Show cover of Challenging Climate

Challenging Climate

Asking tough questions about the science, technology, and politics of climate change, two climate researchers challenge leading experts on one of the defining issues of our age. Every two weeks, they explore how we can fight global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, carbon removal, adaptation and solar geoengineering. Dr. Jesse Reynolds and Dr. Pete Irvine consider the roles of computer models and persuasive narratives, economics and public policy, and renewable energy and national security in the climate debate, and look beyond to issues such as biotechnology and international development.Support us at Patreon.Questions or comments? Email or tweet @ChalClimateSee more information on Jesse Reynolds and Pete Irvine.Subscribe for email by Peter Danilchuk @clambgramb (IG/Twitter).


43. Janos Pasztor on global climate policy and geoengineering
This episode’s guest is Janos Pasztor. He has four decades of work experience in the areas of energy, environment, climate change, and sustainable development, including roles as Executive Director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G) and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change. In this episode, we explore the political lens of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM), discussing the progress of CDR and SRM discourse, as well as its challenges and controversies.CORRECTION: Jesse suggested that the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) had a dozen or so members, but Janos pointed out that in fact it has universal membership, i.e., every UN member state is a member.Links:Janos Pasztor’s profileCarnegie Climate Governance InitiativeJanos’ article on the role of UN Secretary-General in Climate Change, in Global Policy 2016 Support the showSubscribe for email updates
51:04 2/6/24
42. David Stainforth on climate models and uncertainty
David Stainforth is a Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics. David has had a long career studying the climate problem and the challenges of making predictions of future climate change. His research spans the philosophy of climate science, climate economics, climate modelling, and decision-making under deep uncertainty.In this episode, we discuss David’s new book ‘Predicting our climate future’, exploring the challenges of making predictions about future climate change, and navigating this uncertainty to address climate problems.Links:David Stainforth’s profileDavid’s book, Predicting our climate futureSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
42:14 1/9/24
41. David Keith on Climate Systems Engineering
David Keith is a Professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and the Founding Faculty Director of the Climate Systems Engineering initiative. Keith previously led the development of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program.In this episode, we discuss Keith’s Climate Systems Engineering initiatives, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and geoengineering techniques. Drawing on David’s decades of expertise, we dive deep into topics such as CDR, solar geoengineering, ice sheet geoengineering.Links:David Keith’s profile (& old profile)The Climate Systems Engineering initiativeSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
43:01 12/12/23
40. Jennifer Allan on global climate governance and the COP28 agenda
Jennifer Allan is a Strategic Adviser and Team Leader with Earth Negotiations Bulletin, and Lecturer at Cardiff University. Jen has attended roughly 40 UN conferences where states negotiate the rules of global climate governance. Her work explores how global rules are made and remade, and currently focuses on the politics of ecosystem services and green recovery. In this episode, we discuss with Jen key agenda themes in the forthcoming COP28, the social inequality of climate change and whether COPs deliver useful outcomes - or is it just fanfare?Links:Jennifer Allan’s profileCOP28 Thematic ProgramIEA World Energy Outlook 2023 - Oil demand to peak by 2030 Support the showSubscribe for email updates
52:29 11/14/23
39. Greg Nemet on how solar became cheap (with Energy vs Climate)
Today’s episode is brought to you in collaboration with our friends at the Energy vs Climate podcast. Energy vs Climate breaks down the trade-offs and hard truths of the energy transition in Alberta, Canada, and beyond with energy experts David Keith, Sara Hastings-Simon and Ed Whittingham.  In this episode, they speak with Greg Nemet, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. His research focuses on technological change in energy and the ways in which public policy can affect it. Listen as they discuss the trajectory of solar energy, coming down the cost curve and the energy supply chain.Links: Energy vs Climate PodcastGreg Nemet’s profile Check out Greg’s book, How Solar Energy Became Cheap Topic links: Nemet’s paper on Inter-technology knowledge spillovers for energy technologies (Timestamp: 07:43) Paper on Evaluating the causes of cost reduction in photovoltaic modules (Timestamp: 24:18) NREL Report on U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmark: Q1 2020 (Timestamp: 27:21) Originally published on The Energy vs Climate show on 24 Feb 2022.Support the showSubscribe for email updates
