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Set aside the politics: Data shows that climate change is happening, measurably, now. And as Vicki Arroyo says, it's time to prepare our homes and cities for the new climate, with its increased risk of flooding, drought and uncertainty. She illustrates this inspiring talk with bold projects from cities all over the world -- local examples of thinking ahead.
The climate is quickly changing. Scientists increasingly talk of a new period in the Earth's history, the "anthropocene", in which human impact on the planet has become dominant. Yet we remain unprepared to deal with the consequences: specifically, the disruption and cost. Lawyer Vicki Arroyo, the executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, works on climate mitigation and adaptation policies as viable solutions to climate change’s inevitable disruptions to current practices. Using the best available science, Arroyo collaborates with US policymakers at both the state and federal level to develop "planetary management" strategies.
For a through (and constantly updated) toolkit of adaptation resources, visit the Georgetown Climate Center.
Your mobile phone, computer and game console have a bloody past — tied to tantalum mining, which funds the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Drawing on his personal story, activist and refugee Bandi Mbubi gives a stirring call to action. (Filmed at TEDxExeter.)
Bandi Mbubi grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, experiencing first hand the political unrest and oppression which have since worsened there. As a student activist, Bandi suffered persecution and fled the country, seeking political asylum in the U.K. But Mbubi has kept his home country on his radar, noting how the mining of tantalum -- a mineral used in cell phones and computers -- has fueled the ongoing war there in which 5 million have died.
While Mbubi sees the cell phone as an instrument of oppression for this reason, he knows that phones can also bring great freedom. And so he has formed CongoCalling.org, a campaign to inspire both the public and companies that make electronics to pay attention to how tantalum used in consumer electronics is mined and traded. Mbubi is also the Director of the Manna Society, a center for the homeless in South London, and a Trustee of Church Action on Poverty.
There's been an explosion of collaborative consumption -- web-powered sharing of cars, apartments, skills. Rachel Botsman explores the currency that makes systems like Airbnb and Taskrabbit work: trust, influence, and what she calls "reputation capital."
Rachel Botsman is the co-author, with Roo Rogers, of the book What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, and she writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies, and on how it will transform business, consumerism and the way we live. Her new work focuses on trust and reputation capital.
She is the founder of The Collaborative Lab, an innovation incubator that works with startups, big businesses and local governments to deliver innovative solutions based on the ideas of Collaborative Consumption. She has consulted to Fortune 500 companies and leading nonprofit organizations around the world on brand and innovation strategy, and was a former director at the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Botsman expands on her 2012 TEDTalk in this article for Wired UK >>
200 rats were divided into ten groups: three that had part of their standard lab-rat diet replaced at varying levels (maximum 33 percent) with Roundup Ready corn that had been treated with Roundup in the field; three getting the same feed protocol, but with untreated Roundup Ready corn; three getting no GMO corn but tiny amounts of Roundup in their drinking water at varying levels; and one control group ate two-thirds standard lab-rat chow and one-third non-GMO corn. Each group contained 10 females and 10 males.
The two year study, is the longest independent, peer-reviewed research carried out on the potential health impacts of genetically engineered foods. The study shows that consuming even relatively low levels of (Roundup tolerant) GM corn or of Roundup itself, greatly increases levels of mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage, and premature death in laboratory rats.
By the 24th month, 50% - 80% of the females had developed large tumors compared to 30% in the control group. The researchers believe that long-term studies are needed to evaluate the safety of GM crops. Currently all GM food crops have been approved safe on the basis of 90-day feeding studies in mammals. In this two year study, the tumors and kidney and liver damage did not manifest until 120 days into the research.
The research was conducted by a team of scientists led by molecular biologist and endocrinologist, Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, co-director of the Risk Quality and Sustainable Environment Unit at the University of Caen, France, who is an authority on studies into the health impact of GMOs and pesticides. It was supported by the independent research organization, CRIIGEN.
After this study was reviewed by the Russian government, they suspended all imports of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn.
Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize published in The Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal. Full report - Summary.
"A healthy human population requires a healthy planet. We are not separate from our ecosystem and cannot thrive without it. The perceived polarity between climate mitigation and economic growth is false. Also false is the belief that climate change is the purview of Democrats.
