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February 22, 2024 66 mins

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What's up, Plant People? Have you ever felt the weight of the world's climate crisis on your shoulders, yet struggled with the notion that one person's actions might be too insignificant to make a difference? Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist, joins us to shatter that misconception with her infectious optimism and practical strategies for individual impact. Through tales from her life's journey and her book "Saving Us," Katharine tells a story about life and hope that empowers each of us to take up our own torch in this fight against climate change.

This is an episode that was a long time in the making and one that I'm so incredibly proud of. I first approached Katharine about being on the show a couple of years ago, and everything finally lined up for it to happen. I'm a huge fan of her work, and I was so honored to not only get to interview her, but to be a guest editor for her newsletter, Talking Climate! Join us for an uplifting conversation that I hope will leave you informed, inspired, and ready to make a tangible difference in the world.

You can find Katharine all over the internet, but the best place to start for all of her amazing work is on her website,!

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As always, thanks so much for listening! Subscribe, rate, and review Planthropology on your favorite podcast app. It helps the show keep growing and reaching more people! As a bonus, if you review Planthropology on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser and send me a screenshot of it, I'll send you an awesome sticker pack!

Planthropology is written, hosted, and produced by Vikram Baliga. Our theme song is "If You Want to Love Me, Babe, by the talented and award-winning composer, Nick Scout.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
What is up?
Plant people.
It's time once more for thePlanthypology podcast.
The Sure.
We Dive Into the Lives andCareers is some very cool plant
people to figure out why they dowhat they do and what keeps
them coming back for more.
I'm Vikram Maliga, your hostand your humble guide in this
journey through the naturalsciences and my friends.
I am so excited to be with youtoday.
This is an interview I havewaited for for a couple of years

I first approached my guestjust briefly about this
I literally think back in 2022and now, in February of 2024,
we're finally getting it outthere.
I had the absolute privilege ofspeaking with climate scientist,
atmospheric scientist,professor, parent science

communicator and all aroundwonderful person, dr Catherine
Catherine's a professor at myuniversity here at Texas Tech.
She has traveled the world.
She's written books.
She speaks almost daily aboutclimate change, but not just
about climate change, but aboutthe solutions we can put forward

to address it, about the hopewe should have in the midst of
it and how you and me, aseveryday people, can address it.
She's the author of a number ofbooks, including Saving Us,
which came out fairly recentlyand we discussed in this episode
, and I just have to say I'm afan of Dr Hayhoe's, I'm a fan of
Catherine's and we've crossedpaths just really briefly in the

She recorded some video andstuff in the greenhouse.
I used to run and I just I havebeen a fan for quite a while.
So I'll be honest, I was alittle bit starstruck getting to
talk with her and she is justone of the nicest, most positive
, most intelligent people I'vegotten to interview and that
I've gotten to speak with.
And if you can tell that I'mexcited, it's because I'm

excited and I'm so proud of thisconversation we have.
So we got to talk about life inWest Texas and life in academia
and what climate change meansfor us and what it means for the
planet, but more than that, howwe can work together as a
people and as a species and as asociety to face this big

I was left with so much hopeafter this episode and just felt
so good recording it and feltso good after listening to it
while I was editing it.
I think you will too.
It was such a good conversationthat I totally forgot to put in
a spot for a midroll.
So you don't get one today.
So I'm going to upfront saythanks to you, the listener, for
being a part of this, andthanks to the Texas Tech

Department of Plant and SoulScience and the Davis College
for supporting this show, andthanks, dr Heyho, for being a
part of it.
But without any further ado,let's get into episode 102 of
the Plant Anthropology podcastClimate Change Saving Us and
Relentless Hope with DrKatherine Heyho.
Well, katherine, I can't tellyou how excited I am to have you

with me today.
I have been a big fan of yourwork.
I followed along with yourcommunication and your climate
science and everything that youdo for quite a while, and it's
just, it's an honor for me toget to talk to you face to face
and have you on the show.

Speaker 2 (03:13):
Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 (03:15):
And so I introduced you a little bit in the intro.
But for those who don't knowyou, tell us a little bit about
Where'd you grow up?
What's your background?
How did you get into what youdo now?

Speaker 2 (03:26):
So I am Canadian, I'm fromToronto and I mostly grew up
there, though when I was nineyears old, we moved down to
Columbia in South America.
So I spent a number of yearsliving there as a child and a
I did my undergraduate degreein astronomy and physics at
University of Toronto, and thatwas where my interest in climate

change started, because I hadalmost finished my undergraduate
degree In fact, I was alreadylooking at graduate schools when
I needed an extra class tofinish my breadth requirements
and I looked around and therewas this brand new class that
was being offered for the firsttime that year on climate change
I thought, well, that looksinteresting, why not take it?
So I did, and that was where Ilearned not only that climate

change is real I already knewthat growing up in Canada.
We learned about it in grade 10geography class but I learned
that it's a now issue, not afuture issue.
I learned that it's aneverything issue, not just an
environmental issue.
And, most importantly, Ilearned that it isn't a fair or

a just or an equitable issue.
It disproportionately affectsthe people who've done the least
to contribute to the problem,and those are younger people
today, or even people who aren'tborn yet, and most of all,
they're people who are alreadyliving in poverty or who are
already vulnerable, and that'strue right here in the US as
well as on the other side of theworld.
Yet they're most impacted bythe way that climate change is

making our heat waves and ourwildfires and our storms
So that's what made me become aclimate scientist, and from
there I went on to graduateschool at the University of
Illinois, and that's where I metmy husband.
And you know how it is inacademia when you're both in
academia, it's really hard tofind a job in the same place.
So he was working at oneuniversity.

I was working at anotheruniversity, and this university,
called Texas Tech, reallywanted to recruit him.
So he said Well, I willconsider it, but I need to have
a position for my spouse as well.
And so the university said oh,we have an atmospheric science
I'm sure she'd fit right inthere, and so the reason that we
ended up at Texas Tech, whichis where you are as well is

because they wanted my husbandand I was the plus one they had
to put up with to get him.

Speaker 1 (05:42):
Well, I'd say that tech came out pretty well on
that deal.
I think that's worked out well.

Speaker 2 (05:46):
Well, the irony is is that after a number of years he
quit and he went on to found anonprofit and he does all kinds
of other things.
Right now he has a nationwidecall in radio show on Sirius XM.
Every night he writes you know,I think he's writing his 14th
or 15th book now.
So he actually left tech and Iam still there.

Speaker 1 (06:06):
That's, that's that.
That is kind of funny that like, after all of that moving here,
doing all that, and you know,at some point he's just like All
right, I'm done.
Oh, okay, cool, I guess wasthis is sort of an aside, but
like is was moving to Texas fromyou know count Canada through

by way of Illinois.
Was that a culture shock foryou?
Was that a weird liketransition to coming here?

Speaker 2 (06:32):
Oh, it was a huge culture shock.
So I feel like I moved to adifferent country that being
Canada, to the US, and then Imoved to another different
country, that being the US, toTexas.
When I arrived, and actuallystill, I think I'm the only
climate scientist at theuniversity and really in a more
than 200 mile radius aroundLubbock and so, being the only

climate scientist, it can goeither way.
But within a couple of monthsof arriving in Lubbock back then
, I got my first invitation tospeak to a woman's group about
climate change, because theywere curious.
It was almost like a polar bearhad moved into town.
It's like, oh, let's see whatpolar bear has to say.
So so they weren't necessarilyon board with being concerned
about climate change, but theyweren't necessarily completely

dismissive of either.
They were just super curiousbecause so many people have so
many dissenting opinions andviews about it.
They're like, oh well, let'sactually hear it directly from
the polar bear's mouth, so tospeak.
And so that is what started mycommunication career, because
after I spoke to that woman'sgroup, then one person there was
part of a book club and she'slike, oh well, why don't you
come to speak to the book club?

