The Future of Science

For millions of years nature has been the only one responsible for evolution, now it has a competitor- humans. Our species has figured out ways to ‘out smart’ mother nature and learn to shape and control our own evolution. Today we can do many things. We can shape our bodies to ‘perfection’, increase our ‘strength’ or take pills that help us change our body functions. All these activities have gone from something found in science fiction books to a very normal and popular way of life for some.

But are humans going too far? Do we really have the knowledge and the experience to replace nature in its job? It seems that humans think so. Latest science experiences have enabled humans to take a cell from a tissue, make into a stem cell and recreate any part of the body needed. This leads not only to body part recreations, but full copies of animals. So far this type of science has been limited to animals, but with the advancement of science at such a rapid pace it is no longer unlikely to someday see humans making copies of themselves.

Now a days medical scientists are spending a big portion of their time and money trying to figure out cures for cancer and cardiovascular problems that are common in prosperous countries rather than focusing on infectious disease which are more likely to plague individuals in the tropics.  Most importantly, it is interesting to see how our brains are changing due to the fact that people are getting more inputs in one day as they used to in their entire lifetime. The effects of such a hyper active world are evident, individuals that are born with autisms increased from 6.7 in every 1,000 to 11.4 in 1,000 between 2006 to 2008. This increase is rapid but scientists don’t understand what is it caused by. There should be more research that helps us understand the effects of modern evolution on our brains and bodies.

The bottom line is this, humans cannot possibly understand and use science in a more efficient way for evolution than nature can. The fact is visible through the world we live in today. Humans are the only species with high intelligence and capacity than any other on the planet, yet we are also the only species that puts material values above others. This importance on materiality has led to an unjust world where in the 21st century the poor are getting more poor, while the rich become more rich. People with wealth and power have a influence on modern science, politics, policy, education, as well as every other aspect of our lives.

The question of whether science is getting out of control is valuable and timely. What we should really be asking ourselves though is whether we believe humans should have such an immense power of controlling not only their own evolution, but that of bacteria and the environment around us. Without the right monitoring, as well as good stakeholder engagement, the future of science could be more harmful than helpful. Maybe its best to keep things such as evolution to those with more experience and those without self interest or ego. It’s best left to mother nature.
Carter, Beth. (2012) “Science May Soon Give Us Pills That Make Us Exercise”. Wired. Accessed on June 15, 2012 from:

Enriquez, Juan. (2012) “Will our kids be a different species?” TED. Accessed on June 5, 2012 from:

Motivation and Info-flow

Why is motivation important for the work office? The answer is simple, it is always hard to convince others to do something that you yourself are not willing to do. It is also harder to convince others to believe in something that you yourself might not believe in. In order to motivate anyone to do anything you must not only full-heartedly believe in the thing you are promoting, but know from personal experience how this passion can be ignited in others. As a leader, you must always lead by example and having personal experience in your area of focus truly helps.

Another way you can spread motivation is through internal office communication. I was very surprised to see that nowadays companies can use tools similar to that of facebook’s status updates for employee interaction. For instance, The-Hub in Madrid uses “Microblogging & Flow of Internal Communications” to get updates on the thoughts of each individual, where they are or what they plan to do. Sharing of such information and ideas can help an organization get new inspirations, create new connections, network or simply stay connected in a dynamic way. Information has always been valuable for any organization and such interactive communication is a magical tool for the creation of value and motivation within the office. In my opinion it is a tool that ought to be implemented by all organizations!


Apple’s road to innovation requires some sacrifice

How does a company come to dominate the world of technology? We are not just talking about one sector, such as smart phones, but are referring to computers and music devices as well. If we ask the company senior executives the answer is simple – innovation.

The type of innovation we are talking about includes market changing devices, such iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTouch and now, iKill? I believe that this is exactly what is happening on the market, and what it took to renovate the current technology manufacturing sector.

Since 2010, Apple has been under fire after workers at its Foxconn factory committed suicide, due to a physically and morally demanding environment. With long working hours and dangerous working environments, neither the workers, nor the factory leaders have much to say. The cause for these problem lies with Apple, who must produce new gadgets at a cheap price in a short notice. Such a rigorous and demanding schedule doesn’t give much room for international labor standards.

