Podcasts are an entertaining and easy way to stay informed. These hands-free digital broadcasts keep you in the loop about the pressing issues of our time while you’re driving to work, folding the laundry, or washing dishes.
Even people who have a burning passion for ecological issues can have trouble staying up to date with everything happening in the field. To help you remain enlightened without getting overwhelmed, we’ve curated a list of 8 of the most informative environmental podcasts on the planet.
The environment is a broad and endlessly fascinating topic. From climate change to ecological justice to sustainable living, the podcasts in this article are informative and entertaining, making each one an unabashed aural delight.
Living on Earth
“Living on Earth” is an information-dense, highly polished public radio show that spends 50 minutes each week focusing on the devastating impact of climate change on both the planet and human health.
“Living on Earth” has something for everyone, from climate change neophytes to those wanting to dive deep into complex environmental issues.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of being overly pessimistic when talking about climate issues. However, “Living on Earth” manages to remain steadfastly upbeat, focusing on solid solutions to the seemingly intractable problems of the earth’s fragile ecosystem.
The host is Steve Curwood, a journalist with more than three decades of experience at NPR, CBS News, the Boston Globe, and other media outlets. Memorable episodes include one about heatwaves in Antarctica, the quest for climate justice, efforts to curb plastic waste, and green voter opportunities.
The show has had such guests as Bill McKibben, a passionate environmentalist who’s written extensively on the impact of global warming; Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University; and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), who discussed the need for stricter regulations to limit leaking methane.
Outrage and Optimism
“Outrage and Optimism” does a pretty good job of living up to its seemingly contradictory name. While its absorbing stories about the pursuit of climate justice might fire you up with righteous anger at times, the episodes always end on a positive note.
The scope and magnitude of the environmental issues of today mean that we don’t have the luxury of giving in to soul-sucking pessimism. Instead, we need to channel our outrage into taking bold, decisive action to combat climate change, and the podcast recognizes this.
The presenters are Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson. “Outrage and Optimism” explores such topics as why every country could be carbon negative, the environmental issues that inspired the much talked about movie “Don’t Look Up,” and climate change’s impact on mental health.
Recent guests include Ko Barrett, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Vanessa Nakate, climate activist and founder of the Rise Up Movement; and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation.
Like “Outrage and Optimism”, “Sustainable(ish)” steers clear of conversations that only focus on how mind-bogglingly huge an ecological problem is. Instead, its eminently practical approach is geared toward the small steps you can take every day. That way, hopelessness won’t lead you down the dark hole of overwhelming dread.
Your master of ceremonies is Jen Gale, a sustainability coach and mentor. Each episode is slightly more than an hour long.
Recent stories have taken a deep dive into the insidious spread of climate change misinformation, how to manage climate anxiety, so it doesn’t spiral out of control, and ways to raise a global citizen.
Those stopping by to take part in the lively discussion include Steve Shaw, the Director of Power for People, a nonprofit organization seeking to move the UK to 100% clean energy; Sophie Unwin, director and founder of the Remade Network, a Glasgow-based social enterprise; and Paula Malone, a prominent climate change education consultant.
Living Planet from Deutsche Welle
“Living Planet” from Deutsche Welle (or DW for short) delves into a dizzying array of topics, all having to do with the planet’s ecological fragility and what we can all do to boost sustainability. This 30-minute podcast doesn’t get overly technical, so it’s perfect for beginners.
Sam Baker has been the host of the podcast since 2019. She occasionally produces and fills in as a presenter on DW’s science podcast “Science Unscripted.” A new show airs every Thursday, and recent episodes have discussed the drinkability of seawater, the green Bitcoin wave, and megafloods in Australia.
The roster of recent guests includes Jane Goodall, who discussed why she still has hope for the planet; Luisa Neubauer, a well-known German climate activist; and Chris Ilems, a broadcaster who’s passionate about environmental issues affecting Africa.
“CleanLaw” is for those people keenly interested in the legal side of environmental issues. The podcast is produced by The Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program and puts out four new episodes every three months.
The podcast offers penetrating legal analysis and insightful commentary on the climate solutions that hold the most promise for humanity. Its clear and informative discussions will have you looking at climate-related issues in a whole new light.
Hannah Perls, a Legal Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program, is the host.
Recent shows have featured topics such as the South Fork Wind Project, which is only the second commercial-scale offshore wind project approved in federal waters, how climate change relates to market risk, and business models for distributed energy resources.
Here’s a sampling of the environmental luminaries who stopped by the podcast: Harvard Law professors Richard Lazarus and Jody Freeman, who discussed the landmark Supreme Court case “West Virginia vs. The EPA; Joel Scata, a water and climate lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Chet France, who served as a senior executive at the EPA.
Costing the Earth, from BBC radio
“Costing the Earth” is a monthly UK-based podcast. Most episodes are approximately 27 minutes long, and the show’s high production values make it an absolute joy to listen to. This eminently listenable podcast does an admirable job of discussing climate challenges and how we as individuals can deal with them.
Tom Heap, a broadcaster with a long and impressive history with the BBC, and Alice Roberts, a professor at the University of Birmingham, are the hosts.
The show has had many intriguing guests over the years. Highlights include Isabella Tree, an award-winning author and travel writer; Dame Glenys Stacey, a solicitor serving as chair of the UK’s Office for Environmental Protection; and Mark Ruffalo, who talked about “Dark Waters,” the film he starred in that exposed the dangerous chemical that poisoned thousands of individuals.
In the past few years, shows talked about what the British countryside would look like if everyone became a vegan, the topsy turvy effect climate change is having on UK rivers, and how the Iron Curtain became an accidental wildlife haven.
“Broken Ground” is produced by the Southern Environmental Law Center. Once a month, it explores environmental issues unique to the Southern United States. Claudine Ebeid McElwain is your host.
If this is the kind of thing that interests you, you’ll want to listen to every information-packed episode. Hearing from the residents directly affected by climate issues is an intriguing approach that packs an emotional punch sorely lacking from many similar podcasts.
The meticulous and detailed research that goes into each story is impressive. You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of Southern environmental law and how it applies to people living in the region. It’s essential listening for ecological policy enthusiasts.
Recent episodes have featured the battle for environmental justice, the steep rise in ocean levels and what it means for Southern ecological policy, and the inherent inequities in climate change regulations.
Guests on the show have included Brenda Mallory, who chairs the Council on Environmental Quality in the Biden Administration; Chandra Taylor, senior attorney in the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Chapel Hill office; and Catherine Coleman Flowers, an environmental and climate justice activist.
“TILClimate” is for impassioned environmental warriors with short attention spans. Each 15-minute episode tells you everything you need to know about the most pressing environmental issues of our time.
This award-winning podcast produced by MIT aims to lift the mind-deadening fog when it comes to climate change by breaking down complex issues so they’re easily understandable. The host is Laur Hesse Fisher, who also leads the development and execution of public engagement on climate change for ESI (Environmental Science Institute).
The episodes are blessedly free from scientific jargon, which means you don’t have to be a climate scientist to enjoy the podcast. This is approachable, science-based journalism at its best.
Recent shows have delved into the surprising connection between the foods we eat and climate change, the not-so-obvious costs of global warming, and how we can keep our food system resilient in an era of massive climate shifts.
Past shows featured people like Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climatologist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who helped pioneer the study of climate change and agriculture; Niall Mac Dowell, a professor at Imperial College London; and Professor James Renwick, a prominent New Zealand climatologist.
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