Maverick Life


This week we’re listening to: How knowledge is power in fighting climate change

This week we’re listening to: How knowledge is power in fighting climate change
Image: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

The climate crisis is not going anywhere – if anything it will get worse if we don’t act soon. These podcasts are the perfect place to start if you want to learn more about environmental issues and start to act.

As the world looks forward it seems our future seems irrevocably dark. Just this week, South Africans have been up in arms, and rightfully so, over news that Shell is planning a major seismic survey off the Wild Coast from 1 December.

Around the same time, an investigation by Our Burning Planet reported that “Russia – and possibly other states – has never stopped probing the Antarctic for its mineral wealth” and could indicate plans to exploit the “climate-threatened waters that wrap around Antarctica”.

All this and more in the wake of the COP26 summit.

Climate despair and fatigue are understandable – there seems to be more bad news about rising sea levels, disappearing species and warming temperatures every day. These two podcasts are countering this despair with the two things that could just be the difference between life and death for this planet: knowledge and how to use it – and amid so much negativity, they are refreshing and encouraging listens.


How to Save a Planet

  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Apple Podcasts or Spotify

How to Save a Planet focuses on solutions and possibilities to inspire change.

It combines expert information with excellent production to deconstruct complex climate issues for listeners to understand. It is scientific, but by no means inaccessible, and the hosts have done a commendable job of packaging difficult and content-heavy research into an audio format that does not leave the listener exhausted or needing to rewind every two minutes.

Even better, if you want to research something you hear or take a deeper dive into a particular topic, the show notes are also full of links and references for further reading, as well as calls to action, and are a testament to the thorough work that goes into compiling every episode.

How to Save a Planet mostly tackles climate issues on a macro level – how gender equality intersects with climate, how energy grids can migrate to solar and wind from coal, the fight to stop oil pipelines in protected areas – but the listener would be wrong to think that the enormity of these issues makes them irrelevant to the ordinary person.

Rather, the show seeks to use knowledge and information to inform the public so that we have the resources to put pressure on policymakers, governments and businesses, highlighting that knowledge is power when we have the tools to use it.

Image: Matt Palmer / Unsplash

Further, How to Save a Planet is not discounting the impact that small changes made by individuals can have.

“I can’t vote three times a day, but I do eat three times a day… every time we do these things, it gives us a chance to reflect on our values, reflect on our connection to the planet’s living systems, to think about what it is that we’re trying to do here,” says Dr Katharine Wilkinson in the episode Is Your Carbon Footprint BS?.

Our actions and our words are votes in support of either a thriving planet or a dying one, and when people understand how to tackle the climate crisis, we really could just save the planet. 


The Jane Goodall Hopecast

  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Apple Podcasts or Spotify

The Jane Goodall Hopecast is exactly what the name suggests. Seasoned climate activist and environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall hosts this show on the climate crisis with a slightly different approach from the doom-and-gloom narrative: hope.

Goodall has loved nature since a child, and in this podcast she weaves tales of childhood into messages of conservation and care for Earth. In 1960, she began working in the Gombe Stream National Park on her pioneering research with wild chimpanzees. She was only 26, and her research project changed the way animal research was undertaken and influenced how humans view the animal kingdom.

In 1977, she started her international organisation, the Jane Goodall Institute, and has worked in environmental activism and conservation ever since.

In 2020, the show was started as a way for Goodall to carry on her activism in lockdown, after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to her travels and international appearances, and it offers a unique insight into her life.

It’s safe to say “virtual Jane”, as she has dubbed herself, has a lifetime of knowledge to share.

The “Hopecast” is more than a clever play on words, though, and hope is not peddled as a comfortable, passive feeling. Rather, hope is presented as what activates change and inspires people to act.

“I believe in the power of hope. I believe hope is what spurs us into action. And I do believe in the indomitable human spirit,” Goodall explains.

Without hope, she argues, what is the point? Without hope, how can we expect anything to change, if we ourselves don’t believe in the possibility of change.

“Hope has been a part of our human evolution, a force that’s pushed us to where we are today. But because there is so much darkness in the world now, it’s more important than ever to try and keep that flame of hope alive,” says Goodall.

The show is set up as a series of conversations between Goodall and other climate experts and activists. Goodall’s own years of experience combined with the passion that both the host and each guest have lend to a heartwarming and enlightening listen.

We cannot save the planet on hope alone, but it is a good place to start. DM/ML


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