COP21 starts on Monday November 30, so whether you’ll be personally attending the conference as part of the 40,000 participants who will be in Paris for the occasion, or you’re planning on staying up to date via the blogosphere and social media, now is as good a time as ever to brush up on your climate change knowledge.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up 5 great TED talks on climate change, approaching the issue from five complementary perspectives and backgrounds: From the high level policy front, with Al Gore and Mary Robinson (former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and first female President of Ireland), to the climate science behind the headlines, and the voices of business.
1. Naomi Oreskes: Why we should trust scientists
‘We can’t really judge scientific claims for ourselves in most cases, and indeed this is true for most scientists themselves, outside of their own specialty. So if you think about it, a geologist can’t tell you whether a vaccine is safe, most chemists are not experts in evolutionary theory (…), so if even scientists themselves have to make a leap of faith outside their own fields, then why do they accept the claims of other scientists?’
‘Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.’
2. Gavin Schmidt: The emergent patterns of climate change
‘Models are not right or wrong. They’re always wrong, they’re always approximations. The question you have to ask is whether a model tells you more information than you would have had otherwise. If it does, it’s skillful’.
‘You can’t understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. It’s the whole, or it’s nothing. In this illuminating talk, he explains how he studies the big picture of climate change with mesmerizing models that illustrate the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events.’
3. Mary Robinson: Why climate change is a threat to human rights
‘This issue is much too important to be left to politicians and to the United Nations, it’s an issue for all of us, and it’s and issue where we need more and more momentum‘.
‘Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended — and their human rights threatened — by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.’
4. Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis
‘We need a worldwide global mobilization for renewable energy, conservation, efficiency and a global transition to a low carbon economy. We have work to do, and we can mobilize resources and political will, but the political will has to be mobilized in order to mobilize the resources.’
‘In this brand-new slideshow, Al Gore presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists recently predicted. He challenges us to act.’
5. John Doerr: Salvation (and profit) in greentech
‘Kleiner’s second law is ‘there is a time when panic is the appropriate response’, and we’ve reached that time’.
‘I don’t think we’re going to make it’, John Doerr adds in an emotional talk about climate change and investment. To create a world fit for his daughter to live in, he says, we need to invest now in clean, green energy.’
If you’re looking for more specific information on the COP, and with dozens of official sites to choose from, the UNFCCC’s Information Hub is a well-organized source of knowledge, including details on events and exhibits, venues and logistics, virtual participation and events in the high level segment of the conference. Especially once the conference starts, you can expect to hear from some of the key actors through social media. We’ve listed 21 essential twitter accounts, which you can follow on our Climate & COP21 Twitter List.
If you’re inspired to learn more about what the COP21 means for business, we recently held an exclusive Webinar in partnership with Greenbiz (on Tuesday, Dec 15): Why Tackling Climate Change is Good for Business. Among other topics, the webinar looked into how climate change is impacting business, how businesses can transform the constraints of climate change into a source of growth and opportunity, and how corporations can drive positive change through the right climate change mitigation strategies. You can access a free recording of the webinar below: