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211: You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

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About this episode

Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism, where we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue about building a sustainable future.

For the final episode of the season, Christiana, Tom and Paul answer many of your fantastic questions including: ‘We hear a lot of talk about planting trees to sequester carbon, but most of our planet is covered by ocean, and the ocean is absorbing most of the heat. Should we be doing more to plant and restore seaweed, seagrasses, and mangroves?’; ‘If anything would be possible and all of us would work together towards one goal - what would your ideal world look like?’ and “Are we gonna be OK?”’ 

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 this week comes from our very own fabulous host, Christiana Figueres, check out the video of her rap here. Feel free to spread the love! 

We will welcome you back in September with a very exciting not-to-be-missed interview, followed by episodes sharing insights into New York Climate Week, COP and many more important events which will see us through to the end of the year. 


Christiana’s incredible rap video can be found here.

Adam McKay’s video can be found here.

The song mentioned by Paul from Gracie Fields can be found here.

Here is a link to the lawsuit against big oil companies by the city of San Francisco.

Learn more about the Paris Agreement.

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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] Today we bring you an end of season special where we go through your questions that you have kindly provided over the last few weeks. And we have music from Christiana Figueres. Thanks for being here.

Paul: [00:00:27] And we have music from Rev Ev. Thanks for being.

Tom: [00:00:46] We have music from Christiana Figueres. What is going on there, Christiana?

Paul: [00:00:50] We have music from Rev Ev.

Christiana: [00:00:52] How crazy.

Tom: [00:00:53] So Paul is insisting on calling her Rev Ev, which is revolution evolution, I think, rather than Reverend Ev.

Paul: [00:00:59] CF, she's like the big noise out of Costa Rica. She dropped like Latin America is on fire. Her phone is going crazy. Everyone's just like, lost it. I don't know where I am. I've been changed, a lot's happened.

Tom: [00:01:10] A lot of people have said it to me already. I can't imagine how many people have said it to you. Christiana, what is going on here?

Christiana: [00:01:15] Well, the truth is, as you all know, that I'm a frustrated singer. I would have chosen to be an opera singer had I been able to choose my profession. But clearly, that is not ever going to happen because I cannot hold a tune. I can't.

Paul: [00:01:31] Impossible is just an attitude.

Christiana: [00:01:33] Yes well, so then therefore, we just morph things, right. 

Paul: [00:01:39] Exactly.

Christiana: [00:01:39] So I discovered thanks to Brother Pháp Huu at Plum Village that when you rap, you don't have to sing. You just have to, like, speak and be able to hold a rhythm. So that was a huge inspiration. I decided right now I'm going to get all my singing frustration out. And so I've produced this little rap.

Paul: [00:02:00] So what you hear is not a test. Christiana is rapping to the beat. Sorry, Tom.

Tom: [00:02:05] No, I was going to ask, does it, so first of all, it's brilliant and well done for putting it out. People love it. So you will hear it listeners at the end of this episode in the traditional spot for the music appearance. Christiana's rap will be there and you could find it online. And the response has been amazing that I've seen. Two questions for you, Christiana. What kind of response have you seen? And also, does it scratch that itch? Does rapping scratch the I want to sing more itch in you?

Paul: [00:02:30] And a third question when is the album coming out? Because I've got like agencies, I got, you know, major labels phoning me.

Christiana: [00:02:37] Well, I'm honestly delighted that people are liking it because it really is rapping 1.1, right. It is so primitive, but it's it's my first rap. My first. Are you hearing that? I'm saying my first. I might be motivated to do a second. Let's see. But it is a lot of work. I cannot tell you how much work and how much love from other people, family members and friends went into this. And I just received so much coaching and so much musical support. And no, that is not the rhythm. Do it over again. Keep the rhythm. Da da da da da. So I'm really, really grateful for all that support and it's all just a lot of work, but maybe the second one won't, won't be that much work. I don't know. I'm, I'm still sort of asking myself, shall I do a second one? We'll see when the muse moves me. 

Paul: [00:03:33] So we're going to have the rap in the in the podcast. There's also going to be a link to it in the show notes. You got to see the video. You know, Christiana comes from a small country from the east side to the west Side is not very far in Costa Rica. But you know, whether it's West Coast or East Coast, Christiana can kind of like walk from one to the other in a day and a half. But it's but what she's captivating is the spirit of both unified and just, well, I don't know what to say. It's the it's the voice of nature, you know, manifested as urban.

Tom: [00:04:03] Very good. Okay. So we are going to turn now to some questions. This is the final episode of this season. Not that we're really counting seasons anymore in Global Optimism because life just kind of rolls on and all is very good. But we're going to take a few weeks off in August and we'll be back in September for the traditional sprint through the end of the year with New York Climate Week and the COP and all these other good things that hopefully will move us forward. So we take a bit of a break in August. But first, we have been asking for your questions and we've received a huge number. We're not going to be able to get through all of them, but the point of the next half an hour or so is for us to pitch them in and invite our co-hosts to answer them. So I wonder if either of you would like to pick a question to start. Load More
Christiana: [00:04:45] Paul is going to start.

Paul: [00:04:47] 'Can there be a truly sustainable petroleum company (or is it impossible?!)', asks James Shoresy. And look, I'm going to I'm going to start us off, Tom, Christiana, disagree with me. I'm going to say there cannot be a sustainable petroleum company because petroleum is a product we have to phase out. There could be a company that produces petroleum and it could be truly sustainable if they have a credible plan to get rid of petroleum, to reduce the production at the necessary speed. And if they have their progress regularly audited, that could be a sustainable company because they're, I guess they're in they see themselves in some broader business. But if they're just about petroleum, then no, I don't think you can have a sustainable petroleum company.

Christiana: [00:05:30] I think you could expand that to petroleum and gas.

Paul: [00:05:32] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:05:33] Same, same answer, right. Because some so I don't know why in some corners it is thought that because gas has sometimes the adjective natural in front of it, that gas is less polluting than oil. And and it doesn't matter if it's less polluting. The point is, in fact, even if you take into account methane, you actually come up with numbers that are pretty scary, that gas is just as polluting as coal, which is the most polluting fossil fuel. So Paul's answer actually spans across all fossil fuels coal, oil and gas.

