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floating the afternoon away

July 17, 2010

The Arava area of Israel is a beautiful, sparsely populated desert region that runs from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, and is part of the 500km Great Rift Valley that is connected from Syria to central Mozambique. The Red Mountains of Jordan were seen throughout our Thursday, July 8th visit to a few of the really unique environmental projects we were able to experience on day 5 of our MFA journey.

Noam Ilan shows us AORA's solar tower, erected in the Arava desert in southern Israel based on technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Most of the innovation we saw today came out of Kibbutz Ketura which prides itself on its creative economic perspective focused on entrepreneurship, religious pluralismgender equality as well as its own solar power company, an algae farm, an experimental orchard and a co-existence based Environmental Studies program at the Arava Institute.

Unlike Palm Springs, California where the desert has been built up with such suburban zeal that when I visit my Gay retired Jewish family there during Passover I need to take mass amounts of Allergy medicine to survive the Pollen factors. The air in the Arava desert still feels clean of inhalant allergens.

This solar 30m high tower stands adjoining this field of mirrors on 2,000sq.m. of land at Kibbutz Samar, outside Eilat and a few miles from Kibbutz Yahel where we stayed the night. The tower forms a single power module, capable of generating 100kW electric power in addition to 170kW of thermal power.

Ezra Ravins is the Mayor of Central Arava Region. Here 3,000 people live (including 500 young students from multiple ethnic backgrounds all going to one school). This region covers 6% of Israel (70 km from the South to the North) and rely on export of their produce for a thriving economy. It has always been a priority to be innovative with water resources and it has taken many years to be environmentally smart about these resources. They have only 30mm of rain per year to help the area bloom for the 7 villages, 2 small cities and 5 Moshavim on the West side of the Jordan River.

Mayor Ravins said during our visit, “We share the nature with our neighbors across the border in Jordan so we work hard to share the message that we share not only a boundary but an environment. When the Mediterranean Sea fruit fly caused major problems for everyone in the region to we had to meet in Vienna to work together to eradicate the fruit fly. In 1997 we began releasing sterilized male fruit flies in the air to reduce the growth so we can all export our fruits to increase all of our commerce. Now once a week since 1997 we still release sterile male flies.”

After our site visits and a quick lunch we take a two hour break to dip into the incredibly healing and nurturing Dead Sea before returning again to Jerusalem.

These three photos taken by our friend Andrei from Romania shows not only a few random floaters but Jonathan Sacerdoti from London and me venturing out into the depths of the Dead Sea. We were so hot in the water so only lasted a few minutes inside but every once in awhile we would find a strange bubble of cold water coming up from the sea floor that would feel like a soft breeze.

Please take a look at more of our photos from day five of our journey here.

One Comment
  1. Beth Gluck permalink

    Hi ~ I live in Atlanta – the site of the JNF Nataional Conference October 10-11. Ezra Ravins and David Lehrer of the Arava Institute will be in town. Great visionaries. For more information – please contact me at Beth

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