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Heroes

These remarkable floating farms could help feed hungry people around the world.

Food. It's easy to love.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Brunch. Linner. I'll take them all.


GIF from "Malcolm in the Middle."

But the harsh reality across the globe is that many people don't have access to the food they need.

Approximately 795 million people in the world don't have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, according to an estimate by the World Food Programme. And the global population could go from 7.2 billion to 9.6 billion by 2050.

The growth in population could mean less space to farm, too. BASF Crop Protection, one of the world's largest producers of farming-related chemicals, estimates that between 2005 and 2030, the amount of arable land available per capita will shrink by almost 20%.

Not enough space to grow on land? Here's another idea: Plant food in seas, lakes, and rivers.

Forward Thinking Architecture, a firm in Spain, is one of the companies working to build farms directly in bodies of water through a project they call "Smart Floating Farms."

Here are three ways these hydroponic farms could reshape the future of farming:

1. They could open up a lot of space for farming

In places like Singapore, land is hard to come by. Roughly 5.5 million people live in the island city.

Considering Singapore measures approximately 277 square miles, that means about 20,000 people inhabit the city for every square mile of available space. That doesn't leave much room for farming.

The good news is that this cutting-edge smart floating farm technology is scalable and replicable, which means that as the world's needs grow, so too can production levels.

A three-level floating farm, complete with inflated cylinders in front that protect against waves. Photo via Smart Floating Farms, used with permission.

According to the firm, 25 of the world's 35 largest cities (New York being one of them) have nearby access to bodies of water, so these farms could theoretically be built to serve metro areas around the world.

2. They are self-regulating

These water-based farms don't need soil to grow plants. They would use water that is already infused with vitamins and minerals, a process known as hydroponics. Of course, the plants couldn't survive on saltwater — freshwater would be pumped into the grow facility and then sprayed evenly on plants through a mechanical system.

According to the plan, the entire farming system would be built in three levels on huge barge-like containers, with the first level housing a solar-powered energy facility and the second level using that energy to grow crops (no soil required). On the third level, you could raise fish, which would survive on the waste products from the farm.

The solar panels on the top level of a floating farm. Photo via Smart Floating Farms, used with permission.

This top to bottom system allows the sun to be used for energy, crops to grow without being harmed by saltwater, and fish to be fed and farmed. Genius!

3. They are cost effective and greener

If these farms were built near major cities, it would cost less to transport food to grocery stores. A self-sustaining ecosystem could also mean less maintenance and lower manufacturing costs, too.

And even though these techniques would be used in bodies of water, they can be applied in the air, too. Singapore-based company Sky Greens builds skyscrapers filled with plants that rotate up and down between water and sunlight, allowing vegetation to be grown 10 times more effectively than traditional forms of agriculture would allow. As a result, food is cheaper, more accessible, and more abundant.

It's a produce party in the sky. Photo via iStock.

There's hope for the future.

These types of innovations have the potential to help regions around the world cope with the need for more food, even if they have less space.

Here's a video from Forward Thinking Architecture explaining the concept of floating farms:

This bit of ingenuity and creative thinking could help ensure that people around the world have plentiful, sustainable food sources.

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Native Siberian shares what daily life entails in the coldest village on Earth

See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

Native Siberian Kiun B. has created a series of documentary short films detailing what daily life is like in Yakutia's frigid winters. She was born and raised in Yakutsk, Siberia, widely recognized as the coldest city on Earth, where average winter temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As seen in her videos, smaller villages in the Yakutia region regularly dip down into the negative 50s, with the lowest recorded temp in the Yakut village of Oymayakon reaching a mindblowing minus 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

The popularity of Kiun's YouTube channel demonstrates how curious people are about life in such harsh conditions, as her videos have been viewed by tens of millions of people in the past year alone.

Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

However, there are some Yakut folks who see the cold as something to embrace. For instance, this man takes an ice bath out in the elements as a morning ritual. It's something he has worked up to—definitely not something to try on your own during a cold snap—but it still has to be painful.

(Seriously, please don't try this at home.)

The way humans have learned to adapt to drastically different environments, from the sweltering tropics to the Arctic tundra, is incredible, and it's fascinating to get a close-up look at how people make life work in those extremes. Thank you, Kiun B., for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to experience life in the dead of winter in the world's coldest inhabited places.