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A Climate Change with Matt Matern
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141: Driving Societal Change, Insights with Anti-Dread Climate Podcast's Caleigh Wells

Guest Name(s): Caleigh Wells

Matt talks with Caleigh Wells, a KCRW reporter covering climate, environment, and public health, about her podcast, “The Anti-Dread Climate Podcast.” They explore the podcast’s focus on addressing climate change without inducing fear and dread for Gen Z and Gen Xers, discussing personal choices’ impact on climate change, including the decision to have children. Caleigh emphasizes how she finds hope in humanity’s adaptability to create solutions to address the climate crisis.

Caleigh mentions practical actions, such as local climate initiatives, addressing plastic pollution, and engaging with political leaders. Matt & Caleigh conclude with a focus on inspiring behavioral changes, normalizing climate-friendly actions, and the significance of small steps for the planet and mental well-being.

The Anti-Dread Climate Podcast >>

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The climate crisis gets more terrifying every year. The impact is undeniable and can feel totally overwhelming. Hope won’t solve it, but neither will hopelessness. A surefire way to manage anxiety and stress over the existential problem threatening our planet is to participate in solutions. So our team is prepared to answer your questions about how you can meaningfully make a difference…
Caleigh Wells covers the environment, climate, and public health as KCRW’s Healthy Communities Reporter. Since coming to KCRW in 2019, she has covered wildfire, drought, climate legislation, and environmental health and climate anxiety. Her work regularly appears on NPR and on Marketplace…
141: Unveiling Hope: The Anti-Dread Climate Podcast with Caleigh Wells

You’re listening to A Climate Change this is Matt Matern, your host I’ve got Caleigh wells on the program Caleigh’s, a reporter with case TRW covering climate environment and public health. Caleigh’s podcast the anti dread climate podcast is, is something I think it’s very interesting and intriguing. Recent guest of ours was talking kind of about it.

Paul Bledsoe and lots of young people are feeling dread about a future that could be catastrophic cataclysmic. How does one address this fear because they are real and potentially devastating consequences to a warming planet, and the increasing amount of pollutants that are being emitted and not scare the hell out of people and promote dread. So these are some of the questions I look forward to discussing with Caleigh.

Caleigh, welcome to the program.

Thanks, Matt. I’m glad to be here.

So tell us a little bit about your path to the environmental movement. And what what led you to this place?

Yeah, um, I, it’s not something that I knew I wanted to do. Until I had started my journalism career knew I wanted to be a reporter knew I really liked radio. And I sort of I sort of talked about people becoming aware of climate changes as like, you have a big aha moment. You have a big Oh, wait, shoot, this is really scary moment. I don’t feel like I remember the exact day.

But I know it was right around 2018, where I thought, oh, shoot, we everything that everyone is talking about regarding this big scary threat is actually really big and scary. And I feel like I really need to do something about it. I think a lot of people suffer with the sort of climate anxiety, climate Doom and don’t know what to do with it.

I have found one of the most cathartic ways to handle that is to do something feel like I’m making a difference. And so I sort of through my whole career and all of my professional efforts behind that goal. And Casio W luckily, was willing to continue to fund that effort. They formalize my position as a climate reporter, which I’ve had ever since. That’s fantastic.

So why why reporting? Why journalism? What was? What was kind of the spark behind that interest?

Oh, sure. I mean, I knew I wanted to be a writer, because that was the harder thing for me in school growing up, I was much better with numbers, but I found it was much more challenging to be a storyteller. I think a lot of young people decided they want to help people. And you can either sort of it’s like, where on the funnel?

Do you want to be lower in the funnel, where you’re like a doctor and you’re saving fewer lives? Or do you want to be higher on the funnel where you’re connecting with 1000s or millions of people, but maybe not helping them to the point of saving their lives.

So I decided I’m happier, more at the top of this funnel. I wanted to help more people. I think keeping people informed, is incredibly important. I really believe in in what journalism does, balancing what people need to know answering what they want to know how I’m handling all of that.

