We are excited to announce that Outrage + Optimism is now part of the TED Audio Collective. This news represents an exciting continuation of the collaboration between our organizations, which began with our strategic partnership with TED Countdown.

The TED Audio Collective is a curated collection of podcasts sharing ideas on a range of subjects, including psychology, business, and design. On TED Climate you’ll hear talks from some of the leading minds in the field on crisis solutions, challenges, and insights that give listeners the information and hope we need to keep fighting.

You can view the full list of TED Audio Collective podcasts here, and listen to them wherever you get your podcasts.
Outrage + Optimism logo

Behind the scenes on the politics, investments and actions meeting the climate crisis head on

Global Optimism logo

Stubborn optimism is a choice. Join us in tackling the climate crisis with conviction, scale and speed


228: Climate Conversations: A Holiday Survival Guide [December Mailbag]

Watermark of logo

About this episode

For the final episode of the year, we asked you, our listeners, to submit any awkward, painful or difficult climate questions you've encountered from (often well-meaning) friends and family, and Christiana, Tom and Paul told us how they would respond. 

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to send through a question to our hosts, you made this a very special episode. Apologies if we weren’t able to get to yours, please do go and engage with us on social media and share your thoughts. 

Music comes from composer and pianist, Joep Beving and his beautiful piece of music, ‘Losar’.



Joep Beving
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Watch Joep perform ‘Losar’ on YouTube


Want to help a musician climate activist hit No. 1 on the UK Charts?
Click Here to Buy Louise Harris’ ‘We Tried’!


Our answers not good enough? Katharine Hayhoe has some FANTASTIC advice and guidance on navigating difficult climate conversations. Check out her TED Talk, 'The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it'.


Listen to O+O regularly? Please fill out our 10 minute survey - We want to hear from you!


Learn more about the Paris Agreement.

It’s official, we’re a TED Audio Collective Podcast - Proof!
Check out more podcasts from The TED Audio Collective

Please follow us on social media!
Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:12] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism, I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:00:15] I am Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:00:17] And I'm Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:00:18] Today on this, the last episode of 2023, we answer. 

Christiana: [00:00:25] Oh no, oh no.

Paul: [00:00:25] There's 2024 Christiana. It's the end of one year, it's the beginning of another.

Tom: [00:00:30] There's 2024 to come, don't feel too sad.

Christiana: [00:00:31] Okay, okay.

Paul: [00:00:32] You like 2023? Was it like, is it a special year? 

Christiana: [00:00:35] No, I'm just sad. I'm not going talk to you every week, the two of you.

Paul: [00:00:39] Oh, we'll be back before you know it. 

Tom: [00:00:41] Don't worry, it's coming back. So today we answer your questions about how do you deal with challenges on the climate crisis at family gatherings. Thanks for being here.

Tom: [00:00:55] So Christiana, end of the year, although of course, we will roll straight into the next one. It's going to be another big year. They all are. And a few months ago, we asked you, the wonderful listeners to Outrage + Optimism to send us some questions, and we put a particular framing around them. Of course, hopefully not everybody, but many people who listen to this podcast may be spending a lot of time over the course of the next few weeks with extended family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, these sorts of people, if you choose to over the holiday season, and we know that sometimes conversations about climate change come up because listeners to Outrage + Optimism, of course, care a lot about the climate, are maybe working in the climate space. And this can lead to some difficult situations, can't it, Paul? Load More
Paul: [00:01:39] Oh, most especially, all those difficult questions I sometimes get myself in, my own beloved family less so. But uh, yeah, you how do you respond.

Tom: [00:01:48] I'm curious, before we begin, Christiana, do you ever get, does any member of your family dare to come up to you and say, well, the climate, you know, we were worried about the Russians a few years ago. Climate is not really warming. Doesn't really work anymore?

Paul: [00:02:00] Not with those eyebrows. 

Christiana: [00:02:02] Yeah, I mean, no, I'm actually quite blessed that members of my family don't, don't think that way, but I have many, many, conocidos, I don't know what the word is in English. 

Tom: [00:02:15] Acquaintances.

Christiana: [00:02:15] People I know. Yeah, thank you, acquaintances. Who stop me in the street.

Tom: [00:02:19] Really?

Christiana: [00:02:20] And say, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. So I think it's a great idea to try to answer these questions. I must say, first, before we start, can I just say three things?

Tom: [00:02:33] Yes.

