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Five TED Talks by women leading the climate change movement

Climate change activism dates back to the 90s, and the topic has been growing ever since. Mounting pressure is placed on both individuals and companies to live more sustainably, reduce their carbon footprint, and join the fight against global warming. 

The sheer abundance of information available, however, can sometimes feel overwhelming: it can be challenging to discover voices offering different perspectives on an issue that affects every person on the planet. We’ve put together a list of five engaging TED Talks by women, each presenting a different outlook on the realities of climate change.

1. The link between climate change, health and poverty – Cheryl Holder

Beginning in the backdrop of her childhood growing up as a Jamaican immigrant in Brooklyn, physician Cheryl Holder discusses how poorer, higher risk citizens are hit hardest by climate-induced adversity. 

Socioeconomic issues like climate gentrification (when richer people move into poorer neighbourhoods that are naturally more protected from climate change by their elevation and other factors) force already vulnerable communities into worse situations. Little is being done to prevent this forced displacement. 

Cheryl explores the four major ways we are impacted by climate change, and why the least-to-blame among us are currently worst affected – an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. 

To read more about intersectionality and climate change, take a look at our article: ‘Climate change is a feminist issue’.

2. Britt Wray: How climate change affects your mental health – Britt Wray

In her talk, Britt Wray explores the psychological impacts of living in a world undergoing climate change. 

The physical effects of global warming – both on the natural world and the many species that inhabit it – are well-trodden topics. Britt presents a less commonly examined perspective: how climate change is impacting our mental health. 

Cases of depression and anxiety amongst climate scientists and activists are rising, and severe existential distress is present within the Inuit communities forced to watch the surrounding ice melt. 

Climate change is a very real threat to our survival, and with increasingly common natural disasters displacing thousands of people every day, the mental health impacts are unsurprising. Britt explores insightful points about the need for change, and how to start taking care of our mental health in these challenging times.

3. A climate change solution that’s right under our feet – Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

In this TED talk from 2019, soil scientist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe discusses how human practices that increase CO2 emissions – such as deforestation and intensive agricultural production – are leading to fundamental changes in our soil. 

She explains that the natural world is currently ‘bailing us out’ – but not for long. Soil has the potential to offset our carbon emissions and help to mitigate climate change, but only if we start treating it with the respect it deserves.

4. Indigenous knowledge meets science to take on climate change – Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is currently working with meteorological scientists to restore biodiversity and protect our planet in the climate change crisis. 

Her talk explains how her community of nomadic cattle herders in Chad have gained in-depth knowledge about their ecosystems and weather. Their focus is on living harmoniously with their surrounding environments to learn more about the nuances of nature and better protect it. 

She explains that, in these environments where people depend on the rainfall, the effects of climate change directly threaten them every day. Hindou discusses how climate change is compounding the migrant crisis and placing higher responsibilities on women, and explains how the knowledge of indigenous communities can teach valuable lessons about resilience and survival worldwide. 

If you’d like to learn more about biodiversity, read ‘COVID-19: a biodiversity crisis?’

5. The disarming case to act right now on climate change – Greta Thunberg

Perhaps the best-known speaker on this list, teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s TED talk offers a black and white perspective on the climate disaster. She discusses topics such as mass extinction, climate justice, and the need to reduce emissions at scale. 

Greta explores the individual impacts every one of us can have, and why we must take these steps to fight against the climate crisis before it’s too late. In the words of Greta herself, no one is too small to make a difference. 

‘The one thing we need more than hope is action.’

Greta thunberg

The effects of climate change are already visible across the globe: rising sea levels, increasingly common natural disasters and soaring temperatures are present every day. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to humanity, and we need to continue educating ourselves, taking responsibility, and demanding more from governments and large organisations.