Category Archives: TED talk

TED Talk: Jeff Speck on the Walkable City

Jeff Speck: The walkable city

In this 17-minute TED talk, Jeff Speck, a city planner and architectural designer, discusses the unsustainable American car culture, saying that we need to transition to walkable cities.

He explains that we’ve gone from spending one-tenth of our family incomes in the 70’s to one-fifth today for our auto transportation and we’ve also doubled our roads since then. Working families are spending more on transportation than housing, because they’re driving long distances to the house they want, that they are able to afford. Also, in the 70’s, one-tenth of our population was obese, and now it is one-third, while a second one-third of our population is now classified as overweight.

Speck believes that our American healthcare crisis is an urban design crisis, but that urban design can be the cure. “Inactivity is born of our landscape,” he says.

The attitude is changing to one of healthful living in cities, whereas in the past, it was assumed that cities were the unhealthy place to live.

While this talk is not specifically related to agriculture, it does relate to a changing value system towards sustainable living, and all trends in lifestyle impact the food system in one way or another, including distribution, urban gardening, vertical gardening, farm-to-table, and eat-local production surrounding urban centers.

Incidentally, here in Colorado, the number of residents locating to a rapidly evolving downtown Denver has increased by 140 percent since the year 2000.

Photo: By Bert Cash, BSC Photography @ Flickr CC. Denver.

TED Talk: Ikea’s Steve Howard Urges Sustainable Business Practices

“Be a discerning consumer. Vote with your wallets.”

Steve Howard is a sustainability expert, who holds the job of chief sustainability officer at Ikea. In this TED talk, he goes over global population growth, urban growth, middle class growth globally, and global warming. Then, he discusses how businesses can and must promote sustainability and zero waste.

“Let’s make beautiful, functional, affordable, sustainable products.”

In discussing cotton, he tells the story of the Better Cotton Initiative, halving the water and chemical inputs to grow cotton and helping hundreds of thousands of farmers in the process. He also covers the subjects of sustainable forestry, electricity and renewables, fair pay, and equality for women.

Finally, Howard challenges other businesses to strive for the same sustainability values that Ikea strives for.

TED Talk: Jason Pontin on Technology’s Role in Solving Future Problems

Jason Pontin: Can technology solve our big problems?

In this ten-minute TED talk, Jason Pontin, MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief, looks at the future of technology. Using the term “accelerative thrust,” he is optimistic about technology’s ability to solve today’s problems which face humanity, including “feeding the world.”

Personally, whether or not technology can “save us” is my biggest looming question. I, too, am optimistic about that possibility on most days, for the short term, anyway, providing we can solve our energy fix and advance in our cooperation of working together as human beings.

Pontin goes into the reasons that we don’t solve big problems: sometimes we don’t want to; because our political systems fail; sometimes the problems aren’t technological e.g. famines are usually political crises; or, because we don’t really understand the problem.

“Hard problems are hard,” he says.