That’s sort of how I stumbled into journalism. I knew I wanted to write I knew I wanted to help people know, I wanted to touch a lot of people. And that’s kind of where we landed.

Yeah, that’s a good story. I guess I’m I’m intrigued as somebody who’s doing something similar as to kind of who the target audience is for your climate show? Is it? Is it mostly young people or you targeting people throughout the age spectrum?

I would say throughout the age spectrum, I know whenever we, you know, market something like this, you have to be much you have to be really specific and like the person I know, one of the exercises is to name a person and come up with exactly who they are. And so, yes, young people, but also the parents of young people, and anyone in between.

That’s why my co host is is a mom, because I think a lot of our listeners aren’t just the young people who are facing the fact that they are bearing the weight of this big scary thing. But also their parents who are having young people ask really big scary questions that they don’t really know the answers to.

So I would say, you know, we’ve got sort of Gen Alpha all the way through Gen Z. And I’d say most of millennials because Millennials are sort of currently parents or considering being parents or maybe deciding they’re at that point in their lives where they’re deciding whether or not to be parents. Anywhere in that aspect. From. Yeah,

I noticed you had an episode recently. Should I have children? And that’s a that’s a very challenging question. And tell us a little bit about how how that hashed out during the episode.

Yeah, that’s a really big, serious question. And it’s also a really controversial one, I’m really fascinated by the fact that it is one of the largest climate actions we choose to either engage in or not. And yet, it’s something that we don’t feel like we can talk about, as soon as you start discussing someone’s reproductive decisions, and their family planning, everybody gets really freaked out about it.

It’s whether whether or not you have a kid ends up being such a big deal in terms of your climate impact, because it’s not just the impact of yourself, but now yourself and the person or people you create, and the entire group of people that they create after them. So that’s really big and gnarly and scary. And I think there’s a lot of people who are struggling with that.

Our studies have shown that an increasing number of people continue to struggle with that. And the reason I really wanted to touch it is because I’m one of the people who struggles with that I’m in my late 20s, I’ve been happily married for five years. As a woman, a lot of people like to ask me that question.

And so I felt that it’s, it’s appropriate to be really open about the fact that I don’t have an answer and that climate change is one of the big factors that’s determining whether or not I ended up doing that. I want to create a space where people feel safe to ask that and feel like they can trust that we will be careful with trying to answer it.

Yeah, there’s there are people all along that spectrum I had on the show a while back, Paul Ehrlich who had kind of I mean, for the last 50 or 60 years, but talking about kind of like Population Bomb type issues, and the effect on kind of, you know, feeding the world.

And, of course, the challenges of feeding the world did create environmental problems downstream, all the way to you have your Elon Musk types who say, hey, you know, 10 kids is not enough. So like they’re their voices all along the spectrum. And it’s, it is confusing, I think to people to Where’s where’s the reasonable place on that? That dog curve?

Yeah. And I think where is the reasonable place is a really personal question, and probably has a unique answer to you. One of the big points that people in that sort of intersection of climate and family planning will say, is, it’s not necessarily how many kids you have, it’s how impactful those kids are, you could have three children that have a smaller impact than two children.

The question that I then face, you know, when you’re talking about zero, and one, no matter how many, you know, if I have one kid, no matter how amazing that kid is, they’re going to need fresh water and fresh water is finite, they’re going to need clothes, they’re going to need to be able to move around.

And so, yes, the answer is different from person to person. And yes, there are ways to make a responsible decision anywhere along that bell curve almost anywhere along that bell curve. But it’s a really scary, challenging one. That’s really controversial.

Yeah, I think it’s important to talk about these things. And tell us about how you see your show kind of creating changes in behavior or motivating people to act.

My hope is that at the at its foundation, it inspires people to believe that their actions do make a difference. That’s why our very first question was, does anything I do matter? And then, you know, with each episode we discuss, okay, well, here’s an action that matters. And here’s an action that matters and answering questions that way.