Farmers from Leavenworth, Kansas to Karnataka, India are suffering the effects of a warming planet. The World Bank's latest Food Price Watch report indicates high temperatures, reduced rainfall, and drought have pushed the cost of maize and soybeans to record highs. Between June and July, the prices of maize and wheat each increased by 25 percent, while the price of soybeans jumped 17 percent. The report states that these prices are expected to remain high "as a consequence of increasing supply uncertainties." Political rhetoric cleaves one party from another, but we all suffer the impacts of climate change. It does not have to be this way.
What I have learned — through six years in Kansas and three years of research on the psychological barriers to environmental engagement — is that the opportunities for reaching diverse constituents and engaging on climate change lies in the framing of the issue. You can learn more on how to bridge these schisms in my recent TEDx presentation in Madrid. The well-being of our oceans, our planet and, yes, our families depends on it." Simran Sethi
Mike Shaw is a quiet, unassuming man in love with the wilderness. He also knows far more about tardigrades then almost anyone. These microscopic creatures, whose name comes from the German for “slow walker,” and who are sometimes called “water bears,” after their bear-like gait, are biological oddities. While their nervous system looks and acts like us, they are wholly different and can survive in extreme situations that almost no other living organism can – including space.
Beginning in 2007, biologists sent these little suckers up to the space station (along with other so-called extremophiles) and found that tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space and the life-zapping radiation of the sun. Other experiments have shown that adult tardigrades can survive both extreme pressures and temperatures, ranging from -459 degrees Fahrenheit up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if recent DNA and RNA sequencing show that tardigrades are the sister group to arthropods and Onychophora, their evolutionary lineage is unclear. Some have even theorized – cue the X Files music – that tardigrades came from another planet, and rode to Earth on space debris.
Their secret? The little water bear is one of few groups of species that are capable of reversibly suspending their metabolism and going into a dehydrated state called cryptobiosis. In this kind of suspended animation, a tardigrade’s metabolism lowers to less than 0.01% of normal, with water content dropping to 1% of normal. No wonder they’ve got staying power: some 1,150 species of tardigrades have been described throughout the world, and they’ve been found to live virtually everywhere, from the Himalayas (above 20,000 feet), to the deep sea (below 13,000 feet) and from the polar regions to the equator. motherboard.vice.com
In the slums of Manila one man's simple idea is bringing light into the dark lives of thousands of poor residents. His bright idea has become so popular that the local prison has even set up a production line.
In makeshift houses that are mainly windowless, Illac Diaz pokes a plastic bottle filled with water through a specially cut hole in the roof, gathering natural light from outside and refracting it into the darkened rooms below. "It changes the whole dynamics of the family." And now Diaz is building whole schools, houses and clinics from recycled bottles. "We cannot wait for people to come and help us. This is a revolution from the bottom up." www.journeyman.tv
Robert Neuwirth challenges conventional thinking by examining the world's informal economy close up. To do so, he spent four years living and working with street vendors and gray marketers, to capture its scope, its vigor--and its lessons. He calls it “System D” and argues that it is not a hidden economy, but a very visible, growing, effective one, fostering entrepreneurship and representing 1.8 billion jobs worldwide. It's an economy of underappreciated power and scope. Our challenge, Neuwirth says, isn't to end squatter cities or shut down gray markets--but to engage and empower those who live and work in them.
After being torn apart by civil war, the Chinese are now investing billions of dollars into Angola. But while its cities are being transformed, divisions are being created which are leaving Angolans far behind.
It's an uncertain time for the world's economies, but China seems to be going from strength to strength, investing billions of dollars into Africa. In Angola, in exchange for rebuilding the country's war-torn infrastructure, China is gaining access to oil and other natural resources. Rui Falcao, a government spokesman, insists Angola is doing well from Chinese investment. "The international community turned their back on us. The only country that came to help us at the time, to get the country going again, was China". Yet behind the gleaming tower blocks and shopping centres lies a growing Angolan underclass. "The government is not able to find jobs for Angolans. What's worse they give labouring jobs to Chinese, not Angolans", says Liusete Araujo, a presidential candidate. For some, the situation is becoming desperate. "I am disabled and here I am with no wages, nothing. I fought to free our country and now I'm suffering." Remarkably, with a predicted growth of 8% this year, Angola is on course to become one of the world's top economic performers. The question is, at what cost?
