Climate change is both simple and immensely complicated.
It’s simple in the sense that we know what’s causing it: greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of the natural world for commercial purposes.
But it’s complicated in the sense that it causes endless consequences — from rising sea levels to more crop pests to vanishing species — and countries are scrambling to find ways to mitigate and adapt to it while still maintaining the status quo.
As a result, it takes time and effort to understand the impacts of climate change, the movement for climate action, and how we can keep temperatures from rising beyond catastrophic levels.
But there are a lot of resources available to help you grasp the issues at hand. In recent years, activists, scientists, and journalists have started a variety of podcasts dedicated to helping people better understand climate change and the natural world.
Here are seven podcasts on the subject that we recommend.
This succinct podcast is ideal for getting up to speed on a range of complex climate topics. Episodes are around 15 minutes long and explore topics such as carbon capture, clean technology, energy efficiency, and much more.
2. Emergence Magazine Podcast
The Emergence Magazine Podcast centers Indigenous perspectives. Episodes either feature an interview by editor-in-chief Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee or essays read by activists, authors, philosophers, and scientists. Recent essays include a piece on the forests that surround Mount Kenya, a meditation on the environmental wisdom of druidry, and a profoundly beautiful reflection on alternative economic models by the author and biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer.
3. For What It’s Earth
Emma Brisdion and Lloyd Hopkins have a friendly, easygoing rapport that makes tough, complex issues like wildfires, fast fashion, and flooding not just approachable but also enjoyable. The duo regularly brings on expert guests to discuss topics such as insects, sustainable cities, and electric cars. For What It’s Earth recently hit its 50-episode milestone with a fascinating episode about tea and coffee.
4. Mongabay Newscast
The nonprofit Mongabay publishes indispensable journalism on climate change, wildlife and biodiversity, and Indigenous rights. Its podcast is an extension of this work, diving deeper into subjects with the help of scientists, conservationists, and activists. Recent episodes include restoration efforts in the Sumatra, the potential of rewilding landscapes, and agroforestry.
5. America Adapts
Climate adaptation — helping communities withstand climate change — often gets overshadowed by climate mitigation, which includes all the efforts made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But now governments worldwide increasingly realize that there’s no way to delay the consequences of climate change and adaptation needs funding. On America Adapts, host Doug Parsons interviews scientists, activists, policymakers, and journalists to learn more about how communities are adapting to climate change, along with many other topics including climate reparations.
6. The Climate Question
On The Climate Question, the BBC brings its journalistic might to a range of knotty questions, including: “How can we live with the SUV?” and “Will Africa really leapfrog to renewables?” Released semi-weekly, the podcast brings listeners into the heart of many of the issues animating policy rooms around the world.
7. How to Save a Planet
As one of the latest projects from podcast powerhouse Gimlet Media, How to Save a Planet, hosted by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and journalist Alex Blumberg, probably has the biggest reach of all the shows on this list. But that doesn’t mean the podcast is resting on its laurels — on the contrary, it’s consistently informative and engaging, covering foundational issues like energy efficiency and the scope of the climate crisis, along with more obscure topics like soil regeneration and kelp farming. Above all, the hosts are trying to foster a sense of hope in their listeners to push against prevailing narratives of “doom and gloom.”
8. Islands on Alert
Some of the clearest and most urgent calls for climate action have come from leaders and activists on small island nations. And there's a good reason why: despite being responsible for less than 1% of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions, small island nations are on the forefront of rising sea levels, extreme storms, and other climate impacts.
In this hard-hitting, informative, and compelling podcast hosted by Andy Liburd, a renowned media figure in Antigua and Barbuda, scientists, political negotiators, energy specialists, and Indigenous and youth voices will share the stage. An episode will be released each week leading up to COP26 in November — so make sure to tune in.
“Islands are depending on COP26 to mobilize rapid global action to reduce carbon emissions at a pace that will limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Aubrey Webson, the chair ambassador for the Alliance of Small Island Nations (AOSIS), said in a statement. “COP26 will also be the platform for advancement on critical issues such as climate justice, climate finance, adaptation and mitigation, and loss and damage, all of which are integral to supporting island states and providing opportunity for a sustainable future.”