Tom: [00:06:16] Yeah, and I would only echo that and say the only sustainable petroleum company is one that has a plan not to be a petroleum company, in which case that could be a good thing. If it has a reasonable time frame and an ability to make that change. And technical@globaloptimism have just reminded us we have to also read the name of the person who submitted the question. So, Paul, I don't think you did.

Paul: [00:06:33] I did, actually. But you weren't listening. It was James Shoresy.

Tom: [00:06:37] Oh, okay.

Paul: [00:06:38] You're just trying to buy yourself some time because you haven't written the listeners names next to the questions, so that's okay Tom, it's fine, it's absolutely fine.

Tom: [00:06:45] Christiana, you want to pick one?

Christiana: [00:06:46] But maybe, just maybe, yeah, maybe just to wrap that up, what all of these companies, the opportunity that they have is actually to transform themselves into sustainable energy companies, right? There's no need to remain completely tethered to the resource that they chose in the last century. They can move over to the resources of this century and continue to be energy companies.

Paul: [00:07:16] We'll always need energy. We just don't want it made out of dinosaurs.

Christiana: [00:07:19] Recto.

Tom: [00:07:20] Okay. Christiana, you want to pitch one in?

Christiana: [00:07:22] Um, yeah. I was taken by this question that came in from Spencer Fletcher that alludes to eco terrorism. And the question specifically says 'If political and corporate action on climate continues to stall, do you think environmental protests could morph into eco terrorism across the world?' Well, I guess the specific answer to that would depend on what you Spencer, how you define eco terrorism.

Paul: [00:07:51] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:07:52] But but I did want to say that that question opened up a mental window for me that actually has to do with the huge number of climate refugees that we are now seeing because of increasing temperatures. So the the absolutely terrifying facts is that today more than 80% of refugees who are fleeing their countries are fleeing because they're affected by rising temperatures and because the conflicts around water, land and food are so exacerbated by catastrophic events like floods, droughts and and that what that actually means is that just last year, there were more than 32 million people displaced because of natural disaster, meaning that we are already at more than 40% higher displacement because of natural disasters than we were the last ten years. So that is definitely a trend. And this year with these, I can't even call it record breaking temperatures because record breaking or unprecedented is just no longer an adjective that we use to describe temperatures that have not been seen in over 100,000 years. And that is going to lead to even more misery of people living in already hot and dry climates who will have to migrate and many of them across borders. So this is really going to lead to competition for increasingly scarce water, food and land. I don't know if that is what you call eco terrorism, but for me, this is actually terrorism being fraught upon humans.

Paul: [00:10:07] Climate terrorism, weather extreme weather, terrorism. It's a great way to phrase it, to think of it in terms of the impact of this extreme climate on people.

Tom: [00:10:17] Did you see recently Adam McKay put out a little video. We'll put a link to it in the show notes where he had used AI to create a sort of emergency announcement from President Biden where he said, you know, it's very well done. It's like we have discovered these terrorist sleeper cells and they are undertaking actions that will lead to massive droughts, loss of American cities. They did it. He presented it as if it was the discovery of a terrorist cell. It was it was a clever, a clever thing. And I agree with your analysis, Christiana. I think what, I think to me, and I may be reading it differently to you, but I think the question here is about are we going to see environmental movements morph into more like terrorist organizations undertaking direct action such as was happening in Kim Stanley Robinson's book, The Ministry for the Future, that we have talked about. I mean, it's such a difficult situation that because, first of all, we would never countenance or support anything that destroyed property or destroyed people. So you have to be completely clear about that. And I think most people would share that perspective. And the the impulse that we're already seeing more direct action and sometimes direct action, that that hinges on something that might be violent.

Tom: [00:11:32] We're not seeing that yet, but that's what this question is pointing to. You can understand that the necessity to do that or the the impulse to do that is coming from fear and a realization that we're not doing enough. However, if it did occur, what would happen would be a massive version of what we're already seeing in the UK where just stop oil are engaging in really very light disruption, disrupting sports games, disrupting roads, etcetera. And the press is grabbing hold of that and turning public opinion against them in such a manner that it's quite a complicated analysis as to whether that's moving us forward or it's damaging the broader cause, and that's something to discuss. However, if we saw widespread eco terrorism, then the message would turn the vast majority of the population against those tactics in a way that would split society in a profound way. So that would actually be my real concern. 

Christiana: [00:12:27] More than it is now.

Tom: [00:12:28] More than it is now. I mean, now could look like the foothills of what would happen in that scenario. So I think we should just be really mindful that that is how this would turn out if we went down that road or if some people did.

Paul: [00:12:40] And just just a little thought about, I have a friend in the BBC who I've discussed, you know, news people have a lot of trouble defining what is terrorism, frankly. And just to give you just a little thought, if we think in terms of conflict, you know, I've got a slight, slightly sarcastic way of putting it that a terrorist is somebody without an air force or an anti-air weapon because, you know, if you can kind of be bombed indiscriminately from the sky, you may be a terrorist, but everyone who can't is called a member of the international community. So there are some very rough edges to the concept of terrorism.

Tom: [00:13:16] Yeah, yeah. It's a it's it's but it's an issue that is around a lot at the moment. If it were to happen, the outcomes would be incredibly difficult to predict in terms of how it would affect society. Right, shall I pitch one in?

Paul: [00:13:29] Go for it.

Christiana: [00:13:30] Yeah.

Tom: [00:13:30] So this is a good question, 'Do you think a post-growth scenario is viable in the multilateral scene, say, for the EU?' Interesting question about post-growth economics and also a touch of like whether that would work on the international stage. PD, I bet you've got an answer to this.

Paul: [00:13:47] I totally do. I totally do.

Christiana: [00:13:50] And and that question came from Daniel Gutiérrez Patiño.

Tom: [00:13:53] Thank you. After reminding everyone else to say, thank you very much, Daniel Gutiérrez Patiño.