56:34 10/17/23
A brief podcast review and update
As we break for the summer, listen here for some highlights of our previous episodes and catch up on the ones you've missed. See you in October!Support the showSubscribe for email updates
08:52 6/27/23
38. Richard Tol on Climate Economics: the cost of carbon, geoengineering & IPCC
Richard S.J. Tol is a Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Sussex and the Professor of the Economics of Climate Change, Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is also the author of Climate Economics: Economic Analysis of Climate, Climate Change and Climate Policy. In this episode, Tol breaks down climate economics – the economic and social costs and benefits of carbon. We also discuss the case for geoengineering and his criticisms on IPCC. Links: Richard Tol’s profile Richard’s article, The Economic Impacts of Climate Change Support the showSubscribe for email updates
56:29 6/13/23
37. Emma Marris on our rambunctious garden: wilderness and human influence on nature
Emma Marris is an environmental writer and Institute Fellow at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. She has also written for National Geographic, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Wired, and other publications. In this episode, we dive into the concepts introduced in her book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, such as wilderness and nature purity. We discuss the relationship between nature and humans, from assisted migration to climate change, and how we can re-envision it.  Links: Emma Marris’ profile Marris’ weekly articles on The Atlantic  Check out her books, Wild Souls and Rambunctious Garden As recommended by Emma, The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole Support the showSubscribe for email updates
43:06 5/30/23
36. John Moore on the melting cryosphere and glacier geoengineering
Dr John Moore is a Research Professor at University of Lapland, Finland and Chief Scientist of GCESS at Beijing Normal University. His research focuses on geoengineering, sea level change, and ice sheet dynamics. In this episode, we take a deep dive into the cryosphere – the state and future of glaciers, sea ice and permafrost, as well as consider marine glacier geoengineering. John also shares his unique experience as a leader of a major geoengineering research program in China. Links: John Moore’s profile His paper on several cryosphere interventions His call for marine glacier geoengineering  His latest study on the ocean curtain idea Support the showSubscribe for email updates
50:55 5/16/23
35. Steve Smith on net zero pledges and CDR strategies & tech
Dr Steve Smith is the Executive Director of CO2RE, as well as Executive Director of the Oxford Net Zero initiative, based at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He also previously co-led the Climate Science Team at the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In this episode, we take a holistic deep dive into Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and discuss his expertise on net zero pledges, the political and economic strategies for CDR, and technology readiness. Links: Steve’s Smith School profile and CO2RE profile The Net Zero Tracker project - supported by students!The State of Carbon Dioxide Removal reportSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
62:17 5/2/23
34. Heleen de Coninck on the IPCC, climate tech & a just Net Zero transition
Dr Heleen de Coninck is a Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation and Climate Change at Eindhoven University of Technology, and Associate Professor in Innovation Studies and Sustainability at Radboud University. She is also the newly appointed deputy chair of the Dutch Scientific Climate Council. In this episode, we discuss the four Net Zero transitions set out in the 2018 IPCC 1.5ºC report, and specifically how to facilitate a just transition. Towards the end, we debate on how much focus on geoengineering technologies is healthy. Links: Heleen's profile  Lecture transcript: system change, not climate change IPCC Special Report on "Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage”  IPCC Special Report on “Global Warming of 1.5 ºC”  Support the showSubscribe for email updates
43:46 4/18/23
33. David Fahey on the Montreal Protocol, ozone depletion and SRM
Dr David Fahey is the Director of the Chemical Sciences Laboratory in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and he also serves as a Co-Chair of its the Montreal Protocol’s Scientific Assessment Panel, which produces the quadrennial assessments of stratospheric ozone depletion. In this episode, we discuss flying planes into the stratosphere to conduct experiments on ozone depletion, the success of the Montreal Protocol, and solar radiation modification (SRM) - potential impacts, future for research and deployment regulation.Links:David Fahey ’s profile David's work with the NASA Airborne Science Program, Including this paper based on the 1987 Airborne Antarctic Ozone Experiment over the AntarcticMontreal Protocol Scientific Assessment PanelThe 2022 Quadrennial report and Executive SummaryOne Atmosphere, the UNEP review on SRM research and deploymentEpisode chapter markers Support the showSubscribe for email updates
52:36 4/4/23