Certainly, meeting our nation’s energy needs in the near term means maintaining access to domestic offshore oil and gas resources, but it is imperative that we do so in the most prudent, responsible, and environmentally safe manner.
As offshore oil drilling edges ever closer to becoming a reality in the Arctic Ocean, the Center for American Progress examines the region's lack of readiness in the event of a spill. The video highlights the concerns and challenges facing the Coast Guard charged with its protection, the grave doubts of the scientific community about the lack of knowledge in this area, and the perspectives of those who depend on the Arctic Ocean for their livelihood. For more see: Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling by Kiley Kroh, Michael Conathan, and Emma Huvos.
Captain Charles Moore is giving a Pacific Rim Tour to enlighten all on the quantities and hazards of plastic pollution. In 2009, a U.N. joint commission estimated that 6.4 million metric tons of plastic waste currently pollutes the oceans. The U.N. also estimates that 5 million pieces of plastic enter the oceans each day from land.
To date, Captain Moore has conducted ocean and coastal sampling for plastic fragments through more than 40,000 miles of the North Pacific Ocean, across 22 degrees of latitude and 70 degrees of longitude. Captain Moore's work has been highlighted in numerous major media outlets, including ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America, National Public Radio, Rolling Stone, and The Wall Street Journal.
The Plastic Pollution Conversation: The Pacific Rim Tour. info@algalita, www.plasticoceanthebook.com
Many species interact in the wild, most often as predator and prey. But recent encounters between humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins reveal a playful side to interspecies interaction. In two different locations in Hawaii, scientists watched as dolphins "rode" the heads of whales: the whales lifted the dolphins up and out of the water, and then the dolphins slid back down. The two species seemed to cooperate in the activity, and neither displayed signs of aggression or distress. Whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters often interact, but playful social activity such as this is extremely rare between species. The latest Bio Bulletin from the Museum's Science Bulletins program presents the first recorded examples of this type of behavior.
Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History. Find out more about Science Bulletins at www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins. Two Unusual Interactions Between a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaiian Waters
Build a $300 house. Learn about the light clay wall building material reinforced by plastic mesh tubing first introduced in first place $300 House Contest entry. See the first test structure- a lime plastered banco/ bench. Hyper-wattle is easier to build in damp regions than straw-bale, and doesn't need wood framework like light clay. This video is by Patti Stouter of www.simpleearthstructures.com
Learn more about wattles here: www.simpleearthstructures.com
Basic Climate Change Info from the National Academies. The National Research Council is pleased to present this video that explains how scientists have arrived at the current state of knowledge about recent climate change and its causes. www.nationalacademies.org
This isn't snow. It's actually a small fraction of hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets that have washed up on the shores of Hong Kong. The plastic pellets, called nurdles, were in six containers that were washed off a cargo ship during Typhoon Vicente. Nurdles, or mermaid tears are easy to transport, pre-production plastic pellets which plastic manufacturers will use to make any number of plastic items such as plastic bags. Although Sinopec, the maker of the nurdles, said the nurdles are not believed to be toxic; “Some of the pellets have already been found in the guts of fish farmed in Hong Kong, sparking concerns about the safety of consuming locally-produced seafood.” Over time, they can absorb toxins and pollutants that could poison the food chain if eaten.
The pellets are potentially toxic, and environmentalists are saying the cleanup could take months. The damage could last years.
[Gary Stokes, Sea Shepherd Conservation Rep.]:
"So as we can see this is the container behind us and it's really starting to break up, it's scattered the entire contents on the bottom beneath us."
Now the shores are drenched in almost 150 tons of mermaid tears.
Because of their size, shape, and color, tan nurdles closely resemble many plankton. “Such ‘nurdle plankton’ has been found embedded in the tissues of the animals that consume them. Oval shaped nurdles are also highly dangerous offenders as they are very similar to fish eggs. These ‘nurdle eggs’ have been found to have been consumed by over 70 different species of seabirds.”
