Times, they are a’changin

My TED talk focused on climate change and was given by Nicholas Stern.  Stern spoke about cities, energy, and land, the three main parts he identifies with environmental issues. He proposed that with the developing cities around the world, we design them in a compact fashion, integrating sustainable living into the life of the city. For fully developed cities, he suggested tweaking the current systems by switching out the unsustainable with the greener.  One of his examples was an advanced bus system that was cheaper than the subway and reduced the amount of cars and thus the pollution released by all of these cars.  For energy, Stern explained that 80% of our energy right now is dependent on fossil fuels, not a sustainable mode to rely on.  He cited California as an example of clean energy, detailing how they are increasing their reliance on wind and solar power from 20% to 33%, a huge amount.  Stern then connected both cities and energy, saying that one is connected to the other. If cities incorporate cleaner lifestyles, that promotes cleaner energy to be used.  For land, he honed in on forests in particular.  Stern cited Ethiopia as a model country in reinstating forests that had once been cut down for timber and energy.

Stern said he believed that the world is moving too slowly for climate change, and I agree with them. While it’s true that education is increasing on the topic, humans around the world do not understand how detrimental climate change is for the environment.  I agree with Stern’s plan for change. The number of humans migrating into urban centers internationally is increasing exponentially. This leaves us with a problem of how to make city living more sustainable. As of right now, cities like Beijing are clouded in smog because of their lack of a plan for urban sustainability. When I visited Beijing in the summer of 2011, I was overwhelmed by the air pollution. Growing up in a smaller city of Philadelphia, I never encountered pollution like this.  It was difficult to breathe in some areas, and as China is a country that is promoting urban living for its citizens, this smog is only going to get worst. An integrated bus system, described by Stern, would greatly decrease the number of cars emitting pollutants not just in Beijing but in any city submerged in smog. Furthermore, the integration of renewable energy would thrive in a city less reliant on transportation reliant on fossil fuels.

It’s not impossible for this to occur. Mankind has the potential to live in a cleaner, greener lifestyle. It’s whether we choose to live that way that makes the difference.



6 responses to “Times, they are a’changin

  1. Reading your post I completely agree with Nicholas Stern. The environment is something that we need to take care of and if we don’t we are going to run into problems in the near future. Relying this heavily on fossil fuels is not sustainable like Stern says. I like how you mentioned your experience in Beijing because I cannot imagine how people let their environment deteriorate like that. Having a city covered in smog is not good for nature and human beings. We need to figure out a way to help the environment sooner rather than later because it may be too late if we wait.


  2. I agree with you. Many scientists have said we have already passed the point of no return but I don’t believe that. If humans fully understand how easy it is to produce less waste and live a more sustainable life, then Stern’s plans can easily become a reality around the world.


  3. Did he discuss ways that cities can become producers of the energy they use through decentralized energy production (like solar or wind ON buildings?). Because we still have systems that tend to import energy to cities which rely on massive capital budgets for those big projects (hydro, fossil fuel, nuclear)?


  4. As to whether the problem is “education” about climate change, I don’t think that is as much of a problem as structural barriers and vested interests. For example, when people in Lewisburg try to get better pedestrian options to lower car reliance, we don’t control 45 and 15, the big roads that limit pedestrian activity, PENNDOT does, and they won’t let us do things we would like. Meanwhile, land developers and others have economic incentives to keep building sprawl developments. If you ask them if climate change is a problem, they say sure, but that doesn’t overcome their economic interests.


  5. Pingback: What the Future Could Hold | Stakeholder14Monday·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s