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Future

The Mirage Of Egypt’s New Capital City

In an area the size of Singapore, Egypt is building its new capital. Constructed under the close control of the military and the head of state, the city embodies the grand ambitions of an increasingly autocratic president. But will it turn out to be a ghost city?

CAIRO — The concrete structure rises to a height of 1,263 feet (385 meters) on the edge of an expressway, where asphalt, as soon as it is laid down, lets out acrid fumes. With its double collar that licks the sky, the Iconic Tower is already the tallest building in Africa. It is also the flagship of this vast assembly of open-air construction sites over 450 square miles, an area the size of Singapore, which will be the location of the new Egyptian capital.

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School Uniforms, The Plainest Solution To The World's Biggest Problems

For decades, countries like Germany have resisted implementing school uniforms. But dress codes in schools are not just for the elite. They can help reduce social stigma for students living in poverty, as well as helping fight the climate crisis.

BERLIN — Few consumer goods contribute as much to climate change as clothing does. And fewer groups are more vocal about protecting the climate as school children. Yet they could make a major contribution to climate protection in a very simple way.

German politics values consensus, so it is hard to imagine a political debate that doesn't mention equality in some way. Parties and governments want to make social differences in everyday life as invisible as possible – and to encourage citizens to be sensitive. Perhaps this is why the desire to avoid any form of discrimination is now considered good manners by more and more adults.

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Norwegian Salmon v. Danish Trout: Lessons On Ecology And Economics

The Danish government has banned further growth in sea-based fish farming, claiming the country had reached the limit without endangering the environment. A marine biologist says it is a misguided policy for both economic and ecological reasons.

-Analysis-

“They’ve got the oil in the North Sea, but don’t let Norway get all the pink gold too…”

That was a headline of a recent OpEd in Danish daily Politiken, arguing that misguided environmental concerns are giving neighboring Norway a monopoly on the lucrative salmon industry.

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Sustainable Hunting? How To Fix Environmental Targets For Hunters

Facing biodiversity loss, hunting can be seen as not only cruel but also damaging to natural ecosystems. Yet hunters argue that their activity is a natural way to “replace” animal predators and a tradition that should be preserved. Can there be a happy hunting medium?

Gazing through binoculars, hunters and environmental activists might appear to be natural enemies.

Particularly as the world is facing challenges that include biodiversity loss and species extinction, hunting can be viewed in ecological terms as not only unnecessary but also cruel, barbaric and damaging to natural ecosystems. In March, for example, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg banned a traditional French bird-hunting practice that consisted of using “glue traps.”

Still, hunters argue that their activity is a natural way to “replace” animal predators by culling herds of prey species and re-establishing a balance in the ecosystem. Hunting is also seen by some as a tradition that should be preserved, having been embedded in natural human culture for thousands of years.

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food / travel
Guillaume Bregeras

Superstar French Chefs-Cum-Farmers Turn Haute Cuisine Green

Driven by the desire to offer an experience rooted in their terroir, more and more star chefs are turning into farmers. They have the same goal: to keep up with the times by offering local and sustainable produce.

PARIS – Bee balm, savory, marjoram ... All around the terrace overlooking the valley, dozens and dozens of aromatic herbs and vegetables grow despite the first frosts of autumn. Before entering the harshness of winter, Emmanuel Renaut rubs sweet woodruff between his hands and invites others to do the same. "Can you feel the power of this fragrance? I use it in both my sweet and savory dishes." The sweet woodruff mix is one of the many that Renaut incorporates daily into the kitchen of Flocon de Sel, his three-star Michelin restaurant perched at 1,300 meters, just above the village of Megève, in the French Alps.

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Green
Silvia Naishtat

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

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Ideas
Tarik Oualalou

Facing Climate Emergency, Africa Must Reinvent Its Cities

Due to climate change and pollution, entire neighborhoods and cities on the continent are destined to vanish. A new vision of African urbanism is needed to replace the illusion of the "city without limits."

-Analysis-

Sebha is bound to disappear. The capital of Libya's hydrocarbon-rich Fezzan region has become the largest city in the Sahara. For years, it has seen the convergence of public and private capital, and a steady flow of migrants. Subjected to major demographic pressure, the city of the sands is now doomed. Sooner or later, the lack of water will empty it of its inhabitants — and return its territory to nature.

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Green Or Gone
Anna Geroeva

Microplastics In Lake Baikal, World’s Largest Freshwater Lake At Risk

Fishing nets, industry and other human-caused dumping are poisoning Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest, deepest (and oldest) lake. Bigger than all the North American Great Lakes combined, it's at risk after 25 million years of life.

MOSCOW — The vast and ancient Lake Baikal in Russia has a rich history, providing a home for thousands of plants and animal species and sustaining the nearby Buryat tribes going back millennia. It's the world's deepest and oldest lake, and has survived for some 25-30 million years. But its depths bury a dark secret: a growing layer of microplastic pollution that threatens the health of Lake Baikal.

A new study looking at microplastics was conducted in the southeastern coast of the lake and the Small Sea in Southern Siberia. These places are not the most populated on the Baikal shore; no more than several hundred people live there permanently. But the water sampling areas were chosen not by chance: all of them are touristic areas, so they are considered to have a significant human impact.

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Future
Stefano Lupieri

Seeing Green: How Algae Can Change Our Diets, Health And the Climate

Algae could bring solutions to major challenges such as carbon sequestration and world hunger, provided we succeed in building an industrial sector.

The installation is a little artisanal, but the spectacle is no less fascinating. Specimens of Palmaria palmata twirl around in large columns of water, fed by a forest of flexible pipes, and unfold their amaranth-red tentacles following the bubbles that agitate the environment.

Arranged in a dark room, these vertical aquariums are surrounded by LED ribbons that focus the light on the wall of the tubes and attract the eye. The transparency and colorful shades of this algae, better known by the name dulse, are intensified. It might look like an art exhibit, but it's actually the Roscoff Biological Station, one of the most advanced research centers on algae in Europe, with around 100 scientists dedicated to studying the aquatic organism.

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Germany
Klaus Geiger

Nuclear Power And The Willful Ignorance Of Germany's Greens

For all its cosmopolitan pretense, the Green Party is strikingly provincial when it comes to addressing the global threat of climate change, Die Welt foreign-desk editor Klaus Gieger writes.

-OpEd-

For all the wrong turns it has taken in the 21st century, Germany remains adamant that it's rest of the world that's mistaken. Such is the case when it comes to immigration, defense and environmental policy — especially around the role of nuclear energy within environmentalism. Germany's view is that nuclear power should have no role at all, but it is the only major industrialized country that thinks so.

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Sources
Benoît Georges

3D-Printed Houses: Ultimate Backyard Construction Gets Real

Announced several years ago, 3D-printing in the building industry is becoming a reality with the first houses already going on sale in the United States. Start-ups and manufacturers predict this could be a revolution for the construction industry.

"For sale: a new ranch-style, 130 square meter house located in Long Island, New York. Three bedrooms, living room, open kitchen, two bathrooms, garage. Starting price: $300,000. Special feature: it will be the first 3D-printed house sold in the United States." Since the ad appeared in February, Kirk Andersen's phone has been ringing off the hook: SQ4D, the start-up he runs, has developed the 3D-printing technology that will get this house off the ground in a few weeks... if the construction goes as planned.

3D-printer XXL version

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food / travel
Antonio Orti

Regenerative Travel: Will The Pandemic End Mass Tourism?

A global pandemic and weariness in many places of cheap, mass tourism may hasten a real paradigm shift in the travel sector. Or not.

BARCELONA — While some airlines, as bizarre as it may seem, continue to offer "flights to nowhere" — on planes that take off and land in the same airport, just to assuage the need for certain tourists to fly — others in the tourism sector are embracing a concept that goes in the complete opposite direction.

The trend is called "regenerative travel," and its aim, says Silvia Grünig, a city planning specialist at Paris University and lecturer in sustainability at Catalonia's Open University, is not only that visitors take care not to degrade, in any way, the places they visit, but that they actually improve conditions there. They should make things better, in other words, and not just for the sector, but for locals, the environment and travel in the future.

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CLARIN
Héctor Huergo

The Pure Folly Of 'Food Nationalism' In Argentina

Argentine food production is doing fine and needs no 'progressive' state intervention to assure supplies.

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine President Alberto Fernández, defending his recent decision to confiscate the soy firm Vicentín, repeatedly cited "food sovereignty." It's a term self-styled progressives coined some years back that, as of yet, has no clear definition. Now might be the time to try to find one.

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THE NEW NOW
Inès Leonarduzzi

Preserving Nature Is The Only Path To Preserving You And Me

Viruses spread, mutate and then become deadly because humans destroy the areas where wild animals live. We must learn from this, once the coronavirus pandemic is contained.

PARIS — Confined to our homes, we are discovering the limits of humanity. The planet is "closed" until further notice. Of course, a vaccine will be invented and deployed, but the virus will come back, year after year, more resistant and with new mutations. Pandemics are not new. They have been around since we started altering natural habitats. The fact is we lack the knowledge to understand what is happening to us, and to avoid future crises. Stopping pandemics requires the effort of all, and the right information.