But I think, you know, a lot of my colleagues in climate journalism have done a really good job of raising awareness of the climate issue, and convincing people that it’s a big scary thing that we need to care about. I think this podcast is sort of a, we like a working title, Once Upon a Time was climate 102 The people have already figured that part out and are now deciding what to do about it.

And so instead of getting those people to be so afraid that they bury their heads in the sand, say nothing I do will matter and just sort of, you know, why not drink the good wine was a phrase someone said to me recently. Instead, you know, pulling them out saying they’re there, we’re going to be okay. But take all that energy and try and recycle it into a way that’s going to be productive for people.

My hope is that that podcasts are give people permission to be hopeful that they can participate in the solution and that what they do is effective at you know, mitigating, adapting calm betting the climate emergency?

Well tell us where do you draw your hope from looking at the potential cataclysm of global warming going off the rails? You know, where do you do you really see that happening? Or do you see that as being a little bit of catastrophizing by various people out there?

I think, let me start by saying where I do not draw it from. I know, you know, one of the arguments I’ve heard is, well, humanity has, has overcome every challenge that is faced, that it has faced so far. And that every person alive always feels like Well, the thing that’s happening during the time that they’re alive is the biggest, scariest thing that humanity has faced.

I still believe that that’s true. Like, I still think climate change is the biggest, scariest thing that humanity has faced. And so that argument never fully works for me. There’s also the argument that Life finds a way no matter what, that one doesn’t work for me, either. Because whether or not Life finds a way is not the same as whether or not humanity finds a way.

So I have to reject those and find a third, middle something. And my answer to that is just, I am always really heartened by how resilient and adaptable humanity can be. And while I don’t feel that there is proof in our history, that this is a challenge, we will for sure overcome. I’m watching it happen. And I know that we’re not hitting the, you know, the deadlines, the 1.5 degrees Celsius line, the you know, lowering this amount of methane by 2030.

Like those are big scary deadlines that it’s looking more and more likely we won’t pass, which means that there will be big effects about climate from climate change, and that they will be really scary. But I feel really confident that even if we come a little late to this party, I really think we’re gonna be able to show up, and I think we’ll be able to do it really well, eventually. I don’t even necessarily have a great reason right now.

Let the listeners be on edge waiting for the next segment to let you finish your answer. You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Caleigh Wells, reporter with KCRW. KCRW covers climate environment and public health on the show. And we’ll be right back. And just one minute.

You’re listen to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Caleigh Wells, a reporter from KCRW on the program.

Caleigh right before the break, we were talking about what gives you hope, and you’re explaining kind of why you thought, hey, there’s there is hope for humanity, we’ve pulled a lot out of the fire. And after doing this for about three years, myself of really interviewing lots of incredible people, I do think there is cause for optimism that we are making a lot of progress.

It’s kind of all over the place. But it’s it’s pretty amazing what we humans are capable of at our best. So I see lots of reasons for hope. I interviewed a guy named Tony pan, who’s young guy under 40, who is 250 patents have figured out a way to strip carbon off of natural gas and create clean hydrogen and as well as another carbon compound that that you can use for asphalt, you know, so people like that kind of give me cause for hope. What? Maybe I’ll let you kind of finish up your answer on that front since I cut you off with it.

Sure. Yeah, I think I think stories like that people who are finding solutions, more exciting are the ones that then pick up and take off. You know, the difference in when I started sort of paying attention becoming an adult maybe 10 years ago, and now, just in that period of time, there’s already been a remarkable change in the percentage of energy especially in California here, the percentage of energy that’s coming from renewable sources.

And, and, and other things that are cause for celebration, the you know, composting laws that are getting passed and things like that. And so when I think well, all of that changed, just since I, you know, became an adult, think of how much more I’m gonna get to witness in, you know, 30 years, 40 years.

And I think about how lucky I am that I get to be in the generation that’s going to witness humanity figure this out. Like, I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re going to, we’re going to figure it out. And even though I don’t fully know how yet, I feel really good. When I watch us do it every day that we’re getting closer.

