The top 65 ways Israel is saving our planet

Since 1948, Israel has set itself a task of finding creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. To celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday, ISRAEL21c looks at some of the best achievements.

When 22-year-old Emmannuel Buso was pulled barely-alive from the rubble of a three-story building 10 days after an earthquake devastated the island of Haiti, the first faces he saw were those of the Israeli rescue workers who had flown across the world to save lives.

For Haji Edum, from Zanzibar, his life-saving moment came twice, when he was flown at age 15, and then again at 23, to Israel for open-heart surgery. He is just one of thousands of youngsters to receive emergency heart care from volunteer doctors in Israel.

War veterans suffering post-traumatic stress in the US; farmers in Senegal, India and China; young women in South Sudan; the wheelchair-bound in Africa; cardiac patients in Gaza and Iraq – all have received life-changing help and expertise from Israeli specialists.

Today we all know the story of Israel the startup nation. News of its technological prowess and incredible innovation has spread far and wide. But what many people don’t know is that Israel is exporting far more than just technology. It is also sharing its experience and skills in a whole range of humanitarian and environmental fields to help people everywhere live better, fuller and healthier lives.

Since Israel was founded in 1948, the country has set itself the goal of becoming a light unto the nations. In the early years of the state, despite austerity rationing, the Israeli government founded MASHAV, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Center for International Cooperation, as a vehicle to share Israel’s creative solutions with the rest of the developing world.

Israel remains true to that vision and every year, with little fanfare, and sometimes very little press attention, Israelis work long hours to find solutions and offer relief to some of the most pressing problems of our times.

From environmental breakthroughs that will help reduce greenhouse emissions, to technologies that can increase food production and save vital crops, to humanitarian aid missions in the wake of catastrophic natural disasters, Israelis are providing significant assistance.

To celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday, ISRAEL21c takes a look at some of the many creative and varied ways Israel is helping to enrich and improve our planet.

The list comes in no particular order, and is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more worthy projects going on every day. If you’ve got a project worth hearing about, we’d be delighted if you include it in our comments section at the end.

1. An Israeli company is developing a toilet that needs no water, and generates its own power to turn solid waste (including toilet roll) into sterile and odorless fertilizer in 30 seconds. Liquid waste is sterilized and then used to flush the toilet. Developer Paulee CleanTec has been awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which reports that about 80 percent of human waste goes into rivers and streams untreated, and 1.1 billion people don’t use a toilet.

2. Fifty years ago, Lake Victoria carp was a significant part of the diet of Ugandan villagers. But when Nile perch was introduced to the lake, it decimated the carp population. Villagers had neither the equipment nor the expertise to catch the huge perch, and symptoms of protein deficiency started becoming apparent in their children.

Prof. Berta Sivan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem came to the rescue with a multiyear project to help these African families. Using expertise developed in Israel, her project not only successfully spawned carp on Ugandan fish farms, but also provided training on how to dig and fill ponds and raise the small fish. Now local children have an abundant supply of protein.

3. About 50 percent of every grain and pulse harvest in the developing world is lost to pests and mold, but an Israeli scientist has developed a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh. International food technology consultant Prof. Shlomo Navarro invented huge bags, now marketed by US company GrainPro, which keep both water and air out. The bags are in use all over the developing world, including Africa and the Far East, and even in countries that don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel.

4. In January 2010, Israel won international praise for the speed and expertise with which it responded to a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti that killed 300,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the poverty-stricken country.

IsraAID

A team of 240 Israeli doctors, nurses, rescue and relief workers arrived in Haiti just days after the quake, bringing medicines, communications and medical equipment. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) volunteers set up the country’s most advanced and well-equipped field hospital in the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Israeli search-and-rescue missions pulled survivors from the rubble, saving many Haitians, including a man trapped for 10 days.

The delegation included volunteers from IsraAID, the IDF, ZAKA, Magen David Adom (MADA), Tevel B’Tzedek, the Negev Institute, and Alyn Hospital. It was the largest Israeli civilian relief mission ever assembled, and was one of the biggest and most skilled on the island.

