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TED Theme: A Greener Future?

The environmental debate has traditionally been characterized as a conflict between economic progress and preservation of the planet. Most TED speakers, however, insist that we can have both -- provided we're smart about it. Al Gore, the world's leading voice on the climate crisis, argues ...

The environmental debate has traditionally been characterized as a conflict between economic progress and preservation of the planet. Most TED speakers, however, insist that we can have both -- provided we're smart about it. Al Gore, the world's leading voice on the climate crisis, argues that the simple steps we might take to avert disaster would also fuel the economy. Architect William McDonough shows how the power of great design -- working on entire systems rather than local components -- can foster an abundant, sustainable future. And Majora Carter discusses her work to bring green spaces to the blighted South Bronx. Edward Burtynsky's eerily pretty photographs of environmental damage and economic development document humanity's ever-expanding footprint. And biologist E.O. Wilson shares his grandest wish -- that the human community band together to save life on Earth.

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    Mary Robinson: Why climate change is a threat to human rights

    Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against ...

    Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended -- and their human rights threatened -- by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

    Sep 23, 2015 Read more
  • HD

    Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food

    Pamela Ronald studies the genes that make plants more resistant ...

    Pamela Ronald studies the genes that make plants more resistant to disease and stress. In an eye-opening talk, she describes her decade-long quest to isolate a gene that allows rice to survive prolonged flooding. She shows how the genetic improvement of seeds saved the Hawaiian papaya crop in the 1990s — and makes the case that modern genetics is sometimes the most effective method to advance sustainable agriculture and enhance food security for our planet’s growing population.

    May 4, 2015 Read more
  • HD

    Topher White: What can save the rainforest? Your used cell phone

    The sounds of the rainforest include: the chirps of birds, ...

    The sounds of the rainforest include: the chirps of birds, the buzz of cicadas, the banter of gibbons. But in the background is the almost-always present sound of a chainsaw, from illegal loggers. Engineer Topher White shares a simple, scalable way to stop this brutal deforestation — that starts with your old cell phone.

    Mar 3, 2015 Read more
  • HD

    Robert Swan: Let's save the last pristine continent

    2041 will be a pivotal year for our planet. That ...

    2041 will be a pivotal year for our planet. That year will mark the end of a 50-year agreement to keep Antarctica, the Earth’s last pristine continent, free of exploitation. Explorer Robert Swan — the first person to walk both the North and South Poles — is on a mission to ensure that we extend that treaty. With passion and vigor, he pleads with us to choose the preservation of the Antarctic for our own survival.

    Jan 13, 2015 Read more
  • HD

    Mark Plotkin: What the people of the Amazon know that you don’t

    "The greatest and most endangered species in the Amazon rainforest ...

    "The greatest and most endangered species in the Amazon rainforest is not the jaguar or the harpy eagle," says Mark Plotkin, "It's the isolated and uncontacted tribes." In an energetic and sobering talk, the ethnobotanist brings us into the world of the forest's indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their shamans use to heal. He outlines the challenges and perils that are endangering them — and their wisdom — and urges us to protect this irreplaceable repository of knowledge.

    Nov 24, 2014 Read more
  • HD

    Antonio Donato Nobre: The magic of the Amazon: A river that flows invisibly all around us

    The Amazon River is like a heart, pumping water from ...

    The Amazon River is like a heart, pumping water from the seas through it, and up into the atmosphere through 600 billion trees, which act like lungs. Clouds form, rain falls and the forest thrives. In a lyrical talk, Antonio Donato Nobre talks us through the interconnected systems of this region, and how they provide environmental services to the entire world. A parable for the extraordinary symphony that is nature.

    Sep 19, 2014 Read more
  • HD

    Shubhendu Sharma: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere

    A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own ...

    A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. But what if we could make the process happen ten times faster? In this short talk, eco-entrepreneur (and TED Fellow) Shubhendu Sharma explains how to create a mini-forest ecosystem anywhere.

    Sep 4, 2014 Read more
  • HD

    Gavin Schmidt: The emergent patterns of climate change

    You can't understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist ...

    You can't understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. It's the whole, or it's nothing. In this illuminating talk, he explains how he studies the big picture of climate change with mesmerizing models that illustrate the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events.

    May 1, 2014 Read more
  • HD

    Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion

    Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. ...

    Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

    Apr 22, 2014 Read more
  • HD

    Leyla Acaroglu: Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore

    Most of us want to do the right thing when ...

    Most of us want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. But things aren’t as simple as opting for the paper bag, says sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu. A bold call for us to let go of tightly-held green myths and think bigger in order to create systems and products that ease strain on the planet.

    Feb 11, 2014 Read more
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