In fact, when checking the CSR policy of Apple we see much focus concerning the quality of products rather than specific concerns for the suppliers. Of course, while there is information about audits and re-precautionary actions for suppliers that don’t abide by their laws, reality is much different than what’s written in the books. To prove this, despite previous scandals, and a new investigation by the Fair Labor Association, which proves in-compliance with Apple rules, the company has failed to find a new supplier. 

In fact, “More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple’s reports, and in some instances have violated the law.” (New York Times) Considering that even Apple’s Code of Ethics is focused more on property rights than employee protection, it is easy to see where the company focuses most of its concerns and resources.

Yet pointing the blame only on the company is wrong. We must focus on consumers as well, after all, why is the company working so hard to produce cheap and new products? Its all for us, the consumers, who have come to rely on cheap goods without bothering to see where and how the products we buy were made.

As for Apple, CSR is far from being implemented into its supply chain. Its Supplier Code of Conduct wasn’t created until 2005, when many of its competitors already had theirs. We can see that rather than also being a leader is CSR, the company is running on reactive mode. It has no desire to change its current way of operation, which has made it very profitable. Instead, they address issues that turn into scandals, hoping to save their reputation and give the consumers the idea that they are being responsible.

As a New York Times article mentioned, “until consumers demand better conditions in overseas factories — as they did for companies like Nike and Gap, which today have overhauled conditions among suppliers — or regulators act, there is little impetus for radical change.  And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.” (New York Times)

Maybe the real question is, will the consumers and followers of Apple reward the company for its social responsibility as much as they do for innovation? Until the answer to the question is yes, business will proceed as usual.


Apple Supplier Code of Conduct. Accessed on April 28th, 2012 from:

Duhigg, C & Barboza, D. (2012) “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an Ipad.” New York Times. Accessed on April 27th, 2012 from:

SME with you and me

The success of a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) comes from knowing and understanding the needs of the local community. After all, it is the demand of the locals that an SME tries to cater to. After finding its ‘niche’ the enterprise delves into it, perfects it and, if done correctly, finds success.

With the above said, a good phrase that helps describe the future of enterprises is: “Think locally, act globally” because their local community keeps growing and expanding thanks to powerful communication tools. To maintain leadership in this field, managers need to always ask themselves: Do we know the needs of our local community?

REACH Policy

Consider this: we are living in the “era of a great biological experiments,” there are more than 100,000 man made chemical compounds, many of whose effects on the human body we don’t know.

Many of these compounds are not found in nature and can’t break down. These chemicals get exposed to vegetables and fruits in the form of pesticides, or get washed with the rain and find their way into the ocean. Here, they are eaten up by small fish and enter their way into the human food chain. Since they accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals, by the time they reach our plate, their toxicity and negative effects are multiplied in our bodies after consumption.

Nonetheless, the food chain is not the only place where we encounter these chemicals. They are also found in our cosmetics, clothing, wallpaper, detergents, medicines, and almost anything else we can imagine using throughout the day.

Bearing this in mind, the REACH policy is one of the most important policies we covered in class, for it helps in the organization and listing of these chemicals. Chemicals which otherwise would have gone unnoticed or unrecognized by the human population and scientists alike.

The registration process asks manufacturers of the chemicals to provide as much information about their substance as they can. This includes information about the its chemical make up, how it ought to be properly used, what are the known negative effects, and a procedure list of what to do in the case of an emergency.

Lets see how registration works. Substance produced below 1 ton do not have to be registered, unless very toxic. Substances produced in quantities of 1 ton or more, have to be listed in the ‘technical dossier’- this includes the classification and guidance on safe use of the product. Chemicals manufactured in volumes of 10 tons or more must be listed in the ‘chemical safety report’- this analyzes the risk measures of the chemical, and gives further information about its use along the life cycle.

The idea of the REACH program is to make the listing of toxic chemicals more organized, transparent and available for the use of scientists, policy makers and the public. It also aims at jumpstarting innovative ideas by trying to find substitutes for substances that are just too toxic to be on the market.

