Archive for February 2012
“Carbon dioxide removal, or CDR, is sometimes seen as a subset of geoengineering — deliberate, planetary-scale actions to cool the Earth — but it’s actually quite different. Geoengineering strategies are risky, imperfect, Carbon dioxide removal is more akin to recycling waste than to playing God with nature. controversial, and difficult to govern. The most-discussed geoengineering technology, solar radiation management, alleviates a symptom of the climate problem (warmer temperatures) but does nothing to address the cause (rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2). What’s more, geoengineering as a climate response is stuck because governments have declined to provide more than token funds for research, and there’s no business model to support it.
Carbon dioxide removal, by contrast, targets the root cause of global warming. It doesn’t create global risks. It’s being financed by the private market, and it’s more akin to recycling waste than to playing God with the weather.
Despite widespread skepticism in the scientific community, three startup companies are betting that they can make money by recycling CO2, and thereby cool an overheating planet.”
via Rethinking Carbon Dioxide: From a Pollutant to an Asset by Marc Gunther: Yale Environment 360.
“Although environmental investing and entrepreneurship in emerging markets has undergone a transformation from a nascent concept to a burgeoning market over the past decade, clear challenges to greater growth remain. How do institutions collectively move from a retail approach – each institution supporting companies one by one – to a wholesale approach – truly developing an ecosystem of support for environmental SMEs in emerging economies? In other words, how do we get to scale so that these enterprises collectively are having real positive environmental impacts at a large scale?
We still need to examine the bottom line and address models that demonstrate savings, increase profits, and increase market access, but many believe that the case has been made for whether “environmental” companies have economic viability. “The conversation is not whether or not these companies are viable, as was the case ten years ago. We’ve seen that they generate profits, can grow, and are a good business investment. Now the question is: how can we multiply them?” Ros said.
Investment into environmental and social businesses is growing – many investors are pouring capital into emerging markets, and GDP growth rates of NV countries continue to grow. However, for environmental entrepreneurship to get to scale, there must be three conditions fulfilled, as in all other markets: there must be robust demand from investors for a pipeline of environmental enterprises, a promising supply of enterprises ready for investment, and solid transactional infrastructure to enable these investments.
In order to highlight the development of these three necessary conditions, NextBillion will be featuring a series of articles over the next twelve months, in addition to this introductory piece, to stimulate discussion around environmental entrepreneurship, with a focus on SMEs and emerging markets. Several authors will post monthly articles about growing the market conditions for environmental SMEs around these three main topics: supply (of companies), demand (with regards to investment capital) and infrastructure (i.e. exchange platforms and metrics).”
via NextBillion.net | Scaling up Environmental Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies – Framing the Discussion.
“Leapfrogging is the umbrella name for the systems available to us today that make all this possible. Cloud computing, social media, new professional paradigms such as social entrepreneurship, below-the-line marketing and a host of novel realities have transformed the global context for Africans with their eyes set on continental and beyond-continental scale…..
…..Quite clearly, while leapfrogging might contribute powerfully to hacking physical infrastructure, it is less useful when it comes to soft (cultural, social, regulatory etc.) infrastructure. Therein lies its limitation in driving the African Renaissance.
So what is my one big idea?
Leapfrogging is a set of tools and techniques, not a conceptual or ideological description of the socioeconomic evolution of Africa now or in the near future. What matters is how entrepreneurs and innovators, especially social innovators, employ this set of tools within prevailing constraints. That, and not the poetic power of a renaissance motif, will transform Africa, one entrepreneurial triumph after another.”
via Africa’s Chance to Leapfrog the West – Bright B. Simons – Harvard Business Review.
“Sports and the City
The next generation of sports venues is an integral part of the urban scene. That’s changing how they serve cities, sponsors, owners, teams, and fans.
Sports venues are in flux. The costs of building and operating them have shot up while the public’s appetite for funding them with tax revenues has zeroed out. That’s changing the game for sports franchises. Yet cost is not the only driver, says Gensler’s Ron Turner. “Sports venues today are focused on hospitality. They contain more clubs, food-and-beverage options, and retail offerings—and give fans more access to information about the game—than ever before.”
Sports venues are also focused on the city. Today’s stadiums and arenas are much more likely to be located in transit-friendly urban sports/entertainment districts than in peripheral one-use sites. They can host events beyond sports, building creatively on their associations with sponsor brands. Their synergy with the adjoining district generates new revenue streams for both. This
is a paradigm shift for the industry, turning sports venues into all-purpose entertainment centers.”
“People don’t realize what a huge financial crisis cities are in, and that they need to come up with new ways to get by in the next decade,” says Pahlka. Beyond the immediate effects this can have on the lives of residents, dissatisfaction with city governance can sour them on the entire civic process. “It ties back to citizens’ expectations and interactions with government,” she says. “On a day to day level, citizens are interacting with their cities.”
Serving citizens and improving civic engagement are core goals for Code for America. “Early on, we settled on three major things we were trying to do: openness and transparency, engagement, and efficiency,” she says. “There are a lot of efficiencies to be gained in the government, but we’re most interested in opportunities where we are opening it up to the citizens and doing all three.” Perhaps most crucially, the organization requires that all web applications their Fellows develop for pilot cities can be deployed by other cash-strapped municipalities.
Code for America chooses a limited number of cities from a set of applicants each year to target its efforts. Once chosen, the non-profit dispatches teams of Code for America Fellows—volunteer software engineers, designers, community organizers and more who pledge a year to the program—to work with city managers and citizens to identify web-based solutions to the cities’ needs.
