A TED-affiliated conference in Washington, DC on Monday attracted a who's who of the environmental and scientific worlds to address the oil spill. In true TED fashion, talks were brief and ranged from scientific breakdowns of the chemistry of oil in water to the performance of a piece of postmodern music inspired by the disaster in the Gulf. Here are the five most interesting ideas to emerge from the conference:
1. Invest in our oceans.
According to Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the original underwater explorer Captain Jacques Cousteau, "we have under-invested in our oceans for decades," spending 1,000 times more on space exploration than ocean exploration. "If we don't really understand exactly what's going on at a baseline perspective," Cousteau asked, "How can we be expected to understand what happens when you dump millions of gallons of a toxic substance into the ocean?"
Sylvia Earle, today's legendary ocean explorer, sought to draw more attention to the unseen effects of the spill:
We think about restitution for the fishermen, we think about the hotel owners, we think about everyone else who lives in the region, and for good reason. But we need to think about giving back to the Gulf of Mexico itself. We are tied to the ocean, not just those who live along the edge.
2. Don't let BP hold all the cards.