TED Conversations

Mark Hurych


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Imagine a scenario this century that is very bleak for agriculture. What do you think we should do to address humanity's thrivability?

Suppose two things:
Suppose that the food producing carrying capacity (the number of people that can be fed from arable land) of the Earth within this century becomes less than one billion due to climate change, what do you think we should do to address thrivability? Suppose that you had all the necessary resources to act. For full credit, apply empathy, logic, and self-integrating system properties. Yes, this might be on the final exam.

Jeremy Rifkin,

Paul Gilding,

Ray Kurzweil,

Michelle Holliday,


Closing Statement from Mark Hurych

Thanks to everyone that participated. I apologize to anyone who might have felt slighted.

The answer I got here is that people are on many different islands of being about humanity's current reality. We all have hopes and fears but our paradigms I've found are unexpectedly different. Our perspectives and priorities sometimes don't even seem to have common ground.

I very much want to find that common ground, across cultures, across the globe, across everything that separates and isolates us. One way I plan to address this yearning is by tuning my questions to be more inclusive and collective.

I feel that art does this, pulls us together and gives us common ground, even across language barriers and across time. I want to be good. This sounds so strange but I want to be a good ancestor. I don't see myself as an artist but I would very much like to do something for the greater good the way a composer or an artist might leave behind an inspiring artifact.


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    Dec 23 2012: I wonder if our thrivability is compromised by globalization?

    Should we reconsider the advantages of the smaller, intimate, local scale? Are the indigenous and the vernacular more appropriate to a sense of community and the the likelihood of survivability, let alone thrivability? Would our relationship with the land be more reverential than exploitative?

    Local communities, local businesses, local produce, the consumption of seasonal crops produced locally etc, would have several effects: Life would be harder but in a positive, healthier, hands-on sense. Relationships with other people would become mutually empathic (they would have to be, for fear of upsetting supportive neighbours). Our numbers would be more likely to self-regulate.

    Implementing such social changes towards 'the local' would be difficult if not impossible, as the technonlogy we use for sustaining global networks and economies cannot be disinvented, and neither I suspect will be the discouragement of the will to use it.

    But will our hand be forced in this direction by the finite nature of the very substance that fuels globalization?

    I think it will, and it will be a very painful, bumpy ride.
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      Dec 23 2012: Hi Allan Macdougall:
      Personally, I have two very different perspectives associated with globalization. →
      It can mean using fossil fuel (hence, CO2 vent) to transport goods that bind economic ties. / It can also mean using networked communication of friendships that bind empathic social ties.

      Organic food locavores and survival gardeners do both seem to have their strengths for doing good. Perhaps there are others that more accurately represent your ideas of local economics.
      But the energy regime (fossil fuel), not traders promoting long-distance commerce, is to blame I think for ruining climate sustainability.

      As for the forced hand, I think now is the time to act before hands are forced. That is, if such negative forecasts have any predictive value. Still, even struggling democracies measure their success by the extent of self-determination at hand. My intent is to have people consider possibilities formerly unimagined: supposing, imagining, creating a thriving future for all.
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        Dec 24 2012: Mark, you say we should act now before the hand is forced. Assuming the negative forecasts do have predictive value, how should we act now, without force of any kind, to achieve collective remedial action?

        Is a collectivist approach impossible, given that it seems to be immune to intelligent reasoning from individuals and specialists who do actually have the courage to consider possibilities formerly unimagined? I agree with the theory of what you are saying - but the practice...?

        I also agree with TED Lover about impending fiscal collapse - and given that everything depends on money, what else will collapse along with it?

        This is not doom-mongering. It is an attempted search for reality.
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          Dec 29 2012: Sorry I missed an opportunity to respond earlier to this entry. By force I think you mean the sticks and carrots of policy. I meant to have people suppose, within the context of answering this conversation question, that we have already somehow determined that the ugly scenario is very likely unless we change something of our current practices. So my question is what do you think we should do collectively, as a species, in order to affect the best possible outcome for the whole of humanity. I did not want people confined to economics alone or engineering alone or farming practices alone. Does that help?
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      Dec 24 2012: I believe that our fiscal paradigm is headed for inevitable collapse. Money is such a cruel task master.
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        Dec 31 2012: Agreed. Alternative currencies and alternative economic structures are needed.

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