Christiana: [00:02:34] The first, thank you so much for sending these questions. They are very difficult questions. I'm not surprised that the listeners are having a hard time answering these questions because they're really, really tough. And we will do our best to give you our take, but please don't expect the perfect answer. All the answers will be imperfect and only piecemeal. So, and the reason for that is that they're really, really good questions. So that is fantastic. The second thing that I wanted to say is that, Paul, Tom and I will do our best, but the person who answers this type of questions better than anyone is Katharine Hayhoe, the climate scientist. And we were trying to get her on here to answer. But actually we're going to put, links in the show notes. So if you are completely dissatisfied with any answer that the three of us give, do go to the show notes, because Katharine is, definitely the master at this. And the third point that I wanted to make, sorry about this, is while it is important to have some kind of an answer to these questions, it's also really important to take advantage of these situations in which you are in the company of someone who thinks completely differently than you to ask them questions and not accusatory questions, but rather questions so that you understand their logic. Because if they're asking you a question about climate, it's because this kind of question is because they don't agree with you and they have their own opinion. And so it would be really a good use of time, yes, to answer some of their questions, but more than anything, to spend some time asking them questions that will allow us, the people who work on climate and you, the listeners, to understand why they're coming from where they're coming, because they will have a reason for that. And we cannot not continue to talk to only those people in our little bubble. That just doesn't help. So using these questions that you get as an opportunity to extend yourself beyond your little bubble is actually quite a golden opportunity.

Paul: [00:05:05] Power of deep listening, you've talked about it before Christiana, a very powerful tool to change minds.

Tom: [00:05:10] And just one other thing in response to that, which I think is a really wise comment Christiana is, one of the painful things about getting these kinds of questions in family gatherings is you can feel like you've not been seen, like you've not been heard, like what you do is not of value. And it can be very emotional. If someone questions something that's so important to you that you're working on and you feel really denied and what you've just described enables, if you use it, try not to feel personally attacked. I think is a theme that runs through these things. This is a big generational issue that we are all struggling with, and try not to feel like you are being personally attacked, because that will help you have a mindset that Christiana described of curiosity and interest about the situation, rather than one of defensiveness, and as a general principle, that's very helpful. Paul?

Paul: [00:06:00] I mean Tom, just to build on that, you know, I think it's almost like you may not realize that the stance you've taken on climate change without you ever intending that may seem subconsciously like an attack on somebody else because you've found a way to respond, that's very much mixed up with your identity. Somebody else around the table hasn't found a way to respond. And so they may, you know, without realizing it, feel that you're almost attacking them. It's a big accidental mess that we none of us want to get stuck in.

Tom: [00:06:26] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:06:27] Exactly.

Tom: [00:06:28] Okay. Speaking of getting stuck in, should we do that.

Paul: [00:06:31] Yes. 

Tom: [00:06:34] Who wants to go first?

Paul: [00:06:35] Can I, I want to start with one, just because the answer goes off a little bit on a small tangent. But you're going to pull me back. It's very short. It's from Colwall Greener which is a community group in Colwall, Herefordshire. And they, they pick up that one. We can't afford the transition to a green economy. Where's the money going to come from? And what I love about that question is, it picks up this theme that there's great poverty in the world. And actually in the UK we talk about a cost of living crisis. Even the BBC news has on its home page the cost of living crisis. And I put it to you and please disagree with me if you want to, but there actually isn't a cost of living crisis. I don't think it exists. I think it's a myth. What we actually have is a cost of billionaires crisis. That is to say that wealth has aggregated up and aggregated up, and it's concentrated so massively in just a few hands that literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of people really haven't got any money. But don't go thinking that we haven't got money as a society to decarbonize. We have, but we've got concentrations of wealth that mean it's very, very difficult for hundreds of millions of people to respond. So I just that was my little reframing. We have got the money. It's just in the wrong place and it's not getting used.

Christiana: [00:07:52] Yeah. Just to be specific about that Paul, which I love, is we, we as a global community, we are, subsidising fossil fuels to the tune of $7 trillion a year. So where does the money come from? Well, maybe we just change our fossil fuel subsidies to do something much more constructive and protective of our planet. So just to your point, it's not a question of the global economy not being able to afford this.

Tom: [00:08:25] Yeah. And, so I'll come at this from a slightly different angle. Years ago, I remember for a long time we used to say to people, well, in the end, the solutions to the climate crisis will be cheaper than what's causing it. And so you need to trust us that that technology curve will change to such a degree that you need to invest in it. And not surprisingly, many people thought that kind of jam tomorrow argument wasn't very convincing. And it was difficult to make progress, although some progress was made. Even without the two very good reasons that my co-hosts have given, it's just cheaper today. Wind and solar are now the cheapest form of new power in over 150 countries around the world. Electric vehicles are just cheaper than internal combustion engine vehicles. When you look at them on a whole cost of use basis, and even they're pretty competitive when it comes to just buying the vehicle in the first place. It's cheaper not to waste food, it's cheaper not to waste energy. Actually, we have become used to thinking about this in an old way. That is, it used to be much more expensive to do the green thing. Now it's cheaper and we need to change our mindset to actually realise that we have entered a new world. And that is completely different to where we came from in the past. And we can put some links in the show notes that provide some real evidence to that point that can enable you to research and remember just 2 or 3 facts that give you that real data.

