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247: The Pope’s Hope? Biden’s Tariffs and Jeremy Clarkson’s About-Turn

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About this episode

On this week’s show….

Christiana's Corner: Dive into the riveting insights from Christiana as she unpacks the recent CBS interview with the Pope where he declared "Climate change at this moment is a road to death." Discover why she believes stubborn optimism is our strongest ally in turbulent times.

Paul's Perspective: Join Paul as he shines a spotlight on the pressing issue of green tariffs. Get ready for a deep dive into how these tariffs can revolutionize our approach to sustainability.

Tom's Take: Brace yourself for a captivating argument from Tom as he advocates for the redemption of none other than Jeremy Clarkson. It seems his newfound role as a farmer has transformed his outlook on climate change…

Tune in to this week's episode for a whirlwind of thought-provoking discussions and inspiring perspectives! 


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Full Transcript

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

Christiana: [00:00:15] I'm Christiana Figueres.

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

Tom: [00:00:18] This week we talk about the Pope and whether he has any hope. We talk about tariffs and what they mean for the future of the green economy. And weirdly, we talk about Jeremy Clarkson. Thanks for being here. Hey friends, nice to see you both. Welcome to this week's episode. How are you both doing? In fact, I should start off by saying, this is a momentous week, is it not.

Christiana: [00:00:54] Indeed, indeed.

Tom: [00:00:54] One of our illustrious hosts has a big birthday coming up this weekend.

Paul: [00:00:58] Yeah, well.

Christiana: [00:01:00] Yeah, we're going to cheat and celebrate on Friday. Although that's not his real birthday. We're going to celebrate on Friday.

Paul: [00:01:06] You turn 30 or 40 or whatever it is. And, you know, obviously, you're at a very different stage in your life, you know, and you recognize that. And, yeah, so that's.

Tom: [00:01:14] How do you feel passing, passing a big milestone in life, feeling good?

Paul: [00:01:16] Free transport on the London Underground and on buses. That's the way I'm looking at it. And, yeah, I mean, what can I say, I never celebrate my birthday at all and find it extremely weird that I am on this occasion, but it's lovely for you to mention it, Tom.

Tom: [00:01:32] All right, well, we're very excited to see you on Friday. And it was a great podcast last week with Sweta. I was sorry I couldn't join you, but everybody did very well, so.

Paul: [00:01:40] But she was great.

Tom: [00:01:41] Fantastic, yeah. Right so, Christiana, this week I think you have brought something about the Pope. Load More
Christiana: [00:01:47] Okay, folks. So right off the bat, right off the bat, breaking news, actually quite alarming breaking news. The Pope was interviewed on CBS Evening News by Norah O'Donnell, who asked him, how does he feel about climate change. And here's what he said. He said, unfortunately, we have gotten to a point of no return. It's sad, but that's what it is. Global warming is a serious problem. Climate change at this moment is a road to death. Now that is quite a statement, especially coming from a Pope who has been honestly such an activist on climate change. Let's remember that he authored and released Laudato si' just a year before the Paris Agreement that he has been calling oil executives into the Vatican and lobbying them, truly lobbying them to turn toward more responsibility, corporate behaviour. He has been so, so consistent in calling for everyone to, to really stand up and be counted on this issue. So from that perspective, I think it is perhaps not surprising that he is what I would call despondent, and that I think he echoes the grief of the scientist who responded to the Guardian poll I think just about two weeks ago. So I there is there's no way that we are going to hide the sun with a finger. There is no one who would stand up and say, actually, we're on track. We are on track for 2030. We are on track for 2050 climate goals. Nobody can say that. I think we are very clear that we are not on track yet, and it's the yet in that sentence that I would really like to emphasize. When the Pope said climate change at this moment is a road to death, he said climate change at this moment is a road to death, and he means it. And he's probably pretty accurate. Now the question is, is this actually the only possible outcome that we can aspire to. That, I think, is the question that we have to struggle with. And in order to answer that question, I would like to tell you a story. Can I?

Tom: [00:04:37] Please.

Paul: [00:04:38] Please do.