Yeah, no doubt that people are doing amazing work. And that’s cause for rejoicing, though, we’ve got a long ways to go and and where do you see kind of your call to action to people? In terms of doing little things or doing lots of different things? Would What do you think you’re shooting for and in communicating your message?

Um, I think one of the one of the sort of frustrating things we say before any answer, basically, in every episode is it depends depends on your situation depends on you as a person what you’re capable of doing. So, you know, I can’t say, Well, I really want to convince everybody that they need to stop eating cheeseburgers, you know, I can’t that’s, that’s not feasible for every person that listens.

But I really liked the idea of shooting for something we talked about in our very first episode, which is the tipping point, this idea that once you have roughly one in six people doing something, it becomes normalized. And once something is normalized in your community, more and more people start to jump on that bandwagon that you know, the sort of inertia tips, and now you have done, it’s now mainstream.

A really good example of that in California, one in I think three new cars bought in California in the last quarter were electric 90 Look around, it’s really hard to drive on the freeway, you don’t see an electric car. That’s pretty normalized. Now we’ve sort of hit that tipping point. So when we talk about individual actions, if I just talked about whether or not I drive an electric car, that’s not going to make a huge difference.

But if I am part of this tipping point, then we start to see a difference. And so I hope with my listeners, I’m able to help them realize the benefit of being part of that sort of first group that leaves everyone else into normalizing mainstreaming climate friendly action.

Well, certainly I had heard about California being in the vanguard back when I was in law school in New Orleans at the time. And I think that that’s been true. I mean, it’s been true for probably 100 years that California has been in the vanguard of social change, and legal change, and now environmental change.

So that’s exciting to kind of be a part of here in California, as we’re seeing that we can do it, we can make this change, whether it’s to electric vehicles or doing things more sustainably, improving the air quality in, in California with changing the laws regarding smog that gets emitted from cars and things of that nature.

You mentioned cheeseburgers and I’m going to I’m going to go back to that one. Because that’s something that everybody kind of, can address on a day to day basis. Are you somebody who’s changed your diet to to address climate change?

I have. We actually have a food episode coming out in our second season. So I will talk more about that. But yes, I have changed my diet. I’m not going to say I am fully vegetarian. And one of the things that makes it hard to change your diet is when you think of it as I am denying myself certain pleasures like God, I love a fried chicken sandwich. And so those are still part of my life.

But I cut certain things out. I don’t buy meat at the grocery store anymore. So now when I eat meat, it’s because I’m eating out and it’s a treat. I’ve decided that beef is basically for, you know, fancy wedding occasions if I’m going to go somewhere in steak as an option. I’m probably going to eat beef a couple times a year. I’ve decided pork is just not in the cards anymore.

Because it wasn’t that important to me to give up anyway. But it’s the idea of I have decided to make more climate impactful foods that I love and can’t imagine living with I make them a treat ice creams probably never gonna leave my life. But there’s a lot more broccoli and carrots in it than there used to be.

Yeah, I’m kind of in a similar boat, more or less pescatarian. But I, you know, I’ve been certainly no need some red meat. So I’m not quite, quite willing to jump into the boat yet. But yeah, I think that all of us can make changes along that spectrum. And, and it may be the tipping point for everybody, is it a different place. So I have friends who are more, you know, they’re vegan or whatever.

And I applaud that effort. I’m just not quite there. But I think that even if I’m not willing to go full vegan, I can reduce the amount of dairy that I consume the amount of red meat that I consume or amount of meat in general, and, and probably cut down on fish too, because you know, fish a lot of times isn’t ethically raised or farmed or not sustainable.

According to some my guests, they kind of punctured the, the illusion that somehow fishing is sustainable in any in any way, shape, or form, which is sad, because I enjoy it a lot. But, you know, these are the things that we may have to alter in order to save the whole planet, the ecosphere for everybody.

