“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.” – President Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 2013

This past October, only 67% of Americans believed that global warming is affecting the world, according to a pole by Pew Research Center. On a list of 20 world issues that the Congress and president needed to focus on, global warming ranked number 19 according to Americans.

In response to this, President Obama is currently working on a website that will enable Americans to view how the ever-changing climate is affecting their own regions and hometowns. John D. Podesta, Obama’s counselor, believes that “localizing this information gives a sense of how this affects people and spurs actions. If you’re thinking…how your local community will be affected, it’s likely to change that question of salience.”

Podesta and John P. Holdren, the White House science adviser, formed the idea of, which strives to illustrate data of calculated wildfires, dangerously rising sea levels and dry spells.

Their website is based on urgency and helping Americans to understand the necessity of focusing on the environment; it is also based on the necessity to prepare Americans for the affect that the damaged climate will have in the future. The Obama administration is currently helping governments to strengthen their methods of transportation, such as bridges, shorelines and roads, so that the local community would be protected from dangerous changes in weather that are more common because of the climate change.

Obama stated that one of the most important steps to alleviating climate change is to reinforce international relations. In doing so the US will work with other countries to find a global solution to this global challenge and spread action through major countries that contribute to pollution emissions.

In the beginning stages, Podesta and Holdren’s website will merely feature information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the United States Geological Survey and the Defense Department. They are expecting the first revealed page to primarily focus on sea levels and eroding and flooding coastal lines.

Most people are aware of Google Maps and Google Earth, Google’s projects in which you can locate most addresses on the globe, and they are considering mixing their ability to map with the government’s information on climate change and risk measurements.

With this website the US population will have a greater chance to understand the imminent danger that climate change is bringing, and they will also have a visual representation of the potential harm it could bring their states and hometowns.

– Rebecca Felcon

Sources: White House, The New York Times, Climate Action Plan
Photo: Politico

The Global Poverty Mapping Project, run by NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) in collaboration with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), is an attempt to increase the public’s general understanding of the global distribution of poverty. By creating maps that demonstrate the distribution of impoverished populations as well as the link of poverty to geographic and physical conditions, the project aims to assist policymakers and agencies in developing effective interventions to downsize global poverty.

Depictions of global poverty, either illustrative or written, tend to focus on economic representations based off of a country’s GDP or the percentage of a population that is living on less than a certain amount per day (for example, less than USD $1). Though these figures make the information easily accessible to a wide audience, such figures are not readily available at a sub-national level for many of the world’s countries. As such, the project utilizes five main data sets that were constructed by CIESIN: Unsatisfied Basic Needs, Small Area Estimates of Poverty and Inequality, Poverty and Food Security Case Studies, Global Subnational Prevalence of Child Malnutrition, and Global Subnational Infant Mortality Rates.

The child malnutrition and infant mortality rates are used to generate global and regional maps, while the mapping project synthesizes maps of smaller areas based on poverty and inequality. Each data set incorporates a vast array of variables, and as such, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, all of the data presented are direct indicators of poverty levels.

All of the maps that have been created by the project are available on their website. They can be searched and sorted by geographic area, data sets involved, and themes – including infrastructure, sustainability, and everything in between. The maps themselves represent a significant step forward in the fight against poverty. Having knowledge of problem areas is the first step in creating policy to combat it. By providing a statistical representation of the specific issues that affect these poverty-stricken areas, the Project has also compiled an invaluable resource for policy makers.

Poverty mapping has since found its place in a wide variety of media. The data has been used to support arguments and demonstrate a need for change in everything from NASA publications to New York Times articles. It has been applied to studies that focus on issues ranging from the dangers faced by small schools in earthquake-prone zones of Pakistan to measuring economic growth based on light production. By synthesizing and condensing the vast amount of data, the efforts of the Global Poverty Mapping Project have proved instrumental in highlighting the need for intervention in the fight against global poverty.

– Rebecca Beyer
Feature Writer

Sources: SEDAC, NASA, New York Times
Photo: Info Chimp

Nasa Development
A recent event held by the Society for International Development in Washington, DC highlighted the SEVIR program, a joint venture of NASA and USAID. Started in 2004 the program provides essential geospatial and earth-based observations to developing countries in Central America, Africa and the Himalayas. This information is used to monitor environmental impacts and natural disaster damages.

Science experts help convert the raw data into a usable form that governments and non-governmental organizations can use. USAID provides the developmental expertise to assist in directing this information to useful topics and applicable to issues confronting developing nations. SERVIR provides information in the following areas of interest for developing nations: water, weather, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, and air and health quality.