And then somebody there workedat the senior citizens home and
they're like, oh, why don't youcome talk to Carillion about it?
And then somebody there workedat Second Baptist Church and
they're like, oh, why don't youcome talk to Second Baptist
And so, before I knew it, thereI was actually talking to
people about why climate changematters and what we can do,
which is a lot of what I stilldo today.
And it all began because wemoved to Lubbock, texas.

Speaker 1 (08:02):
That's pretty amazing and the roots of a science
communication career passion.
I think it has to be some ofboth right, and that's something
that I do a lot of too, andit's part of my career.
I worked with the ExtensionService for quite a while, and
so public science education,science communication was part
of my job, but then I feel likethat's one of those things that

gets in your blood and as muchas on paper.
Sometimes it's like, well,these are maybe not the things
that you should be focusing onas an academic.
It's, for me, what I find veryrewarding.
I think doing the publiccommunication and closing that
feedback loop means a lot to mepersonally and professionally.

Speaker 2 (08:44):
Oh, I completely agree with you.
I don't think that you can beany good at it if you don't want
to be, because it's hard work,isn't it?
So I mean, I follow scientificresearch on messaging and
I constantly evaluateeverything I do to see what was
effective, what didn't?
Do people understand what I wassaying?
Did it reach people or not?
How could I do it better?
You have to get a little bitobsessive with it, and you're

right, it doesn't necessarilyreflect the priorities in our
academic career.
In fact, for me to get tenureat Tech, I really felt like I
had to produce double what mycolleagues did to offset the
impact of my communication, soto speak, rather than have that
included as part of what I wasbeing evaluated on.
And that's not the way itshould be, because, especially
if we're at a public university,which our university is funded

by taxpayer money, then isn'tpart of what we're called to do
as academics to share what weknow and what we study with
people, especially if it hasdirect impact on their lives?
That's public scholarship.

Speaker 1 (09:42):
Absolutely, and you know when I see the ship turning
, so to speak.
I know, at least in our collegewe just hired a new Dean of
Associate Dean of Outreach andEngagement, who I'm actually
talking to later this week onthe podcast.
But you know, it's a bigorganization and that rudder
steers us very slow, I think, inany direction we go.

But you know, I so much agreewith you, it's an interesting
sort of field where people payfor the product, right, the
taxpayers pay for the product,and then a lot of times it gets
paywalled and hidden and jargonand all of this stuff.
And so I think what you do isso important because, especially
in the field that you're in,because this information being

digestible and approachable andall of that is so important.

Speaker 2 (10:29):
It is.
And the way I think about whatI do right now, at this point in
time, is it's as if, as aclimate scientist, as if we're
the physicians of the planet.
So the planet's running a fever, and it's running a fever.
It's very analogous to that ofour human body.
So, you know, over the courseof a day, our human body
temperature goes up and down bya few tenths of a degree, and

that's totally normal.
And over the course of humancivilization, our planet's
temperature has gone up and downby a few tenths of a degree
Totally normal.
But now we're running an almosttwo degree Fahrenheit fever.
And so imagine if our body orour children's body was running
a two degree fever.
We'd be giving them Tylenol andcalling the doctor and they'd be

feeling achy and headache andnot so good.
That's what's happening to ourplanet and it's affecting us.
And so I really think that atthis point in time you know, at
different points in time,different fields of research
have different important thingsto communicate to people, but at
this point in time, the factthat the planet that all of us
depend on for literally the airwe breathe, the water we drink,
the food we eat, everything wehave our lives depend on come

from this planet, and thisplanet's running a fever.
We need to know about that,especially if we are the ones
responsible which we've reallychecked, and unfortunately we
But that means that we can dosomething about it, and so
there's that extraresponsibility I feel now, not
just, like you said, to do ourresearch and publish it in
journals that are often behindpaywalls, but to tell people in

plain English why this matters,how it's affecting us and what
each one of us can do about it.

Speaker 1 (12:01):
Absolutely, and education is the I don't want to
say the root of a lot ofproblems or gaps in education.
But people struggle to I'mtrying to figure out the right
way to say this.
I think people struggle toreally care about and
contextualize things they don'tunderstand and it gives us some

resistance as humans.
Right, if there's something wedon't understand, it's scary,
it's all that.
And we see that I do a lot ofwork throughout my career.
I have done a lot of work inwater conservation and urban
resource conservation, and wesee the same thing that people
are like oh it's, you know, it'sjust water, I'll use the water,
I turn on the faucet and itcomes out.
But then when you reallyeducate folks and contextualize

that problem of you know this isa limited resource, this is
something that when it's gone atleast gone from here, it's gone
and it makes our lives so muchmore difficult.
And so I've seen justthroughout my career that people
when they start to understandthat like they really change
their practice, they really takethat to heart, even if it's
something that, because ofupbringing or society or

politics or whatever, they don'tnecessarily feel very
comfortable with.

Speaker 2 (13:11):
I think what you're doing there is you're addressing
one of the key barriers that Isee to action, which is
psychological distance.
So when we as humans know of orhear about a risk but we don't
know what to do about it and wedon't understand why it matters
to us, we push it away.
We say, oh, you know, that onlymatters in the future, or that
just matters to people who liveover there, just matters to that

type of person.
And with water it's really easyfor us to do that because in
West Texas most of our watercomes from underground, so it is
out of sight and out of mindand it's almost like this
mythical sort of source of water, like you don't really know
where it comes from and youdon't see it going down, you
don't see it getting depleted.

And so really helping peopleconnect the dots to why it
matters to them and what theycan do to make a difference, I
think, is overcoming thatpsychological distance.
And another one of our formercolleagues at Texas Tech, chris
Chu, in communications hestudied how, literally, when you
talk about climate impacts onthe other side of the world
versus when you talk about themwhere you live, night and day

difference in terms of howpeople react to it, and that
just makes sense, doesn't it?

Speaker 1 (14:18):
Absolutely, absolutely, especially in, you
know, an agricultural community.
And that's an interesting,that's always been an
interesting contrast for me isthat water, specifically what I
do is so much a the lifeblood ofany kind of agricultural
And I think when you really getto talk to people about it,

like oh no, yeah, the water isimportant, like we have to have
the water, we have to be able to, and they'll say things like
well, production is down overthe past 20 years since I
started and all those things.
And then it's like you say kindof bridging that gap right,
like that psychologicaldisconnect, and just kind of
plugging those wires backtogether.
And at some point I thinkpeople go oh, oh goodness, like

I've, I see now, like what,where that is, like I see where
that issue is.

Speaker 2 (15:05):
Exactly, I like that analogy.
You're plugging the wires backtogether.