Paul: [00:13:58] So brilliant question. I made a little note here, which I'm going to read out because I'm rather proud of it. Any sustainable future must massively reduce extraction of materials from the Earth's crust and destruction of nature. This is something simple we can all agree on. But will a new, sustainable circular economy have less GDP or more? That's very hard to know. Literally, GDP is just a number. If, for example, this is going to sound crazy, but I'm being serious. If parents began charging their children for child care, albeit in the form of debt to be repaid in adulthood, there would be a massive increase in GDP, even though the world would not change at all. So GDP does not necessarily correspond to the real world and is a measuring system that can be designed in different ways. Christiana looks like she doesn't, she doesn't buy that.

Christiana: [00:14:46] No, I get it. I get it.

Tom: [00:14:48] I, I agree with that. But that goes for so many concepts that tie our world together, right? Like the concept of money, which is also true, which is largely fictional and created. And it makes sense because we all believe it rather than being backed by a real asset.

Paul: [00:15:02] It makes sense because the police back it.

Tom: [00:15:04] But but that's also true of of of of many functions. That's a good point on that. But just because it's socially created doesn't mean that it doesn't create doesn't have a hold over our lives that is connected to all sorts of other ways in which our economic and political system work.

Paul: [00:15:19] Yeah, this idea of more this idea that the purpose of our society is to have like taller buildings and faster whatever, and bigger whatever that is basically going to kill us if we can't find a way of making our society more about quality of life than quantity of stuff, we are doomed. But I don't think GDP necessarily cares what it measures.

Tom: [00:15:38] Right. But the thing, I mean the thing I always hear from politicians when you talk about post-growth and there are thoughtful answers to this are things like employment and pensions. And actually, if you if you were to move in a post-growth scenario, you wouldn't necessarily be able to follow the train towards further higher percentages of employment across the economy or protecting pensions. So to unpick that requires unpicking quite deep concepts across our society, which needs to be done. But for the viability to really be there, we need to it needs a wholesale rethink of which post-growth is part of an overall picture around how we run our world.

Christiana: [00:16:13] The problem that I have with this is why we have so narrowly defined growth. Robert Kennedy famously said decades ago that GDP is an excellent measure of everything except that which is important. And that statement is rings true even to today. And so the problem here, I think, is that we have chosen because it was a choice, a human choice to give monetary value to the result of the extractive mentality of the polluting, polluting activities that we have been building our society on. End of competition. That's where we see growth, right. This company has a higher value and a higher share price than that one. And but that was a choice. The wrong choice. We know now. I'm I'm uncomfortable about putting post growth scenario into a negative box because I think we need much more growth. We need much more growth of the right things of the ones that we want. We need much more growth of solidarity. We need much more growth of clean, non-polluting, cheap, everywhere accessible energy. We need much more growth of locally produced food. We need much more growth of social equity. So it's just because we have poorly defined what growth is. What what if we have a collective rethink and go like, okay, what do we really want to grow? It's not that growth is wrong. It's the things that we measure under growth that have gotten us into this situation. But growth, who says that we have enough social justice? Who says that we have enough food distribution? Who says that we have enough clean energy? Who says that we have enough human rights? We don't. We have to grow in all of that. So let's just open our heads to what we talk about when we say growth.

Tom: [00:18:47] Yeah, that's a great point. It's a great point. Cool. All right. Thanks for the question. PD, another one?

Paul: [00:18:55] I'll give you one, 'How do you see the balance of bottom up and top down reductions in carbon emissions? It feels like the podcast focuses heavily on the top down transformations, but we all have roles and responsibilities. Can you discuss this, please?', from Jonathan Smith. Who's going to start us? I have something to say, but I think somebody else should start.

Tom: [00:19:16] I mean, I would just say I think that's a I think that's a great challenge. And I think that I've actually been thinking for a while that it would be good to do some episodes on things like, you know, what should our diets be and and should we be flying and what kinds of careers make sense at a time of transition like this? So I actually feel like that's a really good suggestion. I think we do tend to focus on some of the systemic changes which are important. But I also have worried sometimes that maybe people feel a bit disconnected from some of the big geopolitical issues that we discuss. So I would take that as a really good suggestion as a challenge. And for next season, we should just do the odd episode here and there about how are we showing up, how is our behaviour, how are our careers really contributing in a positive way. So, good idea.

Paul: [00:19:59] I mean, all all I'll add is I think it's a really important question. And we do respond a bit to the news cycle in some of what we say, and that tends to highlight the so-called top down. But we've had interviewed, for example, a year or so ago, I was on stage for a live broadcast with friends of mine who run something called Giki Zero, and that's actually a small social enterprise that's got more than a million employees able to make lifestyle changes through software to reduce carbon. So I think that's an example of the bottom up that compliments the top down. And I'm going to put a link. I'm going to ask Clay to put a link in in the show notes to a song from World War II that I think was sung by Vera Lynn, I can't remember. And it's it's called The Thing‐Ummy‐Bob. And I'm not going to do the whole song for you, but it's she ends up saying, and it's the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil, the oils the ring that makes the thing thing-ummy-bob that's going to win the war. And it was kind of about how we've all got a part to play in this great big enterprise. So I do think both the, you know, the top up, the top down is exciting big stuff, but it's the bottom up that is where the billions of people make the change that changes the world.

Christiana: [00:21:07] I, um, I agree that that we should have an episode only on this because I think it's very, very fair feedback that we tend to go to systemic or corporate or policy and that we haven't focused enough on individual contributions. So good, good for picking that up and bringing it to our attention. And just as a teaser to what we will discuss when we get to that episode, every single one of us ought to have a very concrete plan of how we're going to get to half, at least half of the emissions that we're putting out now as an individual, as a family, by 2030, which means that each one of us ought to know what our carbon footprint is now and then divide it by two and figure out how we're going to get here, get there, and it is actually completely doable. I have a friend who in Costa Rica is known as Tomas Carnaco, who constantly, constantly says famously, we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term. We underestimate what we can do in 2030. Honestly, if each of us individually set our minds to it, we would be at half our emissions way before 2030. So that just is a little window to the conversation that we will definitely have.

