“Secundum Naturam Vivere” - Live in Accordance to Nature.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Environment at Duke University and Science Director of Fundacion Ecotonos, a leading NGO from Colombia focused on biodiversity conservation in the tropical Andes.

I am committed to doing science that produces workable knowledge and contributes solutions to environmental problems in the real world.

My research has been published in several peer-reviewed science journals and I have appeared in a variety of Media outlets highlighting the impact of my scientific contributions and conservation initiatives.

Based on my expertise, I have things to say — mostly contrarian, likely anarchical — to inform the conversation on how to deal with our current earthly affairs.

On this site I share my thoughts on the environment (and society) through a series of short Essays. The opinions expressed here are my completely my own.

I encourage you to subscribe to the RSS Feed and get the content delivered to your mail. Finally, I invite you to know more About me and find out what I am up to right Now.

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Ruben's Essays

Towards a bioregional world

Sometime ago there was a huge debate in Colombia about the promise of avocado crops to foster economic development. The debate missed the point that it does not matter which crop becomes the next big monoculture. The consequences are deforestation, environmental destruction, and regional poverty. Monocultures are based on a development model whose triumph is to export, making a few rich and leaving many others in misery. The odd thing is that while a lot of food is being produced, it creates problems of local food distribution and sovereignty. Read more...

The Feather of Truth

In ancient Egypt, for the dead to reach eternity, they would have to pass judgment by reciting the 42 Negative Confessions ("I have not done"…), making sure they were no wrong doers. However, to keep them honest, Anubis would bring their heart to Osiris, where it was weighted in a golden balance against the feather of truth: The heart had to be even or lighter, and the measure was recorded by Thoth, Patron of the scribes. Read more...

Cities hold the future for a sustainable world

The weakened state of the environment in the United States by Donald Trump, and in Brazil by Tropical Trump (Bolsonaro), should make us reflect on how one person can have so much power and decide over so many people on key areas such as climate change. To me, this is the legacy we have derived from our country (state) dominated worldview, and it is damaging the real world (the Earth). But I see hope in the form of cities. Read more...

Energy is the real currency on Earth

The Incas in South America worshipped the sun (inti), because the energy coming from it is the sustenance of life on planet Earth. I will always remember going to Machu Pichu and celebrating the sunrise with two hippie friends who convinced me to it. It was a profound experience. Since then, I am a sun-worshipper too. The sustenance of modern life is money. On its own money is not evil, because as Yuval Noah Harari has said in Sapiens, it is basically a trust system that enables cooperation. Read more...

We live in a simulation

There are people who believe that we live in a simulation, and they are right. One of the best things about being a biologist or having spent a lot of time in nature is that you realize how the world really is. Civilization these days is like living in the Matrix. It is an alternate reality that is sustained by the destruction of the real world (the Earth). Eventually, the simulation will not hold because its source will collapse. Read more...

We need collective action.

A few years ago I was reading this excellent article titled “The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions” I was very pleased to find out I was doing the top most beneficial actions: I don’t have kids yet (best thing for the environment); I have a car-free live in the US (second best thing), and I am eating less meat (meatless Mondays!). At the moment I thought I was still far from perfect but at least I was offsetting with my conservation work (maybe it is how I deceived myself). Read more...