Speaker 1 (15:08):
Yes, so so just just to take a quick step back.
We're kind of talking about italready, but you you do a lot
You are, I think, probably oneof the busier people I have
interacted with and that I knowjust from your communication to
your professional life, to yournew role as chief scientist with

the Nature Conservancy and yourfaculty, because everything you
do on a on a personal side,sort of just as someone who's
fairly new in his career and istrying to keep all my ducks in a
row, like how do you keep theplate spinning?
You have so many things thatyou do.
Like how do you manage that?

Speaker 2 (15:51):
Well, that is the question I ask myself all the
time so.
I don't have a complete answer,but I do have a partial answer,
and it's getting better,hopefully, every year.
Organization is key, so Iorganize my schedule so far in
advance and I make sure thatevery moment is used efficiently

Also, prioritization isimportant too, because you know,
we're only human, there's onlyso many hours in the day and
it's really, really important tohave time to spend with your
family, doing the things youlove and the places you love,
with the people you love.
And for me, I even think ofthat as part of climate action,
because why have?
Why we're fighting for a betterfuture, which is, make no

mistake, what we're doing whenit comes to to climate action is
because of the people andplaces and things we love.
So prioritization andorganization is really important
, and what I do is I try to sortof stop and take stock every
year of what really worked, whatisn't working so much, what's
something that somebody elsecould do just as well as I could

, if not better.
Let them do it.
What's something that I'mreally passionate about, that I
love, that energizes me ratherthan draining me.
Maybe that's something I wantedto lean into a little bit more
this year, so that sort ofconstant stopping, evaluating
and then reworking.
I think is really reallyimportant for all of us, because

time is the most valuable andleast renewable resource we have
So making the most of our timefor everything and not just work
, but again the things, thepeople, the places we love,
making sure that we're using ourtime to do what we really want

to do with it, I think is soimportant.

Speaker 1 (17:37):
Yeah, and that's a great thought.
I like how you say that too.
Like time is our leastrenewable resource.
There's, there's we.
Really there's no substitutefor that, right Like we don't.
We don't ever get that back.
And I do think a lot about how,as I commit to things, as I do
things, I'm literally sellingthem my time.
You know, I'm trading my timefor whatever action I'm taking

That, especially as my son getsolder, has been a thing that's
in my head a lot and I'm tryingto get better at it.
It's hard.
I'm very much a oh yeah, I cando that, I can take on another
thing, I need another thing onmy plate, and then after a while
I'm like, oh okay, I need to, Ineed to take a minute, like you
say, and just kind ofreevaluate.

Speaker 2 (18:19):
Yeah, I feel the same way too, and and sometimes
reevaluate so that you just havetime to go to the park and play
with your son.
It's not about you know.
Productivity that was not isnecessarily measured by somebody
else's ruler.
You have to create your ownruler as to what matters to you,
and one of the things I remindmyself of is you know, when you

die, they don't put youracademic CV on your tombstone.
What goes on your tombstone isthe relationships you had with
people you love and, when it allcomes down to it, that's what
matters in life and that'sthat's why we do.
What we do is because we wantthe world to be a better place
for the people we love.

Speaker 1 (18:57):
That's awesome.
Yeah, that's.
That's really a good way tothink about that, that too.
So, as we talk about what we do, what we do, you have sort of
again a lot of roles and that's,you know, public education, and
are you in the classroomanymore?
Do you teach courses anymore?
You do so You're in theclassroom, you're out of the
classroom, you're.

You have lots of differentaudiences that you talk to and
something I've noticed is thatthose are very, in some ways
very different audiences for alot of different reasons.
What is your approach and justphilosophy to teaching just both
inside and outside theclassroom?
How do you approach thosedifferent challenges?

Speaker 2 (19:35):
Well, I think that that's, and you do this too.
I think that education isreally a good word to
encapsulate almost everything wedo.
It's just different types ofeducation.
You know, whether you're onTikTok or in the classroom, it
might look very different, butyou're sharing information with
people in ways that, hopefully,is relatable and actionable.

So, as with everything, I'mconstantly evaluating my courses
too, and so, for example,during the first year of the
pandemic, I created a brand newclass, which I call global
That's focused on criticalthinking, and in every module of
the class, which is for seniorundergraduates, I introduce a

psychological mechanism that weoften use as a shortcut to
inform our opinions about things.
So, for example, psychologicaldistance that we talked about is
one of them.
Another one is motivatedreasoning, where we make up our
mind on an issue based on whatpeople we trust say, but then we
use our brain to go out andlook for reasons why we're right
not to determine whether we are.

We've already determined.
If we are, we just, you know,go out and say oh well, the
internet says so.
Therefore I must be right.
So I designed this whole classon critical thinking and then
use climate change as an example.
But really you can almost gothrough the class and search and
replace with any hot buttontopic, because I teach our
students how to evaluatewebsites, how to evaluate

experts, whether they're trulyan expert in what they say that
they are.
How do you determine whethersomebody's using motivated
reasoning or really looking atall the facts?
And so, in every aspect of whatI do, I want to help people
move to the next level, and so,with climate change, often what
I'm doing is it's not so muchfilling their head with

information and facts, it'shelping them make the connection
between their head and theirheart.
Helping them see what mattersto them, which could be
different than what matters tome, and that's totally fine, but
helping them make that head toheart connection and then
helping them connect their heartto their hands, what they can
do about it to make a difference.
Because there's this intimateconnection for us as humans
between action and hope.

And today so many people feelanxious, stressed, worried,
depressed, frustrated, and it'sbecause they feel helpless, like
there's nothing they can do tomake the world a better place.
But the reality is, is ourworld has changed before?
If you look at how women gotthe vote, how civil rights were
How apartheid ended, it wasnever because the people in

charge wanted it to change.
They wanted to keep it the wayit was.
It was because individualpeople of no particular power or
wealth or fame, just ordinarypeople.
They used their voices to callfor a different future.
And so we live in a world thatchanged because of individuals
in the past.
And so just helping people seethat they have the power of
their voice, they have that samepower that the Martin Luther

Kings of the world had, that'sjust it's so helps us to realize
that we can truly make adifference where we live, where
we work, where we study, andthat really is the basis of our

Speaker 1 (22:41):
That's such a good way to think about it too,
because what I have found andthis is something that I
actively sort of try to checkmyself on is that whether I'm in
the classroom or whether I'm onsocial media which, again, I
probably spend an unhealthyamount of time on social media
there's just so much.

There's so much going on, somany hard things in our world
right now, from wars andconflicts and all these things
to climate change and everythingbetween that.
Like you say, there's so muchof a lack of sort of outward
hope, and I like how you talkabout that being the sort of
impetus for change over and overand over again that if people

don't hope, they have no reasonto get up and do the thing that
they need to do.
So that's a good way to thinkabout it, and I think that's
good in the classroom too, thatwe have to give our students the
hope that they can succeed, thehope that they can learn the
material, the hope and theunderstanding.
I think that they deserve to bein the space that they're in,

that they've earned their spotand all of that.

Speaker 2 (23:49):
And I have a lot of students who do come into my
class feeling sort of powerlessand depressed and discouraged
and the fact that they leave myclass feeling empowered on a
huge global issue like climatechange, well, if they can do
something on that, they can dosomething on anything.
And that's just so encouraging,I feel like, is to see students
really sort of catch fire.
And I would say my favoritecomment comes when I teach a lot

of online classes these days.
I started doing it during thepandemic and I kept on going
because it enables more studentsto take the class when it's
online who might not be able toaccess it if it's at a specific
time on a specific day.
And my favorite comment fromstudents is well, I only signed
up for this class because it wasthe only one that fit my
But this was the best class.
I didn't even realize how muchI needed to understand critical

thinking and to understand how Ican make decisions and how I
can truly affect change and how,on critical, on huge global
issues like climate change I canmake a difference and that just
makes me so happy.
I don't know why.
I would you know if I wouldever want to give up on teaching
just because, if you feel likeyou, you even just change one
person's mind.
Isn't that worth it?