Paul: [00:22:42] 100%. And it's actually Gracie Fields sang the song and it's Tom Rivetto-Carnaco I think is the correct name, but.

Christiana: [00:22:49] Oh, sorry about that one.

Paul: [00:22:49] Okay, next question.

Christiana: [00:22:51] Well, so I would love to go to the ocean because I don't think we can not address the ocean.

Paul: [00:22:57] Take us to the ocean Christiana.

Christiana: [00:22:59] Take us to the ocean. So we have from Citizens Climate lobby in Sacramento. We have a great question. 'We hear a lot of talk about planting trees to sequester carbon, but most of our planet is covered by ocean and the ocean is absorbing most of the heat. So should we be doing more to plant and restore seaweeds, sea grasses and mangroves?' That's the question to which the answer is, absolutely. Absolutely. But just just to put a few numbers onto that question, we do know that 70% of the earth's surface is water is the ocean. And and as as as the listener says, we tend to focus only on land, which means we're focusing only on 30% of our surface. So 70% is ocean. And the ocean has been absorbing at least 90% of the warming that has occurred in recent decades. So can you imagine if we have the temperatures that we have right now, highest temperatures in over 100,000 years. What would, I mean, we would be literally frying here on the surface of the earth if we didn't have the ocean that has been absorbing 90% of the temperature produced by greenhouse gases. Now, the question is, of course, how much more, how much more of a buffer role can the oceans play? And the answer to that is not much more. So oceans really play a very, very important part in protecting us from ourselves basically, protecting us from ourselves. And if we look at what grows in oceans, we could actually use the ocean to absorb 21%, more or less, but let's say 20% of the emissions needed to get us to 1.5.

Christiana: [00:25:14] How would that be done? Exactly as the listener says, by restoring, protecting and managing coastal and marine ecosystems, that includes mangroves, seagrasses, salt marshes, macroalgae, reefs, because they all have an ability to sequester and store carbon. And also, in fact, as though that were not enough to also improve coastal resilience and contribute to adaptation. So here we are, oceans that are absorbing heat can absorb carbon and can improve our adaptation capacity. It is unbelievable that we tend to not focus on the ocean. And and here's a little personal story. Many, many years ago, while I was still at the UN, someone came up to me and I wish I knew who it was. And if if there's a listener who did this for me, I would really love to know. Someone came up to me after some public speech about climate change and said, Christiana, you never talk about the ocean. And this person gave me a little blue marble and the person said, carry this with you so then you remember the oceans. And I still have that little blue marble. It comes with me every time, I have it in my in my computer case. And it is such a such a beautiful reminder constantly that the oceans, oh my gosh, the oceans are such a friend and such an ally. And we have ignored them basically up until now. So yes, my friend, we should definitely turn our attention to the oceans and help the ocean be a better ally for us.

Paul: [00:27:10] And follow that if you can. But just one small point, not not so small, maybe the biggest point in all of climate change, I don't know the exact number, but the oceans could be responsible for as much as 40% of pump down, so to say, or the drawing the CO2 out of the atmosphere. And they do that through the plankton forming their shells. And the plankton are finding it harder and harder to form their shells because of the increasing acidification of the ocean. And I spent actually, you know, like almost ten years unbelievably terrified by this. Somebody said that actually we may be able to develop different sorts of sea creatures, plankton or whatever that are able to change the acidification of the ocean. That may be an absolutely critical intervention for humans to make in the future. But just to say in a very real way, Christiana, everybody must focus upon that gigantic machine, the oceans, which is such a critical part of the carbon cycle, and we ignore at our absolute peril.

Tom: [00:28:04] And I remember Christiana, you pulling that blue marble out of your bag on a regular basis and reminding us all to think of the ocean. So that was an important part of those years. Thanks for reminding us of that. Just a couple of things to add. One is Europe is is experiencing this devastating heat wave at the moment, as is the southern part of the United States. And, you know, we're getting used to reporting on these, but we'll do something special on heat soon. There's been a lot of reports of how carbon offsets in terrestrial ecosystems are subject to increasing wildfires and so they get lost. That, different issues affect aquatic or marine ecosystems, but they are, they are not susceptible to wildfires. So that is an important reason why we need to hedge our restoration and our drawing down of carbon to make them both terrestrial and marine, and in particular, I would just point out mangroves, mangroves are much more durable and lock carbon away more permanently than terrestrial forests. So there's all sorts of positive reasons to focus on the oceans and areas around the oceans to improve those ecosystems.

Christiana: [00:29:07] And mangroves are great reproductive areas for many marine species.

Tom: [00:29:15] Yes. Okay. So I'm going to hop to a question from Spencer Fletcher, if I may, who asks a very important question that I've actually heard phrased in various ways by many people. So I think it's good for us to delve into this. The question is, 'Given that POTUS has granted fossil fuel licenses, which will cancel out a lot of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the COP seems to be falling into the wrong hands, coupled with the fact that emissions should have peaked by now and, should peak, have peaked between now and 2025, is it time to admit 1.5 degrees is out of reach?' This is a timely question. Bob Watson, the former chair of the IPCC, gave an interview this week in which he said that he thought 1.5 degrees was now gone and we should accept it. Christiana, I think you should probably come in first on this.

Christiana: [00:30:03] I have two words to answer that question. It is a very important question. My two words are, no way, no way. I totally respect Bob Watson, one of the most incredible earth scientists and and and former head of the IPCC. And what a brilliant job he did and continues to do. And I totally understand that from a scientific point of view that he says, we may have lost 1.5, but here is my non-scientific argument. If we let 1.5 as a ceiling of temperature go as an aspiration, we totally lose the anchor and then we are out. Absolutely out with no anchor, with no target. That keeps us focused. So just from a human point of view, there's no way we can give up on 1.5. Secondly, from a solidarity point of view. More than 1.5 means millions of people, especially in low lying areas, low lying coastlines, low lying islands that would lose their home. So just from a moral solidarity point of view, there's no way. There's no way in hell that we can give up on 1.5. And to return to Bob, I think, and maybe we should have him, actually, why don't we have him on the podcast to have this conversation? Because my point to Bob is, is it possible that we might overshoot and go beyond 1.5 in the short term, but then be able to pull it back and as a long term stabilization temperature of the planet, can we actually then stabilize back at 1.5, even if we overshoot for for, I don't know, a decade, two decades. Because 1.5 is actually a long term target. And of course, there will be consequences of the overshoot should that be the case. But I would really love to hear from Bob. Sorry, because I've known him for so many years, I call him Bob. Dr Watson, I mean, one of the most brilliant, brilliant scientists.

