Text by Maria Popova; artwork by Len Kendall; photography by James Duncan Davidson / TED
Sustainability expert Johan Rockström asks what the thresholds of irreversible environmental change are and questions whether we've put ourselves too close to them. Besides global warming, he points to extinctions and rainforest depletion as major byproducts of humanity's actions. | Session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot
Market transformer Jason Clay from WWF works with corporations to transform the markets they work in, producing more with less land, less water, less pollution. "Companies can push producers to improve sustainability faster than consumers can. Sustainability has got to be a precompetitive issue—Pepsi has to work with Coke." | Session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot
Rachel Sussman of the excellent Oldest Living Thing in the World project reveals the scale of existence through ancient organisms still inhabiting the planet. "Some lichens grow 1 centimeter every 1,000 years. It really puts the human lifespan in perspective." | Session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot
The always-entertaining Ze Frank. | Session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot
Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov calls for a new scientific revolution of synthetic biology and planetary research. "Molecular biology in the last twenty years has put us not closer but further away from answering the basic question: What is life?" | Session 11: Tiny Blue Dot
Ethnic conflict scholar Stefan Wolff points out that there are 30 percent fewer civil wars in the world today than there were two decades ago. His three keys to reducing conflict in the world: "Leadership, diplomacy, and institutional design." | Session 12: Waging Peace
Activist and social entrepreneur Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International explores the disconnect between the role women play in the day-to-day of war and the equity they have in it. "The women who keep life going in the midst of war are not included at the negotiating tables." | Session 12: Waging Peace
Community activist William Perrin points to young, internet-aware, modern political leaders as the future of activism. "It's not about the tools, it's about much more boring things. It's about changing institutions. Technology only makes a tangible impact if it's propagated all the way through society." | Session 12: Waging Peace
Performer and activist Mallika Sarabhai infuses the room with her spoken word and dance magic. | Session 12: Waging Peace
In a remarkable surprise appearance, Wikileaks founder and modern-day hero Julian Assange tells the success story of the Kenyan corruption leak and offers some hard truths about doing the ambitious and often dangerous kind of investigative journalism he does. "Capable generous men don't create victims, they nurture victims. These are my core values."
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, Big Think and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.