Environment

TED Radio Hour: Everything is Connected

Posted by: Elizabeth Jacobs

Connected-Getty-ImagesTake a step back and consider the exquisite network of systems that sustain life on Planet Earth. The air we breathe, the food we eat and the ground we walk on are all carefully regulated by natural systems in an intertwined dance — which means that any change we make in our environment can set off a chain of unexpected reactions. In this week’s TED Radio Hour, four speakers discuss the delicate balance of nature and offer up bold ideas for restoring equilibrium.

The episode kicks off with an inspiring call to action by environmentalist George Monbiot, who wants to reintroduce missing species to their natural habitats. In his talk from TEDGlobal 2013, he shares the story of the wolves in Yellowstone Park, whose populations had dwindled, leading to an overpopulation of deer. When wolves were reintroduced, the natural balance was reset: vegetation returned to normal; bear, beaver and badger populations rose; even river flow improved. The environment is self-regulating, says Monbiot in his talk, and humans need to step back and let nature do its work.

The next guest is Jane Poynter, who spoke at TEDxUSC in 2009 about the two years she lived in Biosphere 2. In the 1990s, she and seven others sealed themselves off from the outside world with only plants, livestock and insects to sustain them. The experience highlighted the delicate balance between all living organisms. Says Poynter, “I became a part of that biosphere. When I breathed out, my CO2 fed the sweet potatoes that I was growing. And those sweet potatoes became a part of me. In fact, we ate so many, I turned orange. I literally was eating the same carbon over and over again. I was eating myself in some strange sort of bizarre way.”

Next up in the episode is Bernie Krause, the bioacoustician who spends his days recording wild soundscapes. In his talk from TEDGlobal 2013, Krause discusses the beautiful symphony of nature, and the troubling silence he has observed in recent years. Since he started recording ecosystems in the 1970s, he estimates that more than 40% of the sounds he’s captured have fallen quiet, radically altered by the practices of humans. This is akin to erasing all of the music composed by Mozart from the human sound library, Krause says, stressing that listening to the biophony can offer essential understanding of the unique balance around us.

The episode closes with Marla Spivak, a biologist who is worried about the future of bees in the United States. Bees are vital to the pollination of many of our fruits and vegetables, but they’re grave in danger. As Spivak shared at TEDGlobal 2013, a third of bee colonies in the US are dying off every year, because of lethal mix of pesticides, changes in farming practices and a lack of meadows. The solution is simple, says Spivak — go plant some flowers.

In the end, it’s an episode that will make you hyper aware of the effect we can have on the natural world. But as much damage as we are able to do, we also have the power to restore.

Listen to “Everything is Connected” via the NPR website »

Or head to iTunes, where the podcast is available for download now »

Photo courtesy of: Getty Images

Comments (35)

  • LAURA SARAH commented on Feb 28 2014

    The TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections. http://resultbaba.in

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  • Victor Mukherzee commented on Feb 24 2014

    I would really like to listen to TED radio.. Thanks
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  • Kanika Rajavat commented on Feb 22 2014

    I also like to listen the FM or radio. But mostly everyone want to listen the music in own phone. So 70% people like to listen the radio and 30 % like to listen music in own phone. http://upscbse.in

  • Adham Venkat commented on Feb 20 2014

    Radio is my favorite entertainment instrument, i like listen it every day.
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  • Tiger menon commented on Feb 12 2014

    I have nver heard about TED Radio Hour, i think we can learn many things from the same and now i will notice form awhere and where it is pplied in routin life….
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  • Ashwani Panwar commented on Feb 4 2014

    Listened for the first time and really loved it. Though I am a frequent reader, listener at TED but radio show was my first here. Thanks for sharing. http://examplusresults.com/

  • Prem pandit commented on Jan 29 2014

    Ted radio Hour Is Best . thanks For Sharing . http://www.indiascan.in

  • Soman Khair commented on Jan 25 2014

    that is really good article about Radio hour. I love to listen all the time.
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  • Jon DeCoste commented on Jan 22 2014

    George Monbiot’s talk is great, but as a wildlife biologist working in the western US, I can’t get past the fact that he continually calls elk “deer” in his talk about wolves in Yellowstone. Maybe he’s trying to simplify his talk for the public, and maybe I’m being overly critical, but he’s alluding to a classic case study on the reintroduction of a large predator, and to get that wrong is frustrating to listen to.

  • Manish Dhyani commented on Dec 24 2013

    TED Hour is among the best radio show I have ever cam across, keep it up!!

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  • EJob Mart commented on Dec 24 2013

    Seriously, TED Radio Hour should be TED Radio Hours. Really love to listen all the time.
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  • Narender Chopra commented on Dec 17 2013

    No matter what kind of phone I have and how much music instruments and systems I have on my home but still whenever I get some time, I love to listen Radio. http://ssctet.in

  • Ronit Shah commented on Nov 29 2013

    NICE…
    its good article thanks for sharing articles

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  • commented on Nov 17 2013

    Thank you, I think we can learn a lot from the philosophies of the Far East when it comes to the eternal circle,
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  • mike milton commented on Oct 6 2013

    this is really good article about Radio hour.. i like to listen Radio coz when i am free i like to listen to Radio it help me to fresh my mind and mood also :-)
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  • commented on Oct 2 2013

  • commented on Sep 30 2013

    Reblogged this on Forest of Peace and commented:
    Life’s Little Mysteries
    I think we can learn a lot from the philosophies of the Far East when it comes to the eternal circle, the emptiness and the essence of things – and first and foremost to letting go.

  • commented on Sep 30 2013

    Reblogged this on The Quest for an Abudance in Sunshine and commented:
    reblog so i can read later

  • commented on Sep 30 2013

    Reblogged this on SoshiTech.