Christiana: [00:04:38] So, as you know, I live in the northern part of Costa Rica, and, it was a very, very hot, dry spell that we had during the, summer or dry months. It was so hot and dry that we had many forest fires, including the worst one that was still raging when I left home a few weeks ago to go to the West Coast, where we had one episode, and I was really pained when I left and saw the mountain behind my house on fire, leaving behind it a trail of black and brown forest, dry and burned to the ground. Three weeks later, I returned. And I slowly went home noticing what had happened in the meantime. And here's what had happened. That mountain was still black and brown, but because there had been a few initial showers of rain, there were little shoots of grass that were coming back and trees that I thought were dead forever were actually beginning to bud a few little leaves. Why is this story important. Because when I left, I thought there was no hope for the mountain. I thought it was completely dead. And that's where we are in our understanding of where we are on solutions for climate. Most people have decided that we're burned to the ground, that there is no other option for us. What nature taught me that day is that nature has an innate resilience, and that we as humans ought to have the same innate resilience inspired by nature, and that we should never give up hope, despite the Pope.

Tom: [00:06:59] Don't give up hope, despite the Pope. I think we've got an episode title.

Paul: [00:07:03] There's another rap song coming from Christiana here on the on the very, very.

Tom: [00:07:07] I think that's so beautiful what you just said and that instructive example. And I've seen the fires behind your house, they can be so alarming. But then coming back and seeing those shoots emerge and that's that's so where we need to be, right, is understanding that broader nature of the cyclical quality of life that we are inside, and how that always provides the opportunity for renewal. I want to ask you a question about the Pope, but first, I want to know if Paul has a reflection on your story, and then I'll go there.

Paul: [00:07:34] Well, I mean, it's a very simple statistical one. You know, I think that this particular information source very hard to count, but is rough, roughly referencing Christianity as the most popular religion in the world, about 2.2 billion, 1.3 billion of those being Catholics, Islam next, with 1.8 billion. It's a pretty big deal when when the when the the the religious leader of 1.3 billion believers says that we're on on the road to death and I think.

Christiana: [00:08:05] Well but you see that's the problem, Paul, that everybody is going to shortcut that sentence and say, we're on the road to death. What he says is at the moment, and we're all going to skip over that important little phrase in that sentence.

Paul: [00:08:20] At the moment. I'm not because I heard the story you said about the trees, but just last point for me is, I think there's something about I was brought up without religion, but I can see without some kind of ethical belief system, we humans are in such trouble. So despite the fact, you know, I'm a long way away from sort of aligning with the Catholics on birth control, I do think this is a very could be a very useful statement as long as it's taken the right way.

Tom: [00:08:45] That's where I was going to go as well, is that, you know, given this long tradition of setting out the moral code for humanity that the Pope represents at the head of the church, that was the most influential in the Western world for so many centuries. If there's anyone there who's going to stand up and give a complete moral call, you know he's played that role very well. But I was just going to ask about the rest of the statement that you quoted there. I mean, he said, unfortunately, we've gotten to a point of no return. It's sad, but that's what it is. To me there's like a deep resignation in that, along with the kind of. 

Paul: [00:09:16] Yeah, no return.

Tom: [00:09:17] It feels, it's very flat. It's like we've got to the point of no return but you know, but hey, you know, whatever. It feels very I don't know if it's just the translation, but it feels to me like it's not representative of who we've known him to be from afar. I mean, you've known him directly, but I've known him from afar as somebody who really digs in, who really makes a case for action. It feels like he feels like a strangely changed person if that's a true reflection of what he's saying about this issue now, do you think that's true?

Christiana: [00:09:44] Yeah, I don't think the attitude is, hey, you know, what are we going to do about it. I think it comes out of deep grief. I think that's where he is. I think it is, you know, just such pain to see what we have destroyed in nature, the afflictions that we have brought upon, especially the most vulnerable populations around the world. That's where his heart really is in those two right in nature and in the most vulnerable populations around the world. And I think that's where he is in deep grief. And frankly, who can blame him. You know, I think all of us who have any sensitivity for the impacts of climate change that go way beyond the data and the numbers and, you know, all of that, all of us join him in that deep grief. 

Tom: [00:10:40] 100%.

Christiana: [00:10:40] The question for me, though, is, and what do we do about the grief. That's the question that I think we have to really hold on to.

