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Why some societies successfully prepare for the future — and others fail

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future You.

Journalist Bina Venkataraman says some disasters are due to a short-sighted view of the future and a shallow memory of the past. She urges us to be smarter citizens and better ancestors.

About Bina Venkataraman

Bina Venkataraman is an American journalist, author and science policy expert. She is currently The Washington Post's first columnist of the future and a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

Venkataraman formerly served in the Obama White House as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation. She built partnerships among communities, companies and government to prepare for coming pandemics, wildfires and rising seas. She has also worked as a science journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Venkataraman's first book, The Optimist's Telescope, was named a top business book by The Financial Times.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Laine Kaplan-Levenson and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at [email protected].

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Laine Kaplan-Levenson
Laine Kaplan-Levenson is a producer and reporter for NPR's Throughline podcast. Before joining the Throughline team, they were the host and producer of WWNO's award-winning history podcast TriPod: New Orleans at 300, as well as WWNO/WRKF's award-winning political podcast Sticky Wicket. Before podcasting, they were a founding reporter for WWNO's Coastal Desk, and covered land loss, fisheries, water management, and all things Louisiana coast. Kaplan-Levenson has contributed to NPR, This American Life, Marketplace, Latino USA, Oxford American (print), Here and Now, The World, 70 Million, and Nancy, among other national outlets. They served as a host and producer of Last Call, a multiracial collective of queer artists and archivists, and freelanced as a storytelling and podcast consultant, workshop instructor, and facilitator of student-produced audio projects. Kaplan-Levenson is also the founder and host of the live storytelling series, Bring Your Own. They like to play music and occasionally DJ under the moniker DJ Swimteam.
Fiona Geiran
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Sanaz Meshkinpour
[Copyright 2024 NPR]