Category Archives: TED talk

TED Talk on the Coming Antibiotic Crisis

This 14-minute TED talk by Ramanan Laxminarayan discusses the history, the challenges, and the squandering of antibiotic use, beginning with the story of penicillin.

“To save a few pennies” for our meat, we’ve used antibiotics sub-clinically for growth-promotion, not for treatment.

Now, bacterial resistance has become common.

Included in the talk is a stunning must-see U.S. map showing the progression of Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii across the states from 1999 to 2012.

“we stand at a cross-roads”

Every time an individual misuses an antibiotic, it affects humanity as a whole, which is “a problem of the commons”. Laxminarayan describes this as a problem of co-evolution, and compares it to using oil appropriately – related to climate change. He suggests an antibiotic tax just like people have suggested emissions taxes.

The newer antibiotics are becoming much more expensive, too. He tells us that this newer higher price is a signal that we need to practice conservation of antibiotics, just as high priced gasoline signals to us that we need to switch to methods that conserve gasoline. He mentions newer avenues and investments in antibiotic technologies, but says that these need to be balanced by investing in the proper use of antibiotics.

Because of resistance to our treatments across quite a number of areas to technologies we’ve only had for the past 80 to 100 years,

“essentially in a blink, we have squandered our ability to control”

because we have not recognized that actual selection and evolution was going to find a way to get back and we need to completely rethink how we’re going to use measures to control biological organisms … and we need to start thinking about them as natural resources … and change how we do business.

TED Talk: Five Special Plants from the Mascarene Islands

In this 14 minute TED talk given by Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, we are reminded of the important contribution that plants have to our health and to medicine. This requires habitat preservation of biodiversity. In this Anthropocene age it seems that natural habitats are constantly under threat.

“for every disease known to mankind there is a plant to cure it”

She shows us some humble plants which “hide surprising secrets” besides feeding us and giving us oxygen, telling us that there are 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world, the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean being one of them, including Madagascar.

“there is no such thing as a weed”

Gurib-Fakim discusses five plants: Benjoin, which has leaves of different shapes and sizes on a single plant; Psiadia arguta which has medicinal uses; Baobab, “the tree of life” for food security; the Resurrection plant from Africa, which can withstand up to 90 percent dehydration but then regenerate rapidly with water; and, Centella called a “weed”, which grows across the world in many habitats, and is used by cosmetic companies.

TED Talk by Nina Fedoroff on Global Food Production

This TED talk is all about food and global food security.

This 18-minute talk is by noted food system expert Nina Fedoroff, Pennsylvania State Professor and scientist. It begins with a discussion of the drivers behind affordability and food price swings. She discusses whether there are limits to feeding growing populations during climate change, and with depleting aquifers. In the last eight minutes of the talk, she discusses how we will be growing food in the future, a future in which she supports genetic modification as a tool to making food production more secure.

TED Talk Praises the Amazon River

In it, Antonio Donato Nobre tells us that the Amazon River is like our planet’s blood and the trees it supports are like our planet’s lungs. It is hugely important in regulating the global climate.

“The forest has more eyes than leaves.”


(This film is subtitled.)

Note that the felling of trees for agriculture in recent years, plus ongoing global warming seem to have disrupted Brazil’s climate, as the flying rivers never arrived this year during January and February.

UPDATE: A current NYTs article by Nadine Unger, assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale, tells us that forestation is not a solution for global warming, because the system is more complex than that. (She also denies that the Amazon serves as the planet’s “lungs”.) This is precisely the type of thing that frustrates me in dealing with the subject of climate change. So much of the media is outspoken about what IS ASSUMED needs to be done to treat climate change, but the system is so complex that none of us can possibly understand it. Just like the recent study telling us that ants play a gigantic role in sequestering carbon, something not understood earlier. And so on. That’s why I tend to observe what others say without rendering a judgment myself.

Also, a couple years ago my city of Boulder planted new trees all over town, including in front of my house (something that greatly displeased me because it meant covering a nice view out my window) in the name of climate change. Now this!

See: To Save the Planet Don’t Plant Trees. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/opinion/to-save-the-planet-dont-plant-trees.html

Louie Schwartzberg’s Scenes from IMAX Film in this TED Talk

No one can better capture -on film- the beauty from Nature that is all around us — than film maker Louie Schwartzberg. In this latest TED presentation by Schwartzberg, we are privileged to see portions of his upcoming 3D IMAX film, “Mysteries of the Unseen World.” (7 minutes = well worth your time)

Happy Earth Day April 22, 2014!

Also, see previous post: TED: Louie Schwartzberg Films the hidden Beauty of Pollination.