Tom: [00:10:50] Yeah, all right. Thank you for bringing that. I mean, it's such an important and critical issue. And the moment that we're facing and he's been such a leader. Paul, anything final to add before we move on?

Christiana: [00:11:00] Oh, wait. I think we have to answer that question. Sorry, Tom. What do we do about the grief. The point is, we cannot let the grief determine the outcome of the planet and of humanity. That's the point. Yes, we have to give ourselves permission to feel this deep grief because it's part of all of us. Hopefully it's part of all of us. But out of that grief, out of the charred mountain, out of the burned down trees, we have to be able to transform that into the little shoots of hope, of action, of commitment, to bring out a different future. That's the point.

Tom: [00:11:48] Yeah.

Paul: [00:11:49] Yeah, and I mean, what do we do about it. You know, if I, if I look out at, certainly the economies in what I'm going to call the OECD, the rich countries and, you know, maybe it applies to China too, which I'm not entirely sure I don't think is in the OECD, in fact I know it isn't. Something like 50 to 60% of the economy, I would say, is devoted to entirely non-essential things. So that's why we're in such trouble. Were our economies to turn to dealing with this problem, we have more than enough economic power to deal with it easily. So let's just remember, we're sort of grieving for a sort of pathetic inability to lift one little finger.

Tom: [00:12:29] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:12:30] Exactly.

Tom: [00:12:30] And I really like what you said, Christiana. That has to be a waypoint, right. We have to feel it. And that energy has to propel us to what comes next, rather than that being where we end up getting stuck, which is so easy to do. Great okay. Paul, over to you I think.

Paul: [00:12:43] Well follow that. I mean, Christiana, thank you for sort of setting the tone in quite a serious way. I'm going to go straight into the kind of hubble bubble of today's news. Last Tuesday, I think it was, President Biden in the US sharply increased tariffs on Chinese imports, including electric vehicles and solar cells.

Tom: [00:13:05] We talked about this a couple of weeks ago, didn't we? The issue of tariffs. Fascinating, okay.

Paul: [00:13:09] Well, I mean, you know, so so what's going on and what does it really mean. And, I'm going to make a couple of points, like the first one is this is a big story about the world changing. And when geopolitics is at this level and things like electric vehicles and, and solar energy are at the heart of it, you can tell they're very important. You know what I mean. There's not some gigantic bust up between the two largest economies about sweatshirts or sneakers. And it's not about, you know, spices or steel. It's it's about these critical materials. So the first thing you can say for sure is that electric vehicles and renewable energy are incredibly important to the future of our economies. I mean, just to step back, you know, back to that spirit of what's the root of the whole thing. We are, you know, post-war there was a real encouragement of trade between advanced nations, and it was seen as a sort of flourishing between a community of nations. You know, the advanced economies, I don't know, maybe in the US they were making trucks and in Japan they were making kind of smaller cars. And this was all being kind of swapped around the world. But what was pretty tough was when China joined the WTO and with its vast capacity to produce and really quite low incomes, there was a shock, a tectonic shock.

Paul: [00:14:29] And it hit, for example, particularly in the US, and a lot of manufacturing shut down, a lot of a lot of industries shut down. Now, what should have happened, I'm advised, and I also deeply believe, is that the US government should have invested in retraining people and supporting them in transition, but that didn't really happen. So you just ended up with bombed out areas of the US. And I know you, Tom, have particularly been and seen some of those. And it's really tough and an opioid crisis and all the rest of it. So from that comes a tradition of a new tradition of tariffs, which which Trump has pioneered and and Biden is carrying on. Now, as far as I can gather, the academic research doesn't really show that those tariffs bring jobs back, but they but they sound like like somebody's doing something about the problems. And then, you know, I can't help but throw into the mix one other factor, which is in this gigantic global trade that was supposed to bring us closer together, there was a sense that we were sort of forming a kind of community of nations, but we've had some real geopolitical rifts, not least caused by the invasion of Ukraine, where Russia is in a close partnership with China.