The frequency of pandemics has accelerated in recent years. We have seen Ebola, Zika, SARS, avian flu, Marburg and Nipah. The trend will continue, exponentially. It is a systemic process driven by our lifestyles. We now know the causal links between the source of Ebola and massive deforestation. The virus appeared in bats from ravaged forest areas in West and Central Africa. Wild animals had nothing to do with it. It is the totality of our way of interacting with the environment that needs to be updated, as everything seems to leads us back to question of ecology.

We lack the knowledge to understand what is happening to us.

SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as coronavirus, is the result of a naturally occurring phenomenon: the mutation into human pathogens of harmless animal microorganisms (commonly known as microbes) found in wild animals . Living beings, including us, are made of a multitude of harmless microorganisms. But in an altered environment, they mutate and adapt in order to survive, sometimes becoming deadly pathogens. This phenomenon is called "crossing the species barrier." In this case, some researchers suspect the pangolin was one of links in the transmission of coronavirus to humans.

This phenomenon is nothing new: It arose in the Neolithic era when humans began to destroy natural habitats for cultivation. Mass agriculture requires deforestation. Humans have razed an area equivalent to the African continent to domesticate animals for slaughter. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 170 million hectares of forests will be cut down by 2030. In addition to species extinction and climate change, deforestation causes pandemics. We are in what can be called a "crisis of the living."

When bats lose vital habitats they are forced to find refuge in domesticated trees, in public or private gardens or on farms. The bats deposit microbe-laden saliva on fruit or tree leaves, causing contamination. Pandemics are born when humans force animals into our habitat. Another example is Lyme disease. In North America, the disease outbreak coincided with the massive deforestation of the Northeastern United States. This decimated the populations of opossums and rodents, the traditional hosts for ticks. To survive, the ticks adapted, taking their new neighbors — us — as their hosts.

In light of this, should we continue to believe in the viability of our models? What can we learn from this measure of global containment, economic recession and human loss?

Governments, together with citizens, must answer these questions. Perhaps the creation of a large-scale "ecological social plan" would allow us to implement two important measures.

The first is teaching the cross-disciplinary study of ecology and habitat and the principles of sustainable development. As early as elementary school, children should learn the meaning of a pandemic: How it's born, what causes it and how it can be prevented. Today, we only teach students to be efficient, effective and produce wealth. I believe that by integrating fundamental ecological values into national education, citizens will grow more aware than ever of the issues at stake now and in the future.

What can we learn from this measure of global containment, economic recession and human loss?

Secondly, we could focus on the future of agriculture and sustainable infrastructure. With the help of agricultural consortiums and the housing sector, we could rethink the current agricultural model: imagine how it can transform and adapt to current issues. These spaces for dialogue would be opportunities to define new modes of expansion, localized models of distribution and consumption that is both balanced and responsible. To do this, we could move towards vertical housing and agriculture integration, eco-design, reusing materials and respecting seasonal products. It would also allow us to address soil degradation, restore forests for the reintegration of birds and animals threatened with extinction and work toward a deeper rebalancing of natural ecosystems.

The human tendency is to dominate nature. But we must develop a "loving relationship" with the environment. We can reinvent our way of being in the world with a more conscious mindset. Sustainable development, in addition to the preservation of natural resources, is the preservation of women and men. Sustainable development is only achievable by making it everyone's priority. Quarantine is a survival method, better understanding the environment is a pathway to preservation. Let's stick around.

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LES ECHOS
Xavier Fontanet

Growth Or Bust: A Brief Plea In Favor Of Progress

The trend of what the French dubbed décroissance (degrowth) overlooks how progress and technology are bound to improve our lives.

-Analysis-

PARIS — It's a well-known rule: In the market, if you lower the price by around a third, you will generally double the rate of sales. This has to do with what we call constant elasticity, a concept that all of us in developed countries should master to understand the world we live in today.

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food / travel

Watch: OneShot — Energy Observer, A Journey Toward The Future

Monday marks the debut of the third stage of Energy Observer's revolutionary six-year journey toward a cleaner, hydrogen-fueled future. After four months of updating its equipment and infrastructure, including custom photovoltaic panels, the state-of-the-art ship has embarked from French harbor Saint-Malo, this time heading towards Northern Europe.

This first major vessel in the world powered by hydrogen is led by Victorien Erussard, founder and captain of Energy Observer, and Jérôme Delafosse, expedition leader and documentary filmmaker. The odyssey began in Saint-Malo June 26, 2017, as the vessel travels the world's waterways in search of innovative solutions for the environment. Here's a moment last spring captured from above the Corinth Canal in the Aegean Sea:

Energy Observer sailing the Corinth Canal - © Energy Observer/Antoine Drancey

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