In my professional role as a water resources scientist, I have spent the past year helping to steer an innovative climate-risk analysis project for the state of Colorado.
The “Future Avoided Cost Explorer” or “FACE” project aims to quantify our vulnerabilities and risks from flood, drought, and wildfire hazards across the entire state. I have had the privilege of working alongside a smart and passionate team of experts from academia, public agencies, and the private sector.
The team’s collective efforts and ideas on the FACE project have provided the foundation for my TEDx talk. Over the past year, I have been thinking about future risks from flood, drought, and wildfire hazards nearly every day. With a young daughter at home, I’ve even caught myself on numerous occasions dozing off after a bedtime story and then snapping awake realizing that I had been dreaming of new ways to visualize the results of our climate risk analysis.
For the vast majority of this project, I have been presenting to audiences of scientists, engineers, and economists. I’ve rehearsed the technical explanations for the project numerous
times, both in my sleep and awake. For me, the most exciting (and challenging) part of jumping
into the world of TEDx has been the opportunity to shift my mind frame and messaging to
capture the diverse audience that the TED community engages.
I’m excited to share the fundamental ideas behind climate-informed risk analysis because I believe this is a topic that will impact every one of us. I’ve been focusing much of my TEDx preparation on brainstorming ways to highlight the magnitude of future damages from climate change induced hazards which we’ve often termed as “the cost of doing nothing”.
At the same time, I’ve also been exploring techniques to inspire action by emphasizing the opportunities we have to build more adaptive and resilient communities and economies. In my experience, it’s easy to overwhelm people with a gloomy outlook regarding climate change, so I’ve been using the practice sessions as an opportunity to get feedback from my friends and family on this topic. A common theme of these candid conversations has centered on the daunting challenge we as individuals often feel in the face of climate change and the future risks we face.
However, I’ve also been encouraged by the sense of community responsibility and empowerment that have come up during these practice discussions. These dialogues have helped me feel more confident in my content and delivery for the upcoming TEDx Climate Countdown while at the same time helping me prepare for day-to-day conversations around why we need climate-resilient communities and economies.