USAID also assists the host governments to build technological capacity. The program’s goal is for host governments to assume responsibility for the scientific data and application. In order to support this self-sustaining aspect the program implementers work closely with the host nations.

NASA and USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2011 that expanded SERVIR’s programs to include food security, climate change, and environmental and energy management.

NASA and USAID also partner with the State Department and Nike on LAUNCH, a program encouraging technology innovation in the private and public sectors to help create a better world. In April the LAUNCH partners held a conference focusing on sustainable material development. Under this call for technological innovation, individuals or teams may submit project ideas. Those selected will participate in a creative immersion project with funding opportunities.

Previous recipients of LAUNCH support include projects for clean water, renewable energy, and biodegradable vaccination needles, and future projects supported by NASA and USAID feature the promotion of education in the sciences.

The SID Washington event focused on SERVIR’s projects in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. The Himalayan regional node, launched in 2010, provides satellite imagery of rural, mountain areas previously unavailable. Countries served by the Himalayan regional node include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

– Callie D. Coleman

Sources: NASA, SIDW, Nike Inc.
Photo: Engadget


An international team of researchers recently received a $3.5 million grant from NASA to map the world’s crops. Using satellite data, NASA is hoping to create an information system that tracks what crops are being grown around the world and whether or not they are “irrigated or rain-fed.”

The information collected from the mapping project is expected to help forecast harvests, observe the global effects of climate change on crops, and determine where food aid is needed most.

The project is being developed in anticipation of increased global food demand over the next century. The world population is expected to increase by 2 billion between now and 2050, according to the United Nations. The mapping project will help establish where crop growth is most productive, which will be critical information as water demand increases along with population growth.

By 2050, the United Nations projects that global food demand will increase by 70%. Adding to the challenge of growing food demand is an increase in food prices. The NASA mapping project will hopefully mitigate both issues by presenting scientists with the data necessary to determine which areas are most conducive to crop growth throughout the world. More successful crop yields will help cushion from spikes in food prices, allowing more people throughout the world to purchase nutritious foods.

– Jordan Kline

Source: United Nations, Arizona Daily Sun
Photo: United Nations


In developing nations maternal deaths are far too common, and postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of deaths of mothers in these countries, accounting for nearly a quarter of all maternal deaths in the world according to the World Health Organization.

Postpartum hemorrhage is when the mother loses too much blood after giving birth, cutting off oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. This condition is very rare in developed countries because the medical care is much more advanced and available than in lower-income nations. Also, most women in poorer countries give birth at home and don’t have timely access to a hospital.

The non-pneumatic anti-shock garment, also called a lifewrap, is designed to combat this problem and lower the number of postpartum hemorrhage deaths. It’s made of simple materials—neoprene and Velcro—and was originally created by NASA for space programs. It was presented by health experts at the Women Deliver 2013 conference, a meeting of policymakers, researchers, and advocates to focus on women’s empowerment and health.

The lifewrap works by restricting blood flow, therefore limiting blood loss. The garment is wrapped around a women’s legs and abdomen to slow the bleeding and send oxygen back to the heart, lungs, and brain—areas that need it the most. The product is simple, yet it can be a lifesaver.

However, the lifewrap is intended to only be a way to buy time so that women can get to a hospital. With postpartum hemorrhage, they only have about two hours from the time the bleeding starts before they die of blood loss, and the lifewrap extends that time frame so that they can make it to a hospital to receive proper medication and care.

– Katie Brockman

Source: The Guardian, Women Deliver
Photo: The Guardian


NASA recently invested $125,000 in a project aimed to solve the challenges of supplying food in space missions. The project would astronauts to create their own food in space by utilizing 3D printers.

Just as a paper printer shapes ink to form letters, a 3D printer uses different materials to create a 3D object. To produce food for its astronauts in space, NASA is looking to print edible materials with 3D printers, including powdered forms of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients. 3D printers could be beneficial for long space voyages because powdered substances could last up to 30 years.

While NASA may be looking to use 3D food printers for space travel, there is great potential for the use of 3D printers here on Earth, namely to end world hunger. With the long shelf life of food produce by 3D printers, the concern of food being wasted due to spoilage disappears. The powdered forms of the nutrients are also easier to transport because they exist in a more compact state.

