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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  • Dan F 50+

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    Dec 29 2012: The cause of this problem wouldn't matter, nor would anyone care. The break point which could cause this dire situation would trump everything.

    Imagine the information age world is going from seven billion plus toward one billion people on a downhill slide.

    A situation that would result in this kind of drastic reduction in human population numbers would appear to be the end of the world. Cooperative behavior would not disappear, but would likely give away to our more cunning and aggressive side in the battle to survive.

    Spaceship earth could take on a new reality none of us would want to contemplate. Individual or group efforts no matter how thoughtfully considered and employed to restore faith would go unnoticed. Just maintaining basic law and order could be impossible in some areas as gangs go wild in the cities creating their own new world order.

    Food and ammunition would disappear from retail outlets as people would grab what they could despite efforts to lessen the panic. Businesses would likely disappear to black markets and barter systems. Who knows what would happen nationally.

    At the very least, or perhaps best, much of the world would be under emergency rule to maintain as much order as possible to weather the crisis. It well may be our best hope to recapture a retrievable stable human niche and retain some civility in the process.

    I hope I didn't sound to negative - this is just a theoretical exercise, right?
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      Dec 31 2012: "The cause of this problem wouldn't matter, nor would anyone care." I care. As well, I think that the ONLY way to address any problem is by understanding what it is and what its causes are. I do not like contemplating gloomy scenarios as they might play out. However, I do want to anticipate that we can alter the outcomes.
      • Jan 1 2013: Hi Mark,

        Incidentally, I care too, otherwise I wouldn't be so active on TED. I share your concern about our well being on spaceship earth. Keep up the good work.

        My preferred approach to our existing and pending environmental problems is best addressed by cutting tax deductions for those having children. Also the efforts to assist family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancies is important. I liked what Melinda Gates in her TED Talk had to say on this subject.

        I see this as more an issue of idealism than education. I think the world is grossly overpopulated and we are paying an accelerating negative environmental price for that reality.

        On the other hand, it is likely we could continue to sustain more and more people by the talents and application of our education systems. For example, we can genetically modify fish, plants, etc., to be larger to better feed the multitudes despite the harm to wild fisheries, native plants, etc. Engineers can mitigate global warming by doing - who knows what. And on and on it goes. All the while talk show radio will explain to the masses why these commercial operations are a godsend.

        I am not a purist. I appreciate technology, economics, politics, etc., but I don't worship these things.

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