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.”


About Steve

Steve Verhey, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Cascadia Carbon Institute (CCI). CCI is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to educating policymakers, agriculturalists, industry, and the public about sustainability, agriculture, renewable energy, and global climate change. Dr. Verhey has been involved in sustainable agriculture and energy issues for over 20 years. Trained as an agricultural scientist, he received his Ph.D in plant molecular biology and biochemistry from Oregon State University and his M.S. in Botany from the University of Washington. He recieved his B.A. in Biology from Reed College. He has served as a consultant for a variety of national and international renewable energy projects for companies such as Boston Consulting Group, HSBC, Portland General Electric, Algenol, Harvest Partners, Biofields SAPI de CV, Guggenheim Partners, Viking Global Investors, and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. He is co-founder and Chief Managing Manager of Central Washington Biodiesel LLC, a rationally sized biodiesel startup, and served as Chief Science Officer for Bioalgene, an algae-to-fuel startup.
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