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Heather Tallis Speaks at Chicago Ideas Week

Conservancy Lead Scientist Heather Tallis spoke at the 2013 Chicago Ideas Week, which brings together hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders to inspire the city of Chicago and beyond. Each year, more than 25,000 attendees gather to listen, discuss, connect and ignite change to positively impact our world.

We sat down with Heather to get a recap of what she addressed during the panel discussion, “Environment: Conserve and Protect.”

What’s the main idea you’d like your audience to take away from your presentation?

Heather Tallis:

I want people to understand that the way we currently manage our natural resources and the planet is like a giant Ponzi Scheme. We are making risky investments in our food systems, our water systems, the ways we protect ourselves from storms with levees and breakwalls and so on. The returns we get today from our natural resources seem too good to be true, and they are. But there’s another way that relies much more heavily on investing in nature, and I want people to know what those options are and how they can change their own investments today.

What are some of the worst investments we’re making right now in regards to the environment?

Heather Tallis:

Well, water is top of mind. Right now, most surface water in the world has to be treated before we can drink it. It doesn’t fall from the sky dirty, so it’s what we’re doing in watersheds, as water goes from rain to tap, that makes it undrinkable. If we invest in protecting the source, we can reduce our water treatment costs, or in places without water treatment facilities, we can improve health and reduce water borne disease.

Our approach to food production is also a bubble waiting to burst. We rely heavily on domestic bees that are literally disappearing before our eyes. This is a system that we’re watching collapse more and more every year, while there’s an alternative in nature waiting for our support.

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