GOOD

Are These Strange Underwater Balloons the Future of Sustainable Farming?

These greenhouses are growing stawberries, basil, and lettuce—all under the sea.

image via youtube screencapture

The divers draw closer. Their destination, 30 feet under the waves, is a small cluster of pods, alien-like and translucent. Strapped tight in their scuba gear and emitting a thick stream of bubbles, the swimmers enter the clear domes. Then it begins.


They garden.

Welcome to Nemo’s Garden, located on a patch of underwater sand off the coast of Noli, in northwest Italy. The garden—Orto di Nemo in Italian—is the brainchild of one Sergio Gamberini, the president of the diving equipment firm Ocean Reef Group.

image via youtube screencapture

The garden currently plays host to clusters of basil, strawberries, and lettuce. But Gamberini and his team, which successfully completed a $30,000 Kickstarter drive this week, are more ambitious: They think their underwater agriculture project might be key to the future of farming.

First, you should understand the technology behind these unusual underwater apparitions. Each pod in the garden (there are seven) contains eight to ten trays of plants. These growing greens receive sunlight the natural way—from the sun, which can penetrate the relatively shallow seawater. Though the pods are completely surrounded by salt water, Nemo’s Garden scientists have adapted a desalinating hydroponics system: Seawater within the pods evaporates, and fresh water condenses on the undersides of their roofs. Then the fresh water drips back down, onto the plants themselves.

The growing technique has a number of advantages, the gardening divers say. For one, it doesn’t disrupt the surrounding environment. If anything, the translucent balloons have served as a useful shelter for local sea creatures. (Visiting crabs and jellyfish seem especially receptive, the Ocean Reef team says.)

It’s also incredibly low maintenance. Once the pods have been properly installed, the gardening system maintains itself. Provided the balloon doesn’t blow away in a storm—one hiccup the team has weathered since the project’s launch in 2012—all the gardener has to do is harvest.

Finally, the project’s leaders say their gardens could put a serious dent in the world’s food insecurity problems. Many of the nations that struggle to feed themselves do not have access to fresh water—but they’re surrounded by saltwater. As Gamberini explains, underwater greenhouses could change a lot.

“[Meeting future food demands] is the aim, and it could be a sustainable way of agriculture,” he told The Guardian. “Not just local businesses, but for large parts of the world. Starting from Middle Eastern and tropical countries such as the Maldives, where there is not much [suitable] soil or fresh water ... [to] southern California, which is experiencing droughts.”

image via youtube screencapture

Could the underwater greenhouse technique be successfully commericalized, scaled to confront the enormity of this planet’s food and water problems? Right now, it’s unclear. But the Ocean Reef team says it will use its Kickstarter funds to gather more data: How deep can the pods go before plants stop receiving adequate sunlight? Are some materials better for desalination than others? Could the pods be used for other functions—ecotourism, maybe?

"I try to do something that's a little different and to show the beauty of the ocean," Gamberini told the Washington Post earlier this summer. "I hope to do something for the young people and to inspire new dreams."

Via The Guardian, Washington Post

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics