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Great Social-Marketing Lessons at TED ConferenceThere were some great social-marketing lessons at the TED conference in 2013. Specifically, this was related to an energy conservation experiment but is widely applicable to anyone trying to create social change or tap into social behavior.

Alex Laskey is the president and founder of Opower, a company that partners with utility companies and the government, now even reaching into international markets, in pursuit of cutting energy, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. On February 27, at the TED conference, he spoke of the need to change people’s mindset in order to create change in behavior. He wants people to check their energy use just like they check their finances or emails.

In an experiment that Opower conducted, they tried to determine what would be the strongest motivational factor for getting people to reduce their energy use. They placed three different messages on the doors of various customers about why they should save energy:

– You can save $54 this month,
– You can save the planet, or
– You can be a good citizen

Which had the best results? None. No one message showed any significant difference in behavior. So Opower tried a fourth message:

– Your neighbors are doing better than you

This is the one that made a difference. People who read the message that 77 percent of their neighbors turned down their air conditioning, then also proceeded to turn down their AC. The power of peer-pressure should not be  understated. “We can be doing so much better,” says Laskey, “starting by tapping into the power of social behavior.”

– Mary Purcell

Source: TED.com

 

Wood Architecture is Better than Steel
At the TED Conference 2013, architect Michael Green argues that wood architecture is better than steel and concrete when it comes to protecting the environment. Tall buildings are made of steel and concrete and the greenhouse gas emission of these materials is huge (three percent of the world’s energy goes into making steel, and 5 percent goes into making concrete). Green notes that most people think transportation is the main cause of CO2 emissions, but actually it is building — accounting for 47 percent of CO2 emissions.

Current building codes only allow wood buildings to be four stories high, and Green wants to change this. He proposes we use wood architecture and build skyscrapers out of wood. Trees store carbon dioxide, and by building with it, says Green, we could sequester the carbon. Building with one cubic meter of wood, he claims, stores one ton of CO2.

He is not proposing to build huge towers with small two-by-four pieces of wood. In his speech, he explains the technology that has been created to form rapid growth trees into massive lumber panels and the flexible system technology that assists in building with these huge pieces of wood.

An obvious question that people ask about his system is deforestation. To this, he insists there are sustainable forestry practices, and says that enough wood is grown in North America every 13 minutes for a 20-story building.

– Mary Purcell
Source: TED.com

Bono Advocates Factivism in the Fight Against Global Poverty
During the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, U2 lead singer and anti-poverty activist Bono spoke about successes in the fight against global poverty and made predictions for the future.

Bono, the founder of the anti-poverty organization One and long-time ally of the world’s poor, stated that he will temporarily retire from being a rock star to become a “factivist” – one who uses facts and evidence to support activist causes. The facts are, in this case, statistics on declining global poverty rates. Bono advocates factivism as just one way that we can all work to help end global poverty.

A few of the most encouraging statistics:

– 7,256 fewer children under the age of five are dying each day.

-The number of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010.

If poverty continues to decline at the same rate, extreme poverty will be eliminated by the year 2030. However, the smaller the number gets, the more difficult it will be to reach the target of zero people living in extreme poverty.

Bono’s factivism could not come at a better time, as the efforts of those who support anti-poverty organizations, legislation, and foreign aid are clearly paying off. Significant progress has been made in the fight against extreme poverty around the world.

However, as Bono stated, there is still work to do. The decline in global poverty rates does not mean that anti-poverty activism is, or should be, coming to an end. Rather, the successes that have been achieved over the last decade are a strong motivation to work even harder to end poverty for every person.

Bono listed three ways that we can work to make poverty rates continue to decline over the next decade. The first is to actively fight government efforts to cut funding to anti-poverty organizations. Second, we should continue to support technological advances that improve the quality of life for the poorest people. And lastly, Bono urges us to fight corruption using social media networking and demand transparency in action from those in power.

To learn more poverty statistics, check out Good News in the War on Poverty. To become a factivist for the world’s poor, find out How to Get Involved in the Cause. Bono advocates factivism, and so does the Borgen Project!

Kat Henrichs
Sources: Guardian, LA Times
Photo: Twitter