“There is no Planet B”: TEDx MAHE – Countdown discusses action against climate change5 min read
MANIPAL: On October 25, TEDx MAHE hosted its inaugural edition of Countdown- A global initiative by TED attempting to champion and highlight ideas that are contributing to action against the climate crisis. The conference was held via Airmeet, a virtual event organising platform, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The event which started at 12pm, featured six speakers from India, Netherlands, Belgium and Australia, who are pioneers in their respective fields and have been advocating for global measures against climate change.
The four-hour long event, opened with a welcome address by Vatsal Khemani, the lead organiser of TEDx MAHE praising the growing awareness and need to act on preventing climate change, especially among the younger generations. The event was declared open by Lt. Gen. Dr MD Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). Each speaker then took to the online dais with informative speeches, which were followed by interactive sessions with the audience.
Alexander Verbeek, a Dutch diplomat and environmental activist, who was the former strategic policy advisor at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took the stage first and discussed how geopolitics directly affects climate change. He used the folk tale of Little Red Riding Hood to remind the audience that the world is already too close to being too late just like the titular character was too late when she realised the fox was disguised as her grandmother.
Derrick Ian Joshua, the Assistant Director of Environmental Sustainability in the Department of General Services at MAHE, delved into the profession of environment management. He elaborated on the various measures MAHE has taken to become a green campus, which includes recycling almost all the water used within the campus and installing solar panels on each hostel building.
Speaking from Delhi, the third speaker, Keshav Gupta, founder of ‘The Dais’, shared various anecdotes including his learning experiences from relief work after the Nepal earthquake. He emphasised that culture is a very substantial part of climate action, and collaborating with indigenous communities everywhere is essential. “Don’t confuse modernity with advancement,” he said stressing that these communities have preserved the status quo of ecosystems for millennia by unconsciously practising sustainability and biocentrism.
Continuing the discussion, Georgios Kostakos, former UN diplomat and co-founder of Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS) voiced his vision for “Homo sapien 2.0”, where every human opens themselves to reality. He believed we could be better versions of ourselves by imbibing six values that form part of the FOGGS ‘hexalogue’, which includes active global citizenship, and harmony within humanity and the planet.
The fifth speaker of the event, Chau Duncan, the Chief Operating Officer of ‘Earthbanc’, an investment platform that leads, coordinates, and incentivises climate-positive projects highlighted the economic effects of floods and droughts. She cited the specific example of erratic weather in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. She believed working with the farmers is the only solution and incentivising sustainability with finance would lead the way for better cooperation between governments and farmers.
The final talk was delivered by Rakshit Naidu, a student of Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) who spoke about machine learning. He outlined his journey of using federated learning in the context of climate change, and how the algorithm can help to predict climate patterns and therefore help in creating specific climate action strategies.
The conference ended with a short panel discussion where the speakers expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to hear different perspectives and ideas for how to go about climate action.
Vedant Rishi Das, a second-year student of MIT, said that the event showed him many points of view on the dangers the earth is facing, and how the people are trying to mitigate them. When asked about his key takeaways, he said, “I got inspired to think about applying technology to help conserve the environment and for damage mitigation; Since I am learning machine learning, I would like to apply it to help save the environment as Rakshit Naidu has done.”
“It was a great experience and a very special one because this was the first time we got hands-on experience since the offline event in March had to be cancelled. The silver lining of this black cloud which is the coronavirus, is that we finally got to include three international speakers from Australia, Belgium and Netherlands this year,” said Piyush Panda, the Editorial Director of TEDx MAHE talking about his experience of organising the event.
The event also had interactive breaks called ‘Social Spaces’ where the attendees got a chance to interact with the speakers directly. The talks were interspersed with a musical performance by Chords and Co, Manipal Institute of Technology’s (MIT) music club, and dance performances by members of The Showstoppers Crew, a dance club from MIT.
Featured Image Courtesy: TEDx MAHE
Edited by: Diya Nayak