Speaker 1 (24:54):
Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
I feel that so much.
I teach introductoryhorticulture, which is a
non-majors core science, andit's 95% non-majors.
And those comments are on my.
I got one and it made me laugh,but it also made me feel good
and the comment read somethingthis past semester.
Like the subject matter isobjectively boring, I was like,

oh okay, but he made the classfun and by the end of the
semester I cared about plantsand I was like I've done my job,
that's my job, I have done myjob.

Speaker 2 (25:24):
You totally have.
That is so crazy.

Speaker 1 (25:29):
That first sentence, I was like, oh, this is not
going to be good, but okay.

Speaker 2 (25:35):
I don't know if there's really anything that's
boring and I say this assomebody who dropped out of
economics first year as well but, truly, if knowledge is about
understanding the world aroundus and we live in this world and
so doesn't understanding theworld around us isn't that
I think it has the potential tobe interesting, but it needs to

be brought to life by somebodywho already understands how
fascinating it is.

Speaker 1 (26:01):
Yeah, the passion from the, the passionate
delivery, I think, goes a longway in making people care about
stuff, and that's actually agreat segue, I think, into some
of our next conversation.
We've talked a little bit aboutdoing science communication in
Texas, which is at sometimes Idon't want to say adversarial,
but it can be right, especiallyin some of the fields that we

work in.
But then you take that a stepfarther and you put all this on
the internet and open yourselfup to everyone on social media
right, and you're very active onsocial media, from whatever
Twitter is today to TikTok andInstagram and everything else,
and you present yourself, Ithink, very well as a

compassionate communicator andeducator, and I think that means
a lot, especially from someonewho sees the data that you do
and knows the implications ofthe data that you do and deals
with so many trolls online allthe time.
How do you do that?
How do you approach that andyou've talked about it a little
bit in the classroom, but how doyou?

I don't know how to ask thequestion, right, but essentially
, how do you still be nice andpositive at the end of the day
when you deal with so muchnegativity?

Speaker 2 (27:16):
Well, unfortunately, that is the negative side of the
coin when it comes to socialmedia.
On the positive side, we canhave conversations with and
engage with people all aroundthe world today in ways that we
could not do 10 or 15 years ago.
So the world has really changedand it has opened up so much,
and I love, for example, thefact that my son can get on

YouTube and watch videos by thetop experts in the fields that
he's interested in of sciencedirectly, like not going through
You can just find theinformation directly.
We live in an unprecedentedworld of direct connections and
I've been able, through socialmedia, to connect with many
colleagues and collaboratorsaround the world who I never
would have met otherwise.
In fact, I'm actually workingwith a number right now that I

wouldn't have met if it wasn'tfor the internet and social
But on the negative side Idon't know if you remember a
long time ago, when Twitterfirst started, there was this
account called.
My dad says oh yeah.
And do you remember that account?
I do, I do.
And so it was this guy, this30-something guy, and his dad
was this retired nuclearengineer living in Southern

California who just came outwith these crazy one-liners, and
so this guy would just put himon Twitter and they were
So early on I saw a longerinterview with, or longer chat
here with, his dad, and this iswhat his dad said Social media
is responsible for the decay ofcivil society as we know it.
Essentially, he said, becausebefore social media, if somebody

wanted to tell me I'm an idiot,they had to come up to my face
and say it and I could punchthem.
But now they're sitting in theirbasement typing saying you're
an idiot and there's noconsequences.
That's very insightful, and sowhat social media does,
unfortunately, is it removes theconsequences from very negative

social behavior.
And I've experienced thismyself personally, where I've
actually met somebody in personand it was clear that they
didn't agree with what I said,but the discussion was plight in
person, and then they would gohome and write me the most evil
email you've ever seen, callingme horrible names and saying

terrible things that they neverwould have said, looking me
direct in the eyes, becausescreens remove the filter of our
humanity from each other.
They remove that recognitionthat we're talking to a fellow
human being and it just helps usto view people as other and
non-human and enemies.
And so that's the negativething with social media and, as

you know, I get that every day.
I get trolls every single dayon social media, and so I think,
first of all, number one,blocking is really important,
recognizing that on social media, they're not there to have
their mind changed.
They are simply there toreinforce how they already feel,
and if I argue with them, itactually reinforces their

So, blocking is the mostfrustrating thing that you can
do to a troll on social media.
It drives them absolutely up thewall because, above all, they
need to be engaged with.
But the second important thingand this is something that I'm
not great at, but I remindmyself every day and I'm
hopefully getting better andbetter is that who they say you

are, or whatever it is they sayabout you, is not who you are.
So my identity and youridentity doesn't rest on what
people say about us online orwhat they accuse us of or what
they call us up, call us and sojust being able to detach like
Like you know, I took Twitteroff my phone some number of
years ago, which was superhelpful because otherwise, you

know, I'd be cooking dinner, I'dsee a really evil response and
I'd get really snippy with myfamily because in the back of my
mind, I was thinking I wouldsay blah, blah, blah.
And so sometimes I even, youknow, write responses and delete
them, and it's actually verycathartic to write full
responses of exactly what youwould say, and then just delete
it, delete it.
You know that frozen song, letit go, let it go.

I think that's a really, reallysort of helpful mantra that you
have to have if you're going tobe effective on social media.
Because it's like you know,it's like you're running a race
and there's these peoplethrowing these ropes to try to
catch and tangle in your legs,and if you let those ropes stick
, then you are going to go down,you're not going to achieve

your actual goal, and so it'sreally important to just be able
to keep on running, to shrugoff all those attempts to get
you to stop, because in the end,it really is worth it, and the
number of people we can reachwith factual, accurate
information and help themactually make that head to heart
to hands connection isexponentially larger if we
engage the internet than if wedon't.

Speaker 1 (31:58):
That's, yeah, really, really good thoughts, and I
have often thought that if Iactually said to people what I
want to, sometimes when I seetroll comments, I would
definitely lose my job.
So it's good I think that youknow typing things, deleting
I think I'm going to have totry it, start trying that trait.
And you know I post silly plantcontent.
I don't get a ton, but everynow and then, if I ever say, the
most controversial things I'veposted were about watermelons

and the weather and had just howit hadn't rained in a while,
because I'm like it's Texas,it's dry and it's the summer it
I don't know I can neverremember which pattern was which
, but the past couple years havebeen very dry summers.

Speaker 2 (32:32):
Is that Elminio, Elminio okay.

Speaker 1 (32:36):
And I said something about it.
I had to filter out the phrasegovernment weather machine.
That was fun.
And then I mentioned there wasthis whole thing this past
summer or late summer, earlyfall, where watermelons were
exploding on people's counters,right, I don't know if you saw
this going around, but they werefermenting in the fields.

