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Podcasts on nature, environment and climate change

Amrita V Nair | Updated on February 21, 2020 Published on February 20, 2020

Tough task: Persuading those in power to set aside populist rhetoric or vested interests requires courage and a collective social will that translates into political action   -  ISTOCK.COm

A selection of podcasts on nature, the environment and climate change that brings out the incredible wonders of our planet, while also sounding the alarm for keeping it safe

Without exaggeration, the greatest existential question of our time is this: How can humanity save the Earth? There isn’t one easy answer or sure-fire method, of course. Convincing businesses to go green requires facts and figures to demonstrate the trade-offs between short-term costs and long-term gains. Persuading those in power to set aside populist rhetoric or vested interests requires courage and a collective social will that translates into political action. However, to convince the average person to make sustainable, sometimes inconvenient choices requires something far more elemental. It requires that we love nature, that we understand how precious it is, and feel wonder and awe in its presence. To instil these things in our daily lives — as we worry about paycheques and deadlines — is no easy feat. These podcasts on nature and the environment might just be the way to do so.

History of the Earth

Hosted by geologist Richard Gibson, History of the Earth is the most comprehensive podcast on the early natural history of our planet. The podcast began as a daily year-long project in 2014 with episodes about five minutes long. Today, the episodes are available in the form of monthly packages that represent various epochs in geological history. Starting with the Precambrian period, the earliest part of Earth’s history just after its formation, the podcast provides fascinating insights. Be forewarned though: As a total geology greenhorn, there were often times when I had to pause the podcast to look up references made by the host. At the same time, however, Gibson’s passion for the topics he covers is self-evident and contagious. While this might be a podcast that requires more concentration than others, the educational payoff is truly worthwhile. Listen at historyoftheearthcalendar. blogspot.com.

In Defense of Plants

Hosted by writer and academic Matt Candeias, In Defense of Plants seeks to instil love and appreciation for the world of plants. Importantly, the podcast urges its listeners to look beyond the standard utilitarian view of plants to recognise their intrinsic worth. Candeias writes in the podcast’s website, “It would seem that most people don’t pay any attention to plants unless they are pretty or useful in some way. I reject this reality outright. Plants are everything on this planet.” Each episode of the podcast centres on specific plants or botanical concepts, also featuring conversations with experts who not just discuss the plant or concept in question, but also talk about why they were drawn to study that particular topic in detail. Listen at indefenseofplants.com.

The BBC Earth Podcast

Hosted by Emily Knight, each episode of the podcast is a nature documentary for the ears. With stellar sound production, the podcast brings to you startling insights into nature and the environment as well as humanity’s relationship with the planet. With sound alone, it transports you to the remotest corners of the planet to imagine extraordinary experiences — such as exploring the depths of the Atlantic Ocean in a submersible or traversing the sand dunes of the Sahara. Find it at bbcearth.com/podcast.

Mothers of Invention

An oft-quoted aphorism, attributed to scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva goes thus, “We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.” Mothers of Invention is a podcast that provides considerable evidence in support of this view. Hosted by Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland, and Maeve Higgins, comic and writer, the podcast looks at feminist climate change solutions from all over the world. Each week, Robinson and Higgins are joined by a guest host as they explore vital climate change issues such as the threat of sea level rise to the Maldives, air pollution in Delhi and the global youth movement against climate change denial. The women that Higgins and Robinson feature and discuss in these episodes have overcome much adversity and display so much resilience in pursuit of their goals that this podcast is guaranteed to inspire you to do your bit towards sustainability. Listen at mothersofinvention.online.

Climate Emergency

The most sobering podcast on the list, both due to its journalistic approach and the fact that the issues discussed centre on climate change-induced calamities close to home, Climate Emergency is produced by the podcast collective Suno India and explores the impact of climate change on communities across India. The podcast does not make for easy listening as each episode recounts very real stories — often in the form of direct interviews with victims — of people whose everyday lives have been torn asunder by changing tides, rising temperatures and unbreathable air. By bringing these stories to life, the podcast categorically drives home the fact that climate change is at our very doorsteps. Listening to the podcast, I am often reminded of the words of legendary comedian George Carlin, who said, “The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas, a surface nuisance... The planet will be here for a long, long, long time after we’re gone.”

I am reminded that when we talk about saving the Earth, we are, in fact, talking about saving ourselves. Listen at sunoindia.in/climate-emergency.

Amrita V Nair is a freelance writer, public policy specialist and podcast enthusiast

Published on February 20, 2020
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