The nutrients used in a 3D printer can also be retrieved from unconventional sources. For instance, insects could be used as a source of protein, which the UN has noted recently as a way to fight world hunger. Insects are rich in protein, emit less greenhouse gases than livestock, and are easy to harvest. Whether or not insects are used as the protein source of printed foods, the 3D printer could allow for better transportation and longevity of nutrients, which would help considerably in the fight to end world hunger.

– Jordan Kline

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,National Geographic,Time Magazine
Photo: Wikipedia

Nike has partnered with NASA, USAID and the US Department of State to bring together specialists, designers, academics, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and NGOs to take action around a global challenge — sourcing and utilizing sustainable materials. A three-day LAUNCH 2020 Summit is planned for September 2013, highlighting the importance of innovation and collaboration in developing materials that will not have a negative impact on people and the planet.

It is estimated that around 150 billion garments were produced around the world in 2010, and by 2015 the global apparel industry is expected to produce more than 400 billion square meters of fabric every year. This massive industry has a tremendous effect on agriculture, natural resources, communities, and environmental damage due to toxins, waste and carbon emissions.

LAUNCH, started in 2010, seeks “innovations that will transform the system of fabrics to one that advances equitable global economic growth, drives human prosperity and replenishes the planet’s resources.”  This is what sustainability is all about; finding business practices that are not detrimental, while also allowing for continued growth.

There is also a LAUNCH 2013 Challenge Statement, an open call for innovators to invent new systems of producing fabrics. In August, 2013, the 10 strongest ideas will be selected and participants will take part in an intensive program to provide them access to “capital, creativity and capacity.” Three years ago LAUNCH chose astronaut Ron Garan’s innovation on clean water. Garan developed a concept to deliver clean water, energy and sanitation to poor communities, through the combination of sustainable development and carbon credits. As part of the LAUNCH process, Garan met with experts and investors to bring his idea to life. His Carbon for Water project has now successfully distributed one million filters that provide clean water to 4.5 million people in Kenya.

Nike also recently joined 32 other multinational companies, including eBay, IKEA, L’Oréal and Limited Brands, in signing a “Climate Declaration” asking federal policymakers to take action on climate change. As part of the declaration, the companies also asserted that over coming climate challenge is also one of the biggest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.

– Mary Purcell
Source: Sustainable Brands, LAUNCH



3D Printed Food
NASA is currently sponsoring Anjan Contractor, a senior mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC), with a grant through the Small Business Innovation program to create a 3D food printer that can create real, edible food from powder. The goal is to be able to create food that can be eaten in space with a long shelf life. The creators are trying to synthesize all the ingredients that are in normal food, like proteins, carbohydrates, and various other nutrients, into a powder form. Without the moisture, the food can last 30 years.

The researchers also say that the powders can come from some unlikely sources, such as algae, grass, and insects. The first product for the 3D food printer is pizza because the layers in the food make it easier to “print.” First the printer will bake the dough, then the other layers (with oil and water added to the powder) will be added one at a time to create a printable pizza. Also, each food will have its own unique software to allow the user to customize their printer and bake a variety of foods.

Although the creation was originally intended to provide astronauts tastier food that will last longer in space, the invention could also help end world hunger by making longer-lasting food that can be packed and shipped easily around the world to places that need it the most.

Katie Brockman

Source Los Angeles Times

What do NIKE, NASA, and USAID have in common? The search for sustainable materials to be used in the production of goods.  As members of LAUNCH, an initiative to raise awareness around the sustainable production of goods, NIKE, NASA, USAID, and the State Department recently gathered with 150 materials specialists, designers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and NGOS to ignite action around the issue.

The two-day LAUNCH 2020 Summit was opened by NIKE, INC. CEO Mark Parker. He stressed the importance of innovation and collaboration in the area of producing sustainable goods. The Summit also served to reveal the LAUNCH 2013 Challenge Statement. This is an open call for innovation in sustainable materials and good production. The challenge is create innovation in the system of producing fabrics and is open to both individuals and teams. In August, the 10 strongest ideas will be selected and granted access to creativity, capital, and capacity.

The materials used to produce goods play a significant role in the environment. LAUNCH was created to address this growing issue and to seek innovations solutions to global issues.  Three years ago, LAUNCH was able to provide the needed capital to get Astronaut Ron Garan’s clean water innovation into production.  His project-Carbon for Water-used carbon credits and a filter system to clean dirty water. His filter has provided  clean water for over 4.5 million Kenyans.  LAUNCH was also a key player in Gram Power, a program providing thousands of people in India affordable, renewable energy.

You can learn more about Launch at their website or sign up for the 2013 challenge here.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: NIKE, INC.
Video: Vimeo