Christiana: [00:09:45] Yeah, that's so important Tom and I really want to emphasize that because there is that statement that you've just made, actually underpins many of the questions that we have, because this myth that addressing climate change is much more expensive, that it's much more difficult, that it's going to, or that it's going to send us back into caves, etc., etc.. It's such a myth. We actually by taking on board these new technologies, A, things are going to be cheaper. B, things are going to be more efficient, less resource intense. And we're going to have, let's call them creature comforts, for a much larger percentage of the world population. So it's just a better quality of life in general rather than the opposite. And we have to really, help people to understand that this is not about a sacrifice, a burden. This is an opportunity.

Paul: [00:10:51] Yeah, Christiana, most of our listeners will have probably have heard the pun before, but I can't resist it. The Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of stones. We're talking about progressing forward. And certainly most of these new technologies are better.

Tom: [00:11:04] And I think you're going to ask the next question in a minute. But just before I, Paul, you made a very good point about billionaires. But I would also point out that we can conflate different issues here, right. Yes, resources should be redistributed to be equitable in society, but it's still affordable to make a transition to clean energy with the current level of inequality. Not that we should celebrate it, but we don't need to break down billionaire lifestyles and aggregation of wealth in order to first, in order to then deal with the climate crisis. We can deal with the climate crisis now. It's still a profitable thing to do.

Paul: [00:11:38] We could discuss that for the rest of the episode, but we're going to have more questions. 

Christiana: [00:11:42] Could I pick up, a very beautiful question actually, from James Shorey, who tells us that, he lives in the centre of London, but when he goes home, he sometimes sees his uncle, who is a very important person in his life, salt of the earth kind of man is the way he describes him. And he has recently retired from farming and has become a minister of a local church. And the conversation is difficult with him because his uncle says, well, God is all powerful and created the world, and then therefore only he can fix it, if it is part of his plan. So this just may be the start of the Book of Revelations. And who are we to stop it. Very, very, it's a beautiful question, actually. It's a beautiful question. And my, the beginning of my answer, and I'm sure Katharine Hayhoe has much better answers for that. The beginning of the answer is yes, it may be the start of the Book of Revelations. We don't know. We don't know where this is going to take us. We have been on this planet for 4.5 billion years, and the planet has changed dramatically, dramatically, from incredible heat to, you know, being completely covered by ice and back and forth and back and forth. So we don't know where this is going to go. But if you are a God respecting person, I think my question back to your uncle is, true we don't know where this is going to go. But in the meantime, has God not asked us to take care of his creation? Has he not wanted for us to be respectful of everything that he created in the first seven days? All animals, all plants, human beings. That is his creation. That is his most important ever achievement. And we were told to take care of it. So it seems to me that's our first responsibility.

Paul: [00:14:06] May I add a tiny thing on that same excellent question. And the way you describe it is, is beautiful Christiana. Although I do flinch a little bit, and perhaps sure you do as well, at the presumption of the male identity of God, because I do think it is a foundational part of the sort of the dangerous narrative that's caused us difficulties. But within the context that the questioner, you know asserted that, I just wonder, God definitely gave us free will. There's no doubt about that. And so much of all religions is about how we respond to that challenge of free will. And I think the questioner wondering if only God can fix it is, the question I have is, is God in a sense like our servant there or our, you know, to fix this or is God our parent or our teacher, challenging us to grow in response. So that would be my reflection on how you could ask a question back.

Tom: [00:15:05] Yeah, those are two wonderful answers. What a great question as well. I don't need to add much else except to underline, I mean, Christiana, you're absolutely right. I somehow remember this from my education years ago, Genesis 215, the Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden and told him to work it and take care of it. I don't quite know what recesses in my memory I've pulled that from, but that seems to be the fundamental basis of Christian life. And there's also all sorts of things in the Bible about justice, about equity, about care for those who are more vulnerable than yourself. It's right at the heart of everything that should be all that's good about Christianity. So it feels to me, and Pope Francis, obviously resonates with this and reflects on it a great deal, and sees this as the primary responsibility of Christians. So there should be a lot in there that actually the conversation can be had on, in a way, on his terms as a man of God.

Christiana: [00:15:56] On his terms.

Tom: [00:15:57] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:15:57] Yeah, on his terms. And yes, Paul, thank you for the gender note. He himself calls God a him, he the uncle which is why I just picked it up. But, and yeah, I just think it's always helpful to pick up conversations from where people are and not except to make a huge.

Paul: [00:16:20] Yeah, don't pick two fights right.

Christiana: [00:16:20] No, not make a huge jump. So but, but yes.

Paul: [00:16:25] Good advice from a great diplomat. Tom?

Tom: [00:16:29] Okay, so should we go on to the next one. So this is one we've all experienced. And thankfully, I think it's a bit less present than it was in the past, but it's certainly still out there from Owltreemoon [Nicola], and somebody says round the table, I think we need to question what scientists and the media tell us about climate change. Take it all with a pinch of salt. Climate change is probably real, but I don't think it's as bad as people say. So I think we've moved on now from saying, I don't believe in it, to, it's been overemphasized or it's being, blown out of proportion. How do we respond to that one?