It was too hot, and it was toohot in transport and it was too
hot in post processing andstorage and all the things that
go into, like getting producefrom the field to your house.
So they'd sit on the counterfor three days and then it would
cool down and they'd fermentand then they'd blow up, which
is a little funny but it's notgood.
And so I made a post saying youknow, these are the kinds of
things we'll see more withclimate change, and that's kind

of all I said.
And out of the woodwork, youknow, like the fact that
watermelons are thatcontroversial, I was like, okay,
folks, like we need to take adeep breath.

Speaker 2 (33:29):
Well, it's because you said the words, magic words,
climate change and.
I hate to say this, but thereare people whose entire
Rasundantra, their entire reasonto exist is to sit on social
media to wait for keywords likeclimate change to pop up and
then should just absolutely dumpon whoever said it.
That's just how they justifytheir existence and it's really

sad, but it again reinforces theneed to block.
What you said reminds me ofsomething funny.
So, you know, almost every timeI've had massive amounts of
trolling it's related to climatechange, but there was one time
it had nothing to do withclimate change Something.
Living in Lubbock, andhopefully you can bear me out.
One of the peculiarities in mymind, especially as a Canadian

living in Lubbock, is the factthat we have all of these drive
in tea places and I'm talkinglike iced tea for those, you
know, people not from West Texas.
It's iced tea.
There's a lot of differentflavors and all different types
of sweeteners, and some of themyou can walk into.
But it's not really like a cafe.
It's just you walk in, youorder, you walk out and they're

just all over town, and a coupleof years ago they were just
springing up on every othercorner.
It was like Tim Horton's donutshop in Canada, except tea
So I posted something online.
Just you know, totally off thecuff, like you know, what is it
with all of these drive in teaplaces?
It's crazy.
And Twitter went crazy.

People were like what are youtalking about?
You have no idea what you'retalking about.
Those don't exist.
I'm like, okay, here is aGoogle map screenshot of all the
drive in tea places in Lubbock,texas.
And they're like that doesn'texist.
How dare you?
And I was like, first of all, awhy do you care?
And second of all, I wasn't evensaying anything negative, I was
just like, why, Like, why?

And third of all, you'rearguing with Google Maps, like

Speaker 1 (35:21):
Oh my gosh, people pick the weirdest stuff to be
mad about.
Like that is such a weird thingto be mad about, like it
affects them in no way.
Right, whether or not there aredrive in tea places in Lubbock,
america and no, but you'reright, like we go there a lot
actually there's one on the wayhome and my son likes them, so
we go there a lot but there'sprobably like five or six

different distinct like chainsor companies that do this and
they each have like four or fivestores.
No, there's a lot of them forsure.
That's just so cool to show.

Speaker 2 (35:54):
And so what did I take away from that?
I think I take away thatthere's a lot of sort of
displaced anger out there, and alot of that anger often comes
again getting back to our talkabout it, from a sense of sort
of helplessness, like you'rereally angry or frustrated about
something, but you don't feellike there's anything you can do
So before you know it, you findyourself attacking Google Maps
over tea places instead ofactually addressing the real

issue in front of you, because,unfortunately, the world is just
moving in a direction wherethere's more and more of these
issues that make people feelhopeless and helpless, and so
that's why I feel like what I dois so important, because it's
helping people, actuallyempowering them to be able to do
something about something thatthey're actually really honestly

worried about.
I mean, with climate anxiety,levels of worry and concern are
Even here in Texas.
The latest survey from thispast fall was that nearly 50% of
people of registered Republicanvoters in Texas are either very
worried or somewhat worriedabout climate change.
So we get worried about theseissues.
We don't know what to do andoften our rage sort of and our

concern just gets displaced ontosomething else, whereas when we
can address the root issue andactually feel like we ourselves
can make a difference, I feellike that helps all of us.

Speaker 1 (37:12):
For sure, for sure and interesting to statistic
that also that that largerpercentage of voters in Texas
are concerned about climatechange, because I think 10 years
ago that would not have beenthe case.
I think, over time and again,and we could have and we will, I
think, have a quickconversation about some of the

ins and outs of that here injust a minute.
But, like the fact that it is,in one way or the other, getting
in people's minds and it's onpeople's minds, the anxiety side
is bad, but I think theawareness side could lead to a
lot of good, as long as, again,people like you are out there to
give context to that issue, togive the maybe the correct

context and good informationabout that issue, because,
goodness knows, there is a lotout there that is not good
Which kind of leads me toanother question.
I've heard it said by otherscience communicators, by other
scientists online that youshould just ignore
misinformation, like just moveon and not address it, and I

don't think I agree with that.
I think that, as folks thathave the knowledge to back up
our claims, we should be pushingback against both miss and a
What are your thoughts on that?
How do you approach dealingwith folks that are spreading
things that are not factual?

Speaker 2 (38:36):
I'm with you.
Much of what I do is directlycombating misinformation.
So, for example, I did aYouTube series called Global
Weirding with our local PBSstation, ktgz, and it was all
about answering frequently askedquestions I get.
But here's the nuance why areyou doing it and who's the
So my audience, or who I'mdirectly responding to when I

hear misinformationdisinformation is 99 times out
of 100.
It's not the person who'sactually sharing it or creating
it, because if it'sdisinformation, they already
know it's wrong.
And often, if they're spreadingmisinformation, it's because
they're engaging in motivatedreasoning.
They've already made up theirmind about what they think about

the issue, based on theirsocial group or network or their
political or ideologicalidentity, and they're just
sharing this misinformation tobolster their personal identity.
And so when someone let's justtake an example Someone says, oh
, climate's changing, but it'sjust the sun, and I say no,

actually the sun's energy hasbeen going down the last 50
years, not up.
That's how we know it's not thesun.
In fact, we should be gettinggradually cooler if we're being
controlled by the sun only rightnow.
They don't hear me sayingthings about watts per meter
squared in the sun's energy.
What they hear me saying isyou're wrong, you're bad, you're

That's what they hear me sayingin their internal monologue,
and so they're not going tolisten to what I have to say,
because to them, the point isn'twhether it is or isn't the sun.
To them, the point is they'repart of this demographic that
says climate change isn't real.
So I do not respond for thatperson, but what I do is I

respond for all the other peoplewho hear that person.
So all the people who are likehmm, how do we know?
It's not the sun, and that's amuch larger group of people.
And so to them I explain andlike oh okay, that makes sense,
because it's not part of theiridentity.
So that's the key difference iswho are we addressing the
misinformation, disinformation,for?

Because if we're going directlyto the source, it's never going
to change anything.
We're going to wear ourselvesout.
It's like bashing your foreheadagainst a brick wall.
In fact, in many cases it'sactually reinforcing their
identity rather than breaking itdown.
But if you're doing it foreverybody else, in the sense
that you might have heard, buthere's the truth, then everybody
else is like oh, I always wereto wonder.
Thank you so much.

Speaker 1 (41:07):
That's really a good thought and that's good context
for me too, because I tend tomostly just disengage online.
I just maybe I don't have thebandwidth, I don't know, but I
like that and I think that's agood reason to do it.
I think that the fact that,again because of social media,
we're educating large groups ofpeople, not just one person at a

time, the secondary effects ofthat are important.
I like that a lot, okay.

Speaker 2 (41:34):
So let me give you a practical example of how you
could do it.
So say that you get this crazyweather modification.
Comment on one of your.

Speaker 1 (41:43):
TikTok videos.

