Posts Tagged ‘travel’

South American Dispatch: Bolivia

By Hal Brill
This article first appeared in the June 2009 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter

It’s good to be home! In the last issue I wrote from beautiful Patagonia and shared some of the environmental issues we learned about. From there we continued north along the spine of the Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina, and by late April arrived in Bolivia. I want to share two stories with you. The first is about a site visit to one of our community investment partners. The other is about a community-owned ecolodge in the Amazon jungle. For more stories and lots of photos you can check out our blog, www.halandalgosouth.wordpress.com.

Solar Ovens and the Red Brick People

One of my goals in Bolivia was to visit the regional office of E+CO, a nonprofit that specializes in clean and renewable energy in the developing world. Several Natural Investments clients have invested in their People + Planet Notes, so I was eager to see how this money has been put to work in Bolivia. They put me in touch with their South America Representative, Gonzalo Rico Calderon, and via email we sketched out a tour of three major projects.

From Gonzalo’s office we could actually see the first project out the window. He lives in Cochabamba, a city well-known to anti-globalization activists for resisting efforts to privatize its water system. He pointed to a pipeline descending from the nearby mountains towards the city. This is part of the municipal water supply, but previously the water came down a gully, causing erosion and wasting lots of water. Gonzalo, an engineer by trade, saw that there was an opportunity to install a hydro electric plant using this water. Now there is a modern turbine that feeds power into the grid while the pipeline prevents erosion and loss of water.

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South American Dispatch

By Hal Brill
This article first appeared in the March 2009 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter

Patagonia glacier

Greetings from Patagonia! Allison and I are exploring the southern tip of the Americas, learning about the many cultures and exploring beautiful but endangered natural wonders. This year marks my 20th as an investment advisor (and I’ve got the grey hair to prove it!), so it seemed like a good time to get back to my roots and reconnect with the inspiration that launched me on this path. I majored in Cultural Geography in college because of my curiosity about the world, which fed my passion for making a difference. Now, thanks to the Internet, I’m able to travel again and keep up with business. I’m carrying a little net book computer and you wouldn’t believe some of the places I’ve hooked up to wi-fi!

One reason to come all the way to southern Patagonia is to experience how global warming is affecting the planet—the impacts are more evident closer to the poles. On our first day we visited a penguin colony on an island in the Straights of Magellan. Very cute, and they seem to be thriving. Next, we went on a boat ride up a beautiful fjord to our first glacier. This is where you really see the changes. Our guides showed us old photos of the glacier – the loss of ice is staggering. Glaciers that used to extend to the sea now cling to the peaks. This week a new scientific report came out saying that sea levels will rise more than previously thought— about 5 feet—because of shrinking glaciers and melting ice fields. So any-one considering investing in ocean-front property might want to reconsider!

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