Yeah, and I think, can’t remember who says the quote, but the idea of something like this doesn’t come from one person doing it perfectly, it’s a billion people doing an imperfectly. I feel that way to that, maybe I’ll have a vegan day, and I celebrate it and think, wow, I really did a good job today. And there are more of those days than there used to be.

But I, you know, if I cut 80% of the meat in my diet, then I’ve cut a percent of the meat in my diet, that’s better than cutting 0% of the meat, because I’m not willing to go 100% of the way, I think it’s absolutely worth doing. And you know, we’re talking about diet, but that’s true of a lot of different climate decisions you make and how many times you get on a plane and how many times you get on a train instead of in a car. And all of all of those decisions, it’s worth trying to do imperfectly because that still makes a difference.

So what do you what do you believe are the top five things that you’re, you know, addressing or think are most impactful? Or do you limit your list to five things? I mean, it’s what what do you think? If you had to talk to your listeners and say, Hey, these are the things that I think are most impactful? What would those things be?

I was surprised by we did an episode on this or someone asked that question. And I was surprised by the number of answers that were about doing things in the community, not just like doing something about your own personal carbon impact.

The first one that our experts said was boats, which totally makes sense, because, you know, we had a bunch of plastic bags in California, and then they banned plastic bags, and we have significantly fewer like that was because some people voted in a person who decided that that was going to be a bill that they were going to write getting involved in local climate initiatives was number two, again, not something I think of necessarily, but you create a community garden.

And now there is a place at my farmers market where I can bring my compost that didn’t exist five years ago. Personal actions is definitely among those top five. Within personal actions, I’d say how you eat, how you move, and how you heat and light up your home.

And then I would put, I don’t know if we’ve done three, or four or five, but I’m gonna say the last one is talking to your friends and family about it because you doing anything in a vacuum is not nearly as effective as when you do something. And then you are able to communicate that to the people closest to you, and affect change by inspiring them to do it as well.

That was there. Those are great things. And I think everybody can focus on those are very doable and very much in line with the Anti Dread climate podcast that you’re doing there. Over a KCRW. You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. I’ve got Caleigh Wells, reporter with KCRW, on the show, and we’ll be back in just one minute.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Caleigh Wells, reporter from KCRW, who covers climate, environment, and public health. Caleigh kind of wanted to circle back to a couple of things that we had talked about earlier. But a little bit different vein, who were your role models, when you started kind of beginning down this path towards dedicating kind of your professional career to, to investigating climate change?

Wow, that is a big question. I mean, the the first name that comes up for me, is Sammy Ross at the LA Times. The reason I mentioned him is because I’ve grown up in Los Angeles, the LA newspaper is where I learned how to play a crossword and read a comic and read the stocks. And he’s sort of become the the biggest face of climate coverage at the paper that I grew up with.

And I’ve always been impressed by the kinds of topics that he brooches and his ability to make them really interesting. And, and question solutions. I’m a big fan of that. I have been a major NPR fan my whole career. So I’ll pick you know, climate desk, people like Becky Hirscher, and Nate ROTT. Over at NPR, their ability to make topics conversational, even though they’re big and sciency and scary.

I really think trying to make something is heavy and in a lot of ways invisible as climate change, you know, we can’t see heat, but we can feel it, you know, things like that. Their ability to make that interesting and conversational, I think are is incredibly inspiring, and so important, if we’re gonna get people to care about this kind of thing.

If I’m gonna go back even earlier, I’ll talk about when I was a young adult, the the green brothers, Hank Green, and John Green. And Hank Green is a super nerdy science YouTuber guy. He has a show called sideshow, and he’s all about same thing, like embracing nerdiness making it fun to talk about things that might seem dweeby. Um, I think that’s also important.

And so I’m trying to convey that sort of sense of fun and wonder that you can get from science topics and bring that into climate, even though climate has sort of this extra weight of, you know, Doom in deadlines and all of that. I tried to convey that to all of those people definitely influence my reporting.

Well, it is kind of the ultimate science project and we’re all pieces of the experiment. So I didn’t say one of the challenges that I see when we’re talking about these issues is the complexity of it and that there are so many different systems in play and, and that that can kind of make people even who are in the field Make their head spin at the complexity of it.