Paul: [00:15:38] I know many, many Chinese people in China believe that that was sort of instigated by kind of NATO. So there's a standoff. That's not my personal belief, but my point being, this geopolitical rift, which is turning into a sort of, a kind of militaristic political standoff kind of between democracies in one party systems that you then find renewable energy and electric vehicles are caught in the middle of that. My last point would be that, you know, actually the the problem with, so to say, dumping of, of, of renewable energies is we should just have more permitting, we should, you know, if there's low cost solar anywhere, it should just be put out and used to generate electricity. That's what it's for. I do have some sympathy with, for example, the US using kind of industrial policy to try and build up these key technologies themselves. And the big lesson for all countries from this is do not miss out on preparing for the technologies of the future. The fossil fuel age is gone. Internal combustion engine is a fairly rubbish technology. It's being replaced and you want to be a part of it. But it's a very tough bit of geopolitics we're going through right now.

Tom: [00:16:45] So I have some thoughts, do you want to come in first Christiana or should I hop in?

Christiana: [00:16:48] Go for it.

Tom: [00:16:49] So, I mean, I would just point out that obviously the Inflation Reduction Act put into place, about a year ago or more, one of the most ambitious pieces of environmental legislation has massively preferenced US industry to the point where the Europeans have been really complaining that the the playing field has been tilted away from them in transatlantic trade, and the US has consistently been saying, well, let's just compete, pile in, do what you can. This is a race to deal with the issue. But then when the Chinese use the instruments of the state to invest in their overcapacity of the same industries, the US puts up trade barriers. Now, of course, these things can be two things at the same time, but the main conclusion I draw from that is this is about November. Actually, this is not so much about international trade. This is about Biden wanting to say I'm tough on China. I put 100% tax on electric vehicles. I'm protecting the jobs in the US heartland. You should reelect me. And actually, I think it's it's quite counter to much of the narrative that has been coming out of the US. And they're capable of doing two things at the same time that are diametrically opposed to each other. But it's so counter that my conclusion is it's electioneering. What do you think, Christiana?

Christiana: [00:18:04] Yeah, I would I would agree with that, that it's electioneering in a very, very difficult election, very, where it really is going to come down to individual number votes.

Tom: [00:18:16] In those key states that are affected by that issue? Yeah, yeah.

Christiana: [00:18:18] In those key states, for sure. And and then the question then for me is let's assume, which is maybe not a safe assumption, but let's assume safe or not, that Biden does get re-elected. How do you climb down from there.

Tom: [00:18:35] Yeah.

Paul: [00:18:36] Well, I mean, just, you know, I don't want to make things more complicated. But ultimately, you know, the huge problem in the US is, is good jobs for workers without a college education. That's the thing that that's the kind of wound that needs healing. Now, last time any of us looked inside a modern factory, it's there's a lot of machines. They're highly technological places. There's a lot of robots, there's a lot of advanced technology. So this is I would agree with you, Tom, posturing around something that's probably largely irrelevant with regard to the people who are hurting. And that's unfortunately what happens in, you know, democracies. We do have people swayed by public opinion. That's kind of exciting. That's what's good about not having a one party system. But conversely, you can get this, you know, these narratives, which are pretty false.

Christiana: [00:19:23] Well, the the other thing that we have to remember is that all polls show that both for young and not so young, the number one issue for this election is not climate, not renewable energy, not anything else other than it's about the economics. Stupid, here we are again, right. It's about cost of living. It's about perception of whether I'm doing better or not, it's about the perception about whether the economy is more stable than it used to be. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. So, you know, once again, the all powerful dollar bill is the number one issue, which is why the Biden administration or the Biden campaign has to really take care of of plugging those holes. Can't blame them.

Tom: [00:20:13] You can't blame them, but it makes you weep, the the myopic nature of the democratic process and how people.

Christiana: [00:20:19] Weep or weak?

Paul: [00:20:22] Weep, cry.

Tom: [00:20:22] Weep. Cry, as in as in as in cry. Yeah, yeah. It makes you weak as well, you're right. I mean, I think that so I remember in after Trump was elected, I went with a group of climate leaders to McDowell County, West Virginia, and we went down coal mines and those sorts of things and kind of got to know the community, the community that had voted most overwhelmingly for Trump because we realized we didn't understand what had happened and that there was something there that, that was really big and consequential. And it was it was kind of heart-breaking, actually, because these people in these communities who had had these good paying coal jobs and the underlying force of economics had shifted away from coal. And they were in these decimate, you know, desperate communities. We had to drive an hour for a pint of milk. And they were like, it's coming back. Trump's promised it. It's coming back. We voted for him. Give it a year. We'll all be back in our good union jobs and mining coal. And of course they weren't. And they're in no better situation than they now, than they were then. And the way that these elections, these policies in election years get constructed to try to engineer votes for totally understandable reasons inside democratic processes, those people tend to get forgotten rather than then delivered on afterwards. So that's that's what makes you weep about the whole thing, even if you can see the reasoning for it that underlies it.