Christiana: [00:17:11] I thought you picked it up because you wanted to respond?

Tom: [00:17:13] Yeah ok, alright.

Paul: [00:17:16] Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. The table, you're losing the table.

Tom: [00:17:20] So, the reason why I like this question so much is because it's so universal, right. We all know people who have challenges with this. And I think that the question comes from a place where people don't want to be told what to do, or don't want to accept a difficult reality that is in front of them. The truth is now that the science is unequivocal, and anybody can look that up and can identify that for themselves pretty quickly. And so the conversation that you need to have is not necessarily one about facts and figures, where you start throwing data at somebody and you say, well, what about this, and the IPCC says that. There's a place for that kind of conversation. But in my experience, if someone throws a comment like this at you, it's really wise to pause and ask yourself the question as to why this person is taking a perspective that is so counter to the reality that has become so clearly apparent to all of us, and it might be that their identity is based on an old model where they feel responsible for it, or they feel like they're being told what to do by people with a different ideology. And as you delve into that, and this is a sort of slightly nuanced and strange way to answer the question, the way in which you need to respond to it will become clear if they, like for example, my father is in oil and gas, and we would get this question a lot for years. He would say, you know, well, it's probably blown out of proportion. I'm just doing a bit of oil and gas drilling. It's probably not going to heat the climate.

Tom: [00:19:00] Let's not worry too much about that. And it was very difficult for a long time to have the conversation with him. But the way that I would do it in the end is I would have a conversation about his life and where he came to geology from, where he came to oil exploration from. And what became clear is that he's not a bad man. He trained as a geologist in the 1970s. He wanted to provide food for his family. The world needed oil. None of this was apparent, and the world has moved away from him in the course of his career, and he's been left as the side of the villain. And actually, as I began to understand that about him, I began to kind of feel sorry for him. Nobody wants to be left as the villain when they've worked all their life to, in his telling, try and make the world a better place. So that understanding, through that appreciation of the point of view as to why somebody says something that is clearly so out of kilter, where science is, enables you to have a nuanced and personal discussion with that person that can actually be really rewarding and can bring you closer. I feel closer to my dad from having worked out who he is and where he comes from, and has his view completely changed? No. And it probably never will. There's a level at which I've had to sort of say, well, that's okay, I'll focus on other things, and at least I get my relationship with my dad back, and I will work on the places where I can actually achieve change. I realise that's a long answer, but I hope that's been useful.

Paul: [00:20:30] I think that's a great answer because it's a personal answer, a true story, and the only other one is just, the only other way of doing that one is to talk about risk maybe, you know, say there's something wrong with someone's tyre, you know, on their car before they drive home. You know, it looks pretty bad. It'd probably be okay, but they're going to be driving that car 70 miles an hour down the street. You can't take those risks. And we certainly can't do it with the whole world. So, but I loved your personal story, Tom. It was beautiful.

Christiana: [00:20:56] Paul, do you want to pick one out?

Paul: [00:20:58] Okay. I'll be dead before that happens. Why should I worry? This is a question that I think we've all heard from Georgia Watson, and well, I started off with like, why should you care. A billion sweet, defenceless children is a pretty good reason to worry. But beyond that, I think a sense of a pride in a life well lived and even like a really fundamental question about, you know, do you shape life or does life shape you. Are you like a bird soaring through the air, or are you a leaf being carried wherever it takes you. I think it's the question back, I'm trying to model your thing here Christiana, which is like ask a question back, you know, what do you take joy in. You know, what's been you know, what has been the greatest transformations in your life and try and give people a feeling of love, I think for themselves because it leads to love for others.

Christiana: [00:21:53] Wow. You heard it here from Paul Dickinson. I'm duly impressed.

Paul: [00:21:59] I got nods from Christiana and Tom. That's like a kerching super bingo, knock it out of the park moment for me. Your turn Christiana.

Christiana: [00:22:09] Well that actually, leads me very nicely to Cindy's question. And first of all, Cindy, thank you so much for, for writing so extensively. It takes time to focus and and write. And Cindy is reacting to the interview that I had the pleasure of doing with Krista Tippett on her show, her podcast, On Being. And, Cindy you, you reflect back many truths. So again, thank you very much. Excellent feedback. Your main question here is, well, two things. Your observation that the pandemic, was very, while it brought some people to their best and to support neighbours and friends or sometimes even strangers, it was also very, very unfair in sense of, who got access to vaccines and who got support and who had to put themselves out there, health care providers, government leaders. Et cetera. Et cetera. So, yes, I take all of that on. You are absolutely right that the pandemic was also, showed injustice again in the world. Yes, I totally take that on. The question that you have, which I think is a very important question, is what leads me, Christiana, to believe that either compassion or fear based responses will predominate as we face, the climate crisis? Well, Cindy, I don't know which one will predominate. It is evident, and you point out quite clearly that both are at play because we're human and yes, of course, when there's a threat, especially the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, of course there's fear. And we react mostly with those three, intuitive reactions that we've had since the dawn of the human species, to threats, which is fight, flight and freeze, right.

