So we all know just how shitty this year has been… Starting the year off with catastrophic bushfires in Australia, then the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the cataclysmic wildfires raging in the American West. This year has been absolutely terrible for the planet and for a lot of the people living on it. As a self-proclaimed environmentalist and climate activist, It is way too easy to find myself overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the climate emergency. Every day we are inundated with information, news clips, articles, tweets, and so much more media that can oftentimes make us feel like we are going crazy.
One way that I have been able to cut through all of the craziness is by subscribing to a few podcasts that help keep me grounded. I am a huge fan of podcasts. So much so, that I started my own in undergrad. I believe deeply in the format as a way for people to tell compelling stories to a wide audience without the traditional media filters. For decades conservative talk personalities have used the radio and podcasts to tell their stories and connect with their audiences. Not until recently have we begun to see a similar thing happening for the climate movement. In the past two years we have seen an explosion of fantastic climate journalism and excellent new formats for climate stories to be told to a wide audience. If you are new to podcasts or are looking for a solid place to start, here’s the list for you.
Here is my list for the best climate podcasts that you need to listen to in 2020!
Drilled is an investigative journalism podcast (think along the line of Serial or your other favorite murder podcast) that investigates the propaganda campaign waged by the fossil fuel corporations to sow climate denial into modern American political discourse. This show is quite scary and is really hard to stop listening to. This is a great place to start if you ever find yourself lacking anger for the state of the world we find ourselves in today.
Hot Take is a personal favorite of mine and a huge leap forward for climate change discussions. In this talk show style podcast, veteran journalists Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt “take an intersectional, critical, but constructive look at climate coverage—with the ultimate goal of making the conversation more productive and powerful. Not just bigger, but more inclusive.” This show is a great place to start if you are angry about the way that climate change has been covered in the media for the past two decades. This podcast deserves way more attention, not just because of the thoughtful discussions but also for the way that the hosts incorporate the emotional component of climate change.
So by now if you haven’t noticed yet, Critical Frequency is a podcast network that has been producing amazing climate podcasts. They just launched two new podcasts actually, one of which is Inherited. This show is written and produced by the generation that is currently fighting for the future of the climate. This show highlights “stories from, for, and by the youth climate movement.” This show really gets me excited because it takes the lens of climate action away from issues and solutions and provides a human face for the work of saving our planet. Every person on earth has a story to tell, and the stories from the children, teenagers, and young adults that are fighting the climate fight are all unique.
In November of 2018, after the massive blue wave that carried progressive candidates into the halls of congress an idea was born. The Sunrise movement staged a sit-in at the office of soon-to-be house speaker Nancy Pelosi. At that demonstration newly elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke and brought media attention to a growing movement of young people who demanded change. In the following February, AOC and Senator Ed Markey put forth a resolution to establish a Green New Deal. This podcast tells the story of the young people who are at the forefront of the climate movement. An excellent show that from the first listen fills you with hope and energizes you to take action. This show is another production from the Critical Frequency podcast network.
What do two murders, a supreme court case, and indigenous land rights have to do with climate? More than you might think. This Land is an unbelievable podcast that follows the story of two murders in Oklahoma that formed the backbone of a recent supreme court decision that has “resulted in the largest restoration of tribal land in US history.” Follow along as host Rebecca Nagle, an Oklahoma journalist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, connects the dots between these murders and the fate of half of the land in Oklahoma. By this point you might be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with climate change?” Which is a fair question. Climate change is the result of unchecked capitalism and colonialism. Indigenous issues, especially those regarding the sovereignty of their land, are deeply connected to the future of how we address the climate crisis.
Sometimes, navigating the climate crisis can be overwhelming. I’m sure many of you will read that sentence and think about just how much of an understatement it is, trust me, I know. How to Save a Planet is a hilarious and exciting new show that tries to make that a little bit better. It is so good, I binged the first four episodes on one run and got lost in my neighborhood! Hosted by Journalist Alex Blumberg and scientist and overall ba**ss Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, this show brings you along as the hosts interview people and try to discover what we can do about the climate crisis.
On my first day of undergrad in August, 2017 I walked into my first class and took a seat at the front. I pulled out my notebook and waited patiently for the class to start. In that class we all sat together and read the New York Magazine article, The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace Wells. Since then, Wells published a book with the same title. This piece of writing was the first time I experienced climate anxiety. Facing It explores the emotional aspects of the climate crisis and how anxiety and despair are keeping people from acting on climate. This series also explores the unequal distribution of the emotional toll of climate change on frontline communities.
Along with the amazing name, this podcast really does have it all. Produced by the Hip Hop caucus and their Think100% campaign, this show is a weekly dive into all things climate justice. The first season of this show is a deep exploration of environmental and climate justice, while their second season is centered around interviews with those at the center of the climate movement that are making huge steps forward. This show is a fun and informative podcast that makes me feel hopeful and energized.
Are you angry about the climate crisis? So is Emily Atkin. She is a climate journalist who created her own newsletter where she does in-depth analysis and fantastic reporting on the climate crisis every week. In this limited run series, Emily Atkin explores the connections between the concurrent crises of COVID-19 and climate change and how they are at times inseparable.
No Place Like Home is another podcast produced by the Critical Frequency network and another show that places human experiences front and center in the climate conversation. This podcast takes the stories of people who are connected to our environment and shines a spotlight on how beautiful those connections are. Through interviews and amazing sound design and storytelling, this show makes you feel a little less alone in the climate movement and grounded in the work we do. I decided to end with this show because I truly believe in the power of storytelling. I believe that the human experience, no matter how different or divided we may be, is shared. We all are stuck in this existence together and we all share so much in common. Storytelling is one of the oldest traditions of our species. It is what allowed us to build the civilization we live in today.
Not sure where to begin? I recommend checking out this great post from our Hampton Roads organizer Lauren Landis where she talks about her love for podcasts and gives some solid recommendations for specific episodes.
Podcasting is a unique form of communication that allows us to tune into stories and conversations that we generally wouldn’t. It allows us to create a community in ways that talk radio and other forms of storytelling have not allowed. 2020 has been a rough year for a lot of us in the climate movement, but I believe that with this new wave of climate storytelling, we can get through the challenges ahead of us together.
What climate podcasts do you listen to? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.