urban matters | August 08, 2011

Alex Steffen's New TED Talk: Renewing Our Cities The Right Way

In a new TED Talk, Alex Steffen—editor of the acclaimed Worldchanging books—explains how overwhelming problems, such as our environmental crisis, lead to oversimplified solutions. His example: the near-obsessive push to eliminate fossil fuels. Steffen suggests humanity is setting itself up to fail if too much attention is placed on clean energy and not enough is allocated to building cities the right way in the face of future population growth. “What we're talking about is reweaving the urban fabric that we already have,” says Steffen, who is known for championing practical solutions based on the things, materials, and systems that already exist—that are readily available.

“The most sustainable trip is the one you didn't take,” Steffen says. He notes that we're already seeing a movement from the idea of a huge dream home to a dream neighborhood. Neighborhoods where building use is rethought to factor in heating, cooling, and clean water capture in ways that are sustainable and more affordable than inefficient alternatives. Ultimately these rethought urban centers—which are just as livable, if not more so than our current setup—will simply eliminate fossil fuel use for driving and other energy needs.

Alex Steffen’s most recent TED Talk, at ten minutes, offers just a taste of the insights he serves up in his optimistic and customizable talks. At the core, he reveals the innovative and creative worldchanging solutions that can solve the planet's most pressing problems—from energy to urban life. By showing us the outlook that pioneers, inventors, and change leaders bring to the problems they face, we can all learn to think like worldchangers. And we can find solutions to the environmental problems in our homes, our workplaces, and our cities.

Read more about sustainability speaker Alex Steffen

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