So far, however, the policy has faced much criticism. Small companies find it very costly to attend various REACH meetings, install IT software to complete registration, or find translators who can explain the policy to them (the policy is only available in English). As we say, ‘the devil is in the details,’ but this is one policy that is worth maintaining for it serves as the first line of defense against human exposure to lab made toxins, which are found everywhere and whose effects we still don’t fully understand.

Work Cited:
Unknown. (2007) “REACH.” European Commission. Accessed on March 20, 2012 from:

Sociedad y Medio Ambiente

La Responsabilidad Corporativa de las empresas es muy importante dentro de la sostenibilidad del mundo.

Cada empresa tiene dos áreas en las que se necesitan enfocar: sociedad y medio ambiente. Los dos son muy importantes, ya que cada empresa tiene un gran efecto sobre estas dos áreas.


La sociedad es la parte más esencial para las empresas, ya que la calidad de vida de cada trabajador va a determinar el éxito y la rentabilidad de éstas. Si el trabajador está feliz, tiene una vida cómoda, y puede enfocarse en su trabajo, su eficiencia será más alta y podrá cumplir con sus responsabilidades en menor tiempo. Si las empresas se preocupan por sus trabajadores y los ayudan con sus problemas, tendrán trabajadores más dedicados y mejorarán la retención de los mismos.

La realidad es que, “más que 36% de trabajadores quiere trabajar para otra empresa a los 12 meses.”  Los trabajadores tienden a sentir exceso de trabajo y que sus jefes no están interesados en cosas que son importantes para ellos. Entonces, para cambiar este sentimiento, las empresas necesitan cambiar su estructura. Esto puede lograrse mediante cambios en el horario, por ejemplo, con una sistema “flex hour”, donde los trabajadores pueden trabajar cada día una hora más, y recibir una día libre cada dos semanas. También, ellos pueden usar “tele-working”, donde los trabajadores pueden trabajar un día de cada semana desde su casa.

Esta flexibilidad es muy importante, porque las vidas de los trabajadores pueden estar complicadas y en ocasiones éstos  necesitan un tiempo para resolver otros asuntos. Cuando ellos tienen días libres o pueden trabajar desde sus casas, suelen tener un gran beneficio, especialmente aquellos que tienen familia o necesita ayudar a familiares de la tercera edad.

Medio Ambiente

Cada persona tiene una responsabilidad en la salud y la seguridad del medio ambiente. Cuando tenemos una atmósfera altamente contaminada, tendemos a tener problemas con la salud. Buscando huir de esta situación, los trabajadores tienden a irse a las afueras de la ciudad, incrementándose la distancia entre el hogar y el trabajo. Las distancias hacen necesario el uso del coche o el transporte público. En caso que las vías estén congestionadas o el transporte público sea deficiente, los trabajadores asociarán con facilidad su trabajo con estrés y una baja calidad de vida.

Por las razones mencionadas, las empresas necesitan ayudar con el transporte a sus trabajadores. Ellos pueden hacer eso con “car pooling”, acción mediante la cual los trabajadores que residan cerca o en el mismo camino se van en un solo vehículo. Esta estrategia puede ayudar a tener trayectos menos estresante y más económicos al pagar la gasolina en conjunto. Bonos para el uso del transporte masivo puede asimismo ayudar a disminuir el número de vehículos en las calles.

Otra oportunidad para la movilidad puede ser el desarrollo de vías de transporte sostenible, tales como el de la bicicleta. En tal caso, incentivos para su uso puede constituir una estrategia por parte de la empresa. Para incentivar este tipo de transportes, puede realizarse el “Día de transporte sostenible” o concursos que permitan premiar a aquellos trabajadores que tengan en uso alternativas más sostenibles.


La movilidad sostenible dependerá de que las empresas tomen conciencia sobre las dos dimensiones planteadas, es decir, sociedad y medio ambiente. Partiendo de ahí, conocer las necesidades de los empleados es importante. Una mesa presencial o virtual para proponer ideas puede incluir a los empleados y realizar sugerencias pertinentes.

La comunicación de estas intenciones puede generar vínculos de pertenencia con la empresa y favorecer la innovación interna. Un futuro más sostenible y rentable lo queremos todos, las empresas pueden dar su aporte enfrentando estos temas.