Paul: [00:21:39] Yeah. I mean, last comment, you know, Biden has turned up on picket lines to stand with kind of auto workers. It makes many of the right symbols. It's it's so complicated because a lot of this low cost PV is coming from China, where actually the grid has has more coal in it than than we would want. You know, there are multiple dimensions to this, but I think if you really want to know, the basic truth is we need to put up more renewable energy ten times faster. We need more electric vehicles ten times faster. If we focus on that, we'll get to the right place.

Tom: [00:22:11] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:22:12] No, yes. But the problem is the transition has a huge cost. That's the problem because we are absolutely right square and deep into the transition. And so once we get to where we want to then, you know, the arguments will be compelling and and we will have so many benefits. But, from here to there, it's a very messy transition.

Tom: [00:22:36] Yeah.

Paul: [00:22:36] But just one thought for you, Christiana, last thought from me is, is installing that solar. Those are the kind of jobs that people without a university degree can, can do without with this, you know. But but actually manufacturing that is not really where the jobs are because those are increasingly automated out, and the modern factory has less and less workers. Tom?

Christiana: [00:22:54] Yes, yes, we know that. But that's not the lived experience Paul, right.

Tom: [00:22:59] Yeah.

Paul: [00:22:59] No, it's all about, you know, we have those images of, you know, some happy manufacturing somewhere else, it will come down to the wire about how people feel about inflation, says our United States-ian on listening to this conversation. Mr Tom, what are you bringing this week?

Tom: [00:23:16] Yeah. Well, I will get to that. But just the last thought on this is I've been generally trying to avoid the November election buzz that is building amongst our friends across the Atlantic from where I live. But I did dig into the New York Times poll that came out this week that put Trump ahead in six of the seven key battleground states, which is a very powerful position. If the election was held today, he would clearly win. And the bit that really stuck out to me was the percentage of voters that want change and how the key candidates are viewed, whether or not they agree with their policies. So to just explain that. 

Christiana: [00:23:49] Say that again?

Tom: [00:23:50] 73% of voters want this election to lead to profound change, and less than 20% of voters see Biden as a change candidate. So even if you don't agree with the change that Trump is bringing, the underlying feeling that there is a there is a discontent and a sense that you want change. It's not good to be the continuity candidate when the when the country feels like that, even if you're even if your opponent doesn't have very popular policies. That's the bit that really stuck with me. 

Paul: [00:24:20] Yeah, somebody told me that.

Christiana: [00:24:21] That's very interesting. That's diametrically opposed to what I believe I said last week on the podcast. So it's worth, picking up that contrast. I love that contrast because I think last week, if it wasn't last week or the week before that, I said that my sense was this election was not about Biden, it was about Trump. Am I with him or am I against him. And what you're saying actually.

Tom: [00:24:45] This election appears to be about the desire for change.

Christiana: [00:24:48] Yeah, yeah. Very interesting.

Tom: [00:24:50] Yeah. And so what Biden needs to do is position himself as a change candidate. But that's pretty difficult to do at this point.

Paul: [00:24:55] Yeah. I mean, you know, somebody said a long while ago that the first of the two parties to field a candidate under 70 would win, and neither of them have.

Tom: [00:25:04] That's true, okay.

Paul: [00:25:07] It's hard to change a lot when you're when you're over 70. Tom.

Tom: [00:25:10] So I'm going to bring a slightly peculiar thing this week and I hope you will indulge me. So, this is mainly, I think it will, I think that the issue of it will resonate more broadly, but this may not be understood by people outside the UK. So let me explain it. There is a motoring show that has been the most popular show on TV in the UK for the last 30 years, called Top Gear, and for the longest time it was hosted by three people called Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. And they would go around the world driving fast cars and having great adventures and driving across the Amazon and doing all these other things, and they had a sort of charisma between the three of them that made them incredibly compelling to watch. They were the archetypal sort of sense of feeling like you were with your friends, which is why it drew everybody into it. It's a very male, very kind of, jovial vibe that they had. Most people have probably seen it.