In the wake of the disaster, Israel continues to send aid and assistance, including educational projects, trauma programs, micro-financing, development and relief work, rebuilding of communities and schools, aid packages, empowerment for women, and medical assistance.

5. The invention of drip irrigation by Israeli Simcha Blass and its development by Netafim, and later Plastro and NaanDan Jain, has completely revolutionized agriculture across the world, enabling farmers to increase their yields with less water. Constantly upgraded Israeli drip-irrigation techniques are regularly shared with other countries through MASHAV, Israel’s Center for International Cooperation.

6. Tal-Ya Water Technologies has developed reusable plastic trays to collect dew from the air, reducing the water needed by crops or trees by up to 50 percent. The square serrated trays, made from non-PET recycled and recyclable plastic with UV filters and a limestone additive, surround each plant or tree. With overnight temperature change, dew forms on both surfaces of the Tal-Ya tray, which funnels the dew and condensation straight to the roots. If it rains, the trays – which are now on sale – heighten the effect of each millimeter of water 27 times over. 

7. About 1.6 million children under the age of five die from untreated drinking water in developing nations every year. An Israeli company has developed a water purification system that delivers safe drinking water from almost any source, including contaminated water, seawater and even urine.

WaterSheer’s Sulis personal water purifier is a small 10-gram mouthpiece that attaches to the top of a water bottle. The company has also developed systems to treat large quantities of water.

Sulis has been used in Taiwan, Myanmar and Haiti, and will be part of contingency plans in case of disaster at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

8. Israel is building a model agricultural village in South Sudan to teach local farmers about Israeli agricultural methods and technologies to help the fledgling African nation thrive.

9. In plants in China, Italy and the United States, Israeli company Seambiotic is using algae to turn carbon dioxide emitted by power plants into fuel and nutraceuticals. The company’s algae ponds, which are nourished by power plant effluent and sunlight, generate 30 times more feedstock for biofuel than do crop alternatives. The algae are a good source of valuable nutraceuticals, especially popular in China and the East.

Seambiotic is also working with the US National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA) to develop a commercially feasible biofuel variety from algae that has a higher freezing point than biofuels from corn or sugarcane.

10. The lives of thousands of endangered animals in West and Central Africa are being saved thanks to the tireless efforts of Israeli law enforcement activist Ofir Drori, who founded the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) in Cameroon, the first wildlife law-enforcement NGO in Africa.

The organization helped propagate a zero-tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon, which has resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions. The model has been replicated throughout West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defense of human rights.

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About Nicky Blackburn

Editor and Israel Director, Nicky Blackburn has worked extensively as a journalist and editor both in Britain and Israel for a range of national and international publications including The Cambridge Evening News, London News, Travel Weekly, Israel High Tech Investor, and The Times of London. She was the Associate Editor at LINK Israel’s Business and Technology Magazine, and the High-Tech Correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.
  • http://www.facebook.com/bernie.harland Bernie Harland

    It’s a great shame that the world doesn’t recognise that these brilliant works aren’t publicized or recognized lots more instead of negative response best part of the time

  • http://www.facebook.com/edi.stadler.7 Edi Stadler

    Wow, I didn’t know that Israel was so progressive. Thank you for this wonderful article.

  • disqus_U1UZ3IAD3B

    great work Nicky loved the story love the people love the country live from Super Natural British Columbia the 2nd greatest place to live in the world

  • Amos Leitner

    Please also list “Tevel B’Zedek” who does exemplary work both in Haiti and in Nepal

  • Mary opiyo

    Prof berta sivan that was a great achievement. Proud of you.

  • Anti-Zionist

    ISreal saving the planet. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

    I nominate this for the joke of the week. BTW, I wonder what the Palestinians have to say about all the magnificent ways in which it is “saving” the planet. Not to mention American tax-paying suckers. This right here is the personification of hubris and delusion. But keep on plowing Chosenites, the truth shall set the rest of us free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.berger.148116 Daniel Berger

    ccWITT TECHNOLOGY (www.witt-energy-solutions.com) DOES BETTER THAN ANY OF THESE 65!!!

