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earthrise

series one, episode five

Energy self-sufficiency on a Scottish island, gardens in the sky, flushing with pride and restoring the Jordan Valley.

Last Modified: 07 Jul 2013 14:01
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Energy Song - The Isle of Eigg

The remote Scottish island of Eigg is one of the first energy self-sufficient communities in the world. Over the past year Eigg's residents have become recognised as world leaders in the integration of multiple renewable energy sources and successfully reduced their carbon emissions by 95 per cent.

Russell Beard journeys to the Isle of Eigg, where he meets the energy-conscious islanders to find out how their renewable technologies work, and discovers that their strong sense of community is the key to the scheme’s success.

Big Green Apple

All across New York City roofs are turning green. In the last few years residents of the Big Apple have converted the tops of hundreds of buildings into gardens by installing a system of plants grown on waterproof membranes.

As well as providing a retreat from city life, green roofs help reduce water runoff and sewer overflows. Vegetation and soil act as a sponge, absorbing and filtering water that would normally plunge down gutters and wash through polluted streets into the over-taxed sewer systems.

The plants on green roofs also clean the air by remove polluting air particulates and help locals cut down on food miles. In one Brooklyn pizzeria, rooftop pie has even become a firm favourite.

Greening the Desert

For centuries the Jordan Valley was renowned for being one of the most lush and productive lands in the world. But years of over-grazing and drought have left it arid and with high salinity levels.

To reverse this decline Australian permaculture expert Geoff Lawton has embarked on an ambitious project that he calls 'Greening the Desert'. 

Using agricultural mulch and special irrigation canals, he is desalinating 3,000 square metres of land, restoring the soil's fertility and turning the Jordanian desert into an oasis. Lawton is also creating a demonstration site where he passes on his wisdom to people from as far afield as Afghanistan, Peru and Ghana.

Flush with Pride

Residents of California's Arcata City flush their toilets with pride. That is because their wastewater is purified by a pioneering system of marshes in a wildlife sanctuary, where plants and animals feed on the nutrients.

The innovative system was dreamt up by officials, professors and activists who wanted to build a low-cost sustainable sewage system for Arcata's population. After initial treatment in a sewage plant where the sludge is separated off, the city's wastewater travels through a network of oxidation ponds and marshes, before being let out into the nearby Humboldt Bay.

The sanctuary has transformed the city's coastline, which was previously home to a landfill site and defunct industrial areas. Wildlife abounds and the water discharged into the bay is pure enough to drink.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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