In this episode, we explore the growing impact of heat on people and the planet. We talk to scientists and “climate detectives” trying to hold the perpetrators of this unprecedented global temperature increase accountable.
Leah and Katharine speak with Neza Xiuhtecutli, executive director of the Farmworker Association of Florida; Kate Marvel, climate science writer and physicist at Columbia University and NASA; and Richard Heede, co-founder and director of the Climate Accountability Institute.
Kate mentions the very first climate attribution study, which links human activity to the deadly 2003 European heat wave. Leah references two big lawsuits using attribution science to hold polluters accountable: one in Germany humanrights.org/en/latest-news/rwe-lawsuit-re-climate-change/">against RWE, and another against fossil fuel corporations in Hawai’i. Last, Leah mentions her home state of California, which just passed a 2022.cfm">cutting-edge law to improve early warnings for extreme heat.
To learn more about Neza’s research, watch this video on how heat impacts farm workers, and find out how the unite.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/2018factsheetfinal.pdf">piece-rate system works (or doesn’t work) for these laborers. Explore climate action in the courts with the Climate Change Litigation Database tool. And if you want to get involved in your own political sleuthing for climate, consider joining the Documenters.
Next time, we’ll explore the history, meaning, and challenges of the Justice40 Initiative — an unprecedented federal effort to promote environmental justice. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
At the start of 2023, we’re reflecting on past progress and setting climate intentions, both small and large, for the year ahead.
And we want to hear from you! Has A Matter of Degrees shifted your perspective or moved you to action? Do you have climate goals for 2023? Share your story with us.
To inspire and ground us for the new year, we share a powerful audio essay from the bestselling anthology All We Can Save: “Indigenous Prophecy and Mother Earth” by Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset. Sherri points humanity back toward life in this powerful piece, read by Alfre Woodard.
Sherri Mitchell is a Native American attorney, teacher, activist, and change maker. Check out her book Sacred Instructions and all the programs of the nonprofit Land Peace Foundation. Alfre Woodard is an award-winning performer, as well as a political activist and producer. In 2020, The New York Times actors-actresses.html#alfre-woodard">listed her as one of “The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century.”
Don’t miss the whole All We Can Save audiobook, a rich collection of essays, poetry, and art created by women leading on climate and co-edited by Katharine and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. It’s available on Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Libro.fm (which supports local, independent bookstores!), or anywhere else you get audiobooks.
Next time, we look at how a hotter planet impacts people everywhere. We search for answers to the question everyone’s asking: “Who’s culpable for all of this?” Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
The fossil fuel industry is banking its future on petrochemicals — the toxic precursor to plastics. In this episode, Katharine and Leah speak with activists who are fighting back against petrochemicals in “sacrifice zones” across America, from the Ohio River Valley to the Gulf Coast. Learn where petrochemicals come from, how they harm people, places, and the climate, and why the fossil fuel industry wants them as a lifeline.
We hear from three guests who are leading us to a world beyond petrochemicals and plastics: Michele Fetting, program director at the Breathe Project in Pittsburgh; Shilpi Chhotray, co-founder and executive director of People Over Plastics, a BIPOC storytelling and environmental justice power-building collective; and Yvette Arellano, founder and director of a Houston-based environmental justice organization, Fenceline Watch.
Katharine mentions the Factsheet-4.pdf">Clean Air Council’s fact sheet on the Shell Appalachia Ethane Cracker plant and cites plastic-leakage-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions.htm">data from the OECD on projected global plastic emissions. Leah references a study on cancer rates in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” If you want to dive deeper on the many problems with plastics, explore the bounty of resources from Beyond Plastics. Check out the comprehensive policy solutions proposed in the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Next time, we’ll bring you a special holiday episode, featuring an audio essay from the bestselling anthology All We Can Save: “Indigenous Prophecy and Mother Earth” by Sherri Mitchell. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
In this episode, we investigate corporate climate commitments and how to make them stronger. We get to the root of zero-emissions pledges and greenwashing — specifically in the oil and gas industry.
Dr. Paasha Mahdavi, associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, joins us to report this story. Paasha talks with Louise Rouse, a consultant who teams up with investors to push corporations for climate accountability. He also speaks with The Science Based Targets Initiative’s head of standards, Emma Watson, and Jill Courtenay, director of communications and project management at the shareholder advocacy nonprofit, As You Sow.
Leah, Katharine, and Paasha look at how we can get to a decarbonized economy through policy and shareholder activism — a tool that can be used by anyone with a retirement account. They learn about the SEC’s proposed mandatory disclosure rules, shareholder resolutions, and the difference between buzzwords like “carbon neutral” and “net zero.” Paasha also mentions three different categories, or “scopes,” of corporate emissions. You can read about scope one, “burn,” scope two, “buy,” and scope three, “beyond.”
Corporations that keep this info hidden can face serious blowback from their investors. Check out this earth-shaking vote by ExxonMobil shareholders to reshape the company’s board of directors in 2021 (which Jill Courtenay mentions in the episode).
Next time, we’ll enter the worlds of three activists working across the country to fight petrochemical pollution within their communities. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
This episode delves into the murky world of cryptocurrency and its impact on our planet. Join Katharine and Leah as they discover how digital currencies are breathing new life into previously shuttered coal plants across the United States.
This episode features Alex de Vries, data scientist and founder of Digiconimist, an online platform that tracks Bitcoin’s energy consumption; Anne Hedges, the director of policy and legislative affairs at watchdog organization Montana Environmental Information Center; and New York State Assemblymember Anna Kelles, who sponsored a bill to establish a two-year moratorium on crypto mining in New York.
Leah mentions this 2022-Crypto-Assets-and-Climate-Report.pdf">White House report about the climate impacts of cryptocurrency. Alex points out how famous cryptographer climate-change.html">Hal Finney foresaw crypto’s huge emissions from the start. Anne mentions how china-energy-pollution.html">China cracked down on cryptocurrency, which has pushed companies to operate in other nations, including the United States. Assemblymember Kelles warns that Bitcoin won’t deliver on equity or access to wealth: roughly 0.01% of wallets hold 27% of the currency. On the bright side, Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, just reduced its energy consumption 99% by switching to proof-of-stake.
Next time, we’ll look at the fight for climate accountability within corporate America. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
This episode is all about feelings. You’ve heard the phrase “climate grief,” right? But how do we deal with what it does to our hearts, minds, and bodies? And how might it impact the climate action we take?
This episode features Dr. Britt Wray, a Stanford-based author and researcher on climate and mental health; somatic coach and climate grief worker, Selin Nurgün; and Zen priest and Environmental Defense Fund senior scientist, Dr. Kritee Kanko. Check out Britt’s weekly newsletter Gen Dread and her recent book Generation Dread. And learn more about the grief rituals Kritee facilitates through Boundless in Motion and the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center.
In this episode, we discuss Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects, as well as public rituals such as the glacier memorial created by Dr. Cymene Howe and Dr. Dominic Boyer. And we quote some wise folks whose work you should check out: Resmaa Menakem, Sherri Mitchell, and Dr. Susi Moser.
If you’re struggling with climate distress, you might want to explore the Climate Psychology Alliance’s directory of climate-aware therapists, the Good Grief Network’s 10-step program, Plum Village’s online retreats, or the embodied approaches of Generative Somatics. If you’re looking for an approach based in conversation and community, try All We Can Save Circles, Climate Cafes, or Climate Awakening (created by Dr. Margaret Klein Salamon).
The guided meditation at the end of the episode was created by Katharine for The All We Can Save Project’s Climate Wayfinding program.
Next time, we’ll look at the climate impact of crypto. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season.