Leopold, Ronald. (2011) “Employee Loyalty is Declining: Helping Employers Use Benefits as One Retention Strategy.” Benefits Pro. Accessed on March 1, 2012 from:

Climate Change: Cable Car Metro in Medellin, Colombia

Imagine riding high above the hills as you start your morning commute. With the busy traffic and  small communities under your feet, the ride is smooth, quick and cheap. This is the idea behind the Cable Cars Metro project constructed in Medellin, Colombia. Operated by Empresa de Transporte Masivo del Valle de Aburrá Ltda (ETMVA), the project envisioned the installation of six cable cars which would be connected to the local metro, providing a mass transit option in the hilly town.

Four of the six cable cars have already been built. Lines K, J, Arvi and Centro Occidental connect with the metro at various points, allowing hassle free and safe transit, which also cuts greenhouse gas emissions. The last three cable cars are yet to be constructed, but will contribute to current reduction of 20,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

Saving the Environment

The town of Medellin is surrounded by hills where steep roads, crowded houses (that are often constructed illegally), high pollution and never ending traffic is common staple. This project has contributed to the decline of pollutants such as: particulate matter (PM10), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), resulting in less ozone formulation and overall global GHG release.

The global environment is not the only party that received a boost from the project. The local community, where the cable cars were constructed, experienced a positive impact as well. Due to a decrease in local bus usage, which was old and released much exhaust, the new form of transit helps minimize the number of car accidents.  It also lowers the probability of individuals suffering from respiratory disease thanks to improved air quality.

Without a doubt, the local community is most excited about the social benefits this project has brought them. The addition of foot bridges (which make crossing from one neighborhood to the other much easier),  computer centers (where students can do homework), and decline in gang activity, has significantly improved local living conditions. Of course, the creation of new job opportunities has played a big influence, adding new sources of income and giving the locals something to be proud of.

The reason this project has been such a success lies in its preparation process, in which local stakeholders were extensively included. Individuals who had to be displaced due to construction signed agreements with the municipality, ensuring that all members were taken care of.

Innovation Risks

As is true with any innovative idea, the high moving cable cars were not always seen so favorable. By being unique, it is the first mass transit cable car system of its kind, meant the community required an adjustment period. Even today, some locals still prefer the use of buses and taxis, restraining the community from even further GHG reductions.

A second barrier lies in the corruption woes of the ETMVA. Plagued by the cost and length of its previous project, the construction of the local metro, the ETMVA faced investment barriers, as not many investors wanted to donate to a company faced with lawsuits. In addition, the construction of the fist cable car route also experienced higher costs than predicted. A whopping 1.28 million USD  in additional costs, which made questions of corruption impossible to ignore.

The last barrier relates to the new technology required in building such a mass scale transport system, many kilometers above the ground. The questions of safety, maintenance and operation of these cable cars required a lengthy period before being approved. Nonetheless, the fact that all cable cars operate in the same manner, with a maximum capacity of 10 individuals in one car, the success of this transit system can be easily duplicated in other cities and countries. In fact, countries such as Panama and Brasil have already asked Colombia for consultation and aid with their own cable car projects.


It is without a doubt that the construction of this small scale project has had many positive influences on this Colombian community. The better quality of life, thanks to less traffic accidents and costs, has also made Medellin more green. The area in which it was constructed is quite poor, but since the completion of the project and reduction of GHG emissions, a more tranquil and sustainable way of life has emerged.

Keeping in mind that Medellin is not located in the coast line of the country, and does not face immediate climate change effects, its long-term contribution to the community is more than likely. The fact that the neighborhood is not located next to great bodies of water or glaciers means that no direct negative impact will harm the project. In fact, the construction of these sustainability projects tries to mitigate any major negative impacts Colombia might face in the future.

This success story is nicely summarized in a video report that can be seen here:
Imagen de previsualización de YouTube


CDM. (2009). “Cable Cars Metro Medellin, Colombia.” UNFCCC. Accessed February 16, 2012 from:

Gjelten, Tom. (2009). “Climate Change Poses Threat to Colombian Coast.” NPR. Accessed on February 16, 2012 from:

Unknown. (2011). “Eco-friendly transport in Colombia.” Deutsche Welle. Accessed February 16, 2012 from:!