How do you deal with that kind of complexity, because there there are so many things going on whether it’s the ice melting on the in the Arctic, or permafrost melting in Siberia and methane being emitted all over the world, all of these different things are, are challenging for many people to get their, their arms around.

Yeah. And the other thing I think of when you mentioned things like that are if we talk about a system, say, you know, organics, recycling or recycling, and I’m, I’m reporting about the city of Los Angeles, the city of Burbank could have a completely different system, like, it’s really hard to say, well, here are the steps for how to solve the problem, when the steps are completely different, depending on your address.

And if we talk about the, you know, melting ice in the Arctic, that feels so far away, that I can’t imagine what I can do in Los Angeles, and how that’s going to affect the ice in the Arctic. So what I try and do is find, like tangible evidence that is visible and is happening in your life and is affecting what you do day today. And I try and come up with solutions that are either applicable across zip codes, or city lines or county lines, or that I tried to provide tools that can get applied across those places.

So here’s how to find the information that is most important based on your zip code. Instead of Well, here’s how it works in this zip code. And hopefully, it’s the same over there. So yeah, trying to make things tangible, and trying to provide people sort of the tools, the idea of like teaching someone to fish instead of feeding them a fish.

But that’s a that’s a great thing. And I’ve often heard the phrase, think globally and act locally. And I guess for some of us who want to think globally, it is important to have people who are willing to plant our feet in the ground and say, Hey, let’s let’s go from these kind of philosophical, almost discussions about the Arctic ice, which very few of us have ever been to the Arctic, to hey, what can we do here in Los Angeles, or wherever you may be and get something done?

So taking the example of the Arctic ice, what would you say would you say, to address something like that, or just pivot and just go purely local.

So if you were to make a point about the Arctic ice, I assume we’re talking about the fact that it is melting. And so I would try and make that relevant to someone living nearby 2023 globally hottest here wasn’t even that hot in Southern California. So now we’ve we’re having a difficult time making it relevant here. But we still can, there’s still going to be a heatwave.

So there’s still a good time to talk about the fact that it is hotter in some parts of La than others, we can talk about urban heat island effect, we could talk about how the city is doing in combating that. And if they’re doing a good enough job handling that kind of thing, we can talk about the importance of tree canopy and how that is helpful, both in changing the temperature where you live, but also capturing carbon and therefore decreasing the temperature over in the Arctic.

I mean, these are just like, off the top of my head ways to make things relevant far away. I think it is possible to do things like that no matter what we’re talking about the Arctic ice is just an example.

Well, it’s very well done. And I I’d say, just to segue into, we have now a planet tree for every new person who follows or subscribes to our podcasts. So if anybody subscribes, they can have a tree planted in their honor. So we’re trying to do that increase the amount of tree planting around the planet, and people can talk to us about where they’d like their tree planted, because there’s great organizations out there that that plant trees all over the globe and have a good track record of making sure that those trees stay, you know, stay growing, and that’s important too.

So I think that any little thing that we can be involved in to, to connect us to the movement, I can say just personally, there were lots of years that I was cognizant of the problem, but I didn’t take any action. And so as, as somebody who can maybe point to, here’s some credible are there, here’s some useful ways that we can take some modest amount of action is is a great first step. So.

And I would also add that taking small steps like that are also amazing for your own, you know, mental health, like if you sit and say, Well, I’m not going to participate in the climate solution, because there’s no point, you’re, you’re really challenging your own mental resilience.

And so you know why, why make that so hard for yourself, like, not only are you helping the planet when you participate in something like that, but you’re also getting involved in your community, you are providing yourself with control by choosing to take an action, and that sort of agency combats, the feeling of anxiety and doom and hopelessness.

And all of that makes you more resilient, so that you can continue to be a part of the climate solution. Instead of sort of suffering from that burnout problem. This is another episode that we have coming up in the second season. There are plenty of selfish reasons to get involved in the climate solution as well, to sort of help your mental health, all while helping the planet too.

