Sunday, August 19, 2012

Top 10 TED Talks - 8 - Just the Facts on Climate Change

Coming into the home stretch on our Top 10 TED Talks for the Sustainability minded, we have James Hansen describing very clearly what is going on with our climate -- Spoiler Alert, it is changing in ways that are not good.

This talk is really, really informative, and Hansen is one of the top researches in his field.  That being said, make sure you have had plenty of coffee, because it is just a little dry.

This one speaks for itself, I think.  The case is pretty clear.  The timing was serendipitous for him too, because he sounds like an oracle when he talks about droughts in the bread basket.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Top 10 Ted Talks - 7 - Food That is Good for People & Planet

Number 7 in our list of sustainability related TED Talks, we have Mark Bittman (food writer for NYTimes, author of How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) brings us a very enlightening talk on diet.  Specifically, the contemporary western diet and why is bad for the health of both people and the environment.

Bittman approaches the subject of food with love and wit, and makes plain some complex issues of how we arrived at the food system that we have and how we should change our diets to improve both our own health and the environmental impacts of our food systems.

Courtney and I have turned to How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for inspiration in our kitchen for years, and personally came to many of the same conclusions that Mr. Bittman recommends in this talk, but he does such a great job here of summarizing the issues and arriving at the correct conclusions.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Top 10 TED Talks - 6 - Getting Real About Renewable Energy

Number 6 in my Top 10 Sustainability related TED Talks, we have a serious and sobering look at what it would actually mean to produce all of our energy from renewable sources by THeoretical Physicist and generally brilliant person David MacKay (asside from physics, he has a Ph.D in Computation and Neural Systems).

MacKay uses some very rough and simple calculations in this presentation to show that there are some very serious constraints to renewable energy technology available today, and even assuming that we can improve the technology significantly some of those constraints will never go away.  For example: potential energy per unit area is drastically lower for renewables than nuclear, or coal.

I enjoy MacKay's candid, hard nosed look at what the options really are, and the practical return to what is really important: understanding how we use energy and trying to use less.  Only then are renewable energy sources even viable as a replacement for fossil fuels.