Category Archives: UC Santa Barbara

The Future of our Oceans

Ours is a water planet. Technology is shaping our uses, both as foe and ally. It has made humans the dominant predator and provides us food, gives us half the oxygen we breathe and created many maritime jobs. But technology has also raised CO2 levels, caused acidic oceans, threatened ocean biodiversity and created grand climate challenges.

Marine biologists like Doug McCauley at UC Santa Barbara are also using technology to promote ocean health and provide a balance. In this talk, McCauley describes examples of technology used to help the oceans and marine biodiversity. He shows systems that track whale activity and communicate it to ships so they know where to slow down to avoid collisions. He describes technology to monitor marine protected areas, image recognition techniques to study the endangered giant sea bass and electronic tags to follow sharks.

McCauley began his career as a fisherman in the Port of Los Angeles. Eventually he migrated to marine science and UC Santa Barbara. McCauley has degrees in political science and biology from the UC Berkeley. His PhD research was done at Stanford University where he studied the ecology of sharks, giant parrotfish, and coral reef ecosystems. McCauley’s science is motivated by the belief that we must better understand how complex ocean ecosystems work if we want to better protect them from threats like overfishing, climate change, and pollution.

Watch — Technology: Friend or Foe for the Future of our Oceans

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A New Focus for Energy Efficiency

Our planet is experiencing worldwide growth in energy consumption and CO2 emission and is experiencing temperature rise and climate change at an accelerating rate. A new series from the Institute of Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara describes a path to reducing our energy consumption and CO2 emission.

The series kicks off with John Bowers, Director of the Institute of Energy Efficiency and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials, discussing the evolution of photonics and what the future holds for more efficient, higher capacity data centers, which are important for machine learning and data processing.

Fiber optics has transformed our work and, indeed, our lives, by enabling the Internet through low-cost, high-capacity fiber optic transmission. In data centers, fiber optics is replacing electrical cables, thereby allowing for higher and more economical performance.

Watch — A New Focus for Energy Efficiency

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Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

Kishinev, the rampage that broke out in late-Tsarist Russia, has been described as foreshadowing the Holocaust itself. In April 1903, 49 Jews were killed, 600 raped or wounded, and more than 1,000 Jewish-owned houses and stores were ransacked and destroyed during three days of violence in the Eastern European city.

Steven Zipperstein, Stanford University, discusses how the attacks seized the imagination of an international public, quickly becoming the prototype of what would become known as a pogrom and providing the impetus for efforts such as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and the NAACP.

Zipperstein brings historical insight and clarity to a much-misunderstood event that would do so much to transform twentieth-century Jewish life and beyond. The pogrom was well documented but mythology played a key role in the aftermath of the event. Kishinev came to seem as the prelude to the Holocaust with its state-directed mob violence. Zipperstein explains why he is skeptical of this determinism and explores some of the distortions.

Watch — Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History with Steven Zipperstein

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Investing for Good

What if you could align your values with your investment portfolio?

Leaders from the world of impact investing discuss what it means to invest for good. Their stories are fascinating and you will understand the path of early stage ventures that create meaningful social and environmental value.

First up is a panel with Lewam Kefela, Investor at VilCap Investments; Noushin Ketabi, Founder of Vega Coffee; Nancy Swanson, Executive Director of Linked Foundation. The moderator is Julia Sze an impact Investment strategy advisor. They discuss their paths to investing for good.

Then, Kat Taylor, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Radicle Impact, talks about the problem with the banking system and how it can be fixed. She is the CEO of the Oakland-based Beneficial State Bank, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to bring beneficial banking to low-income communities in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

Watch — Investing for Good: Women in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Series

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The Great Immigration Debate

Is immigration an overall benefit, or burden to society? That’s was the central question posed at the 2019 Arthur N. Rupe debate at UC Santa Barbara. Rubén Rumbaut, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine, takes the position that immigration is not only good, but necessary for the success of the United States. Taking the stance that immigration needs to be scaled back and tightly controlled is Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a controversial organization that has been designated an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The participants began by laying out their visions for the hallmarks of good immigration policy. Rumbaut leans heavily on the ideas that the population of the United States is aging, fewer children are being born, and our pension and social security systems will fall into crisis without an influx of new workers. Thus, he argues immigration is necessary to prop up those systems, strengthen the labor force, and repopulate shrinking towns across the country. Krikorian’s central idea is the polar opposite. He argues the United States is in good shape, and has no need for new immigration. Therefore, he says immigration policy should seek to have a net zero impact on the economy. He proposes updating the system to only accept immediate family members of current US citizens, and set the bar for skilled immigration to “Einstein” levels, meaning only people at the top of their fields.

Both debaters address several aspects of immigration policy, from big picture concepts like measuring success, to details such as how many people from any given group should be granted citizenship each year. While their differences of opinion are clear throughout the debate, they do find agreement on one issue: the current long-term population of undocumented immigrants in the United States should be granted amnesty.

With a topic as complex and divisive as immigration, it is not surprising to see more disagreement than agreement. But, finding some common ground is essential if any real progress is to be made. Whatever your stance, this debate provides some insight into the other side of the argument.

Watch — Immigration: A Boon or Burden to U.S. Society? – 2019 Arthur N. Rupe Great Debate

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