"We must understand that we are in a very specific moment in time, and this window is going to shut on us. But it doesn’t have to shut on us, if we act.” — Vice President Kamala Harris on A Matter of Degrees
Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, we had the honor of joining Vice President Harris live in San Francisco for a conversation about climate leadership, justice, and solutions. She underlined the critical importance of the current moment, and the need to act with urgency in service of what’s still possible.
This episode covers a lot of ground, from electric school buses and job creation to the direct link between reproductive justice and climate justice. Vice President Harris shares her personal motivation for doing environmental work, and explains what the Biden-Harris administration is doing on the policy front. Leah cites this academic study on the intergenerational impacts of prenatal exposure to air pollution and points us to a tool for calculating EV and heat pump rebates in the Inflation Reduction Act. Katharine references the Pentagon’s 2014 report describing climate change as a “threat multiplier.”
We hope you find the conversation informative and inspiring. Fun fact, this is our first appearance in front of a live audience!
The third and final installment of our miniseries considers the question “What can I do?” from a political perspective. Our expert guests share stories of nailbiter elections for local office and the victorious legislative campaign to ban gas in new buildings in New York City. We lay out a four-step guide to getting pro-climate candidates elected, supporting them in office, and keeping them accountable.
This episode features Caroline Spears, founder and executive director of Climate Cabinet, which helps local leaders run, win, and legislate on the climate crisis, and Sonal Jessel, the director of policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
We cite this Canadian study on the carbon emissions reductions of a single vote. We also hear about Erin Zwiener in Texas and Lauren Kuby in Arizona as examples of local climate policy leaders. You can find more state and local climate champs at Climate Slate.
Subscribe to A Matter of Degrees wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
In this episode, we continue to unpack the question “What can I do?” The second installment of our miniseries zeroes in on our professional lives — ways to approach climate action within the workplace. We learn that almost any job can be a climate job. And, if need be, we can pursue “career divestment.”
This episode features Amanda Suter Gallardo, deputy petroleum administrator for the City of Los Angeles and former Terra.do fellow, and Jamie Alexander, founding director of Drawdown Labs at the climate solutions nonprofit Project Drawdown.
For more info on the online climate school Amanda attended, head to Terra.do. For more info on making your job a climate job, check out Jamie’s TEDx Talk and Drawdown Labs’ guide to Climate Solutions at Work. Want to build community and seed climate action with colleagues? Try All We Can Save Circles tailored for the workplace. Need help glimpsing your professional future? Take the Green New Careers assessment from the Sunrise Movement.
We also mentioned The Drawdown Review (free to download!), Dr. Beth Sawin’s Twitter wisdom, the company Canopy (formerly RightHandGreen), the Instagram account Future Earth, co-curated by Max Moinian, and UndauntedK12, started by Jonathan Klein.
Next time, our miniseries will turn from the realm of The Professional to the realm of The Political. Are you digging the show? Be sure to subscribe, and leave us a rating or review!
As climate people, we hear this question again and again: “What can I do?” Many of us are trying to figure out how to help address the climate crisis. So, we’re taking on that critical question in a three-part miniseries. The first episode is all about The Personal — key ways we can act on climate in our own lives and create meaningful, durable change. Hint: it involves stoves and cash.
This episode features Sarah Lazarovic, artist, writer, and head of communications and brand at Rewiring America, and Marilyn Waite, managing director of the Climate Finance Fund and author of Sustainability at Work.
For more info on electrifying your home, head to Rewiring America’s guide to Electrify Everything in Your Home. For more info on moving your money, turn to Marilyn’s guide to Sustainable Banking and Investing. Also mentioned: Carbon Collective, Sphere, Atmos Bank, and Earth Equity Advisors.
Be sure to check out Sarah’s comic “100 Things You Can Do to Help in the Climate Crisis,” her book A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, and her newsletter Minimum Viable Planet. We quoted from Leah’s essay “A Field Guide for Transformation,” in the anthology All We Can Save that Katharine co-edited, and Bill McKibben’s invaluable newsletter The Crucial Years.
Next time, our miniseries will turn from the realm of The Personal to the realm of The Professional. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!
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