Theunis Piersma

Theunis Piersma

Professor of Global Flyway Ecology, senior research leader at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, winner of the 2014 Spinoza Prize, and Frisian


Living in the Frisian countryside, he witnesses first-hand the effects global warming and technological industrialization have on the planet: destroying soils, waters, and landscapes. In other words: the slow but steady destruction of a farmer community and rural and village life. And while space industrialists want to save humankind by sending us off to Mars, and the Dutch government tells us that we will achieve greenhouse gas reductions by putting billions of public money in the windmill industry, Piersma rather focuses on a much more natural approach.

Ecology is often forgotten in the current debate, but Piersma is an avid advocate:
“Why not spend money on the development of an agriculture that gobbles up, rather than produce, greenhouse gasses? We need to fully embrace ecological thinking in all great human endeavors, from coastal defense, housing and transport, to agriculture and public health. Just empower it, and ecology will become our sexiest science. We will need that, too.”

What is TedX?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At TEDxZwolle, live speakers will spark deep discussion and connection. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organised.