What’s Up World? #19

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 06.03.13

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines.

blobfish

How rad is nature?!

It seems that we actually have no idea what is going on.

According to a leading science professor Thomas Lewinsohn, there are around 13 million different species living on planet earth. And we know absolutely nothing about 11.25 million of them.

Of the approximate 1.75 million animals, plants, insects, bacteria and micro-organisms with which we humans are familiar, most have been discovered in Europe. The huge information gap, says Lewinsohn, exists in the parts of the world with the greatest biodiversity, like Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia or South Africa.

The good news: describing all of earth’s species will only cost between $25 and $50 billion over 50 years (compared to the $1.738 trillion the world spent on weapons in 2011). The bad news: it might take up to 2,000 years.

(The title photo is of a deep sea fish called a Blobfish, rarely seen by humans.)

The world’s first “human ecological prison”

On Bastoy Prison Island, located in the Norway’s Oslo fjord, prisoners house share in brightly coloured wooden bungalows. Everyone has a day job, many cycle around the island, they shop at the mini-mart and cook their own evening meals. There’s a church, a school and a library. Last year the Bastoy Blues Band supported ZZ Top at a music festival.

Bastoy houses every type of serious offender, like gang leaders, murderers, drug dealers and rapists. But instead of keeping them behind bars, the prison’s philosophy is to treat inmates with respect, giving them trust, developing their social skills and their sense of responsibility. Bastoy believes in people’s potential to change, and with the lowest reoffending rate in Europe of just 16%, it seems to be working.

It may seem “cushy” and “luxurious”, but if the real goal of prison is correction, rehabilitation and the prevention of reoffending, are Norway onto something?

Water fights in Iran

Farmers desperate for water in Esfahan Province, Iran have held protests against the government’s decision to divert the watersupply from their local river to neighbouring Yazd Province.

The two month-long dispute over water supplies reached new heights last week, with farmers smashing the water pipeline and setting buses on fire, and security forces using BB guns and teargas to control crowds.

Brought on by unrelenting drought conditions, and estimated 300,000 people have reportedly become unemployed as a result of the water shortage in Esfahan Province.

Children of the sun

Mobile phones can do lots of things: they help us stay in touch with the world, they keep us entertained at bus stops, they can double as a torch when we’ve lost something down the back of the couch. But delivering a baby by mobile phone light? Umm, no thanks.

During a research trip to Nigeria in 2008, Dr. Laura Stachel saw midwives doing just that – delivering babies in pitch black clinics aided only by candles, lanterns, torches and mobile phones. In a country where an unacceptably high number of women die during childbirth, a lack of reliable electricity was making things worse.

So in 2009 Dr. Stachel and her husband invented the Solar Suitcase – a portable solar powered generator about the size of a carry-on suitcase, which can provide light and electricity for an entire clinic for 20 hours, care of solar panels on the clinic’s roof. Four years on, they have delivered 250 solar suitcases to medical clinics in 20 countries. Impressive!

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld

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