Yeah, that’s very true. And I think that all of us have suffered the consequences of being tight tethered to our devices much of the day. And so this is an opportunity to get out of self and get out of just dealing with devices and deal with real people and take some action that is different than scrolling, Doom scrolling through news or YouTube videos or whatever.

Yeah, and like, go outside, like, go find an action that doesn’t involve participating in something online, go plant a tree, or helping your community garden or do a beach cleanup. If you live near the beach, you know, all of the there are so many things that communities will provide for you to be able to participate that are free and affordable. They’re just there waiting for you.


So to that end, everybody go to AClimateChange.com and sign up and get your your tree and also, you know, go online to check out all the different organizations in your community that are doing this type of work. We started working with a an organization 1% for the planet, and that 1% of the law office proceeds that I work at, go towards 5,800 different environmental organizations around the world.

So they’re just so many different opportunities for people to connect and in, in the way that makes sense for them. And I think most people don’t know how many different places there are to, to, to work with.

Yeah, I continue to be surprised even in my field, I continue to find new places that are doing something even when I walk outside or I go to the booth at the farmers market, I find something new there’s always something there.

So the message is keep your eyes open and tune in to to listen to Caleigh’s program and KCRW the Anti Dread climate podcast as well as A Climate Change – aclimatechange.com. And we’ll be right back with Caleigh to talk further about the work that she’s doing to connect to everybody here in LA to be not scared about the climate crisis but to be an action.

You’re listening to A Climate Change and I’ve got Caleigh Wells on the program. Caleigh, tell us a little bit about listeners asking you questions and how you go through the process of determining which of the listener questions will become episodes.

Yeah, I the the sheer enthusiasm with which the questions poured through. The first time we asked for them was proof enough that there was a need for a podcast like this. We started with a call out on air on our socials on our website and And we are now up to we have more than 200 of them. When we decide what is most appropriate for the show, we choose something that is actionable. Because we get a lot of questions that are like, you need to talk about big ag and all the problems.

Okay, that’s, that’s there’s legitimate, there’s legitimacy to that problem. But that’s not necessarily going to leave our listener with something that they can go home and do today or next week. We try and choose things that have a tangible answer. There are plenty of big scary questions that there’s, it’s just too It depends.

Something as specific as what do I do when I need to recycle, but it’s got the number five on it, you know, like, like I said, zip code, or zip code, there’s a really different answer for a question like that. When you, when you have those boxes that need checked, all of a sudden, those hundreds of questions, and you take out the repeats, because there are a lot of repeats, then you’re down to like a couple of dozen.

And so, at least so far, as the podcast has gotten more popular, we are seeing a higher number of questions trickle in as we go. But that generally, that’s how we ended up choosing what actually makes it on the show. And we need a listener who’s willing to come on and and ask the question be recorded so that we can have the audience be able to relate to somebody.

Right? Well, that’s a it’s interesting how you’re going about doing it? Because I guess, the big egg question, I would say, Oh, well, that that kind of sounds interesting to me. Well, why not? Why not go talk about big ag and I don’t know, in relationship to farmers markets, or what we can do to kind of shift consumer behavior or voting for different, you know, laws that would have that big egg be treated differently here in California, or more locally?

Yeah. And there are times when we are excited enough about a topic that we will sort of work with the listener and say, Do you think you can, you know, phrase this in a way that is more related to your, your personal habits, an example of that was, toward the end of season one, we had someone who was overwhelmed by the amount of like, plastic and trash piling up in their bins.

And they were like, well, this is just such a big problem. And we said, Okay, well as as we approach the holidays, like, what is it that you are personally worried about? And she’s like, Well, how do I celebrate the holidays without having my life just like filled with all of this plastic? Like, what am I supposed to do?

So once we’ve framed it into the what do I do frame work, then it fits the episode. And we can still handle those kinds of topics that people want to cover, as long as it sort of fits the podcast format, and leaves audiences with some tangible solutions that they can apply.