Christiana: [00:24:28] All of which actually are the consequences of fear. And so, yes, of course, that is there because that's our human reaction, that's our intuition immediately. And what I was trying to get across in the Krista Tippett interview, obviously not very effectively, so thank you for coming back, is that my sense is that we now have a choice about whether we want to continue to be dominated by fear and react, either with fight, flight or freeze, or whether we have come to the point of human maturity that without denying the threat, without denying that the fear is there because it is always there, we can also pause a moment and make a different choice, recognize the fear and say, in the face of this fear, how do I want to turn up in the world? How do I want to act? How do I want to think? How do I want to treat my family, my friend, my neighbours and strangers who I shall never meet? And so that is the invitation in that conversation with Krista. It's an invitation for us not to deny that there's fear based responses, for sure, but also to take a moment and say, do we now have the evolutionary capacity to not just go off into those three reactions, but also to react much more intentionally and mindfully, with compassion and with love and with support. It's an invitation. It doesn't mean that everybody wants to do it. It doesn't mean that everybody is ready for it. It is simply an invitation to make a different choice.

Tom: [00:26:37] It's a beautiful answer Christiana. And I think that, I mean, what I love about what you said is that it pivots the moment that we're in to one of such profound evolutionary possibility for the human race that actually, we take this challenge of this existential crisis that we're facing, and we turn it into a way of evolving to be the kinds of beings that need to meet this moment. Because actually, that's the root cause that has created all of these challenges that we're facing, that we're looking at this with greed, with all these other different, qualities that we've become so familiar with. So I think it's such important work to begin to provide the invitation and the opportunity for people to see themselves in a different way in the face of this challenge.

Paul: [00:27:23] And to notice fear, but not be immobilized by feeling it, to try and turn that sense into an observation. And, the particular last time we faced an existential crisis in World War II or something, people came together. There was a common enemy, and there was incredible binding of spirit. There was people who lived through the war in the UK that I spoke to said, you know, that everyone felt very close and very animated and very purposeful. And it was a sort of beautiful time in a sense of camaraderie that many people miss. So, you know, it may be that this common enemy can find the best in all of us.

Tom: [00:28:02] And just one more thought on that is the truth is that none of us can control how this goes. We can all have a go, and we're all partial participants, and we're all subject to the collective will. But that doesn't mean that we can't all live our best possible lives in response to this. And that's a question about how we show up, which is what you talked about Christiana. Okay, on to the next one. Is it my turn?

Paul: [00:28:24] It is.

Tom: [00:28:25] Okay. So this is a question from Clayton Dewar that came through on LinkedIn. And this is a great question. He said, put it in inverted commas. You want to electrify everything do you. So you want everyone to have an electric vehicle and have battery storage at home. Do you know all the lithium in those batteries is mined by children in unethical conditions which destroy the environment further, and you cannot properly recycle batteries yet. Anyway, oil is the only way. So, what I love about this question is it is a classic formula of many of the questions that listeners will no doubt be enduring from some relatives, which is you take an element of something which is a truth, and then you expand it to the point where it tries to deny a whole bunch of other realities. So let's take one part of this question. It is absolutely the case that there are materials in batteries that are rare earths, lithium, cobalt, other things difficult to find, difficult to mine. And there are terrible supply chain conditions that people are enduring to find those materials. And absolutely, that is unacceptable. And we need to ensure that that changes. However, the place where I would take issue with the question is the idea that that reality completely denies any possibility that there is of some kind of future that is regenerative and sustainable, that is based on electric vehicles. For a couple of reasons. The first is that the innovation in electric vehicles and batteries has been remarkable in the last few years. Change in energy density mean that you now can have a battery 100 times smaller than just a few years ago, and it will carry the same amount of power. It will last for longer. It can be recharged more quickly. The innovation and the money that is pouring into this space means that the technology is jumping on leaps and bounds. So that's one thing to say. I think the second thing to say is that this mindset that this question comes from is not taking account of human ingenuity. That's the other way I would respond to this question is to say, look, humans have done seemingly impossible things. We've gone to the moon, we've built the fossil fuel industry, we have invented vaccines and responses to Covid in just a few months. This is something that we can do. We're entrepreneurial. We're creative. Are we going to look at this and just roll over immediately and say, we're not going to try. This is impossible because it's not where we are today. That's not the spirit of who we want to be. And it's probably deep down not who this questioner is either. So finding a way to get them to go back to that side of their personality is one of the ways you can help them. Paul is smiling and laughing.