[Gary Stokes, Sea Shepherd Conservation Rep.]:
"We spoke with leading scientist, Captain Charles Moore, he commented on this and said it was actually the worst plastics spill he's ever seen documented. So it's something that's completely unprecedented. People don't have action plans on how to clear it all up and that's what we're just working with the government to try and do."
Mutated superbugs that could kill millions are being engineered by scientists worldwide. But amid fears over their lab security and the rapid spread of bird flu in Indonesia, is the research too risky?
Bird flu is already aggressively lethal but scientists have now engineered a version of H5N1 that can be transmitted atmospherically. This controversial research has not only divided the scientific community but also enraged global security agencies concerned about bioterrorism. Some believe the benefits of research far outweigh any threats; for Dr Racaniello, "much of the rhetoric is simply alarmist and overblown". Yet for science journalist, Laurie Garrett, "[The Spanish flu of 1918] killed 100 million human beings with a 2% kill rate. Jump to the age of globalisation, and imagine a 50% kill rate." Is it just a matter of time before an outbreak of a devastating global pandemic? ABC Australia - www.journeyman.tv
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.
Pam Warhurst is the Chair of the Board of the Forestry Commission, which advises on and implements forestry policy in Great Britain. She also cofounded Incredible Edible Todmorden, a local food partnership that encourages community engagement through local growing. Incredible Edible started small, with the planting of a few community herb gardens in Todmorden, and today has spin-offs in the U.S. and Japan. The community has started projects like Every Egg Matters, which educates people on keeping chickens and encourages them to sell eggs to neighbors, and uses a 'Chicken Map' to connect consumers and farmers. Incredible Edible Todmorden empowers ordinary people to take control of their communities through active civic engagement.
"I wondered if it was possible to take a town like Todmorden and focus on local food to re-engage people with the planet we live on, create the sort of shifts in behaviour we need to live within the resources we have, stop us thinking like disempowered victims and to start taking responsibility for our own futures." Pam Warhurst
Senator Harry Reid's Opening Remarks on Clean Energy at the Clean Energy Summit August, 2012:
Twenty-five years ago, President George H.W. Bush promised to use the “White House effect” to combat the “greenhouse effect.” Yet a quarter century later, too many elected officials in Washington are still calling climate change a liberal hoax. They falsely claim scientists are still debating whether carbon pollution is warming the planet.
Of course, if those skeptics had taken a stroll along the Potomac River on a 70-degree day this February, they would have seen cherry trees blossoming earlier than at any time since they were planted 100 years ago. Washington experienced its warmest spring since record keeping began in 1895.
And back in the skeptics’ home states, the harbingers of a changing climate are just as clear as those delicate February blossoms – and infinitely more perilous.
This year alone, the United States has seen unparalleled extreme weather events – events scientists say are exactly what is expected as the earth’s climate changes.
The Midwest is experiencing its most crushing drought in more than half a century – or maybe ever. Presently, disasters have been declared in the majority of U.S. counties. More than half the country is experiencing drought, and seventy-five percent of the nation is abnormally dry this year.
Corn crops are withering and livestock are dying – or going to slaughter early – as heat waves parch America’s breadbasket, breaking records set during the Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl years.
Now ravaging wildfires have replaced the dust storms of the 1930′s. Devastating fires have swept New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and other parts of the Mountain West, destroying hundreds of homes and burning millions of trees. These fires are fed in part by vast areas of dead forest ravaged by beetles and other pests that now survive through warmer winters.
On the East Coast, extreme thunderstorms and high winds called “derechos” – literally meaning straight-line storms – have eliminated power for 4.3 million customers in 10 states in the mid-Atlantic region. One 38-year veteran of the utility industry told the New York Times this: “We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now.” At the height of this storm – while the power was out and the air conditioning wasn’t working – the East Coast experienced record high temperatures.
Down south, the Mississippi River is nearly dry in various places, with shipping barges operating in only 5 feet of water. Just Friday, barges were grounded because the water level was so low. And New Orleans’ water supply is now being threatened by salt water moving up the Mississippi due to extremely low water.
