As Noam Chomsky persuasively argued in our interview with him, if we're to have a chance of staving off the worst impacts of climate change, it is essential that ordinary people get involved and create pressure on our institutions and politicians to take the steps required.
Luckily more and more people are doing just that. And to get an idea of some of the creative ways people are getting involved in the climate fight, the next little we at The Elephant will be producing a miniature series bringing you the stories of some of these inspiring on the ground climate actions taking place around the world.
So in this, the first instalment of our mini-series on climate activism, we hear the story of what happened earlier this year when 50 students from Fossil Free Yale occupied the administration building on campus.
It's a piece brought to us by indepedent radio producer Phoebe Petrovic.
One thing that has become abundantly clear over the past couple of decades, is that waiting idly by for politicians to solve climate change on their own simply won’t cut it. Rather, as Bill McKibben pointed out in our interview with him, that there's a major problem to be solved doesn't seem to motivate politicians - only the fact that there's real pressure on the ground pushing them to do something about it.
Well In the coming few weeks we're going to be highlighting for you several stories of citizens stepping up and organizing in creative ways to produce exactly that type pressure: whether it's in the growing divestment campaign, or through the on ground blockadia movement, where activists are putting their bodies on the line to drive home the point that we need to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground, if we're to have a liveable world.
“It’s urgent for those who have the most privilege, the most opportunity, the greatest advantages, to be in the forefront instead of in the rear in trying to impede what is likely to be a serious catastrophe.” - Noam Chomsky
But before we get to those stories, we thought we'd start off by revisiting a conversation Kevin had with Noam Chomsky last year that touches specifically on climate change, and how social change happens. A professor emeritus at MIT, Noam Chomsky is one of the foremost intellectuals in the world, who has spent his life working on matters of social justice, and speaking out issues ranging from rising inequality, and corporate power, to foreign policy crimes of the west. Throughout the many decades of his public life, Chomsky has been a beacon of rationality, empathy, and hope for those concerned about the state of the world. And given he has both studied and witnessed first hand the ways in which social pressure when effectively applied, can create massive social changes even in the face of entrenched power systems, we thought he'd be the perfect person to speak to.
So for his insights on how we can go about confronting a challenge as large and daunting as climate change through activism, here’s our episode with Noam Chomsky.
And to hear Kevin's other interview with Noam Chomsky, from February 2013, in which they touched on his activism during the Vietnam war, and the need to “confront reality” regarding the major challenges we collectively are facing such as climate change, click here. And remember to subscribe to The Elephant in iTunes.
We’ve all encountered those who passionately deny that climate change is real. And at least when one reads the comment sections, it can seem at times like they're in the majority.
But given the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on the question on climate change, where exactly does this doubt held by such a large proportion of the public stem from?
Turns out, it’s not there by accident. It’s been consciously seeded within society by a few key corporations, free-market ideologues, and scientists. Through interviews with Naomi Oreskes, historian of science and co-author of Merchants of Doubt (which has now been turned into a documentary film) and Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Centre, we look into the story of this secretive climate denial machine and learn about some of the key players who have been sowing doubt, and blocking action on the greatest threat facing our society.
From cold-war scientists and the billionaire Koch brothers to tobacco, and a web of think tanks, it's a story you won't want to miss.
To listen, click on the episode here or subscribe to The Elephant in iTunes.
We typically think of global warming in terms of the consequences it has for humanity. But it also has huge and troubling impacts for the species we share our planet with.
That impact is a topic that Elizabeth Kolbert writes about in her Pulitzer Prize winning book the Sixth Extinction. In it, she outlines how human beings are causing changes so disruptive to the environment, that a large proportion of the earth's species are expected to be extinct by the end of the century.
Some of these impacts are through things like habitat destruction and the mass introduction of invasive species. But increasingly the threat of climate change is also playing a major role, throwing a wrench into ecosystems and the ability of species to survive thanks to the devastating effects of ocean acidification, and the rapid movement of the sensitive ranges species have adapted to.
Listen to our interview with Elizabeth Kolbert here or subscribe to The Elephant in iTunes
Climate change is in some ways a surprisingly old story, but it's also one that some of the finest minds in journalism have struggled to tell effectively. We speak with Ira Glass of This American Life, Alan Rusbridger, recently retired editor of The Guardian, and University of Colorado Professor Max Boykoff about the ins and outs of how the media has dealt with the story of climate change, and why in 2015, things finally might be improving.
Listen to our episode on media above, or subscribe to The Elephant in iTunes.
Also to hear our extended interview with Alan Rusbridger, Scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Climate change is about physics and science. But it's also about politics and power. It's about how decisions get made, and in whose interests they're decided.
And by all accounts 2015 is the year that the fight to take on climate change is really heating up. Not only is this the year that the world will be again coming together in Paris to try and come up with an agreement to stave off the worst impacts of climate change, but social movements around the world are rapidly growing in size and number and are beginning to successfully battle the power of the fossil fuel industry.
The gloves are off now in this fight, and the fossil fuel industry is fighting for life - Tim Flannery
To help put this growing battle and political fight in context, we spoke to two of the most importance voices within the climate movement: Bill McKibben activist, author, and founder of 350.org, and Tim Flannery, Australian scientist, author of The Weather Makers, and chief councillor at The Climate Council.
To listen, click on the link below, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.