade 03
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

An archive photo belonging to a former worker at S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch shows how highly poisonous rubbish was simply mixed with sludge and other substances and relabeled.

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Toxic Waste Trade 04
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A sign in Pohritzsch reads, "We welcome you to Saxony.“

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Toxic Waste Trade 06
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A 55 year-old former worker at S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch worked there from 2002 to 2012. He now suffers from Polyneuropathy, because he had been exposed for years to heavy metals (i.a. lead and mercury). He remembers relabeling the waste and loading it up on the trucks which brought it to the dumps.

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Toxic Waste Trade 07
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

The BMG/SVG Naundorf "waste treatment plant" received over 40,000 tons of dangerous waste from the central Cröbern dump. There is to this day no trace the toxic waste said to have been re-routed there.

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Toxic Waste Trade 08
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A member of local citizens' initiative who has filed a criminal complaint against S.D.R. Biotec has been fighting to expose and punish of the waste trade in the region for years. A farmer since 1991, in the former GDR he worked as an electronic engineer. He now keeps up the farm belonging to his parents.

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Toxic Waste Trade 09
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

Sheep graze next to S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch. The waste treatment plant lies right next to cultivated fields, orchards and seemingly idyllic private houses.

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Toxic Waste Trade 10
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

The S.D.R. Biotec waste treatment plant in Pohritzsch is closed now. A local citizens' initiative filed a criminal complaint that led to charges of particularly serious environmental crimes. Until now, no verdict has been issued.

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Toxic Waste Trade 11
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

Orchards cover the land near S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch. The waste treatment plant lies right next to cultivated fields, orchards and seemingly idyllic private houses.

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Toxic Waste Trade 12
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

Delitzsch is a small town along the railroad line near Pohritzsch.

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Toxic Waste Trade 13
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A 67 year-old inhabitant of Pohritzsch has been working for many years in Munich since he fled the GDR. After the fall of the Wall, he came back to East Germany and built a house in Pohritzsch. He is paraplegic.

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Toxic Waste Trade 14
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

An archive photo belonging to a former worker at S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch shows how highly poisonous rubbish was simply mixed with sludge and other substances and relabeled.

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Toxic Waste Trade 15
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

An 68 year-old inhabitant of Pohritzsch has always been against the plant since she came to the area in 1995. She remembers how the trucks passing through came from everywhere: from France, Italy, Switzerland, Belarus. Her cats died, and she remembers that many dogs in Pohritzsch and the small town Brehna died as well. Samples from the soil in the area contained many heavy metals - including uranium.

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Toxic Waste Trade 17
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

A watchdog stands guard at S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch.

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Toxic Waste Trade 18
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

An archive photo belonging to a former worker at S.D.R. Biotec in Pohritzsch shows how highly poisonous rubbish was simply mixed with sludge and other substances and relabeled.

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Toxic Waste Trade 20
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

An inhabitant of Brehna, a small town next to Pohritzsch, has lived in the area since 1960. In the former GDR he worked in power stations like Jänschwalde, Vetschau and Lübbenau. He remembers the abominable smell in Brehna when S.D.R. Biotec operated. But he says in the former GDR, the smell from the chemical factories in Bitterfeld was much worse.

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Toxic Waste Trade 21
Friedewald, Germany
By Isabell Zipfel
25 Nov 2014

The BMG/SVG Naundorf "waste treatment plant" received over 40,000 tons of dangerous waste from the central Cröbern dump. There is to this day no trace the toxic waste said to have been re-routed there.

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Climate change bangladesh 02
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
30 Oct 2014

Waste chemicals and oil from factories are disposed of in the canals, polluting the river and the soil. Industrial processes are not only a factor in climate change, but also produce toxic waste that threatens Dhaka's natural resources.

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Climate change bangladesh 03
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
30 Oct 2014

A boy poses before a patch of cracked dry earth. Bangladesh has been particularly affected by climate change, where unpredictable heat waves and rainy seasons make life difficult for its people.

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Besieged Syrians Extract Fuel from Pl...
Eastern Ghouta
By Jawad Arbini
14 Aug 2014

Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria

Syrians in the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta have found an innovative way to turn plastic waste into petrol in light of a fuel shortage in the deprived neighborhood. While this fascinating process produces a desperately needed resource, it is also a very dirty and polluting. Toxic smoke from burning plastic engulfs the little courtyard where the fuel is produced and is leading to respiratory problem amongst the men in charge of the project.

