Climate change, to state the obvious, is a huge and complicated problem. Unlike the threats posed by artificial intelligence, biotechnology or nuclear weapons, you don’t need to have an advanced science degree or be a high-ranking government official to start having a meaningful impact on your own carbon footprint. Each of us can begin making lifestyle changes today that will help. We started this podcast because the news about climate change seems to get worse with each new article and report, but the solutions, at least as reported, remain vague and elusive. We wanted to hear from the scientists and experts themselves to learn what’s really going on and how we can all come together to solve this crisis.

Every Tuesday and Thursday we’ll be posting a new interview to the list below.

Not Cool: A Climate Podcast

Not Cool Epilogue: A Climate Conversation

In this brief epilogue, Ariel reflects on what she’s learned during the making of Not Cool, and the actions she’ll be taking going forward. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 26: Naomi Oreskes on trusting climate science

It’s the Not Cool series finale, and by now we’ve heard from climate scientists, meteorologists, physicists, psychologists, epidemiologists and ecologists. We’ve gotten expert opinions on everything from mitigation and adaptation to security, policy and finance. Today, we’re tackling one final question: why should we trust them? Ariel is joined by Naomi Oreskes, Harvard professor and author of seven books, including the newly released Why Trust Science? Naomi lays out her case for why we should listen to experts, how we can identify the best experts in a field, and why we should be open to the idea of more than one type of “scientific method.” She also discusses industry-funded science, scientists’ misconceptions about the public, and the role of the media in proliferating bad research. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 25: Mario Molina on climate action

Most Americans believe in climate change — yet far too few are taking part in climate action. Many aren’t even sure what effective climate action should look like. On Not Cool episode 25, Ariel is joined by Mario Molina, Executive Director of Protect our Winters, a non-profit aimed at increasing climate advocacy within the outdoor sports community. In this interview, Mario looks at climate activism more broadly: he explains where advocacy has fallen short, why it’s important to hold corporations responsible before individuals, and what it would look like for the US to be a global leader on climate change. He also discusses the reforms we should be implementing, the hypocrisy allegations sometimes leveled at the climate advocacy community, and the misinformation campaign undertaken by the fossil fuel industry in the ’90s. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 24: Ellen Quigley and Natalie Jones on defunding the fossil fuel industry

Defunding the fossil fuel industry is one of the biggest factors in addressing climate change and lowering carbon emissions. But with international financing and powerful lobbyists on their side, fossil fuel companies often seem out of public reach. On Not Cool episode 24, Ariel is joined by Ellen Quigley and Natalie Jones, who explain why that’s not the case, and what you can do — without too much effort — to stand up to them. Ellen and Natalie, both researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), explain what government regulation should look like, how minimal interactions with our banks could lead to fewer fossil fuel investments, and why divestment isn’t enough on its own. They also discuss climate justice, Universal Ownership theory, and the international climate regime. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 23: Brian Toon on nuclear winter: the other climate change

Though climate change and global warming are often used synonymously, there’s a different kind of climate change that also deserves attention: nuclear winter. A period of extreme global cooling that would likely follow a major nuclear exchange, nuclear winter is as of now — unlike global warming — still avoidable. But as Cold War era treaties break down and new nations gain nuclear capabilities, it’s essential that we understand the potential climate impacts of nuclear war. On Not Cool Episode 23, Ariel talks to Brian Toon, one of the five authors of the 1983 paper that first outlined the concept of nuclear winter. Brian discusses the global tensions that could lead to a nuclear exchange, the process by which such an exchange would drastically reduce the temperature of the planet, and the implications of this kind of drastic temperature drop for humanity. He also explains how nuclear weapons have evolved since their invention, why our nuclear arsenal doesn’t need an upgrade, and why modern building materials would make nuclear winter worse. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 22: Cullen Hendrix on climate change and armed conflict

Right before civil war broke out in 2011, Syria experienced a historic five-year drought. This particular drought, which exacerbated economic and political insecurity within the country, may or may not have been caused by climate change. But as climate change increases the frequency of such extreme events, it’s almost certain to inflame pre-existing tensions in other countries — and in some cases, to trigger armed conflict. On Not Cool episode 22, Ariel is joined by Cullen Hendrix, co-author of “Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict.” Cullen, who serves as Director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy and Senior Research Advisor at the Center for Climate & Security, explains the main drivers of conflict and the impact that climate change may have on them. He also discusses the role of climate change in current conflicts like those in Syria, Yemen, and northern Nigeria; the political implications of such conflicts for Europe and other developed regions; and the chance that climate change might ultimately foster cooperation. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 21: Libby Jewett on ocean acidification

The increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is doing more than just warming the planet and threatening the lives of many terrestrial species. A large percentage of that carbon is actually reabsorbed by the oceans, causing a phenomenon known as ocean acidification — that is, our carbon emissions are literally changing the chemistry of ocean water and threatening ocean ecosystems worldwide. On Not Cool episode 21, Ariel is joined by Libby Jewett, founding Director of the Ocean Acidification Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who explains the chemistry behind ocean acidification, its impact on animals and plant life, and the strategies for helping organisms adapt to its effects. She also discusses the vulnerability of human communities that depend on marine resources, the implications for people who don’t live near the ocean, and the relationship between ocean acidification and climate change. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 20: Deborah Lawrence on deforestation

This summer, the world watched in near-universal horror as thousands of square miles of rainforest went up in flames. But what exactly makes forests so precious — and deforestation so costly? On the 20th episode of Not Cool, Ariel explores the many ways in which forests impact the global climate — and the profound price we pay when we destroy them. She’s joined by Deborah Lawrence, Environmental Science Professor at the University of Virginia whose research focuses on the ecological effects of tropical deforestation. Deborah discusses the causes of this year’s Amazon rain forest fires, the varying climate impacts of different types of forests, and the relationship between deforestation, agriculture, and carbon emissions. She also explains why the Amazon is not the lungs of the planet, what makes tropical forests so good at global cooling, and how putting a price on carbon emissions could slow deforestation. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 19: Ilissa Ocko on non-carbon causes of climate change

Carbon emissions account for about 50% of warming, yet carbon overwhelmingly dominates the climate change discussion. On Episode 19 of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by Ilissa Ocko for a closer look at the non-carbon causes of climate change — like methane, sulphur dioxide, and an aerosol known as black carbon — that are driving the other 50% of warming.  Ilissa is a senior climate scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund and an expert on short-lived climate pollutants. She explains how these non-carbon pollutants affect the environment, where they’re coming from, and why they’ve received such little attention relative to carbon. She also discusses a major problem with the way we model climate impacts over 100-year time scales, the barriers to implementing a solution, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 18: Glen Peters on the carbon budget and global carbon emissions

In many ways, the global carbon budget is like any other budget. There’s a maximum amount we can spend, and it must be allocated to various countries and various needs. But how do we determine how much carbon each country can emit? Can developing countries grow their economies without increasing their emissions? And if a large portion of China’s emissions come from products  made for American and European consumption, who’s to blame for those emissions? On episode 18 of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by Glen Peters, Research Director at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) in Oslo. Glen explains the components that make up the carbon budget, the complexities of its calculation, and its implications for climate policy and mitigation efforts. He also discusses how emissions are allocated to different countries, how emissions are related to economic growth, what role China plays in all of this, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 17: Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning, part 2

It’s time to get creative in the fight against climate change, and machine learning can help us do that. Not Cool episode 17 continues our discussion of “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning,” a nearly 100 page report co-authored by 22 researchers from some of the world’s top AI institutes. Today, Ariel talks to Natasha Jaques and Tegan Maharaj, the respective authors of the report’s “Tools for Individuals” and “Tools for Society” chapters. Natasha and Tegan explain how machine learning can help individuals lower their carbon footprints and aid politicians in implementing better climate policies. They also discuss uncertainty in climate predictions, the relative price of green technology, and responsible machine learning development and use. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 16: Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning, part 1

How can artificial intelligence, and specifically machine learning, be used to combat climate change? In an ambitious recent report, machine learning researchers provided a detailed overview of the ways that their work can be applied to both climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The massive collaboration, titled “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning,” involved 22 authors from 16 of the world’s top AI institutions.  On Not Cool episodes 16 and 17, Ariel speaks directly to some of these researchers about their specific contributions, as well as the paper’s significance more widely. Today, she’s joined by lead author David RolnickPriya Donti, author of the electricity systems chapter; Lynn Kaack, author of the transportation chapter and co-author of the buildings and cities chapter; and Kelly Kochanski, author of the climate prediction chapter. David, Priya, Lynn, and Kelly discuss the origins of the paper, the solutions it proposes, the importance of this kind of interdisciplinary work, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 15: Astrid Caldas on equitable climate adaptation

Despite the global scale of the climate crisis, its impacts will vary drastically at the local level. Not Cool Episode 15 looks at the unique struggles facing different communities — both human and non-human — and the importance of equity in climate adaptation. Ariel is joined by Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, to discuss the types of climate adaptation solutions we need and how we can implement them. She also talks about biodiversity loss, ecological grief, and psychological barriers to change. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 14: Filippo Berardi on carbon finance and the economics of climate change