32. Chris Stark on the UK’s Climate Change Committee
Chris Stark is the Chief Executive of the UK‘s Climate Change Committee. Previously, he worked as the Director of Energy and Climate Change in the Scottish Government. In this episode, Chris breaks down the role of the CCC in UK’s climate policy. We then take a close look at how UK has done so far in cutting emissions, what else needs to be done, and the challenges that lie ahead. We end off with a discussion of where geoengineering techniques like SAI sit on the UKCCC’s radar.Links: Chris Stark’s profile Episode chapter markers Support the showSubscribe for email updates
55:10 3/21/23
31. Ken Caldeira on politics in research and the feasibility of the energy transition
Ken Caldeira is a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and is also a senior scientist at Breakthrough Energy. Ken has a wide-spectrum approach to analyzing the world’s climate systems - with particular interests in modeling the Earth system and the energy transition, and in using experiments and observation to study our changing coasts and coral reefs. In this episode, Ken takes us through his fascinating journey into environmental and climate science. We dive deep into navigating political influences on environmental research, the technical and social feasibility of the energy transition, and his views on wider underrepresented climate issues.  Links: Ken Caldeira’s profile  Ken’s Google Scholar profile Episode chapter markers Support the showSubscribe for email updates
49:27 3/7/23
30. Andrew Revkin on climate journalism - its evolution, perils and narrative capture
Andrew Revkin is one of the world's leading science and environmental journalists, with over 30 years' experience thinking and writing about climate change and sustainability. He has written at The New York Times and ProPublica, and his current outlet is “Sustain What?” at Substack. He is also the founding director of the new Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University's Earth Institute. In this episode, Revkin shares his remarkable journalistic experiences, such as reporting from the Arctic, and how media and the climate discussion have evolved throughout his career. Our discussion is dynamic and wide-ranging, from extreme weather, to narrative capture, to tackling questions posed in previous episodes like climate doomism and ‘Is 1.5ºC still alive?’ Links: Profile Revkin's Substack, 'Sustain What?' His 2003 Q&A from the Arctic sea iceHis dispatches from 2005 Montreal His blog 'Dot Earth' at NYT His 2016 Anthropocene article, An Anthropocene Journey Support the showSubscribe for email updates
49:22 2/21/23
29. Daniel Harrison on Marine Cloud Brightening and the RRAP
Dr Daniel Harrison is an oceanographer at Southern Cross University in Australia. His research focuses on how engineering intervention in marine systems can be used to improve ecological, environmental, or societal outcomes. In this episode, we explore Daniel’s work in applying Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) to protect the Great Barrier Reef against global warming. We find out what MCB is, discuss how it can be implemented responsibly and effectively to save the Great Barrier Reef, and other potential applications.   Links: Daniel's profile  UNESCO: Great Barrier Reef is added to the 'In Danger' list Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) Daniel's talk on C2G Youtube, on Governance of Marine Cloud Brightening Daniel’s podcast interview on 100 climate conversations Support the showSubscribe for email updates
51:06 2/7/23
28. Erica Thompson on escaping Model Land
Dr Erica Thompson is a Senior Policy Fellow in Ethics of Modelling and Simulation at the LSE Data Science Institute. Erica's research involves the appropriate use of mathematical and computational modelling to inform real-world decision-making. In this episode, we discuss Erica’s recent book, Escape from Model Land and tackle issues such as bias, disillusioning science communication to help us get out of the ‘Model Land’ worldview and into the real world. Links: Erica Thompson’s profile  Erica’s website Check out Erica’s book, Escape from Model Land  Support the showSubscribe for email updates
48:21 1/24/23
27. Luke Iseman on his for-profit solar geoengineering venture - Make Sunsets
Luke Iseman is the founder of Make Sunsets, a recently launched startup that is selling “cooling credits” on the promise that they will release sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere using weather balloons. In this episode, we discuss Make Sunset’s mission to “substantially lower global temperatures,” the details of their offering, the technical challenges for verifying their cooling credits, and the potential political repercussions of their effortsLinks: Make Sunsets official website: Make Sunsets contested cooling calculations: Luke’s blog post from just before he launched this effort, “Geoengineering Now”: Some reactions to Make Sunsets: Ted Parson’s essay on Make Sunsets, “A Dangerous Disruption”: David Keith on why not to commercialize geoengineering: Gwynne Dyer’s comment in Stuff: Another podcast interview with Luke Iseman by Reviewer 2 Does Geoengineering: Support the showSubscribe for email updates
60:38 1/10/23
26. The Anniversary Special
