Dickson Despommier
Emeritus Professor of Microbiology and Public Health, Columbia University

Dickson Despommier on How to Join the Third Green Revolution

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Dickson Despommier

I am a microbiologist/ecologist by training, and for 27 years I conducted laboratory-based research on molecular aspects of intracellular parasitism funded by NIH. I also teach courses in the medical school and in our school of public health (e.g., Parasitic Diseases; Medical Ecology; Ecology 101). Many of them deal with parasitism and its effects on large segments of the poor that live in the tropics. Controlling soil-based transmission cycles of helminthes that cause significant health problems throughout the world is of prime importance to me.

I left the lab in favor of working on more globally relevant projects that address some these important problems. Since it is generally agreed agriculture is solely responsible for so much environmental disturbance and serves as the interface for the transmission of geohelminths, one area of focus of mine has been on how to raise food without further encroachment into natural ecosystems.

I have established The Vertical Farm as a theoretical construct to look at the possibility of agricultural sustainability within cities. The idea grew out of a class project to measure the effects of rooftop gardening in New York City on reducing the dome of heat that develops over us each year. From that original idea, I expanded the concept to include urban agriculture and finally to multi-story indoor farming. I have given this project to my students in my course, "Medical Ecology."


Dickson Despommier:
Venture capitalist? Magic words. Operators are standing by. Here’s how
to get involved. If you think this is a good idea, I would love to hear
from you, and I can hear from you by simply having you go online to
verticalfarm.com or just “vertical farm”, Google and you can find
because we’re listed number one, and then there’s a “Contact Us.” And
then just tell us what you think. Venture capital has already appeared.
I must tell you that there’s a line, and it’s not a short line. It’s
maybe 20 people deep, and this is a good sign by the way. This is a
very good sign. I realize that I do not reflect that in the way I
present myself, but nonetheless, we are very conservative at that
level. The money is there and we are in the negotiation stages right
now for at least four projects one of which is in the city of Chicago.
Another is in the city of Las Vegas. Another is in the city of Incheon,
Korea, and another is in the city of Abu Dhabi in the Arab Emirates of
Abu Dhabi. This Cheshire-like cat smile on my face belies the fact that
I was anticipating your question with glee, because I can finally tell
you that somebody out there really loves us to the point of saying if
we don’t try this, we’re going to have egg on our face.

Recorded on: 6/10/08