February 17, 2006

Lectures: Joseph Stiglitz on Intellectual Property and Essential Medicines; Dickson Despommier on the Vertical Farm Project

Posted in cu groups and events at 8:37 am by cuenv-main

Update 2/18: The Stiglitz lecture on Tuesday 2/28 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM is in 417 Kent.

Two lectures that look incredible in the next two weeks:

Joseph Stiglitz on Intellectual Property, Access to Essential Medicines, and the Role of the University

Care about the role of the university in increasing access to essential medicines in developing countries? Interested in where intellectual property rights, development economics and public health meet? Come hear Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor of Economics, Nobel Laureate of Economics, and author of Globalization and its Discontents, teach-in about how countries, the university and individuals can help increase access to much needed medications.

The talk is sponsored by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and Columbia Global Justice, so if you want to meet some more students working in the envspace in addition to getting free food and, you know, chilling with a Nobel Laureate, they’ll probably be there too. The talk will be 5:30 to 7:30 PM Tuesday 2/28, in a room in Hamilton TBA 417 Kent. Update on that when I get it.

Dickson Despommier on the Vertical Farm: Medical Ecology and 21st Century Agriculture

Despommier is Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and Professor of Microbiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Turns out he’s also director the Vertical Farm Project, which looks like one of the most badass proposals to hit New York City in, well, a long time:

The Problem By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?

A Potential Solution: Farm Vertically The concept of indoor farming is not new, since hothouse production of tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.

It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Over 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. The time has arrived for us to learn how to grow our food that way, too. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will be a very unpleasant place in which to live.

The lecture is Monday 2/20 from 8 to 9 PM in Salzburger Parlor on the 3rd Floor of Barnard Hall, and involves free sushi. RSVP to Maria Ongoco.

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