Speaker 2 (41:44):
So here's what I would do I would delete the
comment, but then I would make anew video saying you know, some
people say blah, blah, blah,but here's the truth.
That's the way I would handleit.

Speaker 1 (41:57):
That's a good thought , and so you're still addressing
the issue but not respondingdirectly to someone's comment,
because then you look combativeand then you look adversarial
and all that's really good.
I like that a lot.
So as part of this, in additionto social media, you know
there's other ways tocommunicate.
I think we forget thatsometimes today that there's

other ways to interface with theworld around this and to get
information out there.
And to that effect, you'vepublished a lot, you've written
I just I would love to hear youtalk about some of your books.
I'm a new author this past yearand I my experience is very
like, still very shiny to me.
You know like it's exciting andI've it's been fun.

So what is your experience ofyou know, publishing publishing
academically, but morepublishing on the public side
and writing books and stuff.
What's that been like for you?

Speaker 2 (42:54):
Well, I do all of the above.
So two years ago, for example,I wrote two books in the same
One was Saving Us, which is abook that's written very much
for a general audience, forpeople mostly who are worried
about climate change but don'tknow what to do.
And then the second book Iwrote was for Cambridge
University Press, and it wasabout how to create high

resolution climate projectionsto assess climate change impacts
on everything frominfrastructure to water
resources Wow, and so thoseexperiences were quite different
, but they were motivated by thesame thing, which is the only
reason that I write and I do afair amount of writing
everything from journal articlesto blog essays is because
there's something that I feellike I know that I want other

people to know.
So there's a thought.
If it's a, you know, if it's ablog or an essay, there's a
thought, sort of burning a holein my brain, that I've actually
seen or heard enough peoplewhether in person conversations
or online or both enough peoplehave that misconception or, you
know, are struggling with thatissue that I feel like actually

putting my thoughts into writingwould reach more people.
Or, you know, giving apresentation and sharing the
video online or something likethat.
So the reason why I wrote bothof those books saving us and
then the high resolution climateprojections book is because for
the previous four or five yearsthe number one question I got,
and from almost everyone Italked to and I give about 100

virtual presentations and inperson presentations a year the
number one question I wasgetting from people is what
gives you hope and how do I havea conversation with people I
know and love about this?
So that's what I wrote savingus to answer because I got that
from enough thousands of peoplethat I knew if that many people
have that question, that it'scertainly worth writing about.
And then, on the other hand,professionally, I work with

people who are very much inplanning sectors.
So I work with people who workfor cities or state or federal
agencies or increasingly even inthe private sector, who are
trying to prepare for climaterisks and they don't know how to
use climate projections toprepare for those risks.
So that book I co-wrote with anumber of my colleagues I didn't
write it by myself specificallyfor people who want this

information but don't know howto use it.
So writing, I feel like, isvery much about I listen very
carefully to what people need,and if there's something that I
can help with, that's when I putmy fingers to the keyboard, I
was going to say pen to paper,but sadly I don't write that way
That's when I put my fingers tothe keyboard, or I actually
often use dictation to create myfirst rough drafts To get that

out there, not, you know?
The craziest thing about booksis people as like, oh, you just
wrote it to make money.
And I'm like, um no, I don'tthink you make any money off
writing books unless you'rewriting Harry Potter.

Speaker 1 (45:35):
Yeah, no really.

Speaker 2 (45:36):
Because you have something burning in you that
you know people need to hear,and so nowadays, when I see
people on social media sayingthings I'm like you know my book
actually addresses that.
Why don't you look for it inyour local library?
You don't have to even buy it,Just read the dang book.

Speaker 1 (45:54):
Yeah, that's a funny point too.
They're like, oh, you just didthis for the paycheck.
I'm like, okay, sure, that'swhy I work at a university, you
know, write children's booksright.

Speaker 2 (46:04):
Yeah, it works out to something like five cents an
hour, I think, if you'regenerous.

Speaker 1 (46:09):
Yeah, it is not much, it is not much, but but you're
right that there is sometimes,and that longer format, I think,
allows us to explore a lot morethoughts and things sometimes
too, which is useful as well.

Speaker 2 (46:23):
Yes, exactly.

Speaker 1 (46:25):
Well, that's cool and I hope that people will look
that up and I would encouragepeople.
I like your plug for the publiclibrary system too.
That's a big deal.
People need to spend more timein libraries.

Speaker 2 (46:35):
Oh, and libraries are great now because they even do
virtual loans.
So if you have, like, a Kindleor an e-reader, you can actually
get ebooks from libraries nowtoo.
So you don't have to have thepaper copy, you don't even have
to go to the library anymore.

Speaker 1 (46:49):
That's awesome.
That's awesome.
So, shifting gears just alittle.
I mean not really.
We've been talking about it,but you know, this show often
ends up being about lifeexperience and how we get to
where we are and things likethat.
But I also do.
I would be remiss, I think, ifI let you go without talking

about the issue at hand, withouthaving an actual discussion on
the issue at hand and ourcurrent climate crisis and the
messaging surrounding it and theway we approach it.
I don't know that there's afast way to do this.
I don't know that there is away to nutshell this whole issue

, but you know, in the time wehave left, what are in your
experience and by the data yousee and by your knowledge, what
are we facing?
What are the realities ofclimate change for us as a
society and as humans?

Speaker 2 (47:47):
Well, let's start with the basics.
Which is, what is it and why isit happening?
We know as far as we can goback in the history of our
The climate has changed fornatural reasons natural cycles,
volcanic eruptions, changes inenergy from the sun but we know
that today, according to naturalfactors, our Earth's average

temperature should be very, verygradually slowly cooling, and
instead it's warming faster andfaster.
There's only one reason, andthat is the fact that at the
beginning of the industrialrevolution, we figured out how
to dig up massive amounts ofcoal back then and a lot more
oil and gas since then and burnit, which produces heat,

trapping gases that are buildingup in the air and that are
building up in the atmosphere,wrapping a blanket of carbon
pollution around the planet.
And, just as you would, if youwoke up at night and somebody
snuck in and put an extrablanket on you, especially in
Lubbock Texas you'd wake upsweating saying, hey, I didn't
need this, I'm too warm.
That's what's happened to ourplanet.
That's why it's running a feverToday.
We know that almost 80% of thatblanket comes from burning coal

, gas and oil, and we also knowthat 20% of it comes from
deforestation, cutting downtrees, unsustainable large scale
animal agriculture all humanactivities under our control.
So that's what's happening.
Number two why does it matter?
It matters because, like wetalked about before, the average

temperature of our planet hasbeen as stable as that of the
human body over the course ofhuman civilization, and today is
changing faster than any timethat humans have ever
And why that matters is becausewe have 8 billion people living
on a planet with all of ourinfrastructure and homes and
water systems and food systemsthat were all built for a planet

that no longer exists.
It's not about saving theplanet, it's quite literally
about saving us.
We're the ones at risk.
So you know, a thousand yearsago, if you were living in the
area of, you know, houston,texas, and of sea level abruptly
rose three or four feet, youknow, over a number of decades,
what would you do?
You'd pick up your tent andyou'd move.