Paul: [00:30:56] Because I was like, hell yeah, like, duh. You know, I'm just ready to kind of.

Tom: [00:31:00] Surely there's a Churchill quote for this moment. Come on, let's have it.

Paul: [00:31:02] No I want to follow you Tom on that. Oh, yeah. Was it, you know, you've heard them all. You've heard them all. I just think it's I really like what you said. It kind of, it built us up again. Because in a sense, what I think you responded to was that the, the question was all about, like, pushing us down, like what we can't do. And then what you did is you brought us back up. You injected optimism into what was a pessimistic situation. So I admired the way that played out.

Tom: [00:31:31] Nice.

Christiana: [00:31:32] But could I add to that? Just to say, first of all, that, it's actually cobalt that is one of the ingredients for lithium batteries. That is the absolutely, absolutely tragical mining of cobalt that is really having these effects on basically slavery conditions for women, children and men. And if you want to read the most shocking book about that, it's Cobalt Red, by Siddharth Kara, Kara. And, that really puts it very, very clearly how the so-called artisanal miners, endure just absolutely horrible labour conditions in the DRC, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So there is no denying that mining, in this case cobalt, but many other, many other resources that are mined really invite this kind of condition. What we should also remember is that in the late 19th and first part of the 20th century, it was coal mines that were subjecting children to these terrible labour conditions. And in the future, it may horribly be something else. My point is, it's not about the coal. It's not about the cobalt. It's about poverty. Because the reason why those children are there and women and men are subjecting themselves to these completely inhuman conditions is because they don't have other options. It's because of poverty. So it's not about the lithium, it's not about the cobalt. It's in fact not even about the coal. It's about poverty. And that is the completely unacceptable reality. And let's remember that if we do not address climate change in a timely fashion, we will never be able to lift the extremely poor of this world out of their poverty, because the destruction of this world will be so great that they will be thrown into deeper and deeper poverty. So if we understand that poverty is the problem, then we have to address climate change in order to stand any chance, although no guarantee but any chance of alleviating poverty.

Paul: [00:34:28] You tied up all the different parts of that into a single unified worldview, which is absolutely true and links a little bit to the responsibilities of wealth. An early theme. Okay, shall I come in with a short one?

Tom: [00:34:43] Let's do it.

Paul: [00:34:44] So this is from Wendy Robinson, and she's quoting, of course, all these people remember all these people, these are not their questions. These are the questions they've been hearing. So no one think that Wendy Robinson is saying this herself because she's not. But okay, I'll do my special voice. Sure, I do my recycling and I can't afford an electric car or solar energy. What difference can I make? It's the politicians I blame. There's a lot in there. But my quick response and I know that you two will have one as well is it makes a lot of difference. I mean, why vote, for example, why vote in elections. I'm estimating here that something like 99.99% or .999% of elections are not won by one vote. But we all go out and vote because we all understand society is a nonsensical at the level of the individual. Society can only make sense when we think of ourselves together. So are you having an, to model your behaviour Christiana, back to this individual. Are you having an existential crisis? Do you think you don't exist? I think it's trying to find in the little we, the big we, inside the little me trying to find the big me. That's almost maybe what we're searching for in a lot of these questions is to give somebody the agency just to be their bigger selves, to be us. Just us. Tom's looking incredibly unconvinced.

Tom: [00:36:10] No, no, I think it's, I agree, I think that one of the ways I respond to this question is I say, look, part of the reason that you feel powerless is because it was somebody's specific idea to make you feel powerless. It's a matter of record that the fossil fuel companies have been trying to divert attention from their own activities and trying to tell you, this is your fault, and if you can't get on board with what you need to be doing, then you have caused the problem. So there is a degree to which actually this is a systemic challenge. And there's a level at which this is right. However, that has kind of now gone too far. And if you look back at previous great challenges, like imagine the war that Paul just referenced, imagine if people said, well, unless I personally can solve the war and defeat the Nazis, then I'm not going to bother getting up off the couch. It's either that or nothing. It would have been an absurdity, right. And nobody would have even thought about thinking it that way. It would have been a crazy thing to propose. You did your bit, you went and participated and you couldn't do all of it. But you did what you could. And so the fact that we don't feel that now about this is the result of a deliberate communications campaign, and we should take back our own agency and not allow them to make us feel so disconnected from the world that we're prepared to give up without trying. 

Paul: [00:37:24] Yep, that's the way it is.

Christiana: [00:37:26] Nice.

Paul: [00:37:27] Tom, I think you're on?

Tom: [00:37:29] I thought it was Christiana. Is it me? Okay.

Paul: [00:37:32] I can't remember actually.

