Recent public talks
- “Why UCT should divest from fossil fuels”. 30 July 2014, at the launch of Fossil Free UCT at the University of Cape Town.
- “Fossil fuel divestment in South Africa“. 4 July 2014, at the World Student Energy Summit.
- “Introduction to the international fossil fuel divestment movement”. 20 June 2014, at the African Student Energy Summit.
I’m available as a public speaker for events and conferences, large or small. This is my current list of possible talks:
– The case for fossil fuel divestment in South Africa
Africa is the continent most threatened by climate change. A new development path based on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture is emerging that makes development based on fossil fuels increasingly redundant. What’s more, evolving standards in fiduciary duty makes the withdrawal of investments in fossil fuels by institutional investors and fund trustees not just an option, but an obligation.
– The case for the maximum wage
In an age where, despite the recent financial crisis, many aspects of capitalism preserve their cultural and intellectual ascendency, most of its tenets remain unchallenged. This talk is not an argument for socialism or communism, nor for destroying incentives or punishing the rich, but for responsibility and equality. It’s about how paying some people less can benefit everyone – including those who are apparently penalised by this measure, for they will win in other ways.
– The end of time and the beginning of now
Tick… tick… tick… time is one of those things we just take for granted. Yet our ideas about time profoundly shape our thinking, and arguably influence the shape and form of our culture. This talk explores some of our most fundamental ideas about mind, culture and economy from an unusual perspective – the way we think about and experience time.
– Human culture for a cooler planet
The sustainability discussion often begins and ends with a discussion of technology – yet ignores the culture of those who are using technology. This talk is a broad overview of the cultural norms and ideas that lead to environmental and social damage – and some thoughts on where we need to begin in changing them.
– ‘We must all become gardeners’: The wonder and power of ecological restoration
Listen to those in the know talking about the effects we’re having on the planet, and it’s tempting to drive over a cliff on the way home – the impact we have is so huge and damaging that it can seem almost impossible that we can slow and stop the leviathan of our high consumption civilisation, much less undo the damage. Yet there is ample evidence that we can reverse ecological damage, slow or stop climate change and recover a future for humanity on Earth. This talk outlines some of the extraordinary efforts that have been made, often in developing countries that are less dependent on technology and more dependent on people.
– The cult of economics: how the abuse of economics threatens people, planet and profit
Economics and economists are incredibly powerful figures in our society; consulted as sages and quoted in support of the dominant economic paradigm of laissez faire capitalism. Yet economics is arguably not so scientific as it is often assumed to be, the economists most frequently quoted tend to represent not scientific fact but philosophical opinion – a distinction they are not in a hurry to clarify for the general public. What’s more, despite being a social science, economics is often practised as if ethics do not matter.
Yet interestingly, ethical economies tend to do better in the long term, and ethical economists who think about the well being of the majority are arguably the most admired. This is an argument for ethical economics, and against economic fundamentalism.
– Life in a global terrarium: the astounding importance of biodiversity
Why exactly is it so important that we give space to a wide range of other living organisms on earth, and ensure their rights to life are preserved? The biodiversity crisis is an ecological disaster arguably even further advanced than climate change, yet it gets much less attention. Whether one wishes to argue from a utilitarian or ethical perspective, biodiversity is incredibly important to us all, and its value goes far beyond its potential for bioprospectors.
– Upgrading to democracy 2.0
We’re used to thinking of parliamentary democracies as the highest form of government. But what if we’re wrong? What if there are a whole range of steps that we could take to make governments even more responsive, effective, accountable and efficient? What can we learn from unusual democracies like Switzerland? What is deep democracy? This is a talk about seeing the usually scary or dismal realm of politics as a space for real creativity.