Well, you can't pick up thecity of Houston, texas, and move
it anymore.
That's why this matters to usis because we've built this
inflexibility into our systemsand now things are changing.
It's like the rugs being pulledout from under our feet.
So these changes are not justabout the environment, they're
not just about nature.
They're literally affecting theamount of water we have, our

ability to produce food, theintegrity of our infrastructure
and our supply chains.
They're affecting the economy.
They're even affecting nationalsecurity.
So that's why this matters, andthat's why, to care about
climate change, you just have tobe a human living on planet
You don't have to be ascientist, environmentalist or
But then the next question ishow does it affect me, the

places I love, the people I love, the things I love, and what
can I do to make a difference asan individual?
And so that's where a lot of mywork has focused in recent
years, because I understand wecan have the best science in the
world, we can have the bestdata, the best models, the best
satellites, but if we don't knowwhat we can do to make a
difference, we're going to donothing.
In fact, we'd be happier if wedidn't know what was happening,


Speaker 1 (51:05):
Yeah, oh yeah.

Speaker 2 (51:07):
So if you don't know what that movie, don't look up
where there's that asteroidgoing to hit the Earth.
You're going to be happier ifyou don't know what's happening,
if you can't do anything aboutit.

Speaker 1 (51:13):

Speaker 2 (51:14):
But the good news is, unlike that movie, we can do
something about it, and sothat's what a lot of I do
focuses on, and it starts withthe fact that each one of us has
a voice, and when we use ourvoice to catalyze change
wherever we live or work orstudy, that's how the world
begins to change, and so I havethis weekly newsletter that

shares good news so that we knowwhat's happening, what other
people are doing that we couldjoin in with too.
Not so good news, because wehave to understand how it's
affecting us and things we careabout.
So I talk about how climatechange affects football and how
it affects beer and how itaffects the quality of the air
that our kids are breathing inand our kids' health things that
we all care about.

And then I always havesomething we can do to make a
difference, and once a month Ihave somebody guested at the
newsletter and yours is comingup, which is very exciting.

Speaker 1 (52:05):
I'm very excited, I'm looking forward to it.
It's been fun.
I've been working on it alittle bit and trying to get it
ready to go and I'm excitedabout you know, as we record
this, I'm a little ways outstill, but I think about it a
lot because I'm excited about it, it's fun and it's a great
newsletter, by the way, and Ilike that.
It is very positive, but alsothat it doesn't pull punches.
I think that is an importantpart of all of this

communication is that we presentgood, true, accurate data, but
maybe not in the way of likewe're all going to die right
away and everything's terrible.
Right, there's room forpositivity and there's room for
hope in all of this Exactly, andso one thing that I wanted to
bring up, because it actuallyjust sort of just happened as we

record this or it's sort of inthe news right now, there's a
bunch of stuff going aroundsaying that we've hit our one
and a half degree Celsiusbenchmark.
Like everything's terrible.
This was the hottest year inthe which it was hot.
I mean, it was the hottest.
Those things are true, butthey're not the whole story,
they're not accurate, and I sawyou posted maybe on threads or

somewhere about that, maybeyesterday or day before.
Can you talk about that just alittle bit, because I think that
is something that people areseeing right now.

Speaker 2 (53:20):
So as climate change gets worsewhich it is doing and as we hit
more and more new records, like2023 was the warmest year on
Many of the days were thewarmest days ever recorded.
Not only that, but record areaburned by wildfires in my home
country of Canada, record seasurface temperatures off the

coast of Florida, hot tub leveltemperatures, record levels of
flooding and drought and heat.
All around the world, more andmore people are worried.
In fact, the vast majority ofpeople, even the US, are worried
about climate change, but wedon't know what to do.
Only 8% of people in the US areactivated, but over two-thirds

are worried.
And so what happens is, whenwe're worried, we sort of enter
this sort of doom spiral wherethe more bad news we see, the
more sort of justified we feelat saying, oh well, it's all
over, the goose is cooked,there's nothing we can do.
So this past year, the annualaverage temperature according to
one the European measurementsreached 1.48 degrees Celsius

above the long-term average.
According to the US, it wasslightly lower than that.
They used different weatherstations slightly differently,
but they're both record-breakingyears.
And now in the Paris Agreement,which every country in the world
signed nine years ago we agreedto limit warming below 2
degrees Celsius and one and ahalf degrees if at all possible.
But these are human thresholds.

What the science says is justevery bit of warming matters,
which sort of makes sense.
It's like there's no magicnumber of cigarettes you could
smoke before you experience lungdamage.
Every pack of cigarettesmatters.
The more you smoke, the worse.
It is Same with globaltemperature the more carbon
pollution you produce, thewarmer it gets, the worse it is.
But those goals in the ParisAgreement are climate goals, and

what that means is they referto the long-term average
temperature, not what happens onany day, week, month or year.
But there's a lot of people whodidn't realize that, and so
they think the fact that we gotto 1.48 last year means that
we're basically at the one and ahalf degree target and it's all
And the answer to that is no,it's not.
We will pass the long-term 1.5degree average probably sometime

in the next 10 years, becausewe're still producing massive
amounts of carbon pollution.
According to the InternationalEnergy Agency, we're only likely
to start peaking and decliningour emissions in the next couple
of years, and we don't justneed to decline, we actually
need to reach net zero, wherewhat we're producing is equal to
the amount that we're taking upthrough investing in nature and

smart agriculture.
We're nowhere near that today.
So it is most likely we aregoing to pass that threshold,
but we haven't passed it yet.
But when we're scared, whenwe're worried, when we're
frustrated, when we're sad andwe don't see a way out, we don't
see anything we can do about it.
We tend to just enter theself-reinforcing doom cycle

which, sadly, is actually goingto doom us.
If we stay there, if we decideit's all over and there's
nothing we can do, we will donothing and we will be doomed.
So that's why, these days, Ifeel like I'm fighting almost
just as hard against demerism asI am against denialism, because
they both take us to the sameplace, which is doing nothing.

And I know and this is a factbased on the science that every
action matters, every choicematters, every bit of warming we
avoid matters If we doeverything we can and we don't
end up at 1.5, but we end up at1.7 instead.
That's a lot better than two.
Even if we do everything we can, we end up at 2.1 or 2.2.
Well, 10 years ago we wereheaded for a four to five degree

Celsius world by the end of thecentury, and so we've already
brought it down by a lot, andthat means that someone's fields
aren't going to flood,someone's home isn't going to be
destroyed, someone's childisn't going to die from
breathing in the air pollutionfrom fossil fuels.
We have already made adifference in the world, and
every extra little bit we dowill make a difference, and so

that's why I'm fighting is notfor one specific threshold, but
just for as much as possible, assoon as possible, because I
know that there is going to be atangible benefit to everything
we do.

Speaker 1 (57:29):
Wow, wow.
That's really powerful, and Ithink that message you just gave
at the end there of look howfar we've already come, what
we've already done, is somethingpeople need to hear.
It's something that people needto understand that you know,
there's a picture that goesaround sometimes of I don't know
if it's Los Angeles, possiblyin the smog from the 70s, I

guess before the Clean Air Actwas passed, and then the skyline
today, and if you don't takethose two in concert, people
look at the skyline today and belike, well, look, how clear the
air is.
We don't need to do anythingabout it.
But that's not the whole story.
The whole story is that itwasn't that way and that we
fixed it.

And just like the, I know whenI was younger, the ozone layer
was a big area of discussion andhow aerosols and things were
eating holes in the ozone layer.
And now it's like, oh no, wedon't talk about it anymore
because we addressed it.
It's not because it was a scamor anything, it's because we did

what was necessary.