But while record drought has struck many parts of the United States, torrential rains have poured down in others. In June, the fourth tropical storm of the hurricane season – a season which typically begins in the fall – dropped 20 inches of rain on Florida.
And our nation’s infrastructure is literally falling apart because it wasn’t designed to withstand these conditions. Runways are melting, trapping planes. Train tracks are bending, derailing subways. Highways are cracking, buckling and breaking open. The water used to cool power plants – including nuclear power plants – has either run dry or reached dangerously high temperatures.
And that’s just in the United States – just through the month of July.
Arctic sea ice is also at its lowest point in recorded history.
This month, the massive ice sheet atop Greenland experienced sudden and almost uniform melting – a phenomenon not seen in the modern age.
This spring, rain fell unexpectedly in Mecca despite 109-degree temperatures. It was the hottest downpour in the planet’s recorded history.
The Amazon River Basin has experienced super-flooding – reaching record high levels due to long summer rains and greater than normal glacial melting.
Massive forest fires have swept Siberia.
Monsoons in Bangladesh left hundreds dead and nearly 7 million people homeless.
And last week more than 600 million people in India were without power. Late monsoons and record temperatures increased demand for electricity to irrigate crops and air condition homes, overloading the fragile power grid and causing the blackout.
Scientists say this is genesis – the beginning. The more extreme climate change gets, the more extreme the weather will get. In the words of one respected climate scientist: “This is what global warming looks like.”
Dozens of new reports from scientists around the globe link extreme weather to climate change. Not every flood or drought can be attributed to human-induced transformation of our planet’s weather patterns. But scientists report that these extreme events are dozens of times more likely because of those changes.
The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.
These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality.
It’s time for us all – whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives – to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don’t.
Virtually every respected, independent scientist in the world agrees the problem is real, and the time to act is now. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. Not next month or next year. We must act today.
Urban agriculture has been real for decades, starting with the industrialization of Western Europe in the 20th century. Urban agriculture has been also well practiced in poor economies such as Cuba, where it serves as an important way of self-reliance. Today, with conventional agriculture "Big Ag" being at a cross-road in terms of its ecological impact on the environment and the increased food demand of a population growing to 9bn people by 2050, urban agriculture may very well be one key of a solution for the 21st century. As Roman explains, urban agriculture offers the solution to grow potentially enough food in the city to feed its entire population. What's more, it also creates healthier, wealthier and happier cities, offering consumers with fresh & quality food choices and access to better quality of life.
Roman Gaus, Founder of UrbanFarmers
Roman Gaus (32)- from corporate career to social entrepreneur & urban farmer. Roman's story is both fascinating and inspiring. When Roman returned from the States to Switzerland, he left a short but steep career with companies such as Procter & Gamble, Novartis and Franke Group. Yet, he brought with him an emerging concept about inner-city farming, which he had seen take a grass roots approach in US cities. Back in Switzerland, Roman was surprised by the proven, Swiss-engineered technology know-how of Aquaponic; a combination of fish and vegetable farming, ideally suited to grow locally grown & organic food without soil in the city -- the idea behind UrbanFarmers was born. Determined to drive economic, social and ecological impact, Roman is now founder & CEO of UrbanFarmers AG, a pioneering Spin-off from the University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Wädenswil that aims to bring sustainable urban agricultural practices into cities of the 21st century.
Web: urbanfarmers.ch -- Twitter: @UrbanFarmersCH
A whirlwind of energy and ideas, Stephen Ritz is a teacher in New York's tough South Bronx, where he and his kids grow lush gardens for food, greenery -- and jobs. Just try to keep up with this New York treasure as he spins through the many, many ways there are to grow hope in a neighborhood many have written off, or in your own.
Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx teacher/administrator who believes that students shouldn't have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one. Moving generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx, Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown over 25,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance.
His Bronx classroom features the first indoor edible wall in NYC DOE which routinely generates enough produce to feed 450 students healthy meals and trains the youngest nationally certified workforce in America. His students, traveling from Boston to Rockefeller Center to the Hamptons, earn living wage en route to graduation.