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  • Rick Bonetti

TED Countdown Summit 2023 Recap

Couldn't attend the TED Countdown Summit 2023 in person that took place in mid-July in Detroit Michigan? Here's a link to the TED Countdown website. Below are some hyperlinks and very brief summaries of the 7 closed sessions.

Simon Stiell, who leads the UNFCCC (the UN’s entity supporting the global response to climate change) outlined "why climate action is set up to transition from a linear to exponential pace — so long as each of us applies our particular skill sets to push the world towards its “green tipping points.”

Julio Friedmann, a carbon removal expert, said "There are three key ingredients to cooking up a bright, clean future for everyone:

  1. Infrastructure (transmission lines, roads, and seaports) to make energy accessible

  2. Globally aligned and affordable) innovation, like turning electricity into fuel

  3. More systemic, multi-tiered investment strategies on a global level "

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, a soil scientist who heads a team at the U. S. Department of Energy working to employ new technologies, is "inspired by organic carbon capture, to sequester carbon from the atmosphere."

Changhua Wu, a policy analyst, said that "China is today undergoing a green revolution - accelerated electric vehicle adoption, increased usage of solar and other renewables (to produce one kilowatt of solar energy per capita by 2030), and is promoting a circular economy that recycles raw materials to enable sustainable growth."

Paul Hawken said "Industrial agriculture (aka the fossil food industry) is the world’s biggest culprit in environmental degradation. Modern factory farms reduce the nutritional content of the soil, encourage erosion, ooze toxic runoff, and kill off microbial fungi that naturally sequester carbon."

Anika Goss said, "Financial stability is critical for Detroit’s survival in the face of the mounting climate crisis, and that the city must rebuild resilience in order to protect its citizens, who are overwhelmingly people of color already facing social inequity."

Al Gore showed "data proving that the greed of fossil fuel executives has thwarted their attempts to support climate action. He revealed two obstacles to lowering global emissions — namely, how oil and gas companies deliberately slow down global efforts to move capital away from fossil fuels, and the ineffectiveness of carbon capture technology — and reminded everyone that “the will to act is itself a renewable resource.”

Maxim Timchenko, a Ukrainian energy executive, shared on video "how DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy company, has diversified the country’s power structures to survive Russian attacks, highlighting the resilience of renewable energy (such as wind turbines, which are a smaller, more difficult target for bombers).

Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, used "a science-based framework to outline a plan for investing with maximum impact."

Emma Nehrenheim, a battery recycler, "outlined the environmentally intensive impact of battery production — particularly from the extraction of minerals for lithium-ion batteries, which provide energy for electric vehicles and other key aspects of life — and proposes a shift towards a circular battery economy that uses and reuses already existing materials, vastly reducing the industry’s carbon footprint and need for mineral extraction.,"

Cedrik Neike explained how “digital twin technology” (think simulated giga factories that are one-for-one digital copies of real ones) can help solve real-world problems more efficiently by providing a digital space to test solutions, without pollution."

Susan Lozier, an oceanographer, dove into "the importance of the ocean’s natural circulation, which overturns water in a way that naturally captures carbon and regulates global temperatures."

Morten Bo Christiansen, a leader of the decarbonization team for A.P. Moller-Maersk, drew "an organizational roadmap to net zero that could help transform the global shipping industry."

Bo Cerup-Simonsen, CEO of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, discussed "the essential role of their center in orchestrating systemic, global collaboration to tackle large-scale environmental challenges."

Mike Duggan, serving his third term as mayor of Detroit said, "He’s dead set on building the city’s climate responsiveness."

Laprisha Berry Daniels, is a public health social worker who for inspiration, "mines the survival strategies her grandparents learned after leaving the Jim Crow South to settle in Detroit."

Nili Gilbert and David Blood are sustainable investment experts who provided "both macro and on-the-ground perspectives on the kinds of finance flowing to climate solutions."

Avinash Persaud, an economist, said that after Hurricane Maria decimated Dominica in 2017, the country declared its intention to become the first climate-resilient nation in the world. But as they sought to organize their response to future climate disasters they quickly realized that the only real solution was to halt climate change entirely."

Tombo Banda is an energy access innovator who said that "when electricity arrived in Zomba, Malawi in 1994 it brought her village significant changes to the health, comfort, and happiness of its residents, but the reality is that 500 million people still lack access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, relying on highly polluting materials like diesel and firewood."

Steve Presley Nestlé North America CEO discussed how one of the world’s largest food companies aims to reach net zero by 2050.

Amy Powney designs fashions for sustainability first. As creative director for Mother of Pearl, she "ensures all aspects of the clothing are environmentally friendly and ethically produced."

Payton Wilkins is a union leader and environmental justice advocate who said "The multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-gender trade union movement could become a formidable force in the fight against climate change."