Speaker 2 (58:34):
Exactly, and not only that too, but sometimes with
climate change, it's still a bitthe opposite.
People feel like, well,nothing's happening, and that
couldn't be further from thetruth.
It's sort of like you're tryingto climb Mount Everest with 8
billion people.

Speaker 1 (58:49):
And we've never done that before.

Speaker 2 (58:50):
But you got to stop.
You got to be like okay, we gotto first base camp, let's turn
around, let's see how far we'vecome.
Wow, we've already avoidedalmost two degrees of warming in
just 10 years.
That's phenomenal, is it cool?
You know, we're at base camp,we've already done that.
But we got to recognize thatwe've actually achieved
And so that's why my newsletteralways has that good news
section, because we have torealize how much has already

been done and the fact that thisgiant boulder of climate action
is not sitting at the bottom ofan impossibly steep cliff with
only a few hands on it.
You know, mine, al Gore, gretaThunbergs People normally
picture it like that, but thatgiant boulder is already at the
top of the hill.
It's already rolling down thehill in the right direction.
It has got millions of hands onit, even right where we live in

In fact, one of my newslettersa couple months ago focused just
on what's happening in Texas.
There was so much good newsthat I actually had a good news
section and then a more goodnews section.
That's how much there was justin Texas, and if I add my hand
it will go a little bit faster.
That again is the definition ofhope realizing that each of us
can make a difference.

Speaker 1 (59:53):
It's very cool.
It's very cool.
So I just I wanted to ask you avery specific question.
So and please bear with me hereso when you Google search Dr
Catherine Hay home, one of thepictures that comes up first is
you standing on a stage wavingwith President Obama and

Leonardo DiCaprio and I knowthat is probably a silly thing
to talk about, but like that issuch a cool thing.
I just I don't even really havea question.
I just wanted to say that Ithink that's cool, that
something that is controversial,something that is important, is

making it to big stages likethat, and that you're in so many
ways, spearheading thisconversation.
Like I guess I'm just I justwant to say that I appreciate
what you do, and seeing you onthose stages and seeing you in
these conversations, like Ithink that's such a cool deal
and I'm I'm grateful that youand people like you are out
there doing this work.

Speaker 2 (01:00:56):
Thank you so much.
That was really a tremendousopportunity.
But I think it's important toemphasize that a thermometer is
not blue or red.
It is not Democrat orRepublican.
If I could be having thoseconversations with every
Republican candidate, with everyRepublican elected official, as
well as every Democrat andevery independent as well, we

need to be having theseconversations with everyone
because we need all thesolutions Now.
The thermometer doesn't giveyou a different answer depending
on how you vote.
A hurricane doesn't stop andsay, excuse me, are you
registered Democrat orRepublican or Independent before
it rips the roof off your house.
But we need solutions acrossthe political spectrum.

We need conservative solutions,we need bipartisan solutions,
we need the liberal solutions.
We need the full set ofsolutions.
And right now in the UnitedStates, because climate change
is so polarized, we're nothearing from people across the
whole spectrum on what sensiblesolutions look like.
Instead, we're hearing a wholebunch of solutions from the

left-hand side of the spectrumand then the right-hand side of
the spectrum.
We're not hearing solutions.
We're just hearing them try totear down the solutions from the
other side.
It's not about building up andtearing down.
It's about both trying to buildas quickly as they can, and I
love the fact that there aresome advocates on the right-hand
side of the spectrum, like BobInglis, two times Republican

congressman from South Carolina,who's all about free market
solutions to climate change.
And then there's sort ofmiddle-of-the-road bipartisan
solutions like carbon pricing,and Citizens Climate Lobby is a
great organization that explainsand espouses carbon pricing,
which is a market-based solutionto climate change.
And then, of course, here inTexas we have more wind and
solar energy than any otherstate in the country, but this

past year alone, china installedmore solar capacity than all
other countries in the world puttogether.

Speaker 1 (01:02:51):
Oh, wow.

Speaker 2 (01:02:51):
Doesn't the US want to catch up with China?
That would seem to me to besort of a conservative value
that people could espouse.
So I really want to see theseconversations happening
everywhere, because when itcomes to a better future, it's a
better future for all of ustogether, and I think we all
care about that.

Speaker 1 (01:03:08):
That's awesome, very cool.
Well, I know you have a lot ofother things to do today, so,
just to wrap up, I ask all of myguests this If you had a piece
of advice for our listeners, forthe folks who are listening,
this can be about climate changeand being more conscious.
It could be a cookie recipe.
Whatever you want to leavelisteners with, what would that

What would you like to sendthem home with?

Speaker 2 (01:03:34):
Well, I could share a lot, but what I will say is
that the number one question Ihear from people is what can I
Because, like I said, mostpeople are worried but they
don't know what to do.
And so, in the words of BillMcKibbin Bill is a very well
known writer on the environmentand we actually archive his
writings at the Seoul Institute,at Texas Tech Campus, even
though Bill's from Vermont Billsays the most important thing an

individual can do right now isnot be such an individual, and
what he means by that is, ratherthan focusing on my life and
what I do, focus on what we cando together.
Use our voice to connect withother people around us.
Join groups, get together withpeople, say what can we do

together to make a difference,because I know that, when it
comes to these big, thorny,naughty global problems like
climate change, we can't fixthem ourselves, but we
absolutely can fix them together, and so that is my biggest
piece of advice is the bestthing you can do is not be such
an individual.
Get together with others andfigure out together how you can
make a difference in the world.

Add your hands to that giantboulder and it will go faster.

Speaker 1 (01:04:42):
I love it.
That's awesome.
Well, catherine, thank you somuch for your time.
It means a lot.
I have thoroughly enjoyedtalking with you.
You're just one of the, I think, most positive people I've
gotten to speak with, and thatsays a lot.
There's a lot of places I know,but where can people find you?
Where should we direct folkswho want to learn more about you


Speaker 2 (01:05:03):
Well, I have a lot available online, most of it
collected in my website, whichis just my name,
You can follow me on prettymuch any social media channel
that exists literally, and Ialso have my weekly newsletter
Talking Climate, my book SavingUs and my TED Talk on how to
have a conversation aboutclimate change that ends well.

Speaker 1 (01:05:26):
That last part's important.
Yeah, very important.
Yes, well, thank you so much.
You're doing what you do.
I appreciate it.
I know a lot of folks out thereappreciate it and this was

Speaker 2 (01:05:38):
Thank you, you too.

Speaker 1 (01:05:40):
In the midst of everythingthat's going on and all the
challenges we face, hope enduresand hope is relentless, and I
hope that you left thatinterview feeling as positive
and empowered and hopeful aboutthe future as I did.
Thank you so much to Catherinefor coming on and being a part
of Planthropology, thank you forlistening to it and thank you
for making the show part of yourlives.

It means the world and I couldnot do it without you.
Thanks once more to the TexasTech Department of Plant and
Soul Science and the DavisCollege here at Texas Tech
Thanks to the Pods Fix Networkfor letting me be a part of it.
You know I love you folks.
I really do, and I do thisbecause of that.
Keep being kind to one another.
If you have not to date beenkind to one another, maybe give

that a shot.
It's pretty great.
Care about the planet, careabout one another.
Keep being really cool plantpeople, and I will talk to you
next time.
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