Our Window of Climate Opportunity
To achieve a more “just and livable” future.,
The Daily Newsletter
Our Window of Climate Opportunity
To achieve a more “just and livable” future.
“We lived in paradise — now it’s hell,” one resident on the Greek island of Evia said this week after fires destroyed 120,000 acres of forest on the island.Credit…Eirini Vourloumis for The New York Times
Welcome to Friday. In the weird time-warp that is this seemingly indefinite pandemic, we’re 1) as shocked as everyone it’s already mid-August and 2) sending our well-wishes to anyone with kids going back to school. If you have Covid-related questions about their return, record them in a voice memo and send them to us. We’ll answer them in an upcoming episode.
In this newsletter, we’re giving you something to feel (at least slightly) hopeful about after today’s show on the latest landmark climate report. Then, we’re introducing you to one of the original members of team Daily, our all-star mix engineer.
A Narrow Window of Opportunity
This week, the news was bleak: The climate crisis has arrived, and it’s going to get worse before it can get better. As you heard in our episode this morning, a major new United Nations scientific report has concluded that countries and corporations have delayed curbing fossil-fuel emissions for so long that we can no longer stop the climate crisis from intensifying over the next 30 years. It’s an assessment both sobering and, potentially, immobilizing.
“We are facing this massive global systems challenge. If that doesn’t make you feel small … if you’re not feeling grief, rage, anxiety, or some mixture of both of those things, you’re probably not paying attention,” said Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson, co-author of “All We Can Save,” an anthology of climate writing and solutions we recommended in the newsletter a few weeks ago.
But the report also offers a “glimmer of hope,” as Henry Fountain, our guest and climate correspondent, said. “For years, thinking about climate change has left me with a sense of paralysis, but this week was clarifying,” producer Diana Nguyen added. “We learned that it’s not too late to stave off the worst possible outcomes of a warming world.”
Avoiding the worst — 2, 3 or even 4 degrees Celsius of warming — will require a coordinated effort among countries to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by around 2050, which would entail a rapid shift away from fossil fuels starting immediately, as well as potentially removing vast amounts of carbon from the air — halting and leveling off warming at around 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report concludes.
This necessitates transformative structural change. “So I think then the question is, how then do you participate in more systemic change still as an individual?” Katharine said. We asked Henry and Katharine to answer that question, and are sharing their recommendations for what you can do in this window of opportunity:
Getting educated and staying hopeful: Henry recommends subscribing to The Climate Optimist newsletter from Harvard’s public health school for a monthly dose of solutions-oriented climate reading. We’ve also curated a playlist of our latest coverage of the climate crisis for you to better understand how we know recent extreme weather has been influenced by human activity and what the United States and European Union are (or aren’t) doing about it.
Opportunities for divestment — and investment: “Bill McKibben has described money as the oxygen that is fueling the fires of the climate crisis, quite literally in some cases,” Katharine said. She encourages people to think about “opportunities for getting capital out of the sources of the problem and into solutions,” whether they are managing their own investments, their companies’ or their clients.
Incorporating climate awareness into your day job: “I’ve described the climate crisis as the ultimate calling out of extractive capitalism, and the fossil fuel economy, but also the ultimate calling in,” Katharine said. “What are your superpowers and how can those be contributed in some way to the work that needs doing on climate? Because we are so much more than our consumer choices, we are so much more even than our voting practices and civic participation,” though those are important, she adds. “Many of us can find ways to weave climate into our professional lives.“
Katharine named filmmakers who have started to incorporate climate narratives into their work (like the writers of Ted Lasso) and food service managers, chefs and restaurant owners that are “migrating toward plant-based and regenerative farmed foods” in their kitchens.
“Anyone reading this has access to power of some kind. Comparatively speaking, you may feel small, but you hold influence and power in some way. You have capabilities that can be brought to bear,” she said, on a “just and livable future.”
Mixing Your Morning
Meet Chris Wood: Sound Astrologer and Daily Engineer
In the next profile in our series on the team behind the show, let us introduce Chris Wood, who engineers The Daily every morning from London before the East Coast wakes up.
What is your role for The Daily?
I’m the last pair of ears on each episode before it reaches the public. Essentially, I try to make it sound as good as possible — mixing and mastering it, as well making any last-minute edits.
I have a parallel career in sound and installation art. As part of this practice I give tarot readings based on the positions of GPS satellites, and have taught an Amazon Alexa to speak in tongues using machine learning.
OK, cool. Can you say more about this work?
This practice developed because I was interested in getting people to think more critically about these radical technologies that are becoming seamless and invisible in our everyday lives, what they mean and who benefits from their use.
For example, GPS is a massive military technology that’s been normalized within everyday use. Reframing it as a divination tool makes it visible again and asks us to reconsider its uses.
What time do you usually wake up? Can you walk us through your morning routine?
I’ve been waking up earlier than usual since my son was born earlier this year! Officially I start work at 3 a.m. E.S.T. (8 a.m. London). I usually try to be in my chair with coffee by 7.30 a.m. London time. I’ll check over our session and work out what needs the most urgent attention (for example, I’ve been removing a lot of AC noise behind our guests’ home recordings this summer). After multiple rounds of listening and edits, I finish the file just before the 6 a.m. E.S.T. deadline. I’ve gotten faster and the delivery process has become much smoother over the years I’ve been mixing the show. It’s more of a jog now than an all-out daily sprint.
What’s one of your favorite memories working on the show?
There are lots of times when we’ve had to turn around an extremely last-minute episode on deadline. I find this super satisfying. I also loved going into the field for an episode last year, in which we interviewed people on the streets of London as the vaccine started to roll out. The responses you get when you put a microphone in front of people can be surprising, engaging and chaotic — I love that energy!
What have you been listening to lately? Can you share a podcast and/or music recommendation for our listeners?
I’ve been really enjoying John Glacier’s debut album, “SHILOH: Lost For Words.” She’s a talented London-based artist who worked on the project with Vegyn, a producer who has collaborated with Frank Ocean.
In terms of podcasts, I always listen to “Between the Ears,” the BBC’s sound-rich documentary strand. A recent episode, “Listening to the Deep,” follows the sound artist Jana Winderen as she uses hydrophones to present the amazing sound world beneath the sea — and to capture how oceans are under pressure from the climate emergency.
On The Daily this week
Monday: How mask mandate bans are affecting school reopenings.
Wednesday: The resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Thursday: What the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the partisan budget plan tell us about the state of Congress.
Friday: The climate calamity is here.
Plus, for your weekend. A special show from our culture team asks: Why is everyone obsessed with Bennifer?