Our year-end special celebrates the one-year anniversary of the Challenging Climate podcast. In this episode, Pete and Jesse reflect on the past 25 episodes, whether we achieved our vision for the podcast thus far, how we’ve navigated controversial guest speakers and learning to balance diversity of thought. Looking forward into 2023, we discuss new topics we want to explore, and old topics we hope to dive into at greater depths and different angles. Have any ideas for future topics or guest speakers? Drop us an email at Links:Check out our twitterPete Irvine's websiteJesse Reynold's websiteSustainability by numbers, a substack by Hannah RitchiePandora's Toolbox, by Wake SmithSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
39:26 12/27/22
25. Patrick Brown on extreme weather and the obvious climate strategy
Dr Patrick Brown is the Co-director of the Climate & Energy group at the Breakthrough Institute and Adjunct lecturer in Energy Policy & Climate at Johns Hopkins University. In this episode, we discuss Patrick’s expertise on the economic impacts of extreme weather, and unpack trends and attributable risk. We then venture into a broader scope based on his essay, ‘The obvious climate strategy nobody will talk about’, which carries the rest of the discussion into climate targets and bias in climate communication. Links: Patrick Brown’s profile Patrick’s essay in Foreign Policy: The obvious climate strategy nobody will talk about His paper in PLOS, 'Approximate calculations of the net economic impact of global warming mitigation targets...' Another article on heat deaths versus cold deaths Support the showSubscribe for email updates
48:54 12/13/22
24. Glen Peters and Linda Steg on the Paris Agreement, the feasibility and psychology of the 1.5ºC target
Our guests are Dr Glen Peters, the research director for the Climate Mitigation group at Center for International Climate Research (CICERO), and Dr Linda Steg, Professor of Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen.  In light of the recent COP27 hosted in Sharm el Sheikh, we pose the question: is the 1.5 Celsius goal still alive? In this episode, we dissect this complex question from the model-driven approach of Peters’ research, as well as from the angle of societal and behavioural change — Steg’s expertise. Covering climate anxiety, venture capitalists and CDR, this episode’s got it all. Links: Glen’s profile  Linda’s profile  Interview with Laurence Tubiana on 1.5ºC overshootGlen's articles:'Can we really limit global warming to "well below" two degrees centigrade?'Linda's articles:'Limiting climate change requires research on climate action' 'Motivating Society-wide Pro-environmental Change''A Spiral on (in)action'Support the showSubscribe for email updates
45:25 11/29/22
23. Luke Kemp on defining, evaluating and managing catastrophic climate risk
Dr Luke Kemp is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge. He has a PhD in international relations from the ANU and previous experience as a senior economist at Vivid Economics. In this episode, Luke sheds light on a surprisingly understudied and overlooked topic – catastrophic climate risk. This episode explores catastrophic and extinction risk, why the topic is understudied, and how we can weigh out the catastrophic risks of climate change and solar geo-engineering.  Links: Luke Kemp’s profile Check out Luke’s paper, Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenariosLuke's paper on the risky perspective shift in temperature rises: Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports has shifted to lower temperatures  Cambridge release, Climate change: potential to end humanity is “dangerously underexplored”  Additional reading: Catastrophic climate risks should be neither understated nor overstated (Burgess et al., 2022)Support the showSubscribe for email updates
45:12 11/15/22
22. Oliver Morton on reaching net zero, and the feasibility and politics of geoengineering
Oliver Morton is The Economist’s briefings editor, specializing in the energy business, climate science and policy, and other green issues. He is the author of The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World and most recently The Moon: A History for the Future. In this episode, we discuss ideas from The Planet Remade on climate change and how recent events have influenced our prospects of reaching net zero emissions, as well as tackle serious questions on deploying geoengineering to combat climate change.Links:Oliver’s profile Oliver’s new book, The Moon: A History for the Future The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World Support the showSubscribe for email updates
52:33 10/31/22
21. Ben Novak on Revive & Restore: leveraging biotechnology for de-extinction
Ben Novak is lead scientist at Revive & Restore, where he leads the de-extinction efforts – especially the group’s restoration of the extinct passenger pigeon. He is also the lead coordinator for its conservation cloning projects and Program Manager for Revive & Restore’s new Biotechnology for Bird Conservation. In this episode, we dive deep into the applications of biotechnology in de-extinction, genetic modification for climate adaptation, and the ethical arguments for and against biotechnology for conservation.  Links:  Ben Novak's profile, including more links to his publications!Revive and Restore websiteIntended Consequences Statement The Great Passenger Pigeon ComebackSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