Christiana: [00:37:33] Well, I'm happy to jump in. I'm happy to jump in with a question that Olivia, is reflecting to us. It's again, not her question, it's questions that she gets. For example, I can't get on board with this climate change thing. I love my SUV. We need fossil fuels. Leave it to China to sort out their emissions first. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. So, you know, it clearly is, quite a collection of different things. So let's just take a couple of things. China, well, you know, the press in the West does not really report this very well, but the fact is that the greatest race that is on right now in the world is the decarbonization race. And China, the US and Europe are racing against each other to see how can they get to this decarbonized economy as quickly and as effectively as possible, because they understand that is the reality of the 21st century. And the amazing thing is that, at least for the time being, China is pretty well winning that race, because they have understood that it is absolutely critical for their quality of air, which is a big thing in China. It is already the highest investor in new energy equipment, it's the largest investor in solar. It's the largest investor in wind. It is the largest investor in batteries. It has more electric buses than anyone put together in the world. It has a vaster, charging infrastructure than anyone else, or in fact, even put together in the world. So, China is definitely seeing that a for their own economy, they are much better off with a cleaner production.

Christiana: [00:39:39] And also, they understand because they're bringing people so many people, 500 million already out or more out of poverty. They understand that they can no longer compete with exceedingly low labor costs, which is what they were competing with before, and that in the near future, their competitive edge on the market. And they want to, of course, continue to sell to everyone. Their competitive edge is going to have to be low or no carbon products and services. So just for their competitive advantage and their competitive continuity, they are definitely investing in that. It doesn't mean that they have now closed all their coal plants, right. Let's understand that we're in a transition and that there are many realities operating at the same time. They are still burning coal, but they're burning much less coal now than before. They're opening many less coal plants than they are before they're closing coal plants. And they're putting much more of their strategic policy and strategic investment into renewables. So don't ignore the competition in the strength that China is. But to the other parts of the question, I love my SUV. We need fossil fuels. Well, first of all, we don't need fossil fuels. We have just heard from Tom how the other energies are actually much cheaper by now. And we will need fossil fuels for a time for some things. But every day for less applications, and they will be less and less competitive. But I love my SUV. Well, how about an electric SUV.

Tom: [00:41:32] You might love it even more.

Christiana: [00:41:34] You know, I love it even more. And everyone who has an electric SUV tells me, I don't, but everyone tells me they're absolutely brilliant things to drive. So again, you know, to come back to, one of the threads that we've had in this conversation, it's not about giving up your quality of life. It is about actually improving the quality of life and being able to protect the planet at the same time. So to your friends who love their SUVs, well, there are quite a few carmakers making electric SUVs. Try one out and see if you like it.

Paul: [00:42:22] And as I've said before they might well be better. You know this Tesla Plaid what is it does 0 to 60 in 2.99 seconds. You don't really get petrol cars that can go that fast. And as you, was it leave it to China as Christiana you said leave the jobs of the future to China. Leave the industries of the future to China. No. Get involved now because this is a gold rush and we want to be at the front of it, not the back. Tom?

Tom: [00:42:45] So I know we're running out of time, but there was one more that I just wanted to bring in before we go. And that is one that actually, may have a reverse generation dynamic going on. Many of these might be mentioned by an older uncle or grandparent or something, but actually, what you're more likely to hear from a young person is the question that was put to us by Lara Fowler, and she said that she was talking to a young friend who said, I think we're all doomed. Why should we even try? I'm just not going to try in my life because we're doomed anyway. And very painfully, this is something that you might well hear coming out of the mouth of a young person because, as we know, levels of climate anxiety are extremely high amongst people under the age of 21 or even under the age of 25. And this is a difficult one, and I would say that the answer needs to have a good piece of, a good amount of empathy in it to appreciate the difficult and painful situation that young people are in and the world that they're facing. But the way that I try and answer this question is to say two things. First of all, that is a projection that has been made by someone who's made a decision that we're doomed. That's not what science tells us. Science tells us we're in a perilous place.

Tom: [00:43:59] And yes, the next few years are going to be definitive to the future of humanity. And there are really troubling signs. But you know what, there's really good signs too, there are exponential transformations going on in technology, in human awakening, in land use change, that taken together, can potentially affect this trajectory to mean that far from being doomed, we will be the first generation that is actually able to create a sustainable and regenerative future. And that's the second part of the answer. No one actually wants to live an easy life, right. Deep down, we all want a meaningful life where we have a role and we have an opportunity to make the world better for other people and for other species. That's what ultimately makes us happy. No generation has been given a bigger opportunity to do that than those of us who are alive here now, and the next couple of generations as well to be honest. This is a great generational task that we can feel grateful for. And if there was ever a moment when young people should not feel dejected or depressed, this is it. They should be animated with a sense of possibility and agency to affect the future. Now that will work in some cases and not in others. But that answer, I think, is at least honest. It meets people where they are and hopefully gives them a trajectory.

Christiana: [00:45:20] Nice. Very nice Tom.

Tom: [00:45:23] So I think that takes us to the end of this episode. This has been wonderful, what amazing questions. Thank you everybody who sent these in. We hope that they are useful over the holiday season. We would love to know how you get on. If you have conversations that are challenging.

