Playlist TEDTalks

Thinking about extreme weather: 7 talks for the storm

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Hurricane Sandy is currently hovering over the Atlantic Ocean, threatening a large swath of the United States’ East Coast, from North Carolina to Maine. With coastal areas evacuated, wind and rainfall picking up quickly and many transportation systems shut down in anticipation of flooding, millions of people are currently at home, just waiting for roughest part of the storm to pass.

(The TED staff is included in this group, as our New York City office is located on the border of a flood zone. We will, however, be working from our apartments as long as the power permits.)

While you’re stuck at home, here are seven talks that seem especially fitting for today. And here’s hoping that this storm’s impact is far less severe than expected — though judging from the latest images, it doesn’t appear that will be the case.

Nathalie Miebach: Art made of storms
As anyone watching The Weather Channel for the past few days knows, weather data is complex. Artist Nathalie Miebach aims to make weather data understandable by turning it into sculptures and musical scores, to beautiful end.

Robert Krulwich: How much does a hurricane weigh?
Clouds are much heavier than one would think, explains Radiolab host Robert Krulwich in this NPR lesson. But hurricanes are unthinkably heavy, holding about 108 billion pounds of water. That’s the weight of 360,000 blue whales – more than there are on planet Earth.

Caitria and Morgan O’Neill: How to step up in the face of disaster
The O’Neill sisters were shocked when a tornado ripped through their hometown of Monson, Massachusetts, in 2011. In the days after the disaster, they realized just how unprepared their city was for a recovery effort. In this talk from TEDxBoston, the pair describe how they took action, building systems to organize volunteers and donations, and how they’ve codified their learnings at Recovers.org. (Read Caitria and Morgan’s “Hit by a natural disaster? The first 6 things to do for your community’s relief effort” on the TED Blog.)

George Kourounis: Our angry planet
George Kourounis has made it his mission to see the most dangerous places on earth for his television series Angry Planet. As Kourounis explains, “I try to find the art in the most destructive events on the planet.” At TEDxAthens, he explains how he photographs natural disasters, as well as why.

Vicki Arroyo: Let’s prepare for our new climate
New Orleans resident Vicki Arroyo, of the Georgetown Climate Center, says that it is time for us to get real about climate change — and to actively prepare our homes and cities for flooding, droughts and the increasing uncertainty of weather. In this talk from TEDGlobal 2012, she gives examples of communities that are effectively thinking ahead.

Jeremiah Warren: How are hurricanes named?
Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew. How do these storms get their names? In this short video, Jeremiah Warren explains the order behind hurricane naming — that the first storm of the year gets a name that starts with the letter ‘A,’ the second gets one that starts with the letter ‘B’ and so on, with the most devastating storms having their names retired.

Rachel Kyte: Resilience in the face of natural disasters
Our world is experiencing twice as many natural disasters as in the past, says Rachel Kyte, the Vice President of Sustainable Development for the World Bank. And it’s overwhelming poor communities that bear the brunt of natural disaster deaths and damages. At TEDxSendai, Kyte stresses the importance of making disaster risk management part of building codes, and also forcing it to be a part of public discourse.