52:37 10/18/22
20. Gaia Vince on Nomad Century: migration, food and geo-engineering
Gaia Vince is an award-winning science journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker. In this episode, we discuss her new book Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval. Vince gives insight on how humanity can plan for and manage an unavoidable climate migration. We also explore methods to restore the planet to a fully habitable state, such as stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection and iron fertilization of the oceans. Links:  Gaia’s website Check out Gaia's new book: Nomad Century Check out Gaia’s other books: Transcendence  And Adventures in the Anthropocene Support the showSubscribe for email updates
52:11 10/4/22
19. Kerry Emanuel on hurricanes and hypercanes in a warming world
Professor Kerry Emanuel is a prominent meteorologist and climate scientist working at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. His research focuses on tropical meteorology and climate, with a specialty in hurricane physics. In this episode, we spoke with Kerry about what distinguishes a hurricane from tropical storms and tornadoes, and the dangers these natural hazards pose to societies. We also cover how these threats will evolve in an increasingly warming world, and what a hypercane is.Links:  Kerry Emanuel's profile Kerry's websiteCarbon brief on a new study showing hurricanes strengthening and intensifying Kerry's book, Divine Wind: The History and Science of HurricanesFurther information on hurricane impactsFewer deaths in tropical storms in recent decadesEconomic impacts of hurricanesThe hypercane Normalized hurricane damage has not changed Support the showSubscribe for email updates
46:52 9/20/22
18. Arunabha Ghosh on CEEW and India's environmental challenges
Dr Arunabha Ghosh is the founder-CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and has led CEEW to the top ranks as one of Asia's leading policy research institutions and among the world’s 20 best climate think-tanks. In this episode, we discuss the work that CEEW is involved in and dive deep into the environmental challenges that developing countries, such as India, face.   Links:  Council on Energy, Environment and WaterArunabha Ghosh’s profileSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
42:40 9/6/22
17. Tom Matthews on tropical glaciers and extreme heat
Dr Tom Matthews is a climate scientist at King’s College London, specialising in glacier-climate interactions and extreme weather. In Episode 17, we discuss Tom’s exciting fieldwork on Mt. Everest co-installing the highest-altitude weather stations in the world, as well as extreme heat and its impacts on society. Links:  Tom Matthews’ profile Two articles on Tom’s expedition to Mt Everest: this and that  Wikipedia page on penitentesCheck out this article on the upper temperature limit of human tolerance and Tom’s paper documenting the first occurrences of this temperature Check out these 3 articles on extreme heat in Asia: this and that and this other oneThe book discussed: The Ministry for the Future Support the showSubscribe for email updates
61:22 8/23/22
16. Hannah Ritchie on Our World in Data and some of the world's biggest problems
Dr Hannah Ritchie is a Senior Researcher at the Oxford Martin Programme in Global Development and the Head of Research at Our World in Data. In this episode, we spoke with Hannah about her work at Our World in Data and her article, "Stop Telling Kids They’ll Die From Climate Change". We discuss her thoughts on what some of the world's most pressing problems are, touching on topics such as agriculture, the link between meat consumption and poverty, education and more.Links:Hannah Ritchie’s profileHannah's article, "Stop Telling Kids They’ll Die From Climate Change"The world’s biggest problem: Agriculture (check out the data here)Here’s an article on meat consumption and climate change by Hannah And another one Dollar Street GapminderDefinitely check out these Our World In Data articles as well:  Decoupling of GDP and carbon emissionsCarbon dioxide Data ExplorerEconomic growth in low- and middle-income countries Global improvements in quality of educationSupport the showSubscribe for email updates
51:18 8/9/22
15. Dagomar Degroot on Historical Climatology and the Frigid Golden Age
Dagomar Degroot is an associate professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. In this episode, we spoke with Dagomar about historical climatology and how the past can inform us about contemporary climate change. We cover his book, The Frigid Golden Age, and why societies like the Dutch and Thule thrived while the Norse suffered when the climate changed. Dagomar also addresses existing biases in the field of historical climatology. Links: Dagomar Degroot’s profile  Historical climatology website Dagomar’s book, The Frigid Golden Age  The Nature article outlining the baises in History of Climate and Society Another article by Dagomar on The Washington Post, “Our planet is not doomed. That means we can, and must, act.”  Support the showSubscribe for email updates
61:35 7/26/22

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