Rural Development: Freshwater Depletion

Fresh water is necessary for all living species on Earth, after all, that is the only thing that sets this planet apart from others. Seeing water everywhere, and having it readily available in the developed world, has made water seem like an abundant commodity. This notion, however, couldn’t be more false.

The water that covers the surface of our planet is 97% saline water, the other 3% of fresh water, which is the resource we rely on the most, is found in surface water (0.3%), ground water (30.1%), icecaps and glaciers (68.7%), and  others (0.9%), such as water vapor and clouds. From the surface water that is utilized, much of it is found in lakes (87%), swamps (11%) and rivers (2%).

Unfortunately, much of the 30.4% freshwater that is more readily available for consumption is channeled to mainly agriculture. In fact, 67% of this water goes towards irrigation, food production, and farming.  The rest goes towards industry, households and water supply. Considering that much of this precious resource is sucked up by our food supply, it is very important to evaluate its efficiency and quality.

The current agricultural picture is dramatically inefficient. Many big crops such as rice, cotton and sugar require high quantities of water, but produce little yield. For instance, to grow just 1 kilo of rice, a farmer must use 5,000 liters of water. On a global scale, growing rice in 2008 required 394 million metric tons of water. (Ronca)

In addition to high water absorbing crops, which are economically unprofitable but are continually grown thanks to government subsidies, the current drainage and irrigation system results in much water waste. “The World Wildlife Fund estimated that only 20 – 50% of water extracted for farming actually reaches the crops.” (Ronca) This inefficiency results from agricultural land that is not flat on which water travels downhill, becoming unreachable for crops in the higher area. Switching to a more specific irrigation system, such as drip irrigation, where water is flown through a feeder to specific areas, ensures that the water is distributed with higher control and efficiency.

The biggest concern, however, lies in the pollution of the freshwater used for agriculture. When this water runs off from the land it is rich in pesticides, livestock manure and other chemicals which pollute other water channels, negatively impacting the entire water cycle.  High amounts of this toxicity will result in the complete inability for humans to utilize the limited resources of freshwater.

This issue is becoming more alarming as water demands increased. The director of International Water Management Institute, Frank Rijsberman, mentioned that: “globally, water usage has increased by six times in the past 100 years and will double again by 2050, [which is] driven mainly by irrigation and demands of agriculture.” The future scenario of water supply is not just a speculation. In fact, “many countries have already ran out of water to produce their own food”. (Guardian)

If more efficient and cleaner measures are not implemented, the production of further food for consumption will face even great obstacles. The continued increase of population will put a higher demand on food and without the ample supply of freshwater this will be impossible. Increased concerns of water wars, global protests and violence around water are all a probable reality.

The bottom line is, humans need their food, but without freshwater no living species will survive. It is important to start using our scarce and valuable resource wisely, and no change is more vital than in the agricultural sector.

Work Cited:

Ronca, Debra. (2011). “What’s the biggest threat to freshwater habitats?” How Stuff Works. Accessed on February 6, 2012 from:

USGS. (2011). “How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth?” Water Science for Schools. Accessed on February 6, 2012 from:

USGS. (2011). “Earth’s Water Distribution.” Water Science for Schools. Accessed on February 6, 2012 from:

Vidal, John. (2006). “Cost of water shortage: civil unrest, mass migration and economic collapse.” The Guardian. Accessed on February 6, 2012 from:

Innovation: Opening doors to ideas

The importance of innovation has never been so critical as it is today. In today’s fast paced world, where new technologies, new trends, ideas, social media platforms and companies of all sizes come and go, it is vital for any organization to be flexible. Learning to adapt to the latest trends, the needs of the clients and demands of the market, determines whether one survives or is buried under a pile of everything “new”.