Paul: [00:32:48] Dr Watson I presume.

Christiana: [00:32:48] Dr Watson. Yes, indeed. I would love to know his sense on overshooting and is it a possible to then return and what are the consequences of overshooting?

Paul: [00:33:03] And Tom, can I just pitch in one thing, I think the key here is the phrase, is it time to accept 1.5 is out of reach? And I think this is really what Christiana is saying is accepting that is intolerable. I mean, I have to say, for those who are not climate experts, you know, certainly my study of the sciences, why on earth we ever think that anything we arrive at 1.5, 2, 2.5 would be stable. These are doorways to unknowable instability. So I couldn't agree with you more Christiana. We have to focus on 1.5 as an absolute target. And if we if we go on beyond it, we have to get straight back. And there are all sorts of ways of pumping down to achieve that goal. But it's ultimately about how hard we want to kick this lion we're locked in a prison cell with. You don't want to kick it more than 1.5 because, at 2 if it wakes up, it might just bite our head off.

Tom: [00:33:58] So so first of all, I really agree with those sentiments. And I'm just going to because because I hear so many people talking about this, I'm just going to push this one step further because I think that it's important. So I hear a lot of different conversations. One is, given the direction that we're going in, do we ever, what am I trying to say, Christiana, you made a point there where you said from a scientific point of view, you can see the analysis there, but from a moral position, it's intolerable to say that we can accept that 1.5 is passed. But those two things, the moral and the scientific, can't drift too far apart because you've got to hold things together to a point where, credulity and believability stay sufficiently close in order to make people feel that you're not pollyannaish and you're sort of saying something that's for the birds. So so that's one thing, is how do we hold those together.

Christiana: [00:34:50] Nothing against the birds by the way.

Tom: [00:34:51] We love the birds. Yeah. Keen on more birds. So that's one part of it. And the other thing I hear is, is there a grand bargain to be done with those who have maybe been a bit, resistant to change, to say, okay, look, you know, we accept that 1.5 degrees is impossible, but is there a grand bargain that the world can collectively do to settle on something that's worse? Accepting the, and the answer to that is, of course, it's morally reprehensible because of the consequences that leads to people. But is is there something in there, so the two questions. One is, if morality and science split too far apart, what do we do? And the second question is, is there a grand bargain that is morally tolerable and practical that in the end gets us to a better place than than simply saying it's not feasible or it's not it's not tolerable?

Christiana: [00:35:43] No, I think it's a very good point, Tom. But if the grand bargain means that we're giving ourselves the space to be even more irresponsible than we are right now, then I really worry. Then I really worry that we're giving ourselves license to just continue business as usual for a longer period of time. So I totally agree with you that morality and credulity cannot, there cannot be a huge gap there. And me, I want to bring credulity back down to morality, right.

Tom: [00:36:29] Yes, yes. That's a good point. Which one sways in the context of the split?

Christiana: [00:36:33] Which one sways? Because, because it is not realistic to say that today in 2023, we already have all the technologies that we're going to use over the rest of this century to deal with increasing temperatures. That is just factually incorrect because we know that we are developing more and more and more technologies. We know that technology, especially in this in this century, is on an exponential curve, not linear. And it's very difficult for us to think exponentially and to be able to pull the future into the present. Is, is something that we conceptually know we ought to be doing. But when we try to do that, we're actually incarcerated in our present mentality and in our present level of technologies. So it's not that technology is the only thing that is going to solve this, but there's a huge role to be played by technologies in the future, in the present and in the future, and obviously by policies that will support those technologies. So, no, I'm, I mean, if you want to call for a great bargain over 1.5, please don't call me.

Paul: [00:37:57] And just to add Tom, one small thing, I was just stuck my head out the window and I looked right the way around because I got a 360 degree view here. I don't see any grand bargain anywhere. You show me a grand bargain with some temperature attached to it and we can have another conversation. But it's a kind of it's like a silly idea connected to a myth.

Tom: [00:38:14] Okay.

Paul: [00:38:16] I'm not sure you agree, Tom, but you want to move it to another question, which is fair enough.

Tom: [00:38:20] No, no, I mean, no, I do agree with you. And and the reason I pushed on that and I really appreciate the answers is that this is coming now, there's a lot of talk about this. I hear so many people talk about what's our hedge against failure on 1.5. Is there a geoengineering solution? How do we, you know, try and do a grand bargain on 1.5? So so you can't.

Paul: [00:38:41] Oh well, it's very simple. Just on geoengineering, you put the mirrors at the L1 Lagrange Point between the Earth and the sun. It's 26,000 tons. You fire them off the moon using an electron booster, using nuclear reactors. I have looked into it, but I wouldn't, I wouldn't bet your grandchildren on it.

Tom: [00:38:57] No, but but but the point I'm making is that all of these conversations are probably more advanced than than most people realize.

Christiana: [00:39:04] Yes, yes, I totally agree.

Tom: [00:39:06] And therefore, it's important that we have that conversation in public and try to not deny the reality that the thinking is running ahead of where we are.

Christiana: [00:39:15] Absolutely. Absolutely agree.

Tom: [00:39:18] Another question.

Paul: [00:39:19] I've got a question for you, which is, 'Who is funding you?' And we think that's actually a very legitimate question. Tom, do you have an answer?

Tom: [00:39:27] Yeah, we've got a big cheque from the Coke. No, I'm only joking.

Paul: [00:39:31] Coke brothers, fantastic. Allegedly, allegedly. We're not going to get libelled for this.