Paul: [00:26:05] Quite sinister in some regards, but yeah.

Tom: [00:26:06] Right, so so Jeremy Clarkson himself is very controversial. He was described as the patron saint of bore's by The Guardian newspaper, which I thought was very good. He has very strong views that make him quite nauseating to people. He's the one who said Meghan Markle should be paraded through the streets and have lumps of excrement thrown at her, and a whole range of other views. In the end, Top Gear was cancelled because he punched one of the people who worked on the team that was supposed to be bringing him food because it was a hot dinner, he wanted a hot dinner and he wasn't being provided with that. As a result of that, the show was cancelled on the BBC and it went to Amazon. So this is all the background. And one of the things that he's been well known for is as a climate skeptic. So he said famously a while ago, the inconvenient truth is that there is no inconvenient truth. We haven't even scratched the surface. He keeps putting stuff out like it's so cold, global warming must not be an issue, and generally baiting people who are concerned about this. And because of course, he drives around in these huge V12 cars, it's sort of it connects directly to who he is and how he creates emissions himself. Now, I have a confession to make. And you're going to be surprised about this, Christiana, after having given you the confession I have.

Christiana: [00:27:18] That you're a fan, is that the confession?

Tom: [00:27:19] I quite like Jeremy Clarkson. It's quite difficult to dislike him, actually. He has a certain kind of roguish humour about him that makes him very compelling to watch. And a few years ago, he created a new TV show which is produced by our friends at Amazon called Clarkson's Farm, where he bought a 1000 acre farm in Oxfordshire. And he started trying to farm it, trying to work out what does it mean to be a farmer? How do you actually go about trying to make a living? How do you deal with the weather? And I've watched this show and on this recent episode that just came out, the new series is out, and I've just watched them. And on one of them, halfway through, he turns in this deliberate moment to the camera in the middle of the rain that is destroying his crops. And he says, climate change is a hell of a problem. We've got to do everything we can to sort this out. And it's like this watershed moment where actually this sort of vehicle of culture that has been completely opposed to doing, to acknowledging or doing anything about this issue has done a 180 and now he's still the same character, he's still the patron saint of bore's. He still says offensive things and has a personality that will put many people off.

Tom: [00:28:28] But in the latest series, he engages in regenerative farming. He looks at ways to improve the soil. He talks about how climate is an issue, he describes the changing weather, and he does it all from this personal experience of farming. So there's two things. One is. I think this is amazing. I think this is actually a watershed moment in certain cultural expectations and understanding the issue in the UK. And there has, of course, been a backlash and people have said this is outrageous. He should be made to pay if he's because he said it was always a joke, that he was pretending global warming wasn't real as part of his character. And the question that I'd like to bring to both of you is what should happen now? Should the climate community turn round and say, oh, fantastic, Jeremy Clarkson is now in favour of climate action and we should all be delighted? Or should we turn around and say, you know what, you're one of the people that have really screwed this up. And if it wasn't for you, pretending like this wasn't a problem for the last 30 years, maybe we would have made progress more quickly. How do we collectively respond to a big change like this?

Christiana: [00:29:35] Whew, nice question, Tom, but can you first tell us why you like him?

Tom: [00:29:40] So I will show you where I'm seeing this weekend aren't I, I will play you an episode or a clip of something. You probably will hate it, but there's just something about the vibe that is created by the persona. He's very good at what he does, because he creates a persona that draws people in to a sense of togetherness in how he creates his programs, and they're very compelling. They're very easy to watch. They're very entertaining.

Christiana: [00:30:02] Okay, well argued. Paul, how do you answer Tom's question?

Paul: [00:30:07] Okay. Well, I mean, my my first question is why would the climate change community feel the need to respond to him, right. I think that the climate change community is expected to respond to all kinds of things.

Tom: [00:30:20] Good question.

