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Over the past few centuries, Western cultures have been very good at creating general prosperity for themselves. Historian Niall Ferguson asks: Why the West, and less so the rest? He suggests half a dozen big ideas from Western culture -- call them the 6 killer apps -- that promote wealth, stability and innovation. And in this new century, he says, these apps are all shareable. Interesting talk!

His latest book and TV series, Civilization: The West and the Rest, aims to help 21st-century audiences understand the past and the present. In it, he asks how, since the 1500s, Western nations have surpassed their Eastern counterparts and came to dominate the world (his answer: thanks to six “killer apps”: science, medicine, protestant work ethic, competition, property rights, consumer society). And he wonders whether that domination is now threatened by the rise of Asia. His theories have drawn criticism and prompted discussions, which he says was his intent. “It’s designed to be slightly annoying, so that you talk about it,” he told The Observer. Note, also that happiness was left out of the equation. For a future sustainable world, happiness and consumerism will most likely find themselves becoming distant cousins.

Niall Ferguson teaches history and business administration at Harvard and is a senior research fellow at several other universities, including Oxford. Also see The Ascent of Money: inspirationgreen.org/the-ascent-of-money-movie

 

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Additional Posts
Bono on TED
 
inspiring data that shows the end of poverty is in sight … if we can harness the momentum.
ExxonMobil Philosophy
 
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson talks to Charlie Rose
Permafrost: Frozen Dirt
 
a new Yale Forum video
Desertification
 
two-thirds of the world’s grasslands are turning to desert accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos.
Guerilla Gardener
 
drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys...
Fiery looping rain on the Sun
 
solar flare and coronal rain
Backyard Wilderness Worth Saving
 
The Sacred Headwaters: the Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and the Nass.
A Clean Energy Proposal
 
Jennifer Granholm TEDx
Nature Time-Lapse
 
installation and time-lapse video.
All the Elephants gone?
 
Devastation wrought by Africa's rampant ivory trade.
How Big is the Universe?
 
NO EDGE. And NO CENTER... or does it?
Build a School
 
TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud
We can recycle anything!
 
Tom Szaky is the founder of Terracycle
Rare Earth Metals
 
recycling the strategic metals present in solar panels and other products.
Super Marmite
 
sign up and see what's cooking in your neighbourhood
Self-healing Asphalt
 
When cracked, it can be “healed” by induction heating.
Artificial Photosynthesis
 
Caltech Video
Economics of Happiness
 
Impact of the global economy on culture and agriculture.
We Share Our Planet
 
John Kerry's first foreign policy speech as Secretary of State.
Chris Hedges
 
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. All for short term profit, at long term expense.