7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change
Imagine being able to invite some of the leading minds of the climate movement over for dinner. You could pick anyone from anywhere. Who would be sitting around your table?
It's hard to narrow down when there are so many amazing people out there fighting for solutions. (This must have been how Nick Fury felt while he was assembling the Avengers, right?) But, for us, we would try to pick people who are taking on the climate crisis in totally different — but equally incredible — ways.
Think of this collection of TED Talks as our guest list for the world's most inspiring dinner party on climate. Read on to hear from the leader of the student strike movement, climate scientists, a former president, a trained meteorologist and more.
Greta Thunberg: “Save the World by Changing the Rules”
Quotable Moment: "The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children or grandchildren, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you, the people who were around, back in 2018. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act."
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe: “The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk About It”
Quotable Moment: "I truly believe, after thousands of conversations that I've had over the past decade and more, that just about every single person in the world already has the values they need to care about a changing climate. They just haven't connected the dots. And that's what we can do through our conversation with them."
Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd: “Three Kinds of Bias That Shape Your Worldview”
Quotable Moment: "Take an inventory of your own biases. Where do they come from? Your upbringing, your political perspective, your faith — what shapes your own biases? Then, evaluate your sources — where do you get your information on science? What do you read, what do you listen to, to consume your information on science? And then, it's important to speak out. Talk about how you evaluated your biases and evaluated your sources."
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson: “Why Climate Change Is a Threat to Human Rights”
Quotable Moment: "Climate justice responds to the moral argument — both sides of the moral argument — to address climate change. First of all, to be on the side of those who are suffering most and are most effected. And secondly, to make sure that they're not left behind again, when we start to move and start to address climate change with climate action, as we are doing."
Dr. Katharine Wilkinson: “How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Stop Global Warming”
Quotable Moment: "Another empowering truth begs to be seen. If we gain ground on gender equity, we also gain ground on addressing global warming ... we can secure the rights of women and girls, shore up resilience, and avert emissions at the same time."
Sean Davis: “Lessons From How We Protected the Ozone Layer”
Quotable Moment: "We don't need absolute certainty to act. When Montreal was signed, we were less certain then of the risks from CFCs than we are now of the risks from greenhouse gas emissions… You know, I'll bet those of you who drove here tonight, you probably wore your seat belt. And so, ask yourself, did you wear your seat belt because someone told you with a hundred percent [certainty] that you would get in a car crash on the way here? Probably not."
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore: “The Case for Optimism on Climate Change”
Quotable Moment: "We have everything we need. Some still doubt that we have the will to act, but I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource."
It's not exactly a dinner party, but we do often pull together some of the leading minds in the climate movement — including former Vice President Gore himself — for our Climate Reality Leaderships Corps trainings. (In fact, we've had Dr. Hayhoe and Dr. Wilkinson at recent trainings, too!)
Consider this your official invite to our next training. At these events, people ready to make a difference in our planet's future spend three days working with former Vice President Gore and world-renowned scientists and communicators learning about the climate crisis and how together we can solve it.
Join us and walk away knowing you have the skills, network and resources to push the needle on climate change where you live. Better yet, you'll be part of a global, twenty-first century movement for solutions. Learn more and apply to join us today!
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
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Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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By Ashutosh Pandey
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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