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.
"History has shown us that in moments of crisis, society can truly transform," says environmental educator Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Nearly 30 years ago, at just 12 years old, she spoke at the UN's Earth Summit in hopes of reversing the planet's slide into ecological disaster. Some at the summit listened and took radical action, but for the rest of the world, it was business, politics and full-steam-ahead economic growth. Now, Cullis-Suzuki shares another warning about the future, this time informed by the COVID-19 crisis -- and urges us all to make our actions on climate change reflect our words.
"This decade is a moment of choice unlike any we have ever lived," says Christiana Figueres, the architect of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement. The daughter of Costa Rica's beloved President José Figueres Ferrer, she shares how her father's unwillingness to lose the country he loved taught her how stubborn optimism can catalyze action and change. With an unshakeable determination to fight for the generations that will come after us, Figueres describes what stubborn optimism is (and isn't) -- and urges everyone to envision and work for the future they want for humanity.
Why has there been so little mention of saving Black lives from the climate emergency? For too long, racial justice efforts have been distinguished from climate justice work, says David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, England. In a stirring talk about building a new movement to care for the planet, Lammy calls for inclusion and support of Black and minority leadership on climate issues and a global recognition that we can't solve climate change without racial, social and intergenerational justice.
"If we don't act now on climate change, this coming century may be one of humanity's last," says António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Guterres urges us to use this moment to rebuild with ambitious climate action in mind -- and lays out a blueprint for getting companies, governments and countries to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. "We can only win the race to zero together," he says. "I urge you all to get on board."
Cities pump out 70 percent of all global carbon emissions -- which means they also have the greatest opportunity to lower CO2 levels and energy consumption. Climate and data scientist Angel Hsu shares how cities around the world are leading the response to climate change by innovating new, low-carbon ways of living.
"For the first time, we are forced to consider the real risk of destabilizing the entire planet," says climate impact scholar Johan Rockström. In a talk backed by vivid animations of the climate crisis, he shows how nine out of the 15 big biophysical systems that regulate the climate -- from the permafrost of Siberia to the great forests of the North to the Amazon rainforest -- are at risk of reaching tipping points, which could make Earth uninhabitable for humanity. Hear his plan for putting the planet back on the path of sustainability over the next 10 years -- and protecting the future of our children.
We could realistically see people starting to live and work on the Moon in the next decade -- and how we do it matters, says space policy researcher Jessy Kate Schingler. In this fascinating talk, she discusses the critical issues that arise when we consider civilization in outer space -- such as governance, property rights and resource management -- and shows how the Moon can be a template for solving our biggest challenges here on Earth.
Do you need some help? It's OK to ask, says YeYoon Kim, a former kindergarten teacher who learned from her students how powerful and courageous it can be to reach out for support. Sharing the story of one of the most difficult periods in her life, Kim explores the happiness and joy that can come from leaning on those you love in times of need -- and encourages the rest of us to start asking for help more often.
Botanical artist Nirupa Rao captures the spirit and beauty of nature in watercolor. With a portfolio of enchanting, scientifically accurate illustrations, she aims to reignite our emotional connection to the environment -- and open our eyes to an entire kingdom hidden in plain sight.
Racism thrives on your silence and apathy, says human rights lawyer Dexter Dias. Telling the story of a harrowing UK court case that spotlights the corrosive effects of injustice, Dias urges us all to speak out and expose toxic myths about race -- in order to allow hope, change and justice to flourish.
How do music and psychedelics impact your brain? Neuroscientist Frederick Streeter Barrett discusses the specific neural regions activated when you listen to music and undergo the effects of psychedelic drugs like LSD or psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Learn about his research on how these experiences, when paired with the right conditions, may support emotional growth and healing from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
To understand and eradicate racist thinking, start at the beginning. That's what journalist and documentarian John Biewen did, leading to a trove of surprising and thought-provoking information on the "origins" of race. He shares his findings, supplying answers to fundamental questions about racism -- and lays out an exemplary path for practicing effective allyship.
We need to think beyond national borders to solve global problems, says activist Colombe Cahen-Salvador. Reimagining the world's fractured systems of governance and calling out their ineffective responses to major issues -- from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and human rights -- she introduces NOW!, a movement unifying people to create a truly democratic world.
There's a lot we can learn from Mongolian nomads about how to survive in the years to come, says environmental activist Khulan Batkhuyag. Taking us on a journey through the country's stunning rural landscape, she shows how Mongolian nomads have survived in remote areas for thousands of years by virtue of some truly incredible, earth-friendly, zero-waste innovations. There's wisdom here for all of us on how to live more minimally, sustainably and in harmony with Mother Nature.
Could we exit our solar system, and enter another? Astrophysicist Philip Lubin discusses the awesome potential of using lasers to propel small spacecraft, enabling humanity's first interstellar missions. Learn how this transformative technology could help us reach Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our own -- and fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe along the way.
To move forward in the United States, we must look back and confront the difficult history that has shaped widespread injustice. Revisiting a significant yet overlooked piece of the past, Hasan Kwame Jeffries emphasizes the need to weave historical context, no matter how painful, into our understanding of modern society -- so we can disrupt the continuum of inequality massively affecting marginalized communities.
What does it take to cultivate a culture of innovation and reinvention at work? Tracing his journey from math teacher to honesty-seeking executive, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings describes three key elements of a successful work culture, sharing how to design a company around inspiration, creativity and candor. (This discussion, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson, was recorded September 4, 2020.)
Social psychologist Dannagal G. Young breaks down the link between our psychology and politics, showing how personality types largely fall into people who prioritize openness and flexibility (liberals) and those who prefer order and certainty (conservatives). Hear why both sets of traits are crucial to any society -- and how our differences are being dangerously exploited to divide us. What if things weren't that way?
In a deeply moving letter to her grandmother, Xiye Bastida reflects on what led her to become a leading voice for global climate activism -- from mobilizing school climate strikes to speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit alongside Greta Thunberg -- and traces her resolve, resilience and profound love of the earth to the values passed down to her. "Thank you for inviting me to love the world since the moment I was born," she says.