TEDxNewYork is held at GreyNY, 200 Fifth Avenue. We meet every week (mostly) on Fridays now and (mostly) from 1-2pm. We are open to the public. If you want to attend, send a note to admin@tedxnewyork.com (that's Don McKinney & Chel O'Reilly) with your vitals. Our biggest limitation is space so give us plenty of notice and we'll do our best to accommodate. Hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Session 10: Dare- Willie Smits

From Indonesia, Borneo, he is microbiologist and forester. Married a local girl who was from a tribe that required a dowry of 6 palms. This brought him to thoughts on orangutans.

Deforestation releases so much co2 that his home is the third worst country in the world (China’s in the lead). Except his country has NO INDUSTRY.

He developed compassion for the orangutans and was upset that we applauded his saving more than a thousand of them because the need for saving meant we were full of failures to begin with.

He works to re-forest the wiped out areas, massive changes that aerial photos show dramatically. Breaking the cycle of destruction starts with fires. Fires destroy the area like none other, then the fires live underground and flare up again. These continue to destroy once the major fire is over. In the last fire season, no child gained ANY weight and IQs dropped an average of 12 points.

Sugar palms are fire resistant and create a strong buffer. They can be tapped on a daily basis with cuts instead of cutting down so there’s no reason to re-plant. They can lay out in a plan to border the growth. The important step is to make sure there will be useful crops at every stage of development of the area. They are changing the way that they can hold on to cloud cover and prevent drought.

They engage the locals at EVERY step from fires to crops for re-developing.

He goes to that point many, many times. Local involvement at every step. Save the forests. With the people. For the people. For the orangutans.

He says it comes down to one word: INTEGRATION.

To this I say: Note my “what are three things to ask me about” nametag. You want your human ecology, baby? I got your human ecology, right here!

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