Summary analysis

After watching the collection of talks on Climate Change, read a thoughtful recap of the major points in this TED Study, and learn where experts believe things are headed.

For the last quarter century, citizens have turned to climate scientists and policymakers as expert 'claims makers' to make sense of 'what is' and 'what to do about' climate change. In so doing, people have encountered many competing claims. In addition to the voices from the scientific and public policy communities, corporations and NGOs have also made claims about climate change's causes and consequences. Many organizations, interests and individuals have battled to shape not only the science but fundamentally the awareness of, engagement with and possible actions to confront climate change.

Each of these claims makers is ultimately part of the collective public citizenry, enjoined to help puzzle out the problem and its possible solutions. Climate science, politics and policy, and related values and ethics questions can and should be vigorously and honestly discussed in the public arena. Many critical questions persist, such as:

  • How can we more effectively connect formal climate science and policy?
  • How do the scientific, political, and values dimensions of climate change influence how it’s taken up or resisted in our everyday lives?
  • How do gender, age, and socio-economic status shape our awareness of and response to climate change?
  • What are future roles that various claims makers have in the creation, maintenance, or silencing of our considerations of climate change?
  • How will ongoing structures, laws and institutions continue to influence climate considerations?
  • How will science, policy and values interactions play out across different local, regional and national contexts?

The road from awareness to various forms of engagement and action -- through the dimensions of science, policy and values -- is crowded with claims makers, and it's filled with turns, potholes and intersections. But it's also a road we can't travel too long. The science confirms that we need to take substantial steps -- and soon -- in order to avoid the most potentially damaging effects of climate change and commit ourselves to a more sustainable future.

Johan Rockström says, "We are facing the largest transformative development since industrialization. In fact, what we have to do over the next 40 years is much more dramatic and exciting than what we did when we moved into the situation we’re in today." Like Rockström, Al Gore sees the challenge; like Rockström, he isn't shying away from it, and asks us not to, either. "We have to go far, quickly...How many generations in all of human history have had the opportunity to rise to a challenge that is worthy of our best efforts? A challenge that can pull from us more than we knew we could do?"

Relevant talks