Building a Coconut Coir/Soil Moisture Sensor with SMS: Wouldn’t it be great if you could automate your home irrigation? Wouldn’t it be cool if your coconut would communicate with you when it needed water? You’d be able so save water, money and become good friends with a coconut! Here is a tutorial on how to start communicating with one. It takes you from the very basic steps of installing modules, to soldering your cables, to setting up SMS, and later on… increasing the complexity by adding PV and automated irrigation. Good times!

Water Equity and Rationing in California: Since 2011 many areas across California have experienced their drighest years on record, with conditions barely improving, and in some cases worsening, since then. Reservoirs and snowpack water content have recorded some of the lowest measurements ever recorded, with users (individuals, towns and cities) using groundwater to buffer the potentially devastating effects of the drought. Among other strategies, rationing has been one of they key strategies that the state has adopted to better manage its water resources. April 1st 2015 marked the first day in California’s history when mandatory water reductions were instated state wide. By using an executive order, Governor Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25% reduction on California’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90% of California residents. Since then, local agencies have been responsible for allocating restrictions to reduce water consumption and monitor compliance…

A Brief History of Mexico and Oil: In 1979, Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo (1976 – 1982) announced to the world that Mexico had begun exploiting ‘Cantarell’, the world’s third largest oil field at the time (just behind the Ghawar and Burgan fields of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). This bounty came with promises of jobs, technological development, commitment to industrialization, and sustainable city-building. Above all, Lopez Portillo (and his team of experts) stressed that this windfall of wealth would be reinvested in Mexico to guarantee a future ‘beyond Oil’. It only took 24 years for Cantarell to reach ‘peak oil’ status. This means that in 2004 Mexico’s largest oil field had reached its maximum rate of petroleum extraction, after which it entered a state of terminal decline. The US and Norway ‘peaked’ in 1970 and 2001 respectively, and Brazil has become a net exporter of oil since 2009. Brazil’s recent success has been led by a stubborn decisiveness to dramatically reduce oil consumption, a strong emphasis on research and development, and a focus on non-fossil fuels alternatives for national consumption…

Paradox of Plenty: Innovation and Growth: The 2013 Global Innovation Index report describes different characteristics of countries that learn and innovate. There are ‘innovation leaders’ or those that have succeeded in creating well-linked innovation ecosystems where investments in human capital thrive in ‘fertile and stable innovation structures’. There are also the ‘innovation learners’ – which include a group of 18 middle income countries that are 10% or higher above the trend line (Republic of Moldova, China, India, Uganda, Armenia, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Jordan, Mongolia, Mali, Kenya, Senegal, Hungary, Georgia, Montenegro, Costa Rica, Tajikistan,and Latvia) and demonstrate rising levels of innovation due to improvements in ‘institutional frameworks, a skilled labour force with expanded tertiary education, better innovation infrastructures, a deeper integration with global credit investment and trade markets, and a sophisticated business community’. Countries like Uganda, Mali, Kenya, and Tajijistan have above-average performances, relative to their income class…