5 Podcasts to Inspire You on Climate
Most days, the news on climate can be tough. Carbon dioxide levels reaching new heights. Glaciers melting even faster than we thought. White House officials celebrating the prospect of an ice-free Arctic. Not a whole lot of good ways to spin these.
But here's the good news. There are a lot of smart and committed people working to solve this. And if you need a bit of hope, a bit of inspiration, we've got five podcasts with conversations and stories that'll light a fire inside, change how you think about the crisis, and get you ready to fight again.
Because the truth is, sometimes we all need it. Enjoy.
1. Mothers of Invention: A Second Chance at Life
If you've ever looked at the climate crisis and got lost heading down that "IT'S. SO. BIG. WHAT. CAN. WE. DO?" rabbit hole, listen to Mothers of Invention. If you appreciate flat-out inspiring stories of women thinking big, thinking boldly, thinking smart, and just generally applying feet to rear ends on climate, listen to Mothers of Invention.
Actually, just skip the qualifiers: Listen to Mothers of Invention.
Now two seasons along, Mothers of Invention takes on the climate crisis from a feminist perspective, all with more wit, humor and warmth than should be legal. Hosted by former Irish President (and long-time social justice activist) Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins, the show's manifesto is simple: "Climate change is a man-made problem – with a feminist solution!"
And they've got the stories to prove it. Picking just one episode is like trying to pick one flavor of ice cream from a menu with 100 delicious choices, but we say start by jumping in with the fourth episode in season two, A Second Chance at Life. (And then going back to the start.)
Now go listen.
2. Displaced: Mary Robinson
Double-dipping with Mary Robinson here, but worth it.
Today, there are more people displaced from their homes and on the move than at any point since World War II. It seems like you can't watch the news for more than five minutes without hearing about migration and some part of this displacement crisis. But what you won't often hear is how the climate crisis is one of the greatest factors behind it, with rising temperatures and longer droughts crippling farms and communities across the planet (to name only a couple reasons).
In the April 9 episode of Vox Media's Displaced, host Ravi Gurumurthy of the International Rescue Committee talks to Mary Robinson about how the climate crisis is already forcing millions from their homes in search of a better life and how this trend will shape the twenty-first century.
For listeners in developed nations, the conversation is a call to rediscover the clarity of conscience and act. After all, Mary Robinson has spent much of her life and career fighting to make this world fairer for the most vulnerable. Listen to the quiet righteous indignation bubbling through every syllable as she talks about the inequities of a planet where those least responsible for our changing climate suffer its cruelest impacts and you'll want to do the same.
3. With Friends Like These: You Can't Build Things With Pitchforks and Torches
Back in 2010, then-Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina committed the cardinal sin of telling a radio host the climate crisis already fueling stronger hurricanes and wicked wildfires was, you know, real, and humans might have something to do with that.
After a pair of oil billionaires whose name rhymes with "smoke" helped make sure he was free to pursue other career opportunities outside of Congress, Inglis became a leading voice for a conservative approach to solving the crisis.
In this 2017 episode of Crooked Media's podcast With Friends Like These, he talks to host Ana Maria Cox about why conservatives should be all about climate action and what progressives can do to bring them into the movement. You don't have to agree with everything he says or every position he's taken to appreciate his perspective and see how we can build a truly diverse coalition to win. After all, that's the only way we will.
4. Longform: David Wallace-Wells
"It is worse, much worse than you think."
David Wallace-Wells begins his moving meditation on the climate crisis, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, with a haymaker and doesn't let up for 230 pages, charting how the crisis is already transforming every aspect of life on earth and the unconscionable catastrophe waiting for us if we don't act.
It's probably the most terrifying book published in English in 2019 (so far). And – judging by the extraordinary response it's getting, with people everywhere grappling with the truly existential threat we face – it might be the most important.
For years, the Longform podcast team – Aaron Lammer, Max Linskey and Evan Ratliff – have talked to some of the most interesting writers, critics, media voices and more.
For the May 1 episode of the Longform podcast (which if you're not familiar, hosts some of the most intriguing conversations with the writers, media voices, and more shaping culture today), he sits down with Max Linskey to talk about the book, the incredible reception and the stark, historic choice we have today.
5. The Ezra Klein Show: Meet the Policy Architect Behind the Green New Deal
Even before it was introduced, the Green New Deal was being attacked. Mostly – rather cynically – by people who haven't bothered to actually read – much less understand – it. Sadly, it's meant there's a whole lot of confusion about what the Green New Deal actually is and is trying to do.
So if you've ever wondered, "What's the deal with the Green New Deal?" you owe it to yourself to listen to Rhiana Gunn-Wright. She's the whip-smart policy expert charged with the small matter of turning the big-picture goals of the Green New Deal into a practical set of policies that can drive a just transition to clean energy, helping the U.S. slash emissions while creating millions of green jobs and revitalizing communities from coast to coast. In Marvel movies, they give capes to people for this kind of stuff.
Gunn-Wright is also a powerful and compelling voice for connecting climate action and social justice. It's a subject that's only just starting to get the attention it deserves, and if you've read about the Green New Deal and wondered why it's so committed to justice, listen to her conversation with David Roberts filling in on The Ezra Klein Show. She might make you a believer too.
If listening to these conversations on the climate crisis has you thinking, "What can I do?", we've got an answer. Join us in Minneapolis from August 2-4 and train with former Vice President Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader.
You'll learn just how the crisis is transforming our world and how together we can solve it. You'll also learn what you can do and develop the skills and know-how to mobilize your friends, family, neighbors, and more to act while we still have time.
As we say, give us three days. We'll give you the tools to change the world.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Climate Reality Project.
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World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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