SXSW Moments: Making a Difference
Did you miss something at SXSW 2019? Want to relive the magic? Look to this space over the coming weeks for links to video and audio replays of some of the most incredible experiences from this year’s event.
When the troubles of the world feel overwhelming, it’s helpful to be reminded that one person truly can make a difference. Take 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who started a school walkout movement in Sweden that’s spread around the world, protesting inaction on climate change. This week, as part of the recognition of Earth Day, Thunberg boldly called out the dysfunctional UK Parliament, and told them their response to climate change so far was “beyond absurd.”
“This ongoing irresponsible behavior will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind,” she said.
Take a listen to some SXSW 2019 panels that highlighted practical and possible ways to help the Earth, and what we can gain when we spend time in nature.
Mitigating Climate Change with Reflective Sand?
Introducing Ice911, an organization of dedicated engineers with a viable, scalable solution to restore ice in the Arctic, which has lost 80% of its volume since 1979. Founded by Dr. Leslie Field, MIT and Berkeley alum and inventor with 54 patents, they are currently conducting research in the Arctic, using a reflective silica sand spread on top of ice to increase its reflectivity. Reflective ice absorbs less heat and can survive the Arctic summer to become multi-year ice. The base material — silica — was chosen to be as harmless and ubiquitous as possible, and is the main constituent of 95% of rocks on Earth. Climate modeling shows that, by applying the sand in a strategic location of the Arctic, Ice911 can rebuild ice volume, decrease extreme weather, and reduce Arctic and global temperatures.
A New Model for Urban Forestry: Carbon Trading
Forest planting is the most effective source of global carbon offsets, yet urban forest tree plantings suffer from a chronic lack of funding. TreeFolks, the City of Austin, and City Forest Credits are partnering to run a pilot for generating carbon credits from municipal tree planting projects. This is a discussion of the process for generating credits from container tree plantings and creekside restoration plantings, along with a vision for how to leverage carbon trading to support urban forestry statewide.
Nature Inspired Innovation: From Lab to Market
Clothing made from spider silk. Ink made from algae. Construction materials made from microbes. Many manmade structures, systems and products are designed using nature as a blueprint for inspiration. That’s because nature, fine-tuned over billions of years, is a master of efficiency, adaptability and durability. No surprise that scientists closely study the natural world to tease out its secrets. Biology-based scientific research and discovery has strong commercial potential. Three scientists-turned-entrepreneurs discuss how they are bringing spider silk proteins, algae and microbes to the business world and the lessons they had to learn (and unlearn) entering the business world from the laboratory.
Nature at Work for Productivity, Health and Fulfillment
Love of nature improves thinking, creativity and well-being. But most of us haven’t applied the power of nature at work. Yet we’ve all experienced what magic impact nature can have on us during leisure. So what holds us back to work outdoors and embrace nature ingredients in our workspaces. Learn why we need nature and how come we’ve lost it. How +90% of info work can be done outside. How to go about outdoor working or bring it to your home, garden, office or co-working space with Biophilia.
Produce Matters: Why Eating more Plants is Key to Health
Just an apple a day may not be enough to keep the doctor away, but the science is clear that a diet full of fruits and vegetables is the key to health promotion, disease prevention, and longevity. Yet the devil’s in the dietary details when it comes to nutrition: Does choosing organic matter? Do frozen and canned count? What about GMOs, and so-called superfoods? And if you just don’t like veggies and fruit, is it even possible to change your palate? Forget fad diets and junk-science. Come hear the scientific evidence behind all things fruit and veg alongside real-world insights of how introducing more produce has improved health in communities across the U.S. Join the conversation and leave inspired to live your healthiest, most delicious life.
Starving for Darkness: Light Pollution and Wildlife
Darkness is disappearing from the face of the Earth, blinding wildlife in the light. While humans may experience light pollution, this loss of darkness is also replaced by other forms of information from the digital world. For wildlife, the loss of information from the night’s sky and natural daylight cycles is simply a void. Artificial light disorients, distracts, and fixates wildlife, while also shifting the concept of time and falsely triggering instincts developed over lifetimes of evolution. From microscopic organisms such as Zooplankton, to some of the largest organisms on Earth such as Whales, the language of light is becoming uninterpretable to wildlife. This session discusses how to address light pollution.
More Memories from SXSW 2019
Change is Coming
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Thriving at Work
Fighting Fake News
Do these audio recordings inspire you to get involved in a SXSW session next year? Enter your forward-thinking speaking proposal for March 2020 via the SXSW PanelPicker. Speaking proposals for next year’s event are accepted via this interface from July 1 through July 19.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.