Ted Talk Assignment

Nameof Student



  1. How many pounds of garbage does the average person throw out a day?

4 pounds per person each day.

  1. What does San Francisco require their residents/businesses to do with their trash?

They are required to place theirwaste in separate bins whereby one bin would have compostable foodscraps, and the other would have recyclable items such as paper.

  1. San Francisco’s recycling/composting laws have kept what percentage of waste out of landfills? How does this compare to the nation’s average?

The State has kept 80% waste out oflandfills while the national average is 35%.

  1. Name at least 3 things that go into the compost bin at Sven and Deborah’s house.

  • Paper napkins

  • Milk cartons

  • Soiled paper plates

  1. What happens to those that refuse to sort their garbage?

Non-compliant ones are faced withfines of $100- $1000 per offense.

  1. After recycling took full effect, what was the biggest fraction of waste (according the representative from Recology)?

The greatest portion of waste wasfood scraps.

  1. How many tons of food waste/grass clippings are coming into Recology each day? What is it used to create? What is this product then used for?

For each day, 400 tons of food wastewent into Recology. The waste was used to create rich compost toserve as manure in vineyards.

  1. What is a benefit (beyond environmental) of moving towards a zero waste society? Give an example of this.

Plenty of jobs could be created as aresult of implementing a zero-waste society. This is proven by theMassive Recycling Center, which has created 186 employmentopportunities for over a decade.

  1. What are some of the things that skeptics are saying about San Francisco’s recycling/composting figures? How does the mayor respond to this?

Skeptics such as Quentin Kopp claimthat the recycling figures are falsely hyped so as to inflate thereal level of recycling. In response, the Mayor points to auditorsused by his Office to verify such figures before they are announced.

  1. Who pays for the recycling/composting services? How do these rates compare to regular garbage disposal (in the area)

Recycling services are paid for byclients whose waste is recycled by the State. These charges areslightly higher compared to the regular garbage disposal.Nevertheless, the values accrue to the local communities.


  1. Why does James Balog feel that art (such as photography and film) is important to science?

James Balog feels that art isimportant to science primarily because it enriches the humanexperience through life. Art enables humans to understand nature,shape themselves, and identify human links with nature.

  1. What percent of the glaciers in the world are retreating or shrinking?

95% of glaciers are either shrinkingor retreating.

  1. Describe some information about where some of the time-lapse cameras are placed (i.e., in what parts of the world, where specifically in relation to glaciers, etc.).

Some of the time-lapse cameras areset in Iceland, Alaska, Rockies, and Greenland. They are positionedon permanent bedrock positions along the sides of the glaciers tomonitor subtle changes in form.

  1. Why does James Balog say the &quotearth is having a fever.&quot What does he mean? (1 point)

The earth is having a fever in thesense that overall temperatures on the earth have gone up by 0.75C(1.3F) over the past 100 years. This has been exacerbated by therising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  1. As he goes thru some of the time lapse videos, discuss at least 3 of the specific things you see/he (Balog) discusses (be specific to the glacier, what happens, etc.)

  • Huge crevices open within the glacial slab of ice

  • The speed of the glacial flow intensifies with the passage of time

  • The carving face of the glacier breaks off and rolls over into the sea

  1. What does James Balog say he thinks is the biggest problem related to facing the challenge of climate change? Why?

Balog thinks human perception posesthe biggest problem to climate change because many people are eitherskeptical or indifferent to the impact of climate change.


  1. The TED talk begins by taking a poll of the audience regarding their feelings for nuclear energy. What was the general feelings of the audience (was the majority for/against the use of nuclear energy) at the beginning of the talk?

75% of the audience favored thedeployment of nuclear energy.

  1. Next, Stewart Brand discusses the “pros” of using nuclear energy. List 5 important points that he makes to support his pro-nuclear energy stance.

  • Nuclear energy is reliable and constant, unlike renewable sources of energy such as solar, hydro, and wind.

  • Nuclear energy yields less toxic wastes compared to coal and other fossil fuels.

  • Nuclear energy reduces the incidence of warfare since 10% of the country`s electricity already comes from decommissioning of nuclear warheads.

  • Nuclear energy is compact and manageable while other sources of energy are unpredictable in terms of environmental impact

  • Nuclear energy is in sync with technological innovations such as small nuclear reactors with a little environmental footprint.

  1. Next, Mark Z. Jacobson discusses the anti-nuclear stance. List 5 important points that he makes to support his stance on the subject.

  • Nuclear energy would take an incredibly long time to set up and implement.

  • Nuclear energy yields 9-17% more toxic emissions than renewable sources of energy

  • Nuclear energy poses the deadly threat of a nuclear catastrophe such as that witnessed in Hiroshima

  • Wind, solar, and hydro projects are fully capable of meeting the market demand apart from nuclear energy

  • Renewable sources of energy have a smaller footprint than nuclear energy in regards to the amount of waste, land, and materials.

  1. Next, 4 people in the audience get to respond. Summarize what each of the people say

Those in favor of nuclear energy:

Alex – Nuclear energy providesabsolute guarantees for the availability of electricity and otherforms of power.

Rob – Climate change poses agreater risk to the earth than that of a likely nuclear incident

Those against nuclear energy:

David – The wastes produced bynuclear energy would pose tremendous risks to the environment

Anonymous – Credible scientificresearch has already shown the adequacy of solar, wind, and hydroprojects. Furthermore, future advancements may yield other renewablesources of energy.

  1. How did the feelings of the audience shift after the debate?

A larger percentage of the audiencechanged their view away from nuclear energy although the proponentsof nuclear energy still outnumbered the opponents.