Xiaojun “Tom” Wang told about "the devastating impacts of coal mining in China — accidents in coal mines, massive landslides, damage to cultural sites — and called for Beijing to ease the pressure on Shanxi’s coal industry."

Olivia Breese "imagined a “love story” between green electrons and water molecules, the result of which is a molecule that can store and release energy without emitting carbon dioxide — a flexible and vastly more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels."

Jim Snabe "serves as Vision Council chair for the TED Future Forum (TFF), a new initiative focused on the role of business in advancing solutions to the climate crisis. He outlined TFF’s plans to be a catalyst and community for companies committed to stepping up with greater climate ambition, issuing an invitation for anyone interested in joining the massive, collaborative effort to transform the global economy."

John O’Donnell's company, Rondo, produces 'heat batteries' consisting of thousands of bricks stacked in a grid, heated with renewable energy.

Isabella Kirkland "paints species that once lived along the Hudson River in her work “Palisades,” showcasing the profound beauty and rarity of the diverse life that once inhabited our planet — and advocating for the conservation of that which is still here."

Marcelo Mena, a biochemical engineer said "Time is running out and this harmful gas needs to be cut in half by 2050 in order to effectively combat global warming."

Jim Whitaker and his daughter Jessica Whitaker Allen are seeking to grow sustainability awareness within the agricultural communities where they live in southeast Arkansas. Rice is the world’s most consumed food source — and it accounts for 10 percent of the world’s methane emissions."

Tao Zhang "sees swaying Chinese eaters towards these new proteins as a climate-positive business opportunity."

Al Roker known as “America’s weatherman," said: that "extreme weather is increasing in frequency and severity, and the consequences will be devastating."

Cynthia Williams‘s family has long worked in the auto industry and is seeing the electric vehicle revolution.

Neil Vora exposed "three crucial ways deforestation impacts human health: (1) Animals living alongside humans are more likely to carry germs that can infect us; (2) When people move into deforested areas, there is more exposure to new viruses; (3) And animals are more likely to spread illness when their homes are threatened."

Ludmila Rattis revealed "the surprisingly fruitful benefits of letting nature take care of business, sharing how the digestive habits of tapirs in Amazonia spread seeds throughout the region, regenerating the forest."

Louise Mabulo works in restorative agroforestry, and through her initiative, The Cacao Project, which works to build sustainable and climate-resilient livelihoods for farmers,

Justin J. Pearson, a Tennessee state representative, and British MP David Lammy discussed "the pressing issue of climate justice and the nuances of leadership within the movement emphasizing the significance of empowering the most affected communities and acknowledging the interconnectedness of different social issues."

Josephine Phillips, a sustainable fashion designer said "We need to buy less and value more the clothes we already own."

Aruna Rangachar Pohl talked about "one of India’s most beloved snacks: biscuits — revealing how the production of these treats and other highly processed goods that rely on industrial farming are hurting the planet and our health."

Oral McGuire, a fire practitioner and member of the Mangarda Balladong Nyungar First Nations in southwestern Australia shared "the importance of applying the right kind of fire in a sacred practice known as “kaarl-ngariny,” to maintain the health and balance of the land."

Donnel Baird of BlocPower described how he "aims to solve the upgrade problem of powering the United States’s 125 million buildings (which account for 30 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions) by moving buildings off of fossil fuels and onto renewably sourced electric power."

Gopal D. Patel, as co-chair of the United Nations Multi-faith Advisory Council, mobilizes faith communities for environmental advocacy and action around the world

Kala Constantino, director of the ecology advocacy group Tara Climate Foundation introduces us to a cross-section of the actors working to build a grid for cheap and clean renewable power throughout Asia.

Rebecca Collyer, executive director of 2023 Audacious Project grantee ReNew2030, a global coalition to scale the use of wind and solar energy explores how to ensure the transition to renewable energy is fast and fair — a crucial task, as the power sector produces more carbon emissions than any other sector in the world

Rich Powell talked about "the true barrier to immediate implementation of clean energy projects BANANA-ism: “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.”

Zainab Usman, a political economist said "The solution lies with policymakers, business leaders, and activists."

Amir Nizar Zuabi, a theater director and playwright shared "the journey of Little Amal — a 10-year-old refugee girl (who is actually a 13-foot puppet) that went on an epic, 5,000-mile migration across eight countries in a globe-trotting art piece called “The Walk.”

Sims Witherspoon an applied AI scientist wants to use artificial intelligence to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future. She believes AI can help us better understand the impact of climate change on Earth’s ecosystems, accelerate the breakthrough science we need to create a carbon-free energy supply and speed up the transition to renewable energy sources.

Ramón Méndez Galain, a former particle physicist charted Uruguay’s transition to renewables as head of the country’s National Energy Agency.

Here are links to some videos that are now available from the TED Countdown Summit 2023:


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