Christiana: [00:45:37] Yes, please do write us, tell us how you did. 

Paul: [00:45:39] Tell us, write in.

Tom: [00:45:41] Let us know how you did. Leave us voice messages, send us emails. We'd love to hear from you. And we now take our traditional break in January. We will be gone for a bit, and we will be back in February with Christiana's mini series on nature, which is something that you can really look forward to and that will be wonderful and that will be out in February. So until then, thank you so much, everyone, for following us this year and listening to Outrage + Optimism. We have had another wonderful year. We've had a lot of fun, and we look forward to seeing you back in 2024.

Christiana: [00:46:11] Have wonderful holidays everyone.

Tom: [00:46:13] Bye everyone.

Paul: [00:46:15] Happy holidays. Bye bye for now. Bye bye.

Joep Beving: [00:46:19] Hi everyone, this is Joep Beving. Thanks for inviting me to be part of your extremely relevant podcast. I chose my song ‘Losar’, which is the name of the Tibetan New Year festivities. And like many of us, the Tibetans celebrate the start of a new cycle, not with champagne, but with a set of rituals of gratitude, related to the sacred nature of the external and internal elements. And I wrote the song during the lockdown, during the pandemic, and with the prospect of a post-pandemic life, which we've entered by now, I would say, which is a new beginning, I wanted to express my hope that we would become more aware that we can't go back to our old habits of overexploiting our natural and human resources. The sadness of the song lies in the realization that this might possibly be our last chance at a new beginning. So there you go. Some optimism, or maybe outrage. Thank you. Bye bye.

Clay: [00:48:48] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. I'm Clay, producer of this podcast. This is our last episode of 2023, another year in the books. I just did the math and with this episode just published over 2800 minutes of content in 2023. Wow. I think I'm ready for a nap. Thank you so much to Joep Beving for gracing the airwaves on our podcast. What you just heard was only a snippet teaser of the full song, which you can watch and listen to the live performance of on YouTube, as well as on Apple Music. Losar is the name of the track hauntingly beautiful. Joep Beving's music is a great soundtrack to a meditation, or maybe a holiday party or honestly, just a chill out, here in Detroit it just began to snow. I'm looking out my window right now. And so this afternoon, after I publish the podcast, will be 'Tea and You' on repeat. Also a great gift in time for the holidays and the new year. Maybe gift it to someone to listen to as they reflect on the new year, decide what they want to do next year. As we pause and reflect before we get back into things. Thank you to Joep Beving. Please check the show notes for links to stream and purchase his music. Enjoy! Okay, speaking of supporting artists, a couple weeks ago we featured Louise Harris, musician climate activist, here on the podcast with her song We Tried. And I'm here to remind you that she is on a campaign to get We Tried to be the Christmas number one single in the UK.

Clay: [00:50:36] I have personally seen how chart topping is 100% possible by independent artists, so this campaign is completely within reach for the climate movement. Here's what we need to do. Go to the show notes. Click the link to go buy the song, again it's called We Tried. Gift it to a friend or a few friends. All of the proceeds for purchasing the song go to climate related causes. Let's make this our mission before the end of the year. Okay. Check the show notes for that. And thank you. All right, so in our production meeting earlier today, we were talking about how we hope that this last episode of the year has prepped you for holiday parties coming up. And as always, we just wanted to extend a thank you to everyone who submitted a question that made this episode possible. It's just not possible to get to every question, although we'd like to that comes in. And this type of series, the mailbag series where you submit your questions, the hosts answer, this will continue again into the next year, so please don't hesitate to keep submitting your questions. Our email is podcast@globaloptimism.com. You can also send us a message on Instagram and LinkedIn. Thank you for those. And now that you've got our email, our LinkedIn, our Instagram, you can tell us what you think. But one of the most efficient ways that you can tell us what you think about the podcast and shape it moving forward, is to fill out our end of the year survey.

Clay: [00:52:09] It only takes ten minutes to fill out. There's a link again in the show notes the description below. You can click on it. You can do it right on your phone as you listen. We really want to hear from you. This direct feedback, like I said, will completely shape how we do the podcast moving into 2024. We want to hear what you like, what you don't like, and what you want to see more of. So please go check that out. Fill it out. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks. Wow. I think that's it, that is it from us for this year, 2023. Open and shut. We will see you back here in February with a series from Christiana where we'll kick off. I guess it'll be season nine. Season nine. Wow, crazy. I think Sarah said earlier today that we've been working on this series that you'll hear in February, we've been working on it since May of this year, May 2023, so look forward to that. The best way to not miss it is to hit subscribe or follow on your podcast player, and then it'll show up right here when we come back. Thank you again for a great year. We're so thankful and grateful to be making this podcast, making it with you, making it for you. We love you all. Happy holidays. See you next year.


Latest Insights