In Defense of Darkness (TEDxRichland)

My good friend Scott Butner gave a talk on the advantage of dark skies at TEDxRichland awhile back. The video is now available on YouTube. The photos and time lapse video are all his. Here’s the summary:

How many times have you looked up at the night sky? The stars and the moon…the occasional shooting star. Did you realize that most likely you are seeing very little of what is actually up there? Light pollution ruins the experience for most. Maybe it’s time to take back the night.

What Can Today’s Designers Learn From Nature?

Janine Benyus’ TED Talk (video embedded below), “Biomimicry in Action”, was one of the featured talks on NPR’s TED Radio Hour on Friday. The topic was The Power of Design.

#WomeninSTEM: Saving the Natural World through Conservation

Read the full story from the Department of the Interior.

As manager of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Jennifer Owen-White is used to getting her hands dirty. Established in 2012, Valle de Oro is the first urban wildlife refuge in the southwest, and it’s becoming an important asset for the residents of New Mexico. In a recent TEDx talk, Owen-White shared her story of why she gave up being a doctor to play in the dirt and why we need more women in the conservation field.

100% renewables: Is ambition easier than environmental incrementalism?

Read the full story from Treehugger.

Every little bit helps.

That seemed like a mantra for many environmentalists when I was first getting into the green movement. From switching off lights to reusing plastic bags, we focused on individual action, and we begged for—and often cheered—incremental improvements from our governments, communities and corporations.

Yet a new kind of environmental action is emerging, one that is not afraid to champion all-out, systemic change. It’s happening on many fronts:

• Engineers are mapping out roadmaps to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Utilities are committing to complete decarbonization, and reshaping their business models around renewables.
• Authorities are planning to “make cars in cities pointless.”
• Mainstream builders are building homes with 90 percent lower heating bills, largely out of straw, at a comparable cost to conventional homes.
• Apple is buying up forests the size of San Francisco to promote sustainable forestry.

Video: Let’s Go All-in on Selling Sustainability

The big blue buildings of Ikea have sprouted solar panels and wind turbines; inside, shelves are stocked with LED lighting and recycled cotton. Why? Because as Steve Howard puts it: “Sustainability has gone from a nice-to-do to a must-do.” Howard, the chief sustainability officer at the furniture megastore, talks about his quest to sell eco-friendly materials and practices — both internally and to worldwide customers — and lays a challenge for other global giants.

Flip it! A new way to teach with video from TED-Ed

TED just debuted TED-Ed and already they’ve added features. From the TED Blog:

Announcing a new way to use video to create customized lessons: the “Flip This Lesson” feature from TED-Ed, now in beta at

With this feature, educators can use, tweak, or completely redo any video lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch based on a TEDTalk or any video from YouTube. How? Just plug the video in and start writing questions, comments, even quizzes — then save the lesson as a private link and share with your students. The site allows you to see who’s completed the lessons and track individual progress. It’s still in beta, but we’re so excited about this feature we had to share.

Watch the short video to learn how it works.

“Flip This Lesson” is an open platform — you can create a lesson from any video, whether from the TED-Ed library, from more than 1,000 TEDTalks, or from any video on YouTube. Read Chris Anderson’s blog post about why we built TED-Ed as an open platform. Read the full press announcement here. And explore a sample lesson Chris made as a proof-of-concept, based on a great new TED-Ed talk.

Then — go forth and write lessons of your own!

New “Surprise Me” feature available on TED web site

TED, a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, has developed a new “Surprise Me” feature that creates a video playlist for you depending on how much time you have and what type of video you want to watch (choices are: jaw dropping, persuasive, courageous, ingenious, fascinating, inspiring, beautiful, funny, or informative). Playlists can be 5-60 minutes long (in 5 minute increments).

TEDTalks are usually between five and eighteen minutes long and cover a wide variety of topics. More than 900 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

According to the post on the TED Blog:

Once you’ve customized your playlist, you can watch it in our new theater-style player, where the talks run continuously. It features three viewing sizes, support for 720p high-resolution video in full-screen mode, and back-end technology that continually detects your bandwidth, adjusting the video quality level over time to ensure smooth playback.

If you haven’t discovered TED yet, I suggest checking out A Greener Future, a collection of TEDTalks related to sustainability. Or give their new “Surprise Me” feature a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.