As the world nears the warming limit set forth by international agreement, carbon emissions have become a costly commodity. Not Cool episode 14 examines the rapidly expanding domain of carbon finance, along with the wider economic implications of the changing climate. Ariel is joined by Filippo Berardi, an environmental management and international development specialist at the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Filippo explains the international carbon market, the economic risks of not addressing climate change, and the benefits of a low carbon economy. He also discusses where international funds can best be invested, what it would cost to fully operationalize the Paris Climate Agreement, and how the fall of the Soviet Union impacted carbon finance at the international level. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 13: Val Kapos on ecosystem-based adaptation

What is ecosystem-based adaptation, and why should we be implementing it? The thirteenth episode of Not Cool explores how we can conserve, restore, and manage natural ecosystems in ways that also help us adapt to the impacts of climate change. Ariel is joined by Val Kapos, Head of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Programme at UN Environment’s World Conservation Monitoring Center, who explains the benefits of ecosystem-based adaptation along with some of the strategies for executing it. Val also describes how ecosystem-based adaption is being used today, why it’s an effective strategy for developed and developing nations alike, and what could motivate more communities to embrace it. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 12: Kris Ebi on climate change, human health, and social stability

We know that climate change has serious implications for human health, including the spread of vector-borne disease and the global increase of malnutrition. What we don’t yet know is how expansive these health issues could become or how these problems will impact social stability. On episode 12 of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by Kris Ebi, professor at the University of Washington and founding director of its Center for Health and the Global Environment. Kris explains how increased CO2 affects crop quality, why malnutrition might alter patterns of human migration, and what we can do to reduce our vulnerability to these impacts. She also discusses changing weather patterns, the expanding geographic range of disease-carrying insects, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 11: Jakob Zscheischler on climate-driven compound weather events

While a single extreme weather event can wreak considerable havoc, it’s becoming increasingly clear that such events often don’t occur in isolation. Not Cool Episode 11 focuses on compound weather events: what they are, why they’re dangerous, and how we’ve failed to prepare for them. Ariel is joined by Jakob Zscheischler, an Earth system scientist at the University of Bern, who discusses the feedback processes that drive compound events, the impacts they’re already having, and the reasons we’ve underestimated their gravity. He also explains how extreme events can reduce carbon uptake, how human impacts can amplify climate hazards, and why we need more interdisciplinary research. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 10: Stephanie Herring on extreme weather events and climate change attribution

One of the most obvious markers of climate change has been the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in recent years. On the tenth episode of Not Cool, Ariel takes a closer look at the research linking climate change and extreme events — and, in turn, linking extreme events and socioeconomic patterns. She’s joined by Stephanie Herring, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whose work on extreme event attribution has landed her on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers. Stephanie discusses the changes she’s witnessed in the field of attribution research, the concerning trends that have begun to emerge, the importance of data in the decision-making process, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 9: Andrew Revkin on climate communication, vulnerability, and information gaps

In her speech at Monday’s UN Climate Action Summit, Greta Thunberg told a roomful of global leaders, “The world is waking up.” Yet the science, as she noted, has been clear for decades. Why has this awakening taken so long, and what can we do now to help it along? On Episode 9 of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by Andy Revkin, acclaimed environmental journalist and founding director of the new Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Andy discusses the information gaps that have left us vulnerable, the difficult conversations we need to be having, and the strategies we should be using to effectively communicate climate science. He also talks about inertia, resilience, and creating a culture that cares about the future. Read the full transcript here

Not Cool Ep 8: Suzanne Jones on climate policy and government responsibility

On the eighth episode of Not Cool, Ariel tackles the topic of climate policy from the local level up through the federal. She’s joined by Suzanne Jones: the current mayor of Boulder, Colorado, but also a public policy veteran and climate activist. Suzanne explains the climate threats facing communities like Boulder, the measures local governments can take to combat the crisis, and the ways she’d like to see the federal government step up. She also discusses the economic value of going green, the importance of promoting equity in climate solutions, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 7: Lindsay Getschel on climate change and national security

The impacts of the climate crisis don’t stop at rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. Episode 7 of Not Cool covers the national security implications of the changing climate, from the economic fallout to the uptick in human migration. Ariel is joined by Lindsay Getschel, a national security and climate change researcher who briefed the UN Security Council this year on these threats. Lindsay also discusses how hard-hit communities are adapting, why UN involvement is important, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 6: Alan Robock on geoengineering

What is geoengineering, and could it really help us solve the climate crisis? The sixth episode of Not Cool features Dr. Alan Robock, meteorologist and climate scientist, on types of geoengineering solutions, the benefits and risks of geoengineering, and the likelihood that we may need to implement such technology. He also discusses a range of other solutions, including economic and policy reforms, shifts within the energy sector, and the type of leadership that might make these transformations possible. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 5: Ken Caldeira on energy, infrastructure, and planning for an uncertain climate future

