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Best TED Talks on Green Topics

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Here is the list of 20+ very interesting TED talks and animations on climate change, sustainability, green and circular economy and sustainable agriculture.


The state of the climate crisis

With the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, 197 countries agreed to set emission targets that would limit global temperature rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by capping greenhouse emissions at “net-zero” — or absorbing as much carbon as they emit — by 2050. So far, only two countries (Gambia and Morocco) are hitting their targets, while the biggest emitters are falling flat, or ignoring their goals entirely. How can we hold these countries accountable? Enter the Climate Action Tracker.

Animated video by: Climate Action Tracker,  an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures it against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of “holding warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

To save the climate, we have to reimagine capitalism

“Business is screwed if we don’t fix climate change,” says economist Rebecca Henderson. In this bold talk, she describes how unchecked capitalism destabilizes the environment and harms human health — and makes the case for companies to step up and help fix the climate crisis they’re causing. Hear what a reimagined capitalism, in which companies pay for the climate damage they cause, could look like.

Speaker: Rebecca Henderson, who is obsessed with finding solutions to climate change.

Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don’t they?

The fossil fuel industry knows how to stop global warming, but they’re waiting for someone else to pay, says climate science scholar Myles Allen. Instead of a total ban on carbon-emitting fuels, Allen puts forth a bold plan for oil and gas companies to progressively decarbonize themselves and sequester CO2 deep in the earth, with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating a carbon dioxide disposal industry that works for everyone.

Speaker: Myles Allen, who tudies how human activities and natural drivers contribute to changes in global climate and risks of extreme weather.

Our moral imperative to act on climate change — and 3 steps we can take

The global climate crisis will require us to transform the way we act, says His Holiness Pope Francis. Delivering a visionary TED Talk from Vatican City, the spiritual leader proposes three courses of action to address the world’s growing environmental problems and economic inequalities, illustrating how all of us can work together, across faiths and societies, to protect the Earth and promote the dignity of everyone. “The future is built today,” he says. “And it is not built in isolation, but rather in community and in harmony.”

Speaker: His Holiness Pope Francis, who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church and a strong advocate of global action against climate change, to which he has devoted his powerful 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’.”

How we could change the planet’s climate future

The climate crisis is too vast and complicated to solve with a silver bullet, says author David Wallace-Wells. What we need is a shift in how we live. Follow along as he lays out some of the dramatic actions we could take to build a livable, prosperous world in the age of global warming.

Speaker: David Wallace-Wells, who is a columnist and author of „The Uninhabitatle Earth: Life After Warming“, which explores all the ways climate change will transform human experience on this planet.

Can we solve global warming? Lessons from how we protected the ozone layer

The Montreal Protocol proved that the world could come together and take action on climate change. Thirty years after the world’s most successful environmental treaty was signed, atmospheric scientist Sean Davis examines the world we avoided when we banned chlorofluorocarbons — and shares lessons we can carry forward to address the climate crisis in our time.

Speaker: Sean Davis, who tudies the climate impacts from human-caused changes of the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it

How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion — and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. “We can’t give in to despair,” she says. “We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”

Speaker: Katherine Hayhoe, who studies what climate change means to us in the places where we live.

How to transform apocalypse fatigue into action on global warming

The biggest obstacle to dealing with climate disruptions lies between your ears, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stokes. He’s spent years studying the defenses we use to avoid thinking about the demise of our planet — and figuring out a new way of talking about global warming that keeps us from shutting down. Step away from the doomsday narratives and learn how to make caring for the earth feel personable, do-able and empowering with this fun, informative talk.

Speaker: Per Espen Stoknes, who weaves together psychology and economics in imaginative ways, often revolving around our human relationships to the natural world and to each other.

How China is (and isn’t) fighting pollution and climate change

China is the world’s biggest polluter — and now one of its largest producers of clean energy. Which way will China go in the future, and how will it affect the global environment? Data scientist Angel Hsu describes how the most populous country on earth is creating a future based on alternative energy — and facing up to the environmental catastrophe it created as it rapidly industrialized.

Speaker: Angel Hsu, who is a professor and data geek who applies data-driven methods to solve challenging environmental issues.

The inside story of the Paris climate agreement

What would you do if your job was to save the planet? When Christiana Figueres was tapped by the UN to lead the Paris climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015, she reacted the way many people would: she thought it would be impossible to bring the leaders of 195 countries into agreement on how to slow climate change. Find out how she turned her skepticism into optimism — and helped the world achieve the most important climate agreement in history.

Speaker: Christiana Figueres, a climate advocate, internationally recognized leader on global climate change.


How to be a good ancestor

Our descendants own the future, but the decisions and actions we make now will tremendously impact generations to come, says philosopher Roman Krznaric. From a global campaign to grant legal personhood to nature to a groundbreaking lawsuit by a coalition of young activists, Krznaric shares examples of ways we can become good ancestors — or, as he calls them, “Time Rebels” — and join a movement redefining lifespans, pursuing intergenerational justice and practicing deep love for the planet.

Speaker: Roman Krznaric, who writes about the power of ideas to change society.

Europe’s plan to become the first carbon-neutral continent

With the ambitious goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050, the European Union has committed to creating a greener world for future generations. In this bold talk, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, details the challenges and opportunities that come with transitioning an entire continent to clean energy — and shows why fixing climate change calls for everyone to take action.

Speaker: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who believes that green and digital transformations hold the key to Europe’s future prosperity and resilience.

Let the environment guide our development

Human growth has strained the earth’s resources, but as Johan Rockström reminds us, our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior. His research has found nine “planetary boundaries” that can guide us in protecting our planet’s many overlapping ecosystems.