    WITT OFFERS THE WORLD ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, BY GENERATING ENERGY FROM ANY TYPE OF MOTION!!!

    WITT TECHNOLOGY IS AVAILABLE FROM THE MOSLEM, HINDU, JEWISH, MIDDLE EAST ISRAEL GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE!!!

    OUR CHAMBER ALSO HAS $25 A BARREL, NORTH SEA QUALITY ALGAE CRUDE OIL;

    CARBON FIBER, HYBRID ELECTRIC HYPERCARS THAT GET 240/KM FOR 4 LITERS OF FUEL

    SEWAGE TO DRINKINKING WATER TECHNOLOGY

    PASSIVE SOLAR ENERGY THAT USES PHASE CHANGE SALTS THAT ALLOW FURNITURE, WINDOWS AND WALLS GENERATE ENERGY

    FUSION NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, AND A LOT MORE!!!

    WHY IS IT THAT ONLY THE EPIC TIMES OF JERUSALEM HAS GIVEN NEWS COVERAGE TO OUR CHAMBERS WORK.

    MASS MEDIA OUTLETS IN ISRAEL SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    NEITHER MARSHALL McLUHAN NOR EDWARD MURROW OR WALTER CRONKITE,OR HUNTLEY BRINKLEY WOULD CONDON SUCH LAZY JOURNALISM

  • Akhabue

    Thank you Israel. You are a blessing to the World.
    Bereshit – Genesis Chapter 12
    Now HaShem said unto Abram: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee.
    2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.
    3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Genesis12.html

  • Akhabue

    Bereshit – Genesis Chapter 12
    1 Now HaShem said unto Abram: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee.
    2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.
    3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Genesis12.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/zgadjanski Zoran Gadjanski

    Now, if you would be so kind and find a country for Palestinians.

  • thefifthcolumnreport

    Israel is a remarkable country and Israelis are a remarkable people. Imagine how much better off humankind would be if they embraced and supported Israel and its people?

    • Lynne Marton

      From your lips!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/MikiZBell miki bell

    ongrats to Israel’s 65th, I was there dancing all night 65 years ago. Keep on doing the good that you do to better humanity.Stay safe

  • http://twitter.com/MikiZBell miki bell

    I mean Congratulations to Israel, may you stay safe, prosperous and productive. My web site is:www.mikizbell.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabina.shalom Sabina Shalom

    Not
    only am I filled with pride,awe and enormous admiration and respect for all
    that I have read and seen, I am also filled with a deep and searing angst that
    Israel’s magnificence goes so largely unacknowledged world wide. With so
    many brilliant minds, how is it that the media does not seem to have been
    sufficiently encouraged (or approached) to show at least some of Israel’s
    miraculous

    achievements
    especially as they are designed for world-wide use and adoption.

    Ignorance,
    lack of knowledge and understanding continue to undermine Israel’s superb
    achievements. This must be remedied – propaganda, promotion, influential
    names, companies, every source to be contacted. Ambassadors of goodwill, eloquent speakers,
    all should be touring the Nations with these incredibly wonderful films,
    documentaries and such personal stories filled with the continuing human
    outreach that Israel
    extends to the entire world.

    These
    wonderful, beautiful films, make me smile and make me cry. But it is not tears that effect change. One does not need to convince the convinced,
    though it does not harm to remind the Jewish people of our duty and our
    obligations. It is the earnest attempts to rectify a
    situation. To bring that Light unto the
    Nations to shine more brightly and widely across this blessed earth upon which
    we the Jewish people were destined to serve.

    Sabina
    Shalom

    http://www.sabinashalom.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lenya-Biyat/100001956420493 Lenya Biyat

    Bless Israel. A light unto all nations.