The price of one liter of gasoline in the besieged eastern Ghouta, in rural Damascus, varies between 2500-4000 Syrian Pounds.
The price of one liter of diesel is 2000 Syrian Pounds, which led the civilians to extract fuel from plastic, which caused the price of the liter to decrease to half the price.
The extracting method consists of putting the plastic in sealed barrels through which a water pipe to passes through for cooling purposes. Then a fire is lit underneath the barrels which allows the Methane to be released first, then gasoline, and finally diesel.
There are many types of extracted fuel and the determining factor for the type of fuel released is the type of plastic used.

SHOT LIST:
Various shots show the fuel extracting method.
Shots of the fire lit underneath the barrels, the cooling pipe, and the different types of plastic.
Obtaining diesel and fuel, which are similar in color, in addition to gas, which is not useful at the current time.
General shots of the stands where fuel is sold.

TRANSCRIPT:

Speakers: Abu Hassan, a plant owner
Nabil, owns a shop for selling fuel Abu Yasser, owns a shop for selling fuel

"Here we have the filtration process, we are turning fuel into diesel, and we are turing plastic into gasoline, diesel and oil. We are extracting gas for domestic use. The whole process is about boiling and filtering, from hot to cold. It is a basic procedure."

"One kilogram of plastic can produce 800 grams of liquid, gasoline and diesel."

"Gasoline reached the price of 4000-4200 Syrian Pounds ($20-$21), and the amounts available were minimal. However, we found a substitute by heating plastic and extracting methane, gasoline, and diesel."

"The price of diesel was 3200-3500 Syrian Pounds ($16-$18.50) per liter, which is considered very expensiv. So people were no longer able to purchase it, but after we started operating on plastic and started extracting diesel from it, the price decreased to 1200-1500 SP and it became more available."

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Poisoning water
Mae Toen
By Ana Salvá
14 Aug 2014

Mae Toen is a small rural village located in the province of Lampang, 500 kilometres away from Bangkok. The village is close to a fluoride mine, and despite its closure 40 years ago, the nearby artificial lake where the water overflows during the rainy season has become polluted.

Having no other water supply, people of Mae Toen turned to the polluted lake for their needs. Three generations later, the village is still very sick and the symptoms can be seen – children may experience brain damage, deaf-mutism or slow brain development, while some of the older women have an enlarged thyroid gland on their necks, as did their parents before them.

"The problem we have is that in Mae Toen, the groundwater is used for eating and cooking, and this is contaminated with excessive amounts of fluoride," says Dr. Chatpat Kongpun, who works at the Ministry of Public Health Thailand. "Some of the younger generation still suffer health problems, but their problems are not as severe as those of the older people," he says.

Da, 64, works as a housekeeper in Mae Toen. She grew up with the habit of drinking from the lake, and when she was 34, she developed thyroid problems that have stayed with her all her life. Despite the awfully uncomfortable looking swelling in her throat, a condition called goiter, she still manages to work and spend time with her family.

"I have thyroid problems since some time ago, and I have become accustomed to it,” she says. I can work at home and it doesn’t hurt. I can go everywhere around the village.”

When her lump appeared, Da didn’t give it too much thought. She didn’t bother to go to the doctor because she already knew what was going on. When she was younger, she had seen a similar swelling on her mother's neck and the necks of other older villagers who had also drunk from the lake.

"My mother had the same lump as mine but smaller," Da says. "For the last 20 years the lump hasn’t grown. The doctor told me that they can remove it, but I won’t. I am weak and I could bleed to death."

In Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, the shortage of drinking water is a serious problem because it usually rains only in the monsoon season between May and October, making it not sufficient to supply people’s needs.

In 2003, the Rotary Club of D'Entracasteaux of Tasmania, Australia, mobilised to help solve the problems caused by fluoride in Mae Toen, introducing a water tank supply which provided the villagers with receptacles to store the rainwater.

Officially, nobody drinks from the lake anymore, but the supply may not be enough to get people through the dry season. “About 50 percent of pregnant women [still] suffered from iodine deficiency when I worked in the village last year”, said Pornithida Padthong, who was head of communications at UNICEF Thailand until 2013 and worked in Mae Toen, suggesting that people in the village may still risk drinking contaminated water today.

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Mae toen 03
Mae Toen, Thailand
By Ana Salvá
13 Aug 2014

Mae Toen is close to a fluoride mine that has contaminated the water of the village. Despite the mine's closure 40 years ago, the area has become a polluted artificial lake, where water overflows during the rainy season. "The problem we have is that in Mae Toen, the groundwater is used for eating and cooking, and this is contaminated by with fluoride," says Dr. Chatpat Kongpun, who works at the Ministry of Public Health Thailand.

