Dickson Despommier On Selling the Vertical Farming Concept
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."
Question: How will you attract investors?
Dickson Despommier: Okay,
well, it’s not that we haven’t thought about this. In fact, we began to
seriously think about this, “we” my wife and I, about five years ago
when we set our website up. Our website is a target as you well know.
Websites-- people, they contact you and they give you your opinion. And
if this was as crazy as an idea as it starts out to sound like, but
doesn’t end up sounding like, then if it was a truly crazy idea then I
wouldn’t be sitting here right now and I’m going to tell you that if I
can share all my email with you, you would see. They don’t just come
from do-gooders and tree-huggers and fuzzy type people. These are from
the head of ARUP who says “Not just possible. We must do this.” So they
never said “Can’t do.” That’s the company that never says “can’t do”
all right? What would it take to do it? After that we just that’s what
we asked. We weren’t saying “Should we do it?” We were saying “How
should we do it?” That’s a much different question, so that’s the
question you’ve asked so I’ll try to give you the answer. The fact is
we haven’t done one yet, but we have a plan on how to do it. A, you
need some money. You need lots of money. How much? If I had I would
give you a conservative estimate of 50 to 60 million dollars. I could
build you a prototype with all the personnel that I now have as willing
participants the moment that money shows up they will be there. Those
are architects, engineers, designers, planners, politicians, funders,
agronomists, and when I say I’m using plurals here these are not single
entities. These are like the University of Arizona Controlled Indoor
Farming Group which is huge. NASA, ARUP, Philip Johnson Architects,
Kiss + Cathcart Architects, Steelcase [ph?] as a builder, these are
huge people in terms of their impact on the world already, and on their
desire to make things ecologically sound and profitable. So with sixty
million dollars, what I will do is I will enlist their talents together
as a team, and I will build a building which will be some five to six
stories tall, and maybe an eighth of a city block in footprint, and
inside of which it will become a laboratory for how to do this, because
in essence we don’t know how to do this yet, but we will include into
it all the engineering schemes for capturing energy passively, for
taking waste and creating energy from that, to making sure that our
plants are not contaminated with pathogens, to make sure that their
diets include all of our micronutrients but not any heavy metals or
pesticides or herbicides. All of that is doable stuff. That’s an easy
deal. I mean for 27 years I was a laboratory-based scientist and I know
how to do this part. This is the easy part. The hard part is to find
the sixty million dollars. That seemed like a hard thing to do two
years ago. We have four groups now that all want to do with us. They
want us to develop the master plan to how to proceed, and they’re
willing to pay a very nice sum of money for a few of us to sit down and
plan out how to proceed. Now, the procedure requires a scaled model
first, to make sure what you’re going to do, and then a prototype
building which functions exactly like the scaled up building you’re
planning to build, and so all of the nuance of handling this crop or
that crop or the other crop-- by the way, wherever you put this it will
vary of course. If you put in Incheon, Korea which is one of the places
that wants this, the crop selection will be totally different than in
the southern part of India which another place that wants this. Or
perhaps in Darfur. You would want to produce as much energetic food.
Forget about the variety. You want it balanced, and you want these
little kids to survive, and you want their mothers and fathers to
survive as well if they’re still alive of course. You’re using this as
an intervention strategy. You’re not giving them food. You’re teaching
them how to raise food themselves, but you’re subsidizing it through
the World Bank or through WHO and through the United Nations. So that’s
my dream of how this could move from a place like Abu Dhabi which also
wants this, and they’ve got tons of money. They don’t even care how
much it costs. And they don’t even care about the profitability. What
they want is fresh produce. They can’t get fresh produce because why?
Even if it’s flown in the same day, that’s not fresh enough. They want
to produce it on site. That’s fine. Let’s do that then. So you need to
make a twin project someplace. Abu Dhabi has one and so does south
Bronx. So does Darfur. So does Niger, so Chad, so does Mali. That’s
really the crux of where I’m from. Sure, I’m the point person for this
project and everything, but I already know who wants them.
Recorded on: 6/10/08
When describing vertical farming Dickson Despommier used to hear "Should we do this?" Now he hears, "How should we do this?"
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The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
Credit: asiandelight/Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/msu-tsn093020.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 Michigan State University study</a> examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.</p><p>This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms. </p><p>MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September. </p><p><strong>Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</strong> </p><p>For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life. "Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences," Copeland wrote, adding that "compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."</p><p>Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys. </p><p>While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.</p><p>The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life. </p><p><strong>Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.</strong></p><p>The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s. </p>
How to stay social while battling depression<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMyNDY1N30.e1ULIJ5QYXh4H1SGUPUTJqYBCnX2XWp6InjPRr-2Bdw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C22%2C0%2C22&height=700" id="832fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b360bb24fb8d6025680bfffb52fd5982" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="depression support group illustration" />
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Credit: Mascha Tace/Shutterstock<p>Although maintaining relationships can help you cope, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.</p><p>As Dr. Jennifer L. Payne (an assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tells Everyday Health</a>: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation." </p><p>Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, and staying active.</p><p><strong>Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action. </strong></p><p>While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day. </p><p><strong>Support groups and social networking with people who understand. </strong></p><p>While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits. </p><p><strong>Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished. </strong></p><p>Keep a thought journal and detail certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete. </p><p><strong>Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good. </strong></p><p><a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/kindness-benefits-james-doty?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1596517476" target="_self">Being kind is good for your health</a> in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a <a href="https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/#:~:text=Kindness%20releases%20feel%2Dgood%20hormones&text=Doing%20nice%20things%20for%20others,as%20a%20%E2%80%9Chelper's%20high.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">temporary sense of euphoria</a> that can help combat depressive symptoms. </p>
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