Planning for climate change is particularly difficult because we’re dealing with such big unknowns. How, exactly, will the climate change? Who will be affected and how? What new innovations are possible, and how might they help address or exacerbate the current problem? Etc. But we at least know that in order to minimize the negative effects of climate change, we need to make major structural changes — to our energy systems, to our infrastructure, to our power structures — and we need to start now. On the fifth episode of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by Ken Caldeira, who is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Department of Global Ecology and a professor at Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science. Ken shares his thoughts on the changes we need to be making, the obstacles standing in the way, and what it will take to overcome them. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 4: Jessica Troni on helping countries adapt to climate change

The reality is, no matter what we do going forward, we’ve already changed the climate. So while it’s critical to try to minimize those changes, it’s also important that we start to prepare for them. On Episode 4 of Not Cool, Ariel explores the concept of climate adaptation — what it means, how it’s being implemented, and where there’s still work to be done. She’s joined by Jessica Troni, head of UN Environment’s Climate Change Adaptation Unit, who talks warming scenarios, adaptation strategies, implementation barriers, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 3: Tim Lenton on climate tipping points

What is a climate tipping point, and how do we know when we’re getting close to one? On Episode 3 of Not Cool, Ariel talks to Dr. Tim Lenton, Professor and Chair in Earth System Science and Climate Change at the University of Exeter and Director of the Global Systems Institute. Tim explains the shifting system dynamics that underlie phenomena like glacial retreat and the disruption of monsoons, as well as their consequences. He also discusses how to deal with low certainty/high stakes risks, what types of policies we most need to be implementing, and how humanity’s unique self-awareness impacts our relationship with the Earth. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 2: Joanna Haigh on climate modeling and the history of climate change

On the second episode of Not Cool, Ariel delves into some of the basic science behind climate change and the history of its study. She is joined by Dr. Joanna Haigh, an atmospheric physicist whose work has been foundational to our current understanding of how the climate works. Joanna is a fellow of the Royal Society and recently retired as Co-Director of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. Here, she gives a historical overview of the field of climate science and the major breakthroughs that moved it forward. She also discusses her own work on the stratosphere, radiative forcing, solar variability, and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Ep 1: John Cook on misinformation, social consensus, and overcoming climate silence

On the premier of Not Cool, Ariel is joined by John Cook: psychologist, climate change communication researcher, and founder of Much of John’s work focuses on misinformation related to climate change: how it’s propagated and how to counter it. He offers a historical analysis of climate denial and the motivations behind it, and he debunks some of its most persistent myths. John also discusses his own research on perceived social consensus, the phenomenon he’s termed “climate silence,” and more. Read the full transcript here.

Not Cool Prologue: A Climate Conversation

FLI is excited to announce the latest in our podcast line-up: Not Cool: A Climate Conversation. In this new series, hosted by Ariel Conn, we’ll hear directly from climate experts from around the world, as they answer every question we can think of about the climate crisis. On this page, you can listen to a short trailer that highlights what we’ll be covering in the coming months, or read the transcript below. And of course you can jump right in to the first episode! We’ll be releasing new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday for at least the next couple of months. Read the full transcript here.

Host: Ariel Conn

Ariel specializes in science communication, but she’s also become increasingly involved in policy outreach regarding artificial intelligence and lethal autonomous weapons. She oversees media, communication, and outreach for FLI, and she founded Mag10 Media, an organization dedicated to improving science communication. She’s studied English, physics, and geophysics, and her background is a mix of advertising, marketing, and scientific research. She’s worked with NASA, the National Labs, and multiple universities, including MIT and Virginia Tech. She’s an outdoor enthusiast, and she’s become deeply concerned about the future of the planet and the future of life for all species if we don’t address climate change soon.

Producer: Kirsten Gronlund

Kirsten is a writer, editor, and researcher who oversees FLI’s web content. She graduated from Cornell University, where she majored in English with a concentration in critical theory. She also has a double minor in biology and philosophy, and she’s fascinated by the intersection of these disciplines. Her frustration with the current lack of climate action drove her to get involved, and she’s inspired every day by all the young people who have taken on this fight.

Editor: Ian Rusconi

Ian is a studio and live sound engineer with a keen interest in carbon footprint reduction and effecting evidence-based public policy through grassroots political involvement. An alumnus of Northeastern University’s Music Technology program and the University of British Columbia’s School of Music, he has worked with multiple nonprofit organizations, private businesses, educational institutions, and political entities. A firm believer in walking the talk, he lives and works off-grid in a fully solar and microhydro-powered home and studio, grows more of his own food each year, and commutes by bike whenever possible.

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