7 Environmental TED Talks to Educate, Energize and Entertain You

It’s usually around the third drink that it happens. You’re in a bar, talking about a problem you’re having – whether it’s with your garage door-opener or the stubbornness of the human mind – when suddenly, you’re interrupted by your companion who breathlessly blurts out: “Oh, ooh! I saw this amazing thing in a TED talk that might help…”

TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and is a series of engaging, rostrum-style talks held all over the world and broadcast for free – several talks a day. As one who frequently spends her lunch hour with TED (and who has been guilty of the bar-room conversation, above), I’ve compiled some compelling talks on environmental themes. From the navigational wonders of the African dung beetle to the misconceptions that cause mothers to put their children at risk of disease and death, these TED talks will hopefully educate, energize and entertain you in good measure. Read More

What would Captain Picard do?

The Devastating Environmental Impact of the Space Program

My brother is a Trekkie. No, not a long-distance hiker but a Star Trek fan. He has watched all the films and TV shows, met some of its stars at expensive conventions across the world and has plastic models of ships adorning his living room. (Before you ask: Yes, he has a girlfriend and yes, she’s gorgeous.)

In his lifetime and mine, it will likely be possible for punters like us to go to space. We’ll be hitching a ride on the coat tails of 70 years of scientists who have been working out how to shoot rockets into space and how to safely put people on them.

There are few who don’t think that science is incredibly cool but Star Trek is about ethics and caring for humankind’s legacy – and what kind of legacy are we leaving in the wake of the space program? In short: Toxic soils, disease, ecosystem upheaval, resource depletion, and human and wildlife displacement. Read More

Pinnacles and cones of cyanobacteria formed on the ocean floor under Antarctic ice. Source: Dale Andersen, ScientistAtWork blog.

Meet the Tiny Desert Slime that Holds our Topsoil Together. For Now.

If your eyes were microscopes and you had really good sunblock, you could lie down in the Arizona Desert and watch tiny microbes build colonies of millions around you. These greeblies, called cyanobacteria, colonize the very top layer of soil and need little more than sunshine to survive. In their wake, they leave a trail of slime that glues the soil together, allowing larger organisms like moss and lichens to grow.

It sound like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, doesn’t it? But we should think fondly of cyanobacteria because there is mounting evidence that they are what knits our ecosystems together and their slimy calling card could save us from the killer effects of climate change. Read More

Carbon credits for flights are common but aren’t as simple as they look. Picture: Fuzz, CC.

Three ‘Green’ Alternatives that Aren’t So Simple – and Three that Are!

You’re planning a holiday and you’re excited. You have plotted your route around festivals and natural wonders you want to see and now, it’s time to book your flights. At the bottom of the web form, the airliner asks if you’d like to offset the carbon created by your trip. It costs you $3.25. “Sure,” you think, “it can’t hurt to do my bit for the environment”.

So what if I told you it can hurt? Read More

Seafood Watch has the low-down on Mahi Mahi. Source: website

Meet the big fish in the sustainable seafood push

So here we are, my husband and I, standing in a busy Asian supermarket on a Saturday morning and I have two cuts of frozen fish in my hands. My husband and I are discussing which one to buy and we’re considering type of fish, cut, price and how far it’s traveled to our plate. Then I throw a spanner in the works: is it sustainable?

My husband sighs. He does this when I ask him to rinse out his disposable drink cup, and when I am dithering in the toilet paper aisle, trying to work out whether I care enough about the earth to spend an extra 9c a square. It’s the resigned sigh of a moderately green man who is married to an environmental zealot.

The good news – for my marriage and the line of people forming behind us in the supermarket – is that it’s becoming easier to find out what’s actually on your plate, where it came from and how sustainable the fish stocks are. Read More

smart cat

Nonprofit leaders – your time is meow

There are cats gifs in this post because I’m hella excited.

Excited because I’ll be spending the first part of September in a room with some of the nation’s best nonprofit minds in a gathering organized by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN).

Part forum, part leadership academy, the Leading Change Summit is billed as an exclusive gathering where nonprofit leaders can learn strategies and get feedback from the sector’s heavyweights. Read More


A mixtape for planet earth

Still on a high at the end of a successful green film festival and pumped by the news that the US Government is taking real action on climate change, I have made a mixtape for the Earth of my favorite environmental tunes.

These are songs that turned me into an environmentalist. I hope you love them too.

Read More

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An open letter to display advertising

Dear Internet,

I appreciate you. The sheer amount and quality of information and entertainment at my fingertips amazes me – and so much of it is free! Your resources are second to none and I value them dearly.

You know what else I value? My privacy. That’s why I use an app that stops sites tracking my browsing. This is not because I am against display advertising, it’s because I care about who knows where I have been. Read More