“We’re looking for cities where there’s enough political will and broad support for trying different things,” Pahlka says. “It’s not hard to find a city where there’s one or two people interested in a new approach, but it’s harder to find cities where that appetite for change is more broad-based.”
via Shareable: Code For America’s Vision for Peer-to-Peer City Governance.
Nietzsche once said that modern man eats knowledge without hunger. What he meant by that is that modern man learns without passion and without necessity. I didn’t go to Indonesia without either. What interests me most about Indonesia is not its economy or its people — although that might change as I learn more. What interests me now is Indonesia’s strategic position in the world at this point in time.”
via World – Indonesia’s Global Significance | Indonesia.
“Because there are so many different species of stingless, or meloponine, bees, they produce a wide variety of honey. Its taste has been variously described as sweeter, more bitter or sharper than the honeybee’s product, often with a delightful floral aftertaste, said Stephen Buchmann, a native bee researcher at the University of Arizona. Dr. Buchmann, who has sampled hundreds of varieties, said the best-tasting honey comes from the royal lady bee, a stingless species that the Maya people of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have cultivated for 2,000 years.
Stingless bee honey also has a variety of medicinal uses. Numerous reports attest to its antibiotic properties, no surprise to native people worldwide who use it to treat eye infections and wounds. A study to be published by the Journal of Experimental Pharmacology by the researcher Peter Kwapong found that this honey is slightly more effective than a store-bought antibiotic at treating eye infections in guinea pigs. And other studies have hinted that it might help deter cancer.
Aside from the Maya, though, few groups have worked out sophisticated methods for cultivating colonies of these bees in manmade structures, partly because of the insect’s tiny size, small colonies and many varieties. Most often, people merely harvest the honey from nests in forest trees and move on, Dr. Roubik said.
But that’s beginning to change. In Brazil, for example, the raising of these bees for their honey, called meliponiculture, is widespread. (The word comes from Meliponini, the taxonomic term for stingless bees.) In some areas, it’s even more common than the cultivation of honeybees known as apiculture.
Patricia Vit, a researcher at the University of the Andes in Venezeula, for example, took humorous issue with frequent references to the stingless bee’s product as the “other honey.” “In the forest, the ‘other honey’ is that of Apis mellifera,” or the European honeybee, she wrote in an e-mail.
Indeed, many prominent meliponiculturists in Brazil and elsewhere have long waiting lists for purchasing their honey, said Breno Freitas, a researcher at the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil. This honey often sells for 10 times the price of honeybee honey.
Dr. Kwapong, an entomologist at Ghana’s University of Cape Coast, first learned about — and fell in love with — stingless bees at a conference in Brazil. When he returned to Ghana, he founded the International Stingless Bee Center, dedicated to studying and spreading meliponiculture of native bees throughout West Africa. Dr. Kwapong has helped train more than 200 people from around the region in the delicate trade.
The practice is also receiving growing recognition and study at institutions throughout Central and South America, Australia and elsewhere. In Japan, stingless bees are being cultivated to pollinate greenhouses, a feat at which they excel. Since they can’t survive in temperate areas, they cannot escape and interfere with local insect populations, a problem that has dogged the use of bumblebees for the same purpose.
Still, little is known about how to raise the vast majority of stingless bee species. That’s frustrating for would-be meliponine beekeepers; many give up on the idea because they cannot get the information they need, Dr. Freitas said.
Sam Droege, a biologist with the United States Geological Survey, said in a phone interview that the newfound interest in meliponiculture may be a harbinger of a revolution in animal husbandry. “In the sweep of history, we don’t often see new groups or classes of domesticated animals arising,” he said.
Of course, meliponiculture is nothing new for certain groups, most notably the Maya, who recorded their age-old craft in the glyphs in ruins throughout the Yucatán and in the Madrid Codex, one of the few surviving collections of Mayan hieroglyphics.
Yet the Mayan beekeeping tradition is in serious danger of dying out. Populations of the bee have declined with deforestation, and beekeepers are less frequently passing on the tradition to younger generations as they move to cities, Dr. Buchmann said. To counter this trend, he has taught a series of classes throughout the peninsula to encourage beekeeping and has published a meliponiculture manual in Mayan and Spanish.”
via A Different Kind of Beekeeping Takes Flight – NYTimes.com.
A trend in education and disruptive technology to enable students to obtain study materials at a reasonable cost.
“Mind the Gap: Encouraging women to study engineering2/02/2012 08:13:00 AM
Women make up more than half the global population, but hold fewer than a third of the world’s engineering jobs. In the U.S., female students comprise fewer than 15 percent of all Advanced Placement computer science test takers. Even in high-tech Israel, few girls choose computer science. Not only is this a loss to companies like Google and everyone who benefits from a continually developing web; its also a lost opportunity for girls.
Beginning in 2008, a group of female engineers at Google in Israel decided to tackle this problem. We established the “Mind the Gap!” program, aimed at encouraging girls to pursue math, science and technology education. In collaboration with the Israeli National Center for Computer Science Teachers, we began organizing monthly school visits for different groups of girls to the Google office and annual tech conferences at local universities and institutes. The girls learn about computer science and technology and get excited about its applications, as well as have a chance to talk with female engineers in an informal setting and see what the working environment is like for them.”
via Official Google Blog: Mind the Gap: Encouraging women to study engineering.