Speaker: Johan Rockstrom, a sustainability expert who works to redefine sustainable development.

5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world

In a talk about how we can build a robust future without wrecking the planet, sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth3 model — a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth’s vital systems could become unstable. Learn more about five transformational policies that could help us achieve inclusive and prosperous world development while keeping the earth stable and resilient.

Speaker: Johan Rockstrom, a sustainability expert who works to redefine sustainable development.

How will we survive when the population hits 10 billion?

By 2050, an estimated 10 billion people will live on earth. How are we going to provide everybody with basic needs while also avoiding the worst impacts of climate change? In a talk packed with wit and wisdom, science journalist Charles C. Mann breaks down the proposed solutions and finds that the answers fall into two camps – wizards and prophets – while offering his own take on the best path to survival.

Speaker: Charles C. Mann, a science journalist who calls himself “a fella who tries to find out interesting things and tell others about them.


An economic case for protecting the planet

We all share one planet — we breathe the same air, drink the same water and depend on the same oceans, forests and biodiversity. Economist Naoko Ishii is on a mission to protect these shared resources, known as the global commons, that are vital for our survival. In an eye-opening talk about the wellness of the planet, Ishii outlines four economic systems we need to change to safeguard the global commons, making the case for a new kind of social contract with the earth.

Speaker: Naoko Ishii, who leads the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a public financial institution that provides around US$1 billion every year to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

A healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow

What would a sustainable, universally beneficial economy look like? “Like a doughnut,” says Oxford economist Kate Raworth. In a stellar, eye-opening talk, she explains how we can move countries out of the hole — where people are falling short on life’s essentials — and create regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet’s ecological limits.

Speaker: Kate Raworth, who is passionate about making economics fit for the 21st century.

Cradle to cradle design

Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account “all children, all species, for all time.”

Speaker: William McDonough, who is an architect belieiving green design can prevent environmental disaster and drive economic growth. He champions “cradle to cradle” design, which considers a product’s full life cycle — from creation with sustainable materials to a recycled afterlife.

Biomimicry in action

Janine Benyus has a message for inventors: When solving a design problem, look to nature first. There you’ll find inspired designs for making things waterproof, aerodynamic, solar-powered and more. Here she reveals dozens of new products that take their cue from nature with spectacular results.

Speaker: Janine Benyus, who is a self-proclaimed nature nerd, Janine Benyus’ concept of biomimicry has galvanized scientists, architects, designers and engineers into exploring new ways in which nature’s successes can inspire humanity.

Learning from nature – circular economies and biomimicry

Seth takes us into the mountains to find examples of nature’s unparalleled handiwork. He offers product examples where biomimicry has been applied to revolutionize human existence as well as relatable examples of the circular economy surrounding a Ponderosa Pine tree and how humans can create circular economies to reduce or eliminate waste.

Speaker: Seth Galewyrick, who is a biomimicry engineer with Biomimicry 3.8. He is a Certified Biomimicry Professional, holds a Master’s degree in biomimicry from Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

A world without waste

Every Google search or YouTube upload costs the global network both energy and resources. As Google’s head of sustainability, it’s Kate E. Brandt’s job to strategize solutions that cut the cost on our environment and our economy. In an innovative talk, she dives into her plan to green up Google by creating a circular economy which reuses, recycles and eliminates waste altogether.

Speaker: Kate E. Brandt, leads sustainability across Google’s worldwide operations, products and supply chain.

These bacteria eat plastic

Humans produce 300 million tons of new plastic each year — yet, despite our best efforts, less than 10 percent of it ends up being recycled. Is there a better way to deal with all this waste? Morgan Vague describes her research with microbiologist Jay Mellies on bacteria that have evolved the unexpected ability to eat plastic — and how they could help us solve our growing pollution problem.

Speaker: Morgan Vague, a senior researcher assistant, who loves to get in the dirt to explore solutions to pressing problems.

Which bag should you use?

You’ve filled up your cart and made it to the front of the grocery line when you’re confronted with yet another choice: what kind of bag should you use? It might seem obvious that plastic is bad for the environment, and that a paper bag or a cotton tote would be the better option. But is that really true? Luka Seamus Wright and Imogen Ellen Napper explore the environmental impact of each material. [Directed by JodyPrody, narrated by Bethany Cutmore-Scott].

Authors: Luka Seamus Wright and Imogen Ellen Napper, TED-Ed


The next global agricultural revolution

Conventional meat production causes harm to our environment and presents risks to global health, but people aren’t going to eat less meat unless we give them alternatives that cost the same (or less) and that taste the same (or better). In an eye-opening talk, food innovator and TED Fellow Bruce Friedrich shows the plant- and cell-based products that could soon transform the global meat industry — and your dinner plate.

Speaker: Bruce Friedrich, who plans to compete with the meat industry on its own terms — by creating alternatives to conventional meat that taste the same or better and cost less.

The other inconvenient truth

A skyrocketing demand for food means that agriculture has become the largest driver of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental destruction. Jonathan Foley shows why we desperately need to begin “terraculture” – farming for the whole planet.

Speaker: Johnatan Foley, who studies complex environmental systems and their affects on society. His computer models have shown the deep impact agriculture is having on our planet.

Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture?

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion. How are we going to feed everyone? Investment-banker-turned-farmer Stuart Oda points to indoor vertical farming: growing food on tiered racks in a controlled, climate-proof environment. In a forward-looking talk, he explains how this method can maintain better safety standards, save money, use less water and help us provide for future generations.

Speaker: Stuart Oda, who is an indoor urban farmer with a passion for innovation and sustainability. His goal: democratize access to fresh and nutritious food by democratizing the means and knowledge of production.

Descriptions and speakers’ bio has been taken from the TED talks website.

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