TED speakers talk environment issues

2012-04-17T22:45:00Z 2012-04-17T22:47:34Z TED speakers talk environment issuesBy GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times
April 17, 2012 10:45 pm  • 

“The best pharmaceutical we could ever supply to the world is simply a glass of clean drinking water,” said Mark Owen, CEO of Beaverton-based Puralytics, to an audience of 120 Tuesday evening at LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State University.

Owen was one of four speakers who encouraged new ways of thinking about environmental issues large and small at the inaugural TEDxOSU event.

TED — technology engineering and design — is a conference series where guest presenters speak for up to 18 minutes on scientific, environmental and cultural topics aimed at starting conversations among a broad audience. “X” stands for independently organized TED events, which feature live speakers and previously recorded presentations.

The conferences became popular with videos of each presentation, dubbed TED Talks, available to view on www.ted.com, YouTube and iTunes.

Organizers of OSU’s event invited OSU alumni from Oregon, Washington and northern California and all university faculty to apply to present on topics focusing on the “Our Planet” theme. They received more than 50 responses for four slots.

Enthusiasm for TED may have drawn a crowd, but organizers of OSU’s event had to limit attendance to 120 — as per the rules of TED. Organizers hope to enable more people to attend future conferences.

Until then, organizers plan to post free videos of the presenters’ talks later this week at www.oregonstate.edu/tedxosu/.

While water was evident in each talk, the presenters took the night’s theme in different directors.

During his talk, Owen championed technology that quickly would eliminate contaminants from water supply. As an example, he held up a Puralytics SolarBag, made of fibers that kill germs in three hours when left in the sun.

John Selker, an OSU biological and ecological engineering professor, discussed how a rain gauge prototype developed as an OSU senior project can aid in meteorological observations in Africa and thus help communities grow and harvest crops.

Kendra Sharp, an OSU fluid mechanics professor, discussed how currently available resources, collaboration and using one’s own skills can help resolve environmental and larger humanitarian issues. Sharp discussed her own work with a university in Pakistan to develop small-scale hydroelectric projects.

Organizers also played recorded presentations on energy from Bill Ford, the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, and Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and philanthropist.

Jim Walls, executive director of the Lake County Resources Initiative, concluded the event with a presentation on how his eastern Oregon community embraced small-scale renewable energy, like geothermal, to create jobs and increase the tax revenue.

County leaders hope to be a net exporter of renewable energy and reduce their fossil fuel emissions by thousands of tons — a goal Walls feels can be copied in all sorts of communities.

“I’m one to say, let’s take it one step at a time,” he said.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or gail.cole@gazettetimes.com

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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