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Cities Made of Salt May Hold The Key To Sustainable Urban Planning

As global desertification becomes a serious issue, one Dutch designer has an inventive solution that uses one of the world’s most plentiful resources.

As climate change wreaks havoc on our eco-system, many drought-prone regions have been left wondering how to deal with issues like urban planning and global desertification. The latter is an increasingly dire issue that has caused those in the architecture community to look for innovative solutions. 24-year-old Eric Geboers, a young designer from The Netherlands, thinks that he may know the solution, and, according to Design Indaba,“is on a one-man mission to change the world through sustainable innovation.” The first stop on his global mission is to create a “sea salt city in the desert” via his intuitive design organization The Salt Project. So far the group has already earned awards from the A*Star’s Science of Future Cities competition and a nomination for the Archiprix Prize 2016.


As straightforward as its name, The Salt Project creates building blocks composed of compressed salt—which are proving to be a solid contruction material on par with packed earth and other frequently used local resources. Strong in compression, the salt blocks are ideal for the types of rounded, arched, or domed structures already prevalent in dry, desert areas. In addition to looking cool, the translucent salt blocks also reflect and protect from the harsh sun, and are coated with a bio-based solution to keep them from melting.

Each of these “salt cities” will be made from compressed salt, as seen above.

Geboers’ vision doesn’t end at just architecture: he also intends to produce and maintain a “whole new ecosystem” in desert areas. He hopes to achieve this through a process of pumped seawater, harnessed via a solar-powered pipe system to a series of desalination greenhouses set up in the desert.

The Salt Factory is meant to showcase the dazzling possibilities of salt as a building material, but also comes as part of an expansion push for Qatar’s newest planned city, Lusail. It’s hoped that The Salt Project’s Lusail base will be the first in a series of self-sufficient communities of salt towns with organic infrastructures and regenerating greenhouses to grow native vegetation.

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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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The Planet

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health
via Found Animals Foundation / Flickr

Service dogs are true blessings that provide a wide array of services for their owners based on their disability.

They can provide preventative alerts for people with epilepsy and dysautonomia. They can do small household tasks like turning lights on and off or providing stability for their owners while standing or walking.

For those with PTSD they can provide emotional support to help them in triggering situations.

However, there are many people out there who fraudulently claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. These trained animals can cause disturbances in businesses or on public transportation.

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Communities