Scroll down the page for the Live blogs of the talks.

Videos about Population

Alan Smith on

We should be fascinated by numbers says Alan Smith in his challenging and amusing TEDxExeter talk. And TED must agree as it has selected his as one of the few TEDx talks that are featured on We are delighted that, as a result it will reach a much larger, global audience. The statistics (yes) show that this is a rare honour. Fewer than 1 per cent of TEDx talks feature on TED, and Alan’s is the 8th TEDxExeter talk to be chosen.

In his talk Alan Smith, who is data visualisation editor at The Financial Times, uses statistics to illustrate the massive difference between perception and reality in many areas of life. “Statistics are most wonderful when they surprise us,” he says. “They are about us as a group … the science of us, and that’s why we should be fascinated by numbers.”

Amusingly he demonstrates that the National Statistician and Jeremy Paxman are just as likely not to know what’s really going on in their neighbourhood as anyone else. He also busts the myth that some people are good at numbers, while others aren’t.

“I am thrilled that this talk has been selected for,” said Alan Smith. “It’s increasingly hard to avoid statistics in modern life – so we need to learn to love them for what they are: surprising, revealing and the key to answering so many important questions.”

TEDxExeter organiser and licensee Claire Kennedy adds: “We are delighted that an eighth TEDxExeter talk has been selected for We already know from our own website stats that we have visitors from around the world; now these talks will be seen by an even greater global audience.

“Alan presents numbers in ways that we can all understand – even those who have thought themselves bad at numbers since maths lessons at school. Not only does he challenge prejudices and misunderstanding, he also makes you laugh. It is great news that Alan’s ideas will now reach people all around the world through”

Danny Dorling on

See the world anew and discover hope for the future says Danny Dorling as his TEDxExeter talk is featured on

We are delighted that Danny’s powerful talk has been featured on, the 6th talk from TEDxExeter to be featured on the main TED site.

“There are a huge number of good news stories in the world,” says Danny Dorling in his 2016 TEDxExeter talk: “Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are)”. And now his talk is on many more people around the world will hear about the constant, incremental changes for the better that rarely feature in the print and broadcast media.

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, challenges us to examine some of our beliefs about the world and open our minds to a new, often unreported reality. Using beautiful and unfamiliar world maps created by Ben Hennig (and shown in colour for the first time) he shows us that in many ways life is slowly getting better and there’s much to be optimistic about, as long as we continue to connect with each other.

“I’m very glad TED has decided to feature the talk I gave at TEDxExeter,” said Danny. “In it I examine new ways of viewing the world, its future, and how we can be a little less afraid if we do not see other people as being our enemy as much as we currently do. We currently fear people from other countries too much, we fear that those in faraway places are taking ‘our jobs’, we fear what we do not know. But if we begin to see the world as a whole, as the place from which we all get our food, as the place that we all pollute, then as our global population begins to stabilise we can learn to become less fearful. Some people learn faster than others. The British Prime Minister, Teresa May, recently said that ‘if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. It is not her fault that she was taught geography at time before we could map all the citizens of the world and see that we are each just such a citizen.”

“I hope you watch the talk if only to see the weird and wonderful ways in which Benjamin Hennig has remapped the planet. Seeing the earth shaped in proportion to the amount of rain that falls, and how that changes over a year, shows the planet as a single entity that almost appears to have an annual heartbeat. Seeing all the humans of the world drawn on a single projection can help us realise that imagining all of humanity as one is not beyond the scope of our collective imaginations. Let’s see the world anew!”

Ben Hennig has also used this method of remapping the world to map the result of the US presidential election and show that not only did most voters who voted not vote for Trump (which people know), but also that an even larger majority of Americans live in areas which did not vote for Trump. See more on Ben’s website Views of the World.

Democrat areas are coloured blue on Ben’s map of the election result. On the traditional map it looks as if Trump had a great deal of support. On the map adjusted to correctly represent the number of people living in an area it is made clear that only a small minority of Americans supported him and that he has only won office due to the US voting system and because there is so much disaffection there (so many people don’t vote).

Danny’s TEDxExeter talk was based on a book he wrote with Carl Lee called ‘Geography’.

His new book A Better Politics can be downloaded as a PDF here. The book was timed for publication on the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s book ‘Utopia’ which is this month (‘Utopia’ was originally published in Latin in very late 1516).

You can find out more about Danny’s work at and @dannydorling.

Live blogs about Population

Jonathon Porritt talk

Jonathon Porritt portrait

Jonathon Porritt portraitNow in a change to the programme, Jonathon Porritt, who is delighted to be here, because he wants to talk about “a brilliantly, genuinely sustainable way of life”.

He has been close to despair in the past about how to demonstrate the benefits of a sustainable life. But he has been working on what a sustainable life will look like in 2050, and how we will get there, and has come to the conclusion that a genuinely sustainable way of life in available to all – all 7 billion people today, and 9 billion people soon.

After 9 billion, all bets are off. Population is just one problem, oil is another. The price is shooting up, and we are in the middle of one of the most serious economic crises since the 1930s. Prices of commodities are shooting up too. We are in a resource crunch – food, rare earths. On top of that is the problem of accelerating climate change. 2012 was the worst year ever in terms of feedback loops. It demonstrates the necessity of profound change, but we are still on the same track. Billions of dollars are still supporting fossil fuels. But Hurricane Sandy has had a big impact on US opinion, mainly because of the price tag of $62bn.

The world is ‘in rehearsal’ for a process of radical decarbonisation. A study by WWF and Ecofys has looked at a transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear to sustainable renewable sources. (Claps for a non-nuclear future.) This transition represents trillions of dollars. It is already emerging in developing countries, partly down to one more hidden revolution – the plummeting prices of photovoltaics. We are well on the way to grid parity – equal prices with fossil fuels – and the talk in China is about how to get prices down to 50 cents per watt. We know that when countries get serious about renewables, as in Germany, we see integration of systems. That will become a lot easier through energy storage technologies – Jonathon is now showing a list of them on possibly “the most boring slide ever displayed in a TEDx talk”.

The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant in Abu Dhabi was commissioned a few weeks ago. Some people call this the third industrial revolution. If we get this right, we are on to something breath-takingly different, an energy internet of electrons. Think about 5 billion people crowd-sourcing solutions to problems we currently think of as intractable. This is why he is no longer in despair. In every field, the innovation pipeline is bulging.

For example, water purification. Big and small companies are bringing products to the market, services at a price people can afford, to rid the world of a scourge that is polluted water bringing disease and death. Imagine a straw that cleans water between contaminated glass and lips.

It is a race. There is still time. It is not too late, however many times you hear people say that. Technology lies at the heart of that potential. Jonathon found it surprising to find himself uttering those words. Over the past 40 years, he has been no great fan of technology. He has been sceptical of techno-fixing, a strategy avoiding confrontation the real issues that lie at the heart of the corrupted model of ‘progress’. The precautionary principle is still important. It’s difficult to make a case for technology, if the technology is nuclear and GM.

The $62 billion cost of Sandy is also the amount of money that Obama could claw back by cancelling the tax breaks for the rich that Bush introduced. We need a radical redistribution of wealth – a money revolution as well as a technology revolution.

And given these conditions – “a brilliantly, genuinely sustainable way of life is still possible for all of us.”

More Information

WWF/Ecofys “The Energy Report”

Jonathon’s website

Forum for the Future and the Prince of Wales’ Business and Sustainability Programme