At the moment, there are two main techniques with which an organization, individual or a company can stay ahead and be innovative. These techniques are ‘lead user innovation’ and ‘open innovation’.  The first technique, lead user innovation, relies on the employment of users who are well educated in the market they are working on. These users will have the following two characteristics, they will: “ face needs that will be general in a marketplace – but face them months or years before the bulk of the marketplace encounters them; and expect to benefit significantly by obtaining a solution to those needs”.  (von Hippel)

The second technique, open innovation, relies on the companies implementation of outside inputs when creating a new idea. These inputs can come from consultants, other organizations and most importantly, directly from the clients. There are three ways of implementing these different ideas, “crowd-sourcing, user-driven innovation and co-creation, all tools and techniques that are used within the paradigm of open innovation.” (Lindegaard)

The three techniques of open innovation address the different aspects of implementing outside sources in the creation and execution of a new product. Firstly, the use of crowd-sourcing relies on the marketing of an idea, and the utilization of the clients ideas for the creation of a product. The user-driven innovation comes from analyzing the behavior of the user, and addressing their needs through gathering information and pattern of product use. Finally, co-creation is the process where the company and the client work together to update an existing product and make it more efficient.

Whether a company or an organization rely on open innovation or lead user techniques, the bottom line is, the birth of good and brilliant ideas come from networking. It is the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and spur of the moment creativity that lead to market changing products. These products are created not only by the company, but also by the clients who use them on a daily basis and have a good vision of what can be added or taken away to make their favorite product even better.

In a world of cut throat competition, and ever changing ideas, staying ahead of the pack determines the survival of a company. By not being afraid of opening ones doors to new ideas and changes, and through the correct utilization of these techniques, any company can see a successful and profitable future.

Work Cited:

Hippel, E & Riggs, W. (1996). “A Lead User Study of Electronic Home Banking Services: Lessons from the Learning Curve.” MIT. Accessed on February 7, 2012 from

Lindegaard, S. (2011). “Making Open Innovation Work.” Stefan Lindegaard. Accessed on February 7, 2012 from

EIA/SEA: The road to development- is it paved with good intentions?

Azerbaijan, a country that in 1991 declared independence from the Soviet Union, is looking to expand and strengthen its trans-national trade. The proposed “Masalli-Astara” motorway, (which will be funded by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Republic of Azerbaijan), looks to upgrade an entire 240 km of existing highway known as M3. This road will increase trade between Russia and Iran, helping to revive the trade, strengthen the economy and create new employment opportunities. However, the main question is: “At what price?”

Despite the many economical benefits of the project, the main concern lies in the negative environmental, social and health impacts. The fact that the government is considering this project to be so important that no ‘without project’ scenario was discussed shows how political interests outweigh any other concerns.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Report from September 2011, listed the following as areas of concern:

– destruction of trees found in the Red Book
– aggravation of a national nature reserve housing indigenous plants and trees
– division and displacement of communities
– decreased food production from channeling agricultural land to other uses
– spread of sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV/AIDS
– noise and vibration impacts
– water, air and soil pollution
– negative long-term cultural impacts due to increased traffic
– possible destruction of historical, cultural and archeological sites
– lack of representation and participation of the local community

The EIA report, concludes that the “anticipated adverse environmental impacts can be minimized to acceptable levels through the implementation of adequately funded environmental management and monitoring”. (Report, pg 75) However, the report goes on to state that “the entire environmental program at the Azerbaijan Road Service, (which will be responsible for monitoring), is still more a concept than a reality, [and] none of the specified monitoring functions by the designated agencies have been satisfactorily performed in-country.” (pg 65) The lack of skilled technical staff with, little previous experience of implementation and management of such projects, demonstrates that once the project starts, there will be a high probability of low transparency, accountability and monitoring.

Without the necessary and adequate mitigation skills, any probable negative impact could become extremely dangerous. The process of complaint, in case such incidents occur, is long and bureaucratic, making any incident of violation hard to prove and prevent.

This case is a perfect example of the price developing countries are willing to pay to increase their economy, despite the obvious social and environmental price tags these projects carry. The question is: “What will be more beneficial in the long-run, executing the project or safeguarding the environmental and social interests?” It is worth discussing this case further to examine the answers.


Work Cited:

ADB. (2011). “AZE: Road Network Development Program Masalli-Astara Motorway.” Asian Development Bank. Accessed on February 7, 2012 from:…/39176-023-aze-eia.p.

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