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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The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.
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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.
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By Jeff Berardelli
Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.
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