PopTech 2012

Dates: October 18 – 20, 2012
Location: Camden, Maine

After a decade defined by disruption and volatility of every kind, a new critical conversation is emerging, focused on resilience.

How do we create economic, social, educational, technological, political and ecological systems that ‘bounce back’ from disruption, that retain their integrity and purpose under the widest variety of conditions? How do we build better shock absorbers for our communities, our planet and ourselves? What are the policies, platforms and priorities that will lead us toward a more resilient future? How do we create a more resilient America?

For three days in October 2012, PopTech brought together a visionary and eclectic network of renowned scientists, technologists, designers, educators, corporate leaders, social and ecological innovators, artists and others to explore these questions, their answers, and their implications.

When it comes to the health of coral reefs, we probably think the more fish the better. We might also assume that those fish probably hunt where prey is most abundant. And the word “fragile” likely comes to mind when we think about coral reefs, the ocean and the environment in general.

Revelations at PopTech 2012 raised questions about all of those notions. David Bellwood is a marine biologist from Australia and an internationally recognized expert on coral reefs who is figuring out which species maintain reefs and which ones don’t. PopTech 2012 Science Fellow Kelly Benoit-Bird has done some remarkable work with sonar sorting out the relative importance of the amount of food available for marine species and the density of that food. Peter Kareiva is the chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, but he is convinced that the best way to conserve nature is to abandon doom-and-gloom messages about the environment and embrace nature’s surprising resiliency.

Their PopTech 2012 talks are now available online.

David Bellwood: Lessons from coral reefs
David Bellwood, a marine biologist and an internationally recognized expert in coral reef fishes and systems, combines skills in such disparate fields as ecology, palaeontology, biomechanics and molecular systems to understand the nature of reefs. “The argument would be that if you’ve got a reef with a thousand species, it is a lot more resilient, and a lot more capable of maintaining itself than a reef with a hundred species. I don’t think that is true.”

Kelly Benoit-Bird: Marine acoustics
Kelly Benoit-Bird, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, applies acoustics to the study of ecosystems in the open ocean. “When we look more deeply at the ocean, we are given new insights on how we interact with that ocean, and what we can do to effectively protect it.”

Peter Kareiva: Upbeat about the environment
Peter Kareiva is the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Kareiva is often noted for his emphasis on nature’s resiliency, rather than its impending doom. “Totally unnecessarily we get into a conversation where it is farmers versus conservation, where it is loggers versus conservation, where it is fishermen versus conservation.”