TEDx crowdsourcing followup I

Many responses to the crowdsourcing/call for abstracts message! In addition to lots of great comments, several suggestions for speakers, and a couple of volunteers. Thanks to everyone, and stay tuned.

The call went by e-mail to a variety of colleagues, associates, friends, and listservers. Responses came to the comments section of the blog post, to the original listservers, and in the form of (many) e-mails directly to me. As seems to be usual for topics related to climate change, there are a lot of excellent, nuanced points made, and a few rougher ones. I’m still digesting it all, but here are a few quick thoughts.

There was a surprising contingent of Tribe 1 people on one of the listservers, in spite of the fact that the industry discussed by the list makes most sense (in developed countries, at least) in the context of global climate change concerns. Tribe 1 (the climate change is not happening/not a problem tribe) is very much alive, and many of these people seem to view global climate change as a political issue that has no place in scientific/technical discussions. In this way, global climate change resembles evolution/creationism, another fundamentally scientific issue where both sides have dug in their heels for decades. Unfortunately, while creationists and scientists have been merely annoying one another, with little at stake, there is a lot at stake when it comes to climate change. Unless, of course, the Three Tribes are all wrong, and climate change just Is.

In a blog comment, Peter made a very interesting observation about Tribe 2, the entrepreneurs/we-can-innovate-our-way-out tribe — Peter calls it the R&D group. He wrote:

[This] group has contributed to the delaying of action on climate. There is clear superficial appeal to the approach (politically, nothing has to change currently). It also has some powerful adherents (monied interests) who have political clout and who see big, centralized, capital intensive (profit-making) solutions to GHG emissions problems. This is an extension of conventional thinking that does not seem to apply well to climate change solutions. The end game of R&D only is a highly geo-engineered planet.

Regarding Tribe 3 (the passive and active hopeful), some correspondents called for splitting it into two. Indeed, the list originally had had four tribes, with the fourth being more active, but the last two tribes were lumped for the sake of brevity in the crowdsourcing/call for abstracts. There are clearly many people working hard on climate change issues, and Rueben’s comment mentioned some of them.

Finally, this idea for at TEDx theme received many responses that were simply positive. One e-mailer wrote, “Your idea to consider the “tribes” and debate the potentials is a really, really great idea.  I don’t usually get involved in these type of group activities but I will figure out how to plug in.”


TEDx crowdsourcing/call for abstracts



We’re organizing a TEDx event, and we appreciate your help in thinking about it.

Here’s the idea:

When it comes to energy and global climate change, most Americans can be loosely grouped into 3 tribes, each well-meaning in its own way:

  1. Global climate change deniers;
  2. Entrepreneurs and others who believe we can innovate our way out of any problems, and that new energy sources will be found to replace existing ones as needed, soon;
  3. Citizens who are quietly concerned, hoping and trusting that someone else has the situation under control; some of these citizens are making personal changes in response to their concerns.

What if all three tribes are wrong? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to practice thinking about it?

What might be some costs or benefits of behaving now as if all three tribes are wrong? How long should we wait before deciding or acting? If the three tribes are wrong, how will it change our business ideas, our approach to education, to planning and policy? Are there businesses or others that are acting now as if the three tribes are wrong? How are they doing it, and how is it going?

What are your thoughts? Please comment here or e-mail verheys@hotmail.com .

Ideas about speakers are particularly welcome: feel free to send a proposal/abstract of your own, forward this e-mail to possible speakers, or suggest speakers for us to contact. Thanks for joining the conversation!