Collaborators

Feb. 14 2017 – 3:58am,

Been up for about an hour, have put a mean hurting on a mug of expresso. Thinking about what to write about this week, and then I realized something. When one works long, productive hours at some point they start questioning if their efforts are being appreciated. I’m not special, what I do is actually pretty normal. There are others who share this valiant struggle to be productive as early as possible, and I’ve met them.

I’ve learned that research driven industries have very dynamic relationship matrices, that can change even before a project is completed or even funded! It’s hard for a scientist to maintain ties while trying to cram as much research as possible. They will humor you up to a certain point and then, you have to part ways.  Teams and research funds are always changing, creating situations that you have to deal with and team members that have to be replaced. Yet none of it could be accomplished without people trusting your vision, and sharing the madness.

It’s a tough cookie trying to predict if a team will ever make it to funding their research before they have to part ways. So it is best to show appreciation to the team you have now.

Thanks for believing in me

This is their shoutout…

Meet our collaborating institutions:

What is our team up to?

At Ambrosia we feel that people should be able to use all of their senses to enhance their learning. This means adjusting your learning style to what best suits your dominant sense.

We are attemtping to create a media rich experience that everyone can enjoy; but we just haven’t quite, figured it out yet.

In the mean time (and if you understand Spanish) we’ve added a video that showcases some of the technology being worked on in the Dominican Republic by members of our team.

For more videos (not yet many)

Our you tube Channel

Sustainable Development: How Can We Make a Difference?

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Lending a helping hand to those less fortunate is always a popular topic this time of year. But how can we support marginalized communities in a way that allows them to thrive all year around? International economic development is a fabulous sector that aims to do grassroots work alongside vulnerable populations, but many of us think that only economists can carry out such projects. From the harvesting of raw materials to exporting and importing goods to managing vast capital and financial markets, all but the most advanced experts leave scratching their heads in confusion. Nevertheless, it is crucial (especially for the altruistic folks among us) to attempt to understand the reality of international economic development and how your actions can contribute to projects all around the globe. Keep in mind that many foreign aid programs and development firms operate with a bias that does not take into account the needs and desires of the local population; filling quotas and checking boxes does little to stimulate developing economies in the long-term. As we look deeper into the realm of international development work, we must begin to address the following questions:

Can any development project be truly sustainable?

Is sustained economic growth possible without exacerbating environmental burdens?

Can international organizations and institutions work alongside international stakeholders without an unfair exchange of goods and labor?

 

The answers we strive for as development workers all lie within the design of the projects themselves; too often sustainability is viewed as an outcome rather than a process of collective learning and careful planning. By first integrating into a society and collaborating with local professionals, those involved with development projects can more effectively reflect the geography, economy, politics, and unique cultural characteristics of the region in which they intend to work. The most crucial element to a successful project is that the community itself recognizes the short-term benefits and agrees to maintain their collective interest in seeing through the long-term vision. When the most vulnerable populations within a community have a stake in the outcome of a project, it has better odds of succeeding. In the same manner, contemporary development work has shifted its focus toward reducing poverty among those at the lowest socioeconomic level. The general thought behind a focus on poverty reduction as opposed to wealth generation is that those who are faced with the daily challenges associated with poverty have an input in precisely which projects can directly improve their quality of life; social welfare programs have the potential to contribute to macroeconomic stability and, in turn, economic growth.

 

Nevertheless, a program can only truly be sustainable if the structure allows for the community to be adequately trained to carry out the project autonomously. Solid development work must contain a robust organizational strengthening component, especially if those involved are working alongside a local entity such as a cooperative or association. As the project stakeholders are better able to fine tune their operations and make them even more effective, they gain a level of independence that can radiate outward throughout their community and their region. If the goal of international economic development is to train, prepare, and instill appropriate entrepreneurial skills in vulnerable populations, then the institutions that facilitate this development must equip the member of the community to manage each aspect of the project, no matter the scope. In the hope of uniting together to support those with few economically viable opportunities, we must make sure to keep their best interest in mind with every step of the program outline. Let’s collaborate to positively impact our world!

The Paris Agreement: What Does It Mean?

minitorreHuman civilization has never been static. The constant pursuit of economic, technological, physiological, and cultural progress has drastically changed the landscape of our planet. Nevertheless, the modern and globalized society we recognize today has a distinct beginning in the early 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. By harnessing the energy produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, humans were suddenly capable of producing goods at a much larger scale than ever before. This process coincided with the largest growth in human population in history, permitting the proliferation of dependence on the fossil fuels industry.

Fast-forward to the late 20th century. The consumption of non-renewable energy had accelerated the manufacturing capabilities of industrialized nations and the ever-growing demand for energy in the developing world was well-documented. Study after study linked the use of fossil fuels to an increasingly violent series of environmental calamities which led the delegations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to collaborate in order to protect the planet and its inhabitants from experiencing more devastating complications due to greenhouse gas emissions. The deliberations, combined with extensive research over the course of 20 years, reached its summit at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris (which took place in December 2015) in which the world nearly unanimously decided to coordinate their efforts to avoid contributing to climate change.

The Paris Agreement, the only globally comprehensive climate agreement of its kind, was enacted this month in order to bring a new vision for the future of energy production worldwide. The agreement aims to hold the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. As citizens around the globe continue to experience the disastrous effects of climate change, governments and world leaders have proven that they will take the challenge of safeguarding their populations seriously. Of the 193 countries that have signed the agreement, 103 have ratified the agreement through their respective legislative processes. Although the language of the agreement is explicit and comprehensive, it is quite special in that in features a “bottoms up” approach which allows for each country to select its own carbon emission goals, allowing for the plan to work well for individual nations. The structure of the agreement allows the various populations, cultures, and economies involved to find their own best way forward, while affirming the need to conserve biodiversity in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Each member state is bound to limit the quantity of known extractable fossil fuels used within its borders. These restrictions are elaborated specifically to prevent irreparable damage to the planet. Globally speaking, this is represented by the majority of the known reserves remaining unburned. As a result, public and political pressure has been placed on multinational corporations to create a global marketplace for renewable energy sources. In fact, the adoption of the Paris Agreement caused a USD $3.4 trillion divestment in the fossil fuels industry, the fastest divestment movement in history. The vacuum that has been created can and should be filled with robust public and private investment in sustainable, diverse, and proactive solutions to the problems associated with climate change.

Not surprisingly, the most immediate and most threatening effects of climate change can be seen along the coastline in developing nations. Combined with shoreline erosion, water pollution, and the acidification of the oceans, the rising sea levels continue to be one of the most alarming phenomenon in a rapidly changing marine ecosystem. The global community should be compelled to explore alternative fuel sources. As wind and solar energy is proving to be costlier than previously conceived and hydropower and tidal energy are limited to specific regions, the search has commenced for new possibilities. A tremendously promising sector is the growth of aquaculture projects that allow for organic marine biomasses to be converted into energy. The biofuels derived from algae, for example, are entirely biodegradable, non-toxic, and carbon neutral. This means that the combustion of the fuel is entirely offset by the amount of carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the algae while it is growing. Many companies around the world are rushing to develop algae into a fuel source due to the fact that it is already abundant, renewable, powered by sunlight, and leaves no carbon footprint behind.

Providing developing nations with the tools necessary to elaborate successful algae farming establishes a dynamic value chain that can be beneficial to all parties involved. We have a small window of time in order to preserve the beautiful, vibrant, and flavorful planet that we were given. Together we have the unique opportunity to make a lasting change that future generations can be proud of as we move toward a more inclusive and productive future.