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Lebanese Fisherman Battle Pollution a...
Sidon, Beirut, Lebanon
By David Shaw
30 Jun 2014

July, 2014
Lebanon

Lebanon's coastline has been a vital part of sustaining lives for thousands of years. However, in recent years, it has become unproductive as a means of subsistence due to privatization and pollution. Local fishermen of many different religions and backgrounds still attempt to scrape a living despite the depleted fish sources and pressure to move away by big business and government.

The Daliyeh, one of the last public spaces left in Beirut, contains the Daliyeh Marina, a small but fully working fishing port which provides a work base for an estimated 60-70 fisherman. The marina is under serious threat of permanent destruction due a hotel project that is due to be built on the Daliyeh rock. The project is funded by the Hariri family, one of the most economically and politically powerful families in Lebanon. The hotel would result in a significant loss to the fishermen and their families who have been working in this area their whole lives. The proposed project would also destroy one of the last places that the local Lebanese can use as a beach for leisure.

The loss of the marina isn't the only pressing issue that is affecting the livelihoods of these men and the families they support. Most of Lebanon's solid waste is deposited in landfills which border the coast, slowly leaking pollution into the ocean. Many fishermen admit that they sometimes purposely salvage large pieces of metal to sell as scrap. The sewers also deposit straight into the Mediterranean, usually completely untreated and containing industrial waste from factories.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems is overfishing. The use of illegal nets, which are used even during the spawning seasons, are having a devastating effect on the fish population, threatening to put many fisherman out of work. Each fishing community seems to have a different viewpoint on managing overfishing in Lebanon; any rules in place are not strictly enforced. Illegal fishing is a product of desperation due to the hardship these fishermen are facing as they continue to work in what appears to be a doomed profession. They often earn as little as $30 US Dollars a day which means that what they catch is often what they and their families eat. Many of the fishermen have no training or skills in any other potential occupation, so they will press on despite the many problems they face. “Fishing is all I know”, Says Hamzi Khalil, 63, “We fish, we eat. We don’t fish – we don’t eat.”

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Bangladesh 'at Risk' due to Climate C...
Dhaka
By zakir hossain chowdhury
28 Jun 2014

Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate, and many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. Climate change is now one of the greatest threats facing the planet.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries, as the lives and livelihoods of millions of Bangladeshis are challenged due to climate change. A study by UK researcher Maplecroft cites Bangladesh at the top of a list of 32 nations at risk due to the alarming effects of climate change.

Low lying coastal areas are speculated to be submerged as the sea level rises, and as world temperature continues to go up. Two recent cyclones, Sidr (2007) and Aila (2009) totally devastated the coastal territories of Satkhira and Barguna along with many others in Bangladesh.

Hundreds if not thousands of people have lost their land and their homes to erosion along riverbanks and coastal areas. Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world with the highest proportion of the population living in coastal areas. Some 32% of the habitable land lies in coastal areas, equivalent to 47,211 square kilometers. According to the population census in 2001, about 35 million people, or 28% of the total population, live in these low-lying coastal areas.

Another cause for alarm that exacerbates the effects of climate change on the population in Bangladesh is pollution. By throwing waste chemicals and oil from factories into canals and rivers, soil and groundwater become polluted. Industrial processes are not only a factor in climate change, but also produce toxic waste that threatens Dhaka's natural resources.

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North Korea in Color 012
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Jun 2014

A female worker in the metro in Hamhung's fertiliser factory, one of the two fertiliser factories in North Korea.

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North Korea in Color 013
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Jun 2014

Hamhung Fertilizer Factory including propaganda posters. Pyongyang, North Korea.

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North Korea in Color 012
By Ulrik Pedersen
08 Jun 2014

A female worker in the metro in Hamhung's fertiliser factory, one of the two fertiliser factories in North Korea.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villages
Brandenburg
By Isabell Zipfel
03 Jun 2014

Despite Germany’s reputation as an environmentally conscious nation, the country has been quietly ramping up its production of brown coal in recent years. As mining companies buy up land and dig vast open-pit mines, natural areas are being desecrated and inhabitants of nearby villages are being forced from their homes. Now, residents in nine villages in the eastern state of Brandenburg fear for the future of their homes, as the very land their houses are built on is being bought-up by Swedish mining company Vattenfall.

