TED Conversations

Thomas Teuwen

Designer Builder , kandf sustainable lifestyle strategies

This conversation is closed.

What are your personal strategies to curb climate change?

It has been said that 60% of us know that climate change is the biggest threat facing our modern civilization, yet only 5% of us act on that knowledge.

If that is true and the 55% who know but don't (or can't) act could somehow get engaged maybe we could reach the tipping point and stem climate change.

There are three steps that we have personally taken in our lives to reduce our carbon footprint by 80% We live car-free/care-free, we eat Vegetarian (mostly vegan) and we built a small footprint house that we hope to get net-zero in another year.

I would be very interested to hear what strategies others have employed. But please let's not debate the existence of man made climate change here, ok?

If you are still in denial about that, then I don't see why you would have an interest in this conversation in the first place. Unless of course you want to further spread misinformation and add to the confusion of the uninformed.


Closing Statement from Thomas Teuwen

TED asked me to enter my closing statement and answer this question:

"Now that the conversation is closed, let people know the final answer -- what did you conclude? Was the question effectively answered?"

Thank you for the few of you who actually addressed the question constructively.

But I am still disappointed at the level of denial that is out there, especially among the TED community. If there was ever a group of people that could apply themselves to solutions rather than bury themselves in denial I thought it was this group. Instead most of the conversation centered around "it's not as bad as you make it out to be." read: "please don't make me change anything n my lifestyle".

In fact all the predictions by the best climate models are being exceeded and the runaway effect is accelerating. The window of averting global disaster is closing and as we ride the rails over the cliff we are still arguing in the bar car about how far away the cliff really is.

Climate change is not about a few storms and sea level rise. Its about severe climate fluctuations and perturbations that could end agriculture as we know it in decades. Its about the runaway methane effect that gets triggered once the arctic is ice free and the permafrost melts. Its about the bottom of the food chain, the zoo and phytoplankton, collapsing due to ocean acidification.

No the planet does not care what we do. It has survived these sort of upheavals before and simple renews itself. But we don;t have that option. Our civilization is based on agriculture and agriculture has only been possible for the last 10,000 years because of an unusually stable climate. Its that stability we are disrupting at our own peril.

I leave you with these two links to ponder:



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  • Feb 25 2014: For a start I have my doubts global warming is man made at all, but lets for the sake of the discussion assume that it is.

    The reason I don't have a personal plan is because it would be a drop in an ocean. Why should I sacrifice my quality of life for a miniscule drop in carbon emissions when the rest of the world obviously won't do the same?
    This way, we still have global warming, only I've been stuck with no car, poor housing, and bad food. No thank you.

    Nations have a similar problem on a grader scale. Why should they shoot their own economy in the foot when the rest of the world will just screw them over by refusing to fulfill their joint foot-shooting pact?
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      Feb 26 2014: Well Nadav, by that logic we should all not give a damn and just let civilization crumble around us while we drink our beer and eat our chips. That works for some, but I'm afraid as much as i would like it to sometimes, it doesn't work for me. Civilization has given me the most fantastic opportunity of life and I think its worth saving even if others don't.

      By the way, my small footprint house is fantastic and my car-free lifestyle makes me fit instead of fat. And the food I grow in my garden delicious and nutritious. So I'm not sacrificing one bit. In fact my quality of life has skyrocketed since I old my BMW and evolved beyond steak and potatoes.
      • Feb 27 2014: I don't know about you, but I won't sacrifice that much for nothing. You might have tricked yourself to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle, but I'm not very good at lying to myself.

        Again, assuming for the sake of debate that global warming is real and man made, it makes much more sense to make preparations for the inevitable.
        Building dams, fortifying food and water supplies, getting ready to hold off marauding neighboring nations should it come to it, that sort of thing. Much more productive then reducing your carbon foot print when the rest of the world doesn't do the same and screws you over.

        It's frankly self delusional to think your own personal plan can put a dent in global warming, even if you're a head of state of something that's smaller then a couple of dozen million people. Its a feel good measure that doesn't actually solve anything, and even then, you need to be a specific type of person to feel good about it.
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          Feb 27 2014: Yes preparing for a mass extinction where 90% of all species will not survive is an option. I feel its the last option though and there is much we can do before then. I am not prepared to accept that humanity is so self serving and closed minded that this destruction is inevitable. Call me naive but I still think we care about each other and about our children and grand children. I still think we wish a beautiful life for those yet unborn. And even if my personal actions don't solve the problem I still feel that I have a responsibility to act as long as I still can.
      • Feb 27 2014: 90% of species going extinct? Where exactly did that estimate come from? The meteor that killed the dinosaurs didn't hit that bench mark, and it was a lot more destructive then climate change ever will be.

        Global warming, human derived or otherwise, isn't quite as apocalyptic as some of the scaremongers make it out to be. Its something that can be endured, if you're properly prepared.
        At least disaster preparations aren't as self delusional as feeble attempts to stop it. These "feel good" measures are more destructive then taking no action at all.

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