(This is an annotated transcript of the TEDx talk I gave in April 2023. It’s 10 minutes long. I’d suggest watching it first and then coming here for supporting materials.)
Does climate action feel impossible?
When I was a kid, I was interested in everything. I’d need about 10 careers to do it all. So I got out my green and blue markers and made a calendar to keep track of which job I’d have on which day of the week. On Monday, I’d be a scientist, on Tuesday, a painter. Friday — some kind of explorer, because I loved nature documentaries. I related to how animals seemed fascinated by whatever was right in front of them.
Every documentary ended with a reminder that these animals needed our help, and all the ways they were threatened by human activity. I couldn’t believe no one had managed to do something about this. But I figured I would know how when I grew up.
So, though I kept changing my mind about what I would be, the one constant was that it would have something to do with climate and conservation.
Years later, I was working as an engineer and plugging away at my art and writing. I didn’t tell anyone about my master plan to connect it all to climate, but I hadn’t forgotten it. I kept looking for ways to make my engineering work overlap with climate science or renewables.
Still, I avoided climate news. I didn’t need to hear over and over that climate change REALLY WAS real to motivate me to take action. I didn’t need to see a picture of an animal choking on plastic; I already had the master plan. Meanwhile, I kept circling climate action from a distance without taking the plunge.
But that changed in 2020. The United Nations issued a report giving us a deadline of 2030 to make steep emissions cuts.
Taking action couldn’t stay theoretical and future tense any longer. So I dove into the research to catch up on what I had missed. And I started — tentatively — talking to people about climate change and my intentions.
And I got wave after wave of bad news. It wasn’t just the tight deadlines, scale of changes needed, and years of deadlock.