Tom: [00:39:37] So I'll give an answer. But Paul, you can maybe pull me up if there's things I miss here. So the first thing to say is that when you do a podcast, there's a couple of models that we looked at. One is that you run ads and then you get paid a certain amount every time someone clicks or uses your particular link to a product for an ad. And we looked at that and that's a sort of numbers game. You have to have a lot of downloads. And thankfully, thanks to all of you, we do have a lot of downloads now, but we decided early on that if we could avoid it, we didn't want to go that route because it comes with certain compromises. There's a certain commerciality of it. I'm not suggesting that podcasts that do this aren't independent. Of course they are. But we felt like the things we wanted to say, we wanted to have complete flexibility to not worry about that. So we decided to be foundation funded. We're supported by three different foundations. We have had conversations with them. They are all set up legally to give money to not for profit entities around the world. We haven't actually asked them if they want to be publicly identified. They're all foundations that would be well known to everybody. There's nothing nefarious in there, but I kind of feel like we should probably ask them before we say their names on this podcast. So maybe if we can do it in time, put them in the show notes and if not, it'll be on our website in a, you know, as, as quickly as we can do it.

Paul: [00:40:50] Christiana, it's your turn for a question.

Christiana: [00:40:52] We also got a question from Jenny Lam saying, 'It seems to me that these days we're seeing more and more planet wreckers and protesters suing each other both ways. Governments are being sued, too. Is it a fair observation? And how do we feel about using legal means as a strategy to hold the big oil and interest groups accountable in terms of effectiveness and speed?' So the answer to that, Jenny, is yes. That is a very, very good observation. The fact is that the number of climate litigation cases in the world has more than doubled since 2015, since the Paris Agreement. And that's understandable because now we have a legally binding global agreement that has been made national law in most countries around the world. And hence there is a very, let's say, easy reference for for those who are noting that governments and corporations are not doing what the Paris Agreement dictates and hence the number of litigation cases has gone up. So just to have a sense of the numbers, we now are well over 2000 cases of climate litigation, most of them, most of them in the United States, but then also a nice chunk in Australia, in the UK and in the EU. And I also looked into a little a while ago about what are these litigation cases about. Most of them are now about suing governments for not standing up to their Paris Agreement commitments. But there's also a noticeable increase in climate cases against fossil fuel companies, as well as other corporates who are active in plastics, in food, in agriculture, in transport and in finance.

Christiana: [00:43:03] And so there is an understandable uptick in this, A because we now have a globally binding agreement, but also because we have increasing impacts and increasing increasing concern and fear and anxiety and all of that. All of that leads to more, more climate litigation. It is a good thing to have. I don't think that we would be able to advance on climate action only through the threat of climate litigation, but it's very good to have that as one of the sticks in a large portfolio of measures to increase and accelerate climate action. So, so good on those. And many of them, by the way, I should say, also are coming from young people, many of these cases. And they are they are making corporates much more concerned about their actions because of the liability of litigation. There's an interesting also cluster of what those climate litigations are all about. There are many cases that are involving personal responsibility. So where directors and board members are being held personally responsible. There are also some cases that are challenging commitments that over rely on greenhouse gas removals or negative emission technologies as opposed to on true immediate reductions. And there are also quite a few cases, I think, especially in Latin America, that are concerned with the nexus between climate and biodiversity. And now, because recently loss and damage has become such an issue, there are also strategies that are exploring the legal recourse for loss and damage. So quite a broad array of litigation cases, but all under the umbrella of climate and definitely being used as a stick and not a carrot.

Paul: [00:45:16] And can I just throw in one thing I've sent to Clay the the link. So it'll go in the show notes and it's actually from 2017. But it's a it's a it's a lawsuit against the big oil companies BP, Shell, Exxon from the city of San Francisco. And they're seeking money to pay for seawalls that they want to build around San Francisco. And it's just a fantastically good read. And it talks about how those companies deranged the public debate and issued propaganda which caused the governments not to regulate CO2. So it's a nuisance case. It's not been successful yet, but it's a it's a cracking good read. So have a look at that, serious plaintiff city of San Francisco.

Tom: [00:45:52] I like something being described as a cracking good read as well.

Paul: [00:45:54] It really is.

Tom: [00:45:55] It takes me back to my Famous Five days. That's great. Yeah. With lashings of ginger beer and ices. Yeah, that's right.

Paul: [00:46:00] Five go mad in California kind of thing.

Tom: [00:46:03] Yeah. Five issue legal subpoenas. Yeah, right. Okay, so we're coming towards the end of our episode, so I'm just going to. There's just a couple here. Rozzling asks, 'Can I meet you all for coffee? My treat!' Absolutely. Let's do that.

Paul: [00:46:17] Oh yeah, booked.

Tom: [00:46:19] 'Are we going to be okay?', from Jess Hullinger. I think that's a simple yes as well.

Christiana: [00:46:28] Wow, okay Tom, I like that it's a simple yes and not a complex yes, I like that. Paul?

Paul: [00:46:37] Yeah, we're going to be, we're going to do what we need to do to get this to turn out right. 

Tom: [00:46:45] Yeah. My kids have started to ask what will happen if we don't? Because my kids, I decided when my kids were very young that I'd talk about climate change to them all the way through from when they were very little because I didn't want to have a big reveal moment when they were like 8 or 9, sit them down and say, there's this scary thing. And I think on balance, that was the right thing. But of course, you know, I've talked to them about all the solutions and what we're working on. But now that they are a bit older, they've started to say, well, are we going to be all right? You know, are we going to solve this? What's going to happen if we don't deal with it? And and it's tough. And I know that parents everywhere deal with that question because, of course, uncertainty is a difficult thing to communicate. The way I handle it is I say, look, you have the biggest opportunity in all of human history to live an incredibly meaningful life. And the actions that you take because of the accident of the time of your birth are of an order of magnitude in importance compared to most people who've lived before, because you are going to affect the future of life on Earth in 50, 500 and 500,000 years by what you do in the next couple of decades. So no one is asking for an easy life. Really deep down we're asking for a meaningful life. And living now is an incredible gift towards that end because we have this incredible chance to turn things around and be the generation that does that. Are we going to be okay? Uncertainty is always difficult to live with, and we're just going to have to get used to that and do what we can do to try and make that turn out in the positive way. But for ourselves and our children, that's going to have to be enough certainty for us to keep moving.

