Catching up with Ted

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, Talks and Presentations

Well, with TED, and in particular Johan Rockström.  Here he is in 2010.  I was alerted to this by the Independent the other day with an article by Christopher Hooton about a paper published by Rockström in Science in January 2015.

The Indy's title was stark: "Earth has exceeded four of the nine limits for hospitable life, scientist claims", but the piece (and the paper) were more positive.  Hooton wrote:

Johan Rockström argues that we've already screwed up with regards to climate change, extinction of species, addition of phosphorus and nitrogen to the world's ecosystems and deforestation.  We are well within the boundaries for ocean acidification and freshwater use meanwhile, but cutting it fine with regards to emission of poisonous aerosols and stratospheric ozone depletion.  "The planet has been our best friend by buffering our actions and showing its resilience," Rockström said, "But for the first time ever, we might shift the planet from friend to foe."

Rockström's is a positive, not a doomsday, message.  He's confident that we can step back within some of the boundaries, for example through slashing carbon emissions and boosting agricultural yields in Africa to soothe deforestation and biodiversity loss.  "For the first time, we have a framework for growth, for eradicating poverty and hunger, and for improving health."

He sets all this out in the TED talk.  There are an awful lot of 'IF's around though.  It struck me that this would be a good introduction for anyone who'd just dropped onto the Planet from somewhere safer, or who'd been spending the last 30 years reading the Daily Celebrity.  I wondered how many TED talks get used in schools these days – or at least get pointed out to students for background, questions and critique.



Posted in: Comment, New Publications, Talks and Presentations

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  • Thanks for the reminder of Rockstrom's 2010 TED talk and also your earlier link to the heroic science teacher Greg Craven's (wonderingmind42) remarkable efforts in 2007 to 'go viral' with his jokey talking head series of videos about risk analysis and the precautionary principle. Craven's first video (The Most Terryfying Video You Will Ever See) had 5 million views, rather more than our respective websites attract! Rockstrom's talk also calling for radical culture, public opinion and policy change to ensure a sustainable future has had around 670000 views. These presentations were 7 and 5 years ago respectively, the first a one-man effort; the second from an eminent inter-disciplinary research institution. One has to remain disappointed at the extent to which public opinion, educational focus (at all levels) and policy-making have shifted during this period, despite the mountain of evidence and advocacy now available. TED talks are an excellent resource for teachers and even here in Poland accessible through sub-title.