Video: When America sneezes, Latin America catches the flu [OECD]

I haven’t been able to devote lots of attention to the blog lately (sniff). That said I’m going to try to toss up videos/media until I can plow through a backlog of posts I’ve been wanting to write.

Right now I’m trying to learn more about finance in Latin America and the Caribbean. If you want to do business incubation, you gotsta know about finance and local markets. It’s also important to know how the American financial crisis is going to effect people in the places we work, especially given that “when America sneezes, Latin America catches the flu”. For instance, the communities we work with like La Florida, Nueva Alianza, etc. depend on the production of coffee and other commodities whose prices are very volatile.

Duration: 3 min 53 sec

Jeff Dayton-Johnson, Chief Economist for Latin America at the OECD Development Centre talks about the effect on the financial crisis on the region. Around 1 min 48 sec, he talks about fiscal policy and how it relates to reduction poverty and inequality. Over the past several years, Latin America as a whole has increased spending on public services like education, but they still are not seeing the same benefits for the amount of money spent as other countries in Europe per se.

Dayton-Johnson mentions the OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) studies that look at how 15 year olds around the world perform on standardized tests that cover reading, math and science. If you’re interested in playing around with the data and learning how the mean math scores between boys and girls vary in Chile compared to the US, click here [PISA Country Profiles]

Related posts:
Entrepreneurship Principles from the African Leadership Academy
Video: Triple Hit for Developing Countries – Food, Fuel and Finance [World Bank]

Video: Climate Change – Wake Up, Freak Out — Then Get a Grip

A marvelous bit of animation discussing the potential impending eco-apocalypse. It feels very Children of Men-esque. Perhaps it’s the British accents.

Topics discussed include the Albedo Effect, changes in carbon absorption capacity of natural carbon sinks as well as the impact of uncondensed water vapor and methane on the Earth’s ecosystem. They do a nice job of explaining how the Earth’s current climate is very sensitive to seemingly small changes in temperature. They contend that a 1 degree increase in the Earth’s temperature could push us past a critical threshold that will cause widespread desertification, mass extinction of plant and animal species and much doom, i.e. war, uncontrolled migration, starvation, etc.

Their call to action to CONSUME LESS falls a little flat after their dire warnings. Worldchanging suggests that this might have been a more appropriate call to action, though consuming less would of course be step 1:

What we need is to completely reconstruct our civilization. For starters, we need better cities, smart grids, innovative architecture and wilderness preservation. We hope that one end result will be a society in which we consume less not because we all make the altruistic decision to abstain, but because we actually need fewer resources to support prosperous and attractive lifestyles.

Read the video’s script, plus references.

Scientists light methane gas trapped underneath ice in a lake near Fairbanks, Alaska

This video, recorded in November of 2007, on a lake near Fairbanks, shows Katey Walter from University of Alaska at Fairbanks and a research team drilling a hole through lake ice, then lighting the escaping methane. This video was shot by Carla Browning of University Relations at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Related posts:
Today in We’re Doomed: This Summer’s Arctic Sea Ice Melting
John Doerr on Global Warming at This Year’s TED Conference
2007/2008 Human Development Report focuses on Climate Change
So how do we get to Gore’s 100% renewable? Part 1
Kyoto, Mon Amour: 5 things you might not know about the Protocol

Video: History and Science of LEDs [Make, Rad Science]

Duration: 5 min 29 sec

Take a tour through the world of the light-emitting diode and learn – who invented it, how to use it, and how to make your own.

A far more sciencey version

Duration: 5 min 19 sec

In this edition of Rad Science, Dr. Kiki explains the science inside the LED, or “light-emitting diode.”

LED Tutorial

How to Build an LED Light – Part 1

Duration: 4 min 20 sec

Casey gives step by step instruction on how to build your own light fixture of light emitting diodes. Check out the site at

How to Build an LED Light – Part 2

Duration: 9 min 56 sec

Related posts:
Universal LED Circuit Board Project
What can you do with 400 watts?
Useful videos from MAKE Magazine
White LED Lighting in the Developing World
Green Christmakwanzakah: LED Lights

Event: 60 years of human rights [Harvard KSG]

60 Years of Human Rights: the Idea and the Reality
Date: Human Rights Day, Wednesday December 10, 2008
Time: 6PM (Ticketed event)
Location: JFK School, Harvard University 79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Speakers: Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and
Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University
Paul Farmer, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Partners in Health;The Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine, Harvard University Medical School
President Drew Gilpin Faust (Moderator), Harvard University

Post-Forum concert:
Oumou Sangare, Oumou Sangare is Mali’s great diva, champion of women’s rights, and one of the world’s most astounding female voices


Go to WWW.IOP.HARVARD.EDU between Monday, December 1 & 12:00 noon on Monday, December 8. Winners will be notified via email on the evening of Monday, December 8. Winners must be available to pick-up their tickets on Tuesday, December 9 from 9:00 am-5:00 pm at the Institute of Politics.


AIDG's 4th Annual Holiday Party

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I wanted to invite you to join me and the rest of the AIDG team for food, drinks and conversation at our 4th Annual Holiday Party. It's time to celebrate the good works that you helped make happen. As an added bonus, two of our teammates based in Guatemala will be in town for the festivities. Don't miss the chance to meet the crew. Click here to RSVP online.

Can’t wait to see you.

Warm Regards,

Cat Laine

Who: The AIDG team and you

What: Our way of saying thanks to the people who make our work possible

When: Sunday December 14, 2008 4 – 7 pm

Where: AIDG's Office at Encuentro5
33 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111 (Chinatown)

Getting to the Party

Why: Because fighting against poverty and for environmental sustainability is a team effort. We couldn’;t do it without you.

To save cash and trees, we're doing mainly online invites this year instead of our normal paper ones. Please pass this message on to any friends you think might be interested. The more, the merrier!!!

Click here to RSVP online.


If you want to volunteer at the event (you know you want to!), email me at That goes double, if you have questions or problems RSVP’ing.

AIDG starts small businesses in Haiti and Guatemala to help underserved communities get affordable renewable energy, sanitation and clean water.

* FYI: the bird on the invite is the quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala, and the namesake for the town we’re based in, Quetzaltenango.

Video: Recycle your old gadgets [CNET Insider Secrets]

A lot of people in the tech community were moved by the recent 60 Minutes piece, the Electronic Wasteland, which showed how our toxic e-waste is being shipped to developing countries namely China. Tom Merritt from my favorite podcast, Buzz Out Loud, gives advice on “how to recycle responsibly or maybe even make some cash” from your old gadgets.

From making a few bucks to making sure you don’t poison people,we give you comprehensive tips on proper gadget disposal.

Related posts:
Video: Electronic Wasteland – Where your gadgets go after they die [CBS 60 Minutes]
E-Dump or how I learned to stop upgrading and love my old gadgets [Photos, Video]
Video: E Trash Plagues China [Greenpeace]
Link of the Day: Ex-Phone
Video: E-Waste PSA – High-tech Trash [GOOD Magazine]