Paul: [00:30:21] I would argue that I wrote down here climate change is bigger than the stars. And what I meant by that is Jeremy Clarkson was a star. I got really angry with some of the comments he was making about climate change when he was doing the the show Top Gear on the BBC, because it was being watched by millions of people and he was saying, you know, dangerously inappropriate things to millions of people. I know I complained to the BBC about it and all kinds of things right. But actually hearing you tell the story, which you told very well, Tom, by the way, I think we were all on the edge of our seats. I recognized that creatures like Clarkson, he's a very famous media personality. He's kind of a weathervane. He's a portal, and he probably expresses the culture and the spirit of the people much more than we realize. So I personally draw a lot of strength from the fact that, of course, he's had to change, because otherwise he's going to be out there on a limb on his own. And that's not the way stardom works. I think we can bank this. I think if it's useful for us to poke fun at him, great. If we want to get him to help us with things now, we can call him up for service. But frankly, I just see it as just another one of the many boxes ticked on our way towards our destiny, which is to decarbonize our industrial system.

Christiana: [00:31:42] Okay.

Paul: [00:31:43] And to fix the nature crisis, which, by the way, I wanted to mention on this show is almost the reverse of an engineering problem. It's a super different set of technologies which I know nothing about, and it sounds like maybe Jeremy Clarkson's got something to offer. Christiana?

Christiana: [00:31:59] Well, what I very much like about your story, Tom, is that this is a person who has moved from his position or thinking about climate change as an abstract concept. And he argued that it didn't exist whatever, whereas now he's coming at it from his lived experience.

Paul: [00:32:29] Lived experience. 

Christiana: [00:32:30] That is very powerful. That is very, very powerful. Because one thing is what we imagine, what we think, what we project onto the screen, onto other people's screen, etc., etc. but it is another thing when you have the lived experience. So I'm delighted that he is now turned toward farming. I'm delighted that he's now having the lived experience that so many farmers around the world are having, especially in developing countries, and that that lived experience has actually led him to change his mind. That's the piece that I really celebrate. Now, to your question, should the climate community, you know, embrace him with open arms. There I'm totally with Paul. It's like, well, excuse me, you know, I mean, I'm I'm delighted for him and I'm delighted for other people who follow him. But but hopefully we have many of these stories of people who, you know, sooner or later are going to come around to say, ah, yes, I was wrong, and hopefully from their lived experience, because that's where the shoe really hurts. That's where the shoe really hurts. And that is where you have solidarity. That is where you understand that this is not just an invention, that this is not just a hoax. This is a reality. So I celebrate that part of your story.

Tom: [00:33:57] Yeah. No, that's a great point. And I mean, I think he's done actually more to help the general person. 5 million views in the UK is massive for a for any TV, let alone.

Paul: [00:34:06] It's like a tenth of the population almost.

Tom: [00:34:07] Tenth of the population on on a on Amazon Prime right. Which most people don't necessarily subscribe to.

Paul: [00:34:11] Wow. So it'd be like 100% of Amazon Prime.

Tom: [00:34:14] Yeah, exactly. And many people signing up to watch it, I'm sure. So hugely successful. And I think it's done more to help the general population understand farming and the pressures that it's placed, that are placed upon it in a changing climate than anything else that's happened in the previous generation. One other point, though, is he is a particularly powerful example of somebody who, as you say, Paul reflects the public opinion but also co-creates it. But there are many others. And the way in which the quote unquote climate community responds to people changing their minds has an effect on how future people might respond to this. So if someone like Jeremy Clarkson comes out and says, oh, now climate change is real, and and this hasn't happened to be clear, but if as a result of that, there is kind of endless crowing about how terrible he was and how much he's had to climb down.

Christiana: [00:35:03] That doesn't help.

Tom: [00:35:03] And so that's the question, right, is how to respond to these things. So some of that has kind of started to happen, but it hasn't really built momentum. But we've seen it before. So how do we the important thing is not him, but it's how do we respond to these moments in a manner that provides an on ramp to lots of other people, to then honestly be welcomed like heroes is one way to do it, yeah.

Christiana: [00:35:23] Yes, yeah. I'm not sure of as heroes, but certainly I think our attitude has to be welcome to the tent.

Tom: [00:35:29] Right, yeah.

Christiana: [00:35:30] Welcome to the tent.

