Top 5 TED Talks: October 2020

I went two whole months without watching TED talks. The first of many firsts. However, I pulled myself back on track and am here again with the five talks that left a mark on me this month.

All through October, TED focused on talks related to Climate Change. Given that we are in the last decade that will dictate the future of our planet, it couldn’t be more timely. Personally, I am mortified by the amount of plastic and cardboard packaging that comes along with my weekly grocery. It isn’t something I had to deal with in the past. As I forge my way to being a good citizen by exploring alternatives, I urge you to think of how your personal decisions have an impact on the carbon footprint. Don’t be surprised if 4 of the 5 talks here are on climate. We need to do something & we need to do it NOW!

  1. What role does luck play in your life? | Barry Schwartz: This is the first talk I saw this month and the timing was perfect. I had moved countries in the middle of a pandemic and yes, it took longer than anticipated but it was something I was looking forward to for years. I am blessed to have the opportunity and will not ever downplay the role of luck in my life. As Schwartz says, “Did I deserve the success I’ve had? Sure I deserve that success, just as you probably deserve your success. But lots of people also deserve successes like ours who haven’t had it. So do people get what they deserve? Is society just? Of course not. Working hard and playing by the rules is just no guarantee of anything.” I am thankful for every piece of luck that has come my way and recognize my duty to those who haven’t been as lucky. Watch this as a reminder and a moment of reflection of how far you’ve come; and once you’ve done that, bask in its glory if only for a while.
  • Climate justice can’t happen without racial justice | David Lammy: There’s not a single week that goes by lately where I haven’t been taken by surprise by my failure to notice the unbalanced representation on everything that matters. I began to notice the gender skew after the clamour that came along with it. I began to notice the colour skew this year after the noise and I have only just begun to notice how between the black and the white, the browns all have gone missing. Yet, this talk is both about climate change and racial justice and as Lammy says, “Those countries that have contributed least to the climate breakdown, mainly in the global south, will suffer the most from floods, droughts, and rising temperatures. This is a pattern of suffering with a long history. The exploitation of our planet’s natural resources has always been tied to the exploitation of people of color. The logic of colonization was to extract valuable resources from our planet through force, paying no attention to its secondary effects. The climate crisis is in a way colonialism’s natural conclusion” It’s been said before but never done. Granting legal rights to nature is long overdue for a crime against nature is crime against humanity.
  • 10 years to transform the future of humanity — or destabilize the planet | Johan Rockström: 9 of the 15 big biophysical systems that regulate climate are now on the move. This isn’t meant to scare you but you should be scared. Climate Change isn’t the responsibility of governments and organizations alone. It lies with each one of us. As said in the talk, “The good news is, we can do this. We have the knowledge. We have the technology. We know it makes social and economic sense.”
  • The state of the climate crisis | Climate Action Tracker: If you are wondering just how far we’ve come since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, here’s a lowdown and you are likely not surprised to learn that it’s mostly bad news. Even less surprising is that the countries that have been successful are the ones who contribute least to the emissions. Thank you Gambia and Morocco for doing all that you can do. We hope to learn from you.
  • The case for stubborn optimism on climate | Christiana Figueres: There are talks that leave a mark and a bounce in your step. They send goose bumps down your back and ask you – ‘what are you doing’? This is one of them. After spending the entire month hearing experts talk about climate change, a dark pessimism had begun to create a shadow over me. But then I saw this and I immediately knew it was the perfect end to my top 5 for the month. Yes, there is plenty of bad news but there’s a case for stubborn optimism. We have an entire decade to fix this! As Figueres says, “Optimism is not about blindly ignoring the realities that surround us, that’s foolishness. It’s also not a naive faith that everything will take care of itself, even if we do nothing. That is irresponsibility. The optimism I’m speaking of is not the result of an achievement, it is the necessary input to meeting a challenge” And what she says hold true not only for the climate but for almost everything in life.

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