Christiana: [00:48:26] I'm so with you on that, Tom. So with you on that. And and I must say, years ago, I was completely cemented to the thought that we are going to address climate change in a timely fashion and we're going to do anything that it takes. And I was really adamant about that for years. I remember how, you know, really, really internally angry I got every time that I heard anyone doubt whether we would be able to address climate in a timely fashion. And I must say I have evolved my thinking and my feeling on this and, I'm with you exactly as you put it, Tom, to the question, are we going to be okay? The answer is we just don't know. We don't know. That is probably the mega uncertainty of humanity. We don't know if we're going to be okay in 100, 200 and 300 years. And that uncertainty is precisely the reason why we have to give it our all while we're here, why we have to live meaningful lives. And and because we have this incredible opportunity, because we're right there at that at that moment in which so much of the future is being decided. So it is up to us to put everything that we have into the right basket to get us on to the right path, to get us to go through the portal that we choose and not the portal that we would go through by default. But even so, there is no guarantee. And that makes it difficult, but also invites us to work from a deeper space inside ourselves as opposed to just from our head.

Paul: [00:50:37] And I think it was Mandela who said it always looks impossible till it is done. And I mentioned that because you're right, of course, we don't know. But I was talking about this funny interregnum we're in now, this this strange time where there seems to be so much happening, good and bad. And my friend mentioned she studied a little bit about the end of apartheid. And there was a moment in South Africa before the end of apartheid where there was noise like we've got now so much crazy stuff. Everyone was stuck. No one could plan. It was just impossible for the nation to carry on as it was. And so everyone made a decision that they just had to be the change. And I hope and believe we may be close to that point where the bulk of the world decides that we just cannot carry on like this and we have to make that change.

Tom: [00:51:25] Yeah. There's one more question I wanted to bring in, I realise I'm asking for more than one, but I wonder if or Paul, maybe you want to ask this final question, if this is the final question.

Paul: [00:51:34] Is this the one about what you would dream of?

Tom: [00:51:36] Yeah.

Paul: [00:51:37] It's an absolutely super question.

Christiana: [00:51:39] It's such a beautiful question.

Paul: [00:51:42] Christiana, ask the question.

Christiana: [00:51:44] Okay. It comes from Leonard, oh boy, Leonard, I am so sorry. I don't know the proper pronunciation of your last name, so I'm going to say Leonard Neamtu, maybe. Or Neamtu. It's spelled Neamtu. Truly apologize that I don't know that, that pronunciation. But he is a biodiversity and climate advocate and engineer, and he has sent us a really very beautiful, provocative, moving question. And he says, 'If anything would be possible and all of us would work together towards one goal, what would your ideal world look like?' How's that for a question? Who wants to go first?

Tom: [00:52:40] I think you should go for it.

Christiana: [00:52:42] Is that me?

Christiana: [00:52:44] Yeah, you. Christiana, you go first.

Christiana: [00:52:46] Okay, so my answer is my ideal world is a regenerative world. That is what excites me and what motivates me and what I mean by a regenerative world. I mean a world in which nature, i.e. non-humans and humans can thrive together because we have understood that we're actually all interlinked, interbeing, interrelated, that there is no division, that we cannot live from extracting out of nature for our short term, short term needs, but rather that we understand that we are one, one and the same life on Earth. It's a world that is putting life at the center. So a life affirming world where all social, economic, political systems actually have this one goal of being life affirming, which is a future honestly, that inspires the absolute best of of human spirit. And that, interestingly enough, invites for an abundance mindset as opposed to a scarcity mindset with holistic thinking coming back into harmony with Mother Earth. What can be more exciting than that? And so, yes, it is it's an idea way out there. But I firmly believe that we're walking in that direction or maybe we're just crawling in that direction. But that is the direction.

Paul: [00:54:32] You cannot argue with regeneration. Tom?

Tom: [00:54:34] I haven't actually thought of an answer yet, so I'm going to suggest you go first.

Paul: [00:54:36] I have, I have, I have. It's a bit short because it was a bit actually my answer to this question that I prepared beforehand was quite linked to those South Africa comments. But there's another side to it also. It's basically it's the spirit of national unity. And I would like to see national unity committees of all political parties managing climate change alongside political parties in government who won elections. So essentially, politics kind of carries on as normal in most fields. But on climate change, we just come together to get it done because, you know, it is absurd, really, to think that there are political differences about a gigantic problem with the sun and the composition of the atmosphere and the ability of nature to absorb heat trapping gases. You know, the absurdity of our of our age will be to think that there could be any dispute about that. There cannot. And so let's make that apolitical. And to some degree we've achieved that in theoretically in the UK with the Climate Change Committee and the Climate Change Bill. But let's see that really operationalized in every country and work together to fix something, whilst we disagree about the things that are of a different character, we can have political differences. But but not on this issue. That time's over.

Tom: [00:55:46] Yeah, that's a good answer. I mean, Christiana, I'm going to fully agree with the outcome that we're aiming for in terms of the regenerative world, where all of our systems are aiming towards life enhancing, life supporting, social justice, incorporating outcomes, and that actually you haven't got to add them in because that's what they do. That's the point of all of the systems. That's where we should get to. But like you, Paul, I'm going to actually look at the process because the question says if anything would be possible and all of us would work together towards one goal. I think the actual question there is, is take a couple of the pronouns out. Anything would be possible if all of us would work together towards one goal. So you can change that a little bit.

Christiana: [00:56:25] Nice, nice, Thomas Carnaco, that was very nice.