Brown coal is considered by many to be the black gold of the 21st century. After oil, coal is the world’s most important energy source, which makes mining it a highly lucrative business. Germany is the biggest brown coal producer in world, far ahead of China and the United States. In 2013, they produced over 162 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from brown coal. Currently, Germany’s coal production is at a 25-year high and shows no sign of slowing down. Some coal industry experts are even calling the recent surge in production a “brown coal renaissance”.

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Startup Turns Fishing Nets Into Skate...
Santiago, Chile
By Zachary F. Volkert
23 May 2014

TOPLINE: Ben Kneppers is giving waste wheels with the Bureo Skateboards project – recycling used fishing nets from along the Chilean coast and turning them into skateboards and, in the future, a slew of other products.

When Ben Kneppers arrived to Chile in 2012 two things struck him: the country’s rapid economic development was making it a goldmine for entrepreneurs, and that its 2,000-mile coastline was being marred by pollution.

Discarded fishing nets drifting in the ocean ensnare animals all of over the world – which is no exception in the nation’s robust fishing industry.

“In my visits to coastal communities early on I was really struck by how little there was to manage [fishing net pollution],” Kneppers said. “But we thought, ‘What if there was a system to prevent the pollution, but also upcycle it into funds, so that we would be able to get back to these communities [to collect more nets].”

Shortly after, Knepper’s company Bureo – taken from the native Mapuche population’s word for wave – received a $40,000 grant from local incubator program Start-Up Chile.

When Kneppers first started the project with his two partners – David Strover and Kevin Ahearn – the three were looked on a bit suspiciously by the fisherman, who dubbed them “Los Tres Gringos Locos” – the three crazy white guys.

“When we first came there I honestly don’t think the fisherman believed or understood, in our poor Spanish, exactly what we were doing,” Knepper said. “They were like, ‘Why are they scrubbing our trash, what is this?’”

“Scrubbing their trash” meant stripping down the used nets with brushes before sending them to being “shredded, pelletized and injected”, says Knepper, until they become plastic material that the skateboards are made out of.

After showing the fisherman video of the process as well as the final product, the community became much more receptive to the idea – bins to collect the nets are always full now and the recycled nets travel back to Santiago on the same trucks the fishermen use.

“We’re turning off the faucet, rather than wiping up the mess of water around the room,” he said. “It’s much more efficient and effective way to approach – this we work directly with the fishing communities, where they’re using the nets … and collecting them right at the source.”

Since launching in Coquímbo in January earlier this year, the company has used more than 2 tons of recycled fishing nets to make their own line of environmentally friendly skateboards. Next week they land in Chilean port city Concepción, where the industry is larger than their current total operation.

“Seventy large scale artisanal boats and several commercial fishing companies,” Kneppers said. “We estimate they are turning well-over 500 tons of nets a year.”

After an endorsement from American musician Jack Johnson as well as support from companies like Patagonia and program assistants the World Wildlife Federation, the company recently brought in $65,000 in a Kickstarter campaign – three times their original goal. It’s the kind of funding that the group hopes to use to expand beyond their initial gimmick – the create products from the material that millions of people use daily.

After making appearances on local TV stations, Knepper jokes that he had received 100s of Facebook requests from young Chileans interested in the project. While at a local skate park a boy rolls over to chat with him about the project – word is spreading about the gringos who recycle the nets into skateboards.

“Just as a wave starts with this small change on the surface of the ocean , we’re starting with a small change in an ocean of plastic,” Knepper said. “Yes, we’re 3 gringos on the ground making this little impact now, but if we can make that build up with time and energy we could making more and more products – that’s what we really believe in.”

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Tin Fever in Indonesia 33
By Steven Wassenaar
17 Mar 2014

Fondy (51 years) is a contracter working for PT Timah, his mine produces 60 tons of tin a month. He hopes to be able to produce 80-100 tons next year. The Pemali mine, the biggest legal mine in Bangka that has completely devastated the once green landscape. Operated by PT-Timah, it produces 60 tons of tin per month. Bangka Island (Indonesia) is devastated by illegal tin mines. The demand for tin has increased due to its use in smart phones and tablets.

Fondy (51 ans) est un sous-traitant, travaillant pour PT Timah, sa mine produit 60 tonnes d'étain par mois, il espère atteindre 80-100 tonnes l'année prochaine. Mine de Pemali, plus grande mine légale de Bangka. Exploité par PT-Timah. Elle produit 60 tonnes d'étain par mois. L'île de Bangka (Indonésie) est dévastée par des mines d'étain. La demande de l'étain a explosé à cause de son utilisation dans les smartphones et tablettes.