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Conversations with Kendra Pierre-Louis: How to Save a Planet

With all the damage that’s been done to the beautiful blue marble we live on, there’s no shortage of important conversations to be had and subsequent actions to be taken. Of course, it all starts with the heart and soul of any meaningful endeavor – staying informed. 

That’s where a new Spotify podcast hosted by Alex Blumberg (Gimlet co-founder) and Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (founder of the Urban Ocean Lab) comes in. How to Save a Planet presents the latest pertinent scientific data with a little sugar in the form of impeccable storytelling. It’s not so much about evangelizing as it is informing. (I hesitate to use the word evangelizing because it implies an irrational fanaticism and there is nothing irrational about caring for the planet. If anything, it’s hyper-rational.) 

How to Save a Planet’s Kendra Pierre-Louis discussed the podcast with us. She is a climate reporter focusing on the impacts of a warming world on people. Prior to joining Gimlet, Pierre-Louis was a climate reporter with The New York Times, and Popular Science. She is also the author of the book, “Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet.”


What is How to Save a Planet about? Who are the podcast’s hosts?

How to Save a Planet is a climate change podcast focused on the big picture solutions that we humans will need to take if we hope to avoid the absolute worst impacts of climate change. At the same time, the past several years of worsening natural hazards from hurricanes, to floods, to wildfires, have made plain that climate change isn’t coming – it’s present.

How does the podcast differentiate itself from other environmentally themed podcasts?

There are a few things that make How to Save a Planet unique. First, there’s our focus on solutions. A lot of climate reporting tends to focus on detailing the problem, which though important, can often create a disempowering dynamic with listeners. Chances are, if you are listening to a climate change podcast you know it’s a problem – what you want to know is what you can do to fix it. We hope to give listeners the knowledge to do just that. We’re also story driven – we want you to want to listen.

The first episode is about coal, its effects on the environment, and possible ways of addressing the problem. What are some of the other topics the podcast will be taking on during this first season?

We actually aren’t doing seasons – we jokingly say that we’re showing up every week until we solve climate change. But basically, the structure of the podcast is such that we will be touching on a wide range of topics from energy, to community building, to politics. Climate change touches everything so basically the world is our oyster. Our most recent episode focused on Europe’s Green New Deal.

Without giving away too much, are there any that stand out to you? Why?

They’re all incredible and I don’t want to spill too much. I will say as someone who has pivoted from being primarily a text journalist to one who works in audio, I’m still in awe of how much craftsmanship goes into making a good piece of tape. More than anything that’s what stands out to me- the attention to detail, the incredible work our sound engineer puts in and so on.

One thing many “neutrals” don’t realize is how connected climate change is to other issues such as zoonotic and even non-communicable diseases, international conflicts, and social justice issues. How does the podcast connect the dots between the scientific and the social?

I think as a podcast focused on climate change we generally start with the science and the data. What does climate science tell us about the climate is changing, but because we’re a narrative driven podcast our next step is to try and find a story that can tell us about that. And when you’re as narrative driven and human centered as we are, well then you’re always making connections between the scientific and the social.

Finally, pretend you’re discussing the podcast with someone indifferent to climate change. Why should they tune in?

If you’re a curious person who loves learning new things and good audio storytelling, How to Save a Planet is for you.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons; Gimlet

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