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Louie Schwartzberg: The hidden beauty of pollination

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It's great being here at TED. You know, I think there might be some presentations that will go over my head, but the most amazing concepts are the ones that go right under my feet. The little things in life, sometimes that we forget about, like pollination, that we take for granted. And you can't tell the story about pollinators -- bees, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies -- without telling the story about the invention of flowers and how they co-evolved over 50 million years.

I've been filming time-lapse flowers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over 35 years. To watch them move is a dance I'm never going to get tired of. It fills me with wonder, and it opens my heart. Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature's tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with. Their relationship is a love story that feeds the Earth. It reminds us that we are a part of nature, and we're not separate from it.

When I heard about the vanishing bees, Colony Collapse Disorder, it motivated me to take action. We depend on pollinators for over a third of the fruits and vegetables we eat. And many scientists believe it's the most serious issue facing mankind. It's like the canary in the coalmine. If they disappear, so do we. It reminds us that we are a part of nature and we need to take care of it.

What motivated me to film their behavior was something that I asked my scientific advisers: "What motivates the pollinators?" Well, their answer was, "It's all about risk and reward." Like a wide-eyed kid, I'd say, "Why is that?" And they'd say, "Well, because they want to survive." I go, "Why?" "Well, in order to reproduce." "Well, why?" And I thought that they'd probably say, "Well, it's all about sex." And Chip Taylor, our monarch butterfly expert, he replied, "Nothing lasts forever. Everything in the universe wears out."

And that blew my mind. Because I realized that nature had invented reproduction as a mechanism for life to move forward, as a life force that passes right through us and makes us a link in the evolution of life. Rarely seen by the naked eye, this intersection between the animal world and the plant world is truly a magic moment. It's the mystical moment where life regenerates itself, over and over again.

So here is some nectar from my film. I hope you'll drink, tweet and plant some seeds to pollinate a friendly garden. And always take time to smell the flowers, and let it fill you with beauty, and rediscover that sense of wonder. Here are some images from the film.

(Music)

(Applause)

Thank you. Thank you very much.

(Applause)

Thank you.

(Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDTalks
Director: TED.com
Views: 693
Posted by: tedtalks on May 4, 2011

Pollination: it's vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film "Wings of Life," inspired by the vanishing of one of nature's primary pollinators, the honeybee.

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