Tom: [00:56:30] Which, which does touch on what you just said, Paul, about political unity, but I think it goes deeper than that. So I was at TED Countdown a couple of weeks ago and with Jo Confino, I ran a little session on Momentum and Perfection, little mini series that that we ran a few months ago. And there was this really interesting moment in the room where I said, because everybody there worked on climate change or was concerned about it in some way and was trying to focus on it. And I said, imagine if you worked as part of a community that had a collective outcome that was tolerant of trying to achieve things and didn't think bad things of you if you got it wrong or you made a mistake. And there was almost this collective outbreath where everyone sort of felt like they would be held in this shared great generational endeavour to create the regenerative world that you've described Christiana, rather than us collapsing into infighting and processed discussions. And is it this way? And what about that way? So I think that I would rephrase the question and say it like that. Anything would be possible if all of us would work together and this is the moment to do it if there's ever going to be a bigger external reason, that should drive us to be less attached to our own ideas and more committed to the shared outcome, then just look at the world right now. So much of it is on fire. So much of it is under risk. We can't leave it any longer than this. Thanks for the question.

Paul: [00:57:51] It's just us. The union makes the force. Thank you for your beautiful descriptions, Christiana and Tom.

Tom: [00:57:56] So.

Paul: [00:57:56] So now.

Tom: [00:57:57] Apologies. Well, first of all, with apologies to everyone who did, we didn't get to their questions. So thank you very much. 

Paul: [00:58:04] Send more, let's do it again next series. 

Tom: [00:58:06] We'll do it again. Yeah. And do keep sending them in. We love your questions. And now the musical event season.

Paul: [00:58:12] Drumroll. 

Tom: [00:58:12] Okay, if you've not heard this, get ready, get ready.

Paul: [00:58:15] I've been not allowed to play with my pen, but I'm not going to play with it. Lots of clicking.

Tom: [00:58:20] Christiana rapping is coming up. Clay, Chris, Paul, what did you call it? Revolution Evolution, Time to Heal.

Paul: [00:58:25] Rev Ev is in the house. She's going to drop something that is so hot it's going to blow you away.

Tom: [00:58:32] Please never do that again. Yeah, okay.

Paul: [00:58:36] I'm sorry Tom, you got a problem? You got a problem with a man of my age, like hanging with, with a sort of lingua franca that's a little bit possibly from a slightly earlier milieu. Well look, I think.

Tom: [00:58:48] Christiana can pull it off though.

Paul: [00:58:49] Christiana has pulled it off. She has blown up the Internet, basically, we at the start of this is true, at the start of this recording, Christiana had to turn her phone off because there was basically steam smoke and flames coming out of the top of it because of this video. So without further ado, I'm going to hand over to you, Tom, to to to take us towards the sublime.

Tom: [00:59:13] There's there is nothing else that I can add at this point. The music can speak for itself, but I will say thank you, everyone, for your support and listening this season. It has, actually I'm just looking, your your your rap Christiana had 150 likes and now it has a thousand likes on Instagram. I checked it when we first came on, so that's pretty good while we've been on air.

Paul: [00:59:32] Blowing up Instagram. It's, you know, look how what was his name, Gangnam Style because we're going for a billion here. I'm missing the listeners already, by the way, and we've not even ended this show.

Tom: [00:59:43] Yes, I don't know what Paul will do. We really appreciate your support as ever and we will be back in early September for the sprint through Climate Week and COP and all those other things. Lots of controversy, lots of opportunity, lots of chances to make this turn out the right way. So we will be there at all of those moments, sharing them with you. Thank you again. And we leave you with the musical event of the season. Christiana, take it away. Bye everyone.

Paul: [01:00:06] Bye. 

Christiana: [01:00:07] Bye.

Clay: [01:01:43] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. Christiana Figueres. Costa Rica's hottest new rapper. Back again for the first time with Revolution Evolution, Time to Heal. I mean, come on. Have we picked the song of the summer yet? Where's the remix? In Spanish with Bad Bunny. Let's make it happen. Okay. If you want to watch Christiana perform this. Links in the show notes so you can share comment and like it. Christiana has no tour dates announced and you can't buy her music online anywhere. So please consider a share of this video or podcast your way of supporting this underground artist. But for real, thank you, Christiana. You're always pushing us. Inspiring us to take the message outside of our circles in new ways, with new methods and new mediums. It's really inspiring. Christiana Figueres, everyone. Now, if it sounds like I'm outside, it's because I am and it's hot, about 92 degrees. I'm here in Indiana visiting family this week, doing the credits while walking out to a solar panel array next to my in-laws house here in the field. Here's some, some soybean plants. This episode was edited, mixed and uploaded using 100% solar power. It's pretty cool. I read this morning in the New York Times that this July is on track to be the hottest on record. So everybody experiencing the heat, stay safe, stay cool, stay hydrated. Let me dip over here into the shade underneath the solar panels here. Oh, just one of the many solutions that we already have already working.

Clay: [01:03:33] Speaking of working, thank you to everyone who has helped with the production of the podcast, to name a few people, Kam-Mei Chak, Mandy Clark, Sarah Thomas, Katie Bradford, Lara Richardson, Zoe Tcholak-Antitch, Jo Curtis, Sophie Rivett-Carnac, Adam Maestro, Catherine Hart, Adam Marte and James McGee. Also, thank you to all of our Global Optimism colleagues, to every person that contributed to this podcast. You know, research topics, questions, mixing, even co-hosting on the show. And all of this would not be possible without Paul Dickinson, Tom Rivett-Carnac and Christiana Figueres for showing up each week on the mic with some outrage and some optimism. Now I also want to thank all of our listeners. Where would we be without you. We will miss you over the summer. You have made this season possible, another season coming just at the beginning of September. We are looking forward to seeing you right back here then. Okay. Before I wrap, one last thing. Thank you to our sister podcast. The Way Out Is In. They have two episodes coming out while we are away in August. I actually need to go finish mixing those right now. You can subscribe to their podcast in the show notes and who knows, maybe you'll start rapping by the time you finish listening to those two. Send us your mix tape. Okay, That is it. We will see you after August. Thank you for joining us for season seven. Again, we'll miss you, but we'll see you right back here with some more outrage and some more optimism. See you then.


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