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Live blogs about Media

Chris Anderson talk

Chris Anderson BW

Chris Anderson BWCurator of TED and Jeanie’s brother, starting with a big hug – aaaah! He’s left the red spot and is shaking the hands of the front row. Staple-guns at the ready! But phew, he’s back on the spot.

He’s changed his talk from the City 2.0, and instead is looking at what he’s learnt from past TED talks about sustainability: the world in seven lenses. He firmly believes there is cause for optimism, so even though he starts with the message “we’re in trouble”…

Lens 1. The long view says that things have been getting better. Trade brought connections and drove innovation. In the past we had to work for 6 hours to afford one tallow candle. Now we work for 1 second for electric lighting. Despite what we see of the evidence, we are living in the most peaceful time in human existence. Snippet of Hans Rosling’s talk on life expectancy and family sizes.

Lens 2. Our brains are bugged, so we don’t recognise happiness and well-being. If we recognise it, we can navigate around it. Cartoon: “everything was better back when everything was worse.” Our genes are wired to want more. We need to take a moment to smell the roses.

Lens 3. Our media are fundamentally flawed, in the way they appeal to our lizard brains. We respond to drama and bad news for other people, We’re looking at shorter and shorter time periods, so we see the peaks and miss long-term trends. The actual News of the actual World should be “Global Health Shock: 1700 children saved from horrifying death”.

Lens 4. “Growth” does not have to mean “more”. Today we’ve heard about numerous ways of re-imagining the economy. Better experiences don’t have to mean more stuff, and the knowledge economy can help drive this.

Lens 5. Urbanization is humanity’s golden hope. TED speakers have changed Chris’ view of cities. The proximity of people, even in slums, drives innovation to make change. The carbon footprint per person is much lower within cities. The movement to the cities has released some pressure on the countryside. City mayors (often) can do what national governments can’t, because they can work within local communities.

Lens 5. Sustainability comes from knowledge, not just nature. Knowledge has given us a lot of tools, and choices that make our lives joyful.

Lens 6. Problems are inevitable. Problems are soluble. Stewart Brand: “We are as gods, and have to get good at it”, from a position of humility not arrogance.

Lens 7. People are not hungry mouths, but creative minds, not a burden, but an asset. Half the world’s population – girls and women – hasn’t had the possibility of reaching their potential, but things are changing.

In our connected world, knowledge can spread and humanity can get wiser.