Paul: [00:35:31] He's he's given lots of offense. You know, I know particularly to me, for example, and millions of other people, lots of other people are worried about climate change from his previous comments. But I remember I once accidentally insulted someone who had quite a lot of faith, actually. And I realized I'd done this and I apologized profusely and this person said something I've never forgotten. They said offense was given, but not taken. And I think that's our choice to exercise that particular power and capability. And if we have an ally with 5 million, you know, viewers in the UK, let's welcome the the use we can put our new ally to and not find ourselves wasting energy on what may be an unproductive, cross-examination of what's gone before. There'll be time for the courts of retribution in the future. Let's now focus on building our strength through unity.

Tom: [00:36:31] Yeah. The other thing there is new allies don't always look like old allies, right. They can be quite different. And actually, he's still going to be probably he's still probably going to have, say all kinds of offensive things and do you know, and be boring and support, you know, whatever else. All of the things he previously was, he will continue to be. And the question there is, how do you build other kinds of alliances. I'm reminded, I'm sure you both know Solitaire Townsend from Futerra. Several years ago, I saw her give a talk and she said this thing that always stayed with me. She said, okay, I want you all to imagine there's a group of green NGOs. She said, I want you to all imagine that I can wave this magic wand. And carbon emissions will be 350 parts per million, and that's where they will stay. But, the world will still be unfair. People will still be greedy. All of the other problems will still be there. How many of you would take the deal. Less than 10% hands went up.

Paul: [00:37:20] I would.

Tom: [00:37:21] Right. So maybe people will have changed now that the crisis is getting worse. But there's a there's a question there about how do we embrace different kinds of approaches that look and feel uncomfortable, but we need to build a big coalition and a broad tent to make big change. So that's what's asked of us now.

Christiana: [00:37:36] Yeah. The way I was thinking about that, which I think, echoes what you've just said, Tom, is the understanding that climate change is upon us has to be mainstreamed to everyone. And if it's going to be mainstreamed, that means we're going to go way beyond the sanctimonious among us. Because not everybody is sanctimonious, right. Not everybody is a saint, and so we're we're going to have to develop a, an openness that goes beyond tolerance, by the way, an openness for the mainstream that comes with many, many different profiles and attitudes. And, you know, the, the, the huge diversity of humanity, ultimately, whether climate change exists or not. And I can't even believe that I'm saying that should not be a question anymore. We should not be questioning it right. And and and and we all have to understand that it is as here with us and as a powerful reality as gravity is. And nobody discusses what you know, what, whether you are a sanctimonious person or whether you are someone who, judges people and insults people.

Tom: [00:39:03] Based on your view of gravity.

Christiana: [00:39:05] Based on your view of gravity. Exactly.

Tom: [00:39:06] Yeah, yeah.

Paul: [00:39:08] I mean, I'm showing you all a little picture that, that our listeners can't see, but it'll be very familiar to all of you. In February 1945, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt sat together, and, they really didn't like each other, but they were sure of one thing. And that is that your enemy's enemy is for the duration of that particular problem, your friend.

Tom: [00:39:31] All right. So I think that brings us to a close. Unless anyone has anything else they want to add?

Paul: [00:39:37] No, other than to say it was a very fun and interesting conversation I enjoyed that. Thank you.

Tom: [00:39:40] Yeah, that was great.

Paul: [00:39:42] Probably should cut that out, Clay, because they're all supposed to be. But this one was.

Tom: [00:39:47] Well, wonderful to see you both and thanks for joining us, everybody. We'll see you next week.

Paul: [00:39:51] See you next week.

Christiana: [00:39:52] Bye.

Tom: [00:39:53] Bye.

Clay: [00:39:57] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. I'm Clay. Thanks for listening. Thank you to everyone sending in your voicemails for the How to Live a Good Life series. We have been cataloging them, listening through. We've had incredible responses and the voicemail inbox is still open, so please feel free to send in the thing that you're wrestling with as you're actively trying to live a good life during a climate crisis. Speakpipe.com/outrageandoptimism. Okay, next week we have on Tom Steyer. So you don't want to miss that episode. As always, you can hit subscribe to our show so that you don't miss another episode. That way it's easy. It just shows up. It's right there for you every Thursday. Thanks for listening. We will see you next week.


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