Podcasting seems to be everywhere these days, so of course, there’s no surprise that there are quite a few shows that deal with the big, important topic on everyone’s minds: climate change. Honestly, it’s kind of hard not to think about it when the planet is burning, the hurricanes are washing away homes, people are losing their livelihoods, and, well, you get the idea.
But why has podcasting emerged as a good place to talk about climate change? To get some perspective on this topic, Gizmodo talked to Mary Annaïse Heglar, one of co-hosts of the Hot Take podcast, a show that examines how the media talks about climate change. In Heglar’s view, climate change is a big topic that can be talked about in so many ways. However, on that same note, there are many ways to talk about climate change that it can sometimes feel unclear. And in those cases, Heglar said, it’s better to just talk it out as if you were talking to a friend, something much easier to do on a podcast than through the written word.
“Sometimes you need to talk to a friend and just talk it through. And that’s a lot of what we do,” Heglar said. “A good example is when we’re talking about the language of ‘natural disaster’ versus ‘extreme weather’ and all of the different reasons why those words are used or not used. Just having that conversation in public we found was helpful for people because they could relate to it.”
In addition, Heglar said another reason that podcasting is so useful when talking about climate change is that not everyone learns through reading. Some people are audio learners.
“I know when I’m feeling overwhelmed by something, I don’t want to read about it. I’m much more likely to hear about it,” she said.
Here at Gizmodo, we know that the climate crisis can be overwhelming and that it can turn up all kinds of emotions, including sorrow, anger, fear, and dread. But we can’t deal those emotions if we don’t start talking about climate change, and more importantly, if we want to turn those emotion into action to actually address the crisis.
To get you all started, Gizmodo has made a list of the best climate change podcasts out right now. Some are explanatory, some are narrative, and some have already finished, but absolutely all of them will leave you more informed about the climate crisis and ready to get to work.
#1 Hot Take
Heglar hosts Hot Take with Amy Westervelt. They know that there are a lot of ways to talk about climate change, and they wants everyone — but particularly the mainstream press — to get better at it. Hot Take is a media criticism show about climate change coverage. Heglar said they consider the show a climate media watchdog. On it, her and Westervelt along with guests analyse how much climate is being covered, how well it is being covered, and what stories have fallen through the cracks. And of course, the podcast also highlights who’s doing a good job. Overall, Hot Take wants to encourage the media to be better about climate change, help writers and outlets be less intimidated about covering it, and show people in the sector that there are many different ways to write and talk about climate change.
#2 Mothers of Invention
What do former Irish President Mary Robinson, New York-based comedian and writer Maeve Higgins, and podcast producer Thimali Kodikara have in common? They all care about climate change. These ladies are focused on delving into the biggest climate issues of the day on their podcast, Mothers Of Invention. The podcast highlights feminist climate change solutions spearheaded by Black, brown, and Indigenous women and girls.
#3 A Matter of Degrees
If you hear “climate change,” and automatically know it’s really bad but don’t know what you can do about it, you might be interested in the recently debuted podcast A Matter of Degrees. The podcast’s hosts, Katharine Wilkinson and Leah Stokes, call it a show for the “climate curious.” Both are public academics with a deep understanding of climate solutions and the energy system, and the show is slated to dive into those and more.
The show debuted this week, but promises to delve into the technology and policy climate solutions that already exist today, tell stories about the “history of denial and delay,” and so much more. Most importantly, it will illustrate why we are on the brink of a breakthrough moment and how to ensure we actually, well, breakthrough.
Inherited is a podcast about the youth climate movement, which stretches far beyond just Swedish icon Greta Thunberg. There is no one single story about what a climate activist should be, and Inherited tells stories of the diverse group of teens and young adults fighting for their futures. Episodes have chronicled what happened when the Sunrise Movement organised a sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in 2018 and the mental struggles associated with this unprecedented existential crisis.
“We don’t chose the world we inherit, but we chose what do with it,” Inherited producers Georgia Wright and Julianna Bradley say in the podcast’s trailer.
#5 America Adapts
Climate change isn’t just about cutting carbon emissions. Even if they dropped to zero tomorrow, the world would still have to deal with a hotter, more challenging climate for decades to come. America Adapts is the podcast for listeners that want to figure out what we need to do to deal with more storms, heat waves, and floods. Climate adaptation expert Doug Parsons talks with scientists, activists, policymakers, and others about the choices we have to make and also highlights the work of amazing leaders in adaption.
#6 How to Save a Planet
“How screwed are we?” That’s the first line in the trailer for How to Save a Planet. Hosted by journalist Alex Blumberg and scientist and policy nerd Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, the podcast aims to show viewers what society needs to do to deal with climate change. Recent episodes explore how wildfires got so bad — and what we can do about it — as well as why this is the “climate election.” The answer to their question becomes clearer with each episode: We’re only as screwed as we choose to be.
#7 Generation Green New Deal
Documentary filmmaker and host of Generation Green New Deal Sam Eilertsen is terrified of climate change. He channels that into this podcast about the youth movement. It explores why it took “a movement led by teenagers and twenty-somethings” to convince politicians to get serious about climate change, as well as other key questions, such as why youth decide to dedicate their lives to climate activism.
While we all know the name, “Hurricane Katrina,” there are those who know one of the most catastrophic disasters in American history by other names. For those who lived through it, Katrina is sometimes known as the “Federal Flood” or simply “the day the levees broke.” Hosted by the Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk II, Floodlines tells the story of Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of the people who lived through the inundation of New Orleans and its violent aftermath. It is “a story of rumours, betrayal, and one of the most misunderstood events in American history.” Though Katrina was 15 years ago, the story of those who survived — and those who didn’t — has never been more relevant.
The name Boomtown sounds like something out of a Hollywood Western, and its characters may seem ripped from the silver screen. But this is podcast is a true story. Hosted by Texas Monthly’s Christian Wallace, Boomtown takes listeners to a rugged corner of West Texas, home to an oil boom that is reminiscent of the California Gold Rush of the 1800s. This oil boom has reshaped not only our climate, but also our economy and geopolitics. With characters like an executive cutting billion-dollar deals, a pipeline worker risking life and limb, and a travelling exotic dancer following the money, Boomtown is podcast you won’t want to miss.
Ever thought you would hear “true crime” and “climate change” in the same sentence? Well that’s just what Drilled, hosted by award-winning investigative journalist Amy Westervelt (yup, the same person who co-hosts Hot Take), is about. It analyses the origin stories of climate denial, what it calls “patient zero” in a propaganda war of Big Oil’s quest for profit over planet. Although the outlines of the tale Drilled tells might feel familiar to climate engaged listeners, it delivers in uncovering some important missing pieces in the story that will make it worth your while. The new season kicked off a few weeks ago and dives into the story of Amazon tribes owed $US9.5 ($13) billion by Chevron for turning their land into the “Amazon’s Chernobyl,” and their lawyer who is now on house arrest as the oil company tries to make an example of him.
For Dessert: System Reboot
OK, shameless self plug. As many of you know, Gizmodo recently launched a new podcast called System Reboot. Hosted by Earther managing editor Brian Kahn and senior consumer tech editor Alex Cranz, System Reboot explores the big things that are broken and talks to smart people about ideas to fix them.
A recent episode of System Reboot talks about two things that play huge roles in our life: climate change and the internet. Did you know that climate change could affect your dear, precious internet? Internet is dependent on fibre optic cable infrastructure that is vulnerable to storm surge and mobile networks that are vulnerable to wildfires.
Get why climate change is so serious?