We’ve rounded up ten of the most informative and inspirational TED talks for fans of geography, the environment, nature and maps
Eleni Myrivili: A 3-part plan to take on extreme heat waves
In a recent Geographical article about heatwaves, we honed in on the vital role being played by chief heat officers (CHO) – a fairly new role that currently only exists in a handful of cities. Eleni Myrivili is the CHO of Athens. The city has a serious heat problem but is also a pioneer when it comes to doing something about it. In this new TED talk, Myrivili shares her strategy for battling the ever-increasing heat hitting urban centres.
Parag Khanna: Where on Earth will people live in the future?
Global strategist Parag Khanna is known for his bold predictions about the fate of humanity, communicated in popular books such as The Future is Asian and Connectography. In this TED talk he shares his views on where eight billion humans will live in the uncertain times ahead.
Kayla Wolf: The biggest mistakes in mapmaking history
In this lively and entertaining talk from TED’s youth and education initiative, complete with animation, Kayla Wolf presents a quick run-down of map-making throughout history – and all the mistakes which came with it. Here be dragons!
Katharine Hayoe: The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it
Climate scientist Katharine Hayoe is an eternal optimist, convinced that by talking more about climate change across political and other seemingly insurmountable divides we can build consensus. In this inspiring talk she 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 realise that they already care about a changing climate.
Moreangels Mbizah: How community-led conservation can save wildlife
We talk a lot about conservation, and everyone cares about the plight of big charismatic wildlife. But these creatures can only be saved when the communities who share land with them are included. Lion conservationist Moreangels Mbizah starts her talk with Cecil the lion – famously killed by a trophy hunter in 2015. What if, she asks, the community that lived next to Cecil the lion had been involved in protecting him. Could his fate have been different? With reference to her own career as a conservationist – a field where few black women are represented – she argues that the people who live with lions are the ones best placed to protect them.
Rose M. Mutiso: The energy Africa needs to develop – and fight climate change
‘Think about this: Californians uses more energy playing video games than the entire country of Senegal uses overall.’ So begins Rose Mutiso in this eye-opening talk about energy use in Africa. It’s a huge problem – because energy is essential when it comes to building a better life, to growing and prospering. Energy is also essential when it comes to tackling climate change. Mutiso makes a compelling case for allocating what’s left of the carbon budget to Africa. She argues that the continent should be allowed to increase emissions in the short term, while richer nations drastically curtail theirs.
Andrés Ruzo: The boiling river of the Amazon
‘Go out, be curious. We live in a world where shamans still sing to the rhythm of the jungle, where rivers do boil and were legends do come to life,’ proclaims geoscientist Andrés Ruzo. As a young boy living in Peru, Ruzo was told the story of a river, deep in the Amazon, where the water boils. Excitable and determined, this is the story of his quest to find that mythical river and his enduring belief in the world’s wonder and beauty. Good for anyone with the heart of an explorer.
George Monbiot: The new political story that could change everything
Journalist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot returns to the TED stage (his 2013 talk about rewilding was a widely shared hit) to share an optimistic new vision for society built around our fundamental capacity for altruism and cooperation.
Suzanne Simard: How trees talk to each other
Ecologist Suzanne Simard reveals the way that trees communicate and co-operate. Talking the listener through her 30 years of research in the Canadian forests (during which she had to keep a close eye on the grizzly bears) she explains the processes that enable trees, even those from different species, to share information by passing water, nutrients, chemicals, hormones and defence signals from root to root. Though Simard initially struggled to get research funding for her outlandish theories, her perseverance has fundamentally updated our understanding of forests and the ways that trees socialise.
David Gallo: Underwater astonishments
It may be more than a decade old, but with more than 14 million views, David Gallo’s footage of deep-ocean creatures remains a TED classic. By now, most people will have seen similar creatures in more modern documentaries, but Gallo’s footage of a perfectly camouflaged octopus is still worth a marvel.