TEDxExeter Countdown
How can we be good ancestors?

The TEDxExeter Climate Change Countdown 2021 series got off to a flying start on 25 January, when we gathered on Zoom to cast our minds into the distant future and talked with public philosopher and renowned author, Roman Krznaric about how to be ‘A Good Ancestor’.

It was wonderful to share an uplifting and inspirational evening together, with many old friends of TEDxExeter, and to welcome new faces, including students from Exeter College.

After watching his popular TED Talk together, Roland Pyle (Head of Policy at Devon County Council) joined Roman for a fascinating conversation, digging deeper into the challenges of how to think long term in a short term world.

Roman argues that frenetic short-termism is at the root of many of the crises we are all facing, but our descendants own the future, and the decisions we make now will tremendously impact generations not yet born.

Roman takes heart from cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen where post-Covid recovery plans include progressive circular economy ideas to reduce waste, tackle climate change and improve well-being. ‘Change can be hard’, he acknowledged, ‘but there is definitely hope.’

Roman believes that cities and towns often have the power to change and evolve at a faster pace than countries: for example, even when Trump decreed America leave the Paris Climate Change agreement, 279 American Mayors decided to maintain its core aims in their policies and plans. And he’s particularly excited by the UK Bill to create a Future Generations Commissioner to help us stop thinking in five-yearly election cycles.

Many communities and grass roots movements are already actively rethinking old economic, political and ecological models, seeking to assume responsibility for the generations ahead.

In small group discussions our guests shared their personal ‘Time Rebel’ pledges such as re-wilding, plastic clean-ups and no-fly commitments.  Our guests wanted to know ‘Are we in time?’ and ‘How can we persuade everyone to become a Time Rebel?’

‘The climate change crisis requires action within the next 10-12 years‘, said Roman. ‘We probably can’t shift the politics and institutions fundamentally in that time scale, but we can tackle consumer behaviour and move towards circular economies. Most people respond to the theme of ‘legacy’, what they as politicians, decision-makers, or simply as individuals, want to be remembered for, which encourages long term thinking and action.

In conclusion Roman encouraged everyone to; ‘Honour future generations by talking about them. The power of conversation, with families, neighbours, colleagues…even on the bus with strangers (when we can again!), can help to spread the word about thinking beyond the here and now’.   

A great thought to close our evening and one that chimes with the essence of TEDxExeter –  a belief in human connection, stimulating conversations and ideas worth spreading.

Roman’s website is a treasure trove of articles, videos, cartoons and links to organisations working on being good ancestors. 

His latest book The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World, has been described by U2’s The Edge as “the book our children’s children will thank us for reading.”

The paperback edition will be released on 11 February.

TodayForTomorrow

The coronavirus pandemic has shown we need more long-term thinking and planning in Government. The ‘Wellbeing of Future Generations’ Bill, if passed into law, will help tackle threats such as the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics, head on.

To kick off the year that the UK hosts COP26, TodayForTomorrow are inviting you to take action, because now is the time to make a long-lasting, positive change for current and future generations.

Together, we can create a better tomorrow.

Doughnut Economics

The Doughnut offers a vision of what it means for humanity to thrive in the 21st century – and Doughnut Economics explores the mindset and ways of thinking needed to get us there.
Turning Doughnut Economics from a radical idea into transformative action.

Find out more at the Doughnut Economics Action Lab and Devon Doughnut.

We’ve been exploring ideas of being good ancestors since TEDxExeter launched in 2012. Here are a few of our talks to revisit and enjoy now:

Kirsty Schneeberger: Intergenerational questions

We’ve been having a bit of a climate change party, thinking we won’t have a hangover. But future generations are going to bear the brunt of that hangover. And that’s why Kirsty’s trying to bring young people into the process.

Polly Higgins: Ecocide, the 5th crime against peace

Homicide against people, genocide against populations…we need a new language to describe what is happening against the earth. Ecocide!

The late Polly Higgins, celebrated as ‘the Planet’s lawyer’,  spoke at our first event in 2012 asking “Can we make ecocide into a crime?”

Cormac Russell: Sustainable community development: shifting the focus from what’s wrong to what’s strong

How can we help people to live a good life? Instead of trying to right what’s wrong within a community Cormac argues we need to start with what’s strong.

We need to help people discover what gifts they have and to use those gifts to enrich those around them.

Matt Harvey: I want to go renewable so my streets are less canoeable: 5 poems of hope

Who knew renewable energy could inspire beautiful poetry? Like a ray of sunshine, Matt Harvey’s witty verse will brighten up your day – and you’ll never look at solar panels the same way again.

Harry Baker & Chris Read: Songs of hope for the planet

If you worry about the future of the planet, let Harry Baker and Chris Read lighten your mood with their optimistic comedy-rap-jazz take on conservation and how generations not yet born might look back on how we live now.

#JoinTheCountdown to a zero-carbon world with

On 13th October we launched TEDxExeter Countdown, our series of events focussing on the climate crisis and the race to net zero.

We were honoured to welcome Karime Hassan, Chief Executive and Growth Director, Exeter City Council to our launch, to share both his personal vision for a zero carbon future and Exeter City Council’s ambition and commitment to becoming a net zero city by 2030. We’ll deepen that conversation in future events in 2021.

Join the city-wide conversation about climate change on Exeter City Future’s new ‘Exeter’s Net Zero Journey’ platform – a dynamic and live city-wide conversation helping to pull everyone together around a shared vision of a better future. Everyone is welcome and can join here.

Please see below for the highlights of our launch.

Countdown is a global, year-long initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. The goal: To build a better future by cutting emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a world that is safer, cleaner and fairer for everyone.

We know that to make progress on climate action we need to collaborate on a global scale, and to act wherever we can. And our community has an important role to play. Exeter City Council has set an ambitious goal for our city – to become carbon neutral by 2030. To succeed, it will take all of us.

In the coming months we’ll announce our 2021 Countdown events when we’ll explore some of the biggest challenges we and the city face to make the transition to net-zero. We’ll share stirring examples from global TED speakers and from here in Exeter which shine a light on what a healthy, abundant, zero-emission future can look like.

Reaching net-zero will take all of us – please #JoinTheCountdown with us!

Watch the highlights from our TEDxExeter Countdown launch

The Climate Action Tracker @climateactiontr

In 2015, 197 countries agreed to set emission targets that would limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Let’s see how we’re doing…

Johan Rockstrom, Climate impact scholar @jrockstrom

We’re running very real risks of destabilising the whole planet.

Here’s Johan’s plan for putting it back on the path of sustainability over the next 10 years.

Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the United States @AmandaSCGorman

A stunning spoken word piece about ending the devastation of climate change.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, Wales  @sophiehowe

Taking the long view… Sophie is the world’s first future generations commissioner, tasked with future proofing for the next generation

Monica Araya, electrification advocate @MonicaArayaTica

The global shift to clean transport

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone @yakisawyerr

A mayor’s “treetown” vision to plant a million trees over the next two years.

David Lammy MP @DavidLammy

We can’t solve climate change without racial, social and intergenerational justice.

Al Gore, Climate Advocate @algore  

Becoming an activist, a talk with activists Gloria Kasang Bulus, Nigeria; Nana Firman, Indonesia; Ximena Loria, Costa Rica; Tim Guinee, U.S.

Al Gore introduces four people who have undertaken the Climate Reality training he founded – future leaders building the movement for climate survival and social justice from the ground up.

Christiana Figures, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC 2010-2016 @CFigueres

Architect of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, Christiana speaks about the unshakeable determination and stubborn optimism we will all need to fight for the generations that will come after us.

Find out more on the Global Optimism website and podcast

Count Us In @CountUsInSOCIAL

Count Us In is a new global movement seeking a billion people to commit to decreasing carbon pollution and act on climate change right now. Take a look at this short film and make your pledge!

Watch the unveiling of Countdown below – there are two unusual features of this TED Talk. One, it’s much longer than our normal, extending a full hour. Two, it’s made up of contributions from more than a dozen people, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Al Gore, Katharine Hayhoe, Jimmy Kimmel and Yuval Noah Harari, among others.

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