Ideas Worth Spreading: Be Inspired by TED

by Amy Curtis   |   July 13, 2011

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Every generation faces serious uncertainties, catastrophes, and strife. But as the decades pass, it seems like challenges related to environmental devastation are moving to the top of the list. We’re constantly hearing reports about Earth’s ever-depleting resources, the effects of the rise in global temperatures, and the repercussions that all humanity will suffer if immediate action isn’t taken.

Yet incessant “doom and gloom” can lead to feelings of helplessness. Often I wonder, “Can we, as individuals and as a nation, really turn around such a seemingly dire situation?”

In my search for some answers, I found 10 videos of people who have answered “yes” in a very resounding way.

The videos are part of a series called “TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading,” started in 1984 to highlight individuals with profound and potentially transformative ideas in the areas of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Today, annual TED conferences and spin-off events around the globe offer a stage for these visionaries to share their stories, which are posted on the Internet for the whole world to view.

The thousands of TED videos feature an impressive array of topics and ideas, all of which are worth viewing. The 10 listed here relate specifically to how to solve the environmental crisis.

Yes, it’s imperative to understand what we’re doing to the Earth and how we’ll all suffer with continued complacency. But it’s equally fundamental to know that there are people out there who have solutions, creative outlooks, and ideas to enact actual change. The following 10 presentations provide hope, inspiration, and knowledge that while people can damage the Earth, they also have the potential to save it.

Go ahead—watch just one. I guarantee you’ll be hooked!

  1. Mark Bittman weighs in on what's wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it's putting the entire planet at risk.
  2. Jamie Oliver discusses the obesity epidemic and how both food and the environment can help reverse it.
  3. Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid car to inventing a new, hotter “brand name” for global warming.
  4. Michael Pritchard shows how his innovative water filter can make dirty water drinkable in seconds.
  5. Chris Jordan discusses everyday items and what people can do to reduce the impact related to the things they buy.
  6. William McDonough asks what architecture could look like if it accounted for “all children, all species, for all time.”
  7. Kamal Meattle articulates how we can “grow” fresh air to radically improve our breathing.
  8. Birke Baehr may only be 11 years old, but his insights about the current food industry deserve attention from all ages.
  9. Eben Bayer argues that mushrooms (yes, the common fungus) are going to revolutionize how we package just about anything!
  10. Martin Rees examines the planet from a cosmic perspective and articulates how we can save it from potentially being destroyed.

 Be inspired to find ways to foster change in your own community!

Amy Curtis is a student at the University of Virginia and an intern at New Dream.