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.