I think that’s a that’s a great idea. And something that we had had a chance to discuss with Senator Ben Allen on the program is he was one of the authors of the plastics legislation that went through within the last year.

And, you know, just kind of fascinating the the journey that it took, and it took in part a lot of citizens who cared about this issue, and, and it’s still not a complete solution to our plastics problem, but it was a big step in the right direction. And, and California, again, was in the vanguard in creating new rules regarding plastics that, that essentially no other place on the planet has has gone to that level.

So Elena is a great example, because we had him on the podcast also, to answer a listener’s question about like, how do I get my political leaders to care? Because this plastic problem was so big, so we had him on and we were like, well, how do we get you and your colleagues to care?

And his answer was like, We got to call me up. Like, a lot of times, the decisions that I’m making are based on my constituents, like showing up at meetings or calling my office and saying we want to do something or like a lobbying group or some sort of political activist group like helping draft legislation that He then puts to his colleagues to try and and turn it into a law that ended up being a really helpful actionable episode based on just the Oh god. Plastics are scary question that we have.

Right? And unfortunately, Senator Allen is such an incredible public servant, and very approachable. So that’s, it’s kind of seemingly less scary. And I think, having him on our respective shows to like, let the audience know, hey, this is somebody who’s very approachable, super nice guy. And we should be asking him to do the things that we need done here in California. And not that he can just snap his fingers and make them happen. But it’s a step in that direction, for sure.

Yeah, exactly. And that bill that you mentioned, creative three can’t actually remember the number. But the bill that you mentioned, is a really good example of that. And a good example of California, you know, punching above its weight. So even if we have a listener in Montana, I know we do.

That bill is going to affect how companies handle their plastic packaging. And therefore it’s going to make a difference in Montana, just like it will in in California. It kind of shows industry the way that hey, we can do this. And it’s SB54.

Thank you. My assistant Sasha has put that up in the chat. So thank you, Sasha. And that was the bill, the California bill targeting plastic pollution through recycling mandates. So yeah, it’s if we show that we can do it, and it’s viable, because that’s one of the things that the industry is constantly saying, Oh, you’re gonna kill us if if you make the change in this law. And, and the truth is that that industry can survive those changes, and has survived all kinds of regulations that make it harder to pull out.

So that’s what we need to do. Now, on the holiday front. That’s, that’s a good one, too, is like we all can probably use less trash when we’re celebrating the holidays. And not not always the easiest thing to do. But it’s a step that each individual can do.

I know one of my friends in the environmental movement is always kind of talking about the hypocrisy of the people on private jets. preaching about environmentalism. What What’s your take on whether or not policymakers are walking the walk, as well as talking to talk?

The private jet conversation is a really, like, simple example of that, that like, that is one of the worst things you can do for the planet, is get on a plane that isn’t shuttling a bunch of other people from one destination to the next.

Yeah, I think I think there are examples of people doing that. Usually, during the cop conferences, that’s a great time to make to have that criticism, because you have people flying in from all over the world. And do you really need to send that many people? And did you really need to take a plane? That isn’t commercial? You know?

Yeah, I think there are good examples of, of political leaders making those decisions that are sometimes not in line with the talk that they’re talking to us your face.

Yeah, I think that we need to hold them accountable and say, hey, you need to, you need to walk the walk and want to hold you to a higher standard. So where where do you see the anti dread climate podcast going in the future? What’s what we should we be looking for?

Um, we have decided from, you know, season one we were dealing with really like tangible things that you can go home and do the next day. Season two, we have decided to pick up some of these kind of heavier topics. Like I said, climate anxiety is one of the ones that we’re dealing with. Another one is relationships with your your family, trying to broach big discussions related to climate with others.

These are the kinds of things that affect us day to day and are worth doing, but are a little less straightforward than the well, how do I recycle question, which still was our most popular? So, you know, I think I think we had a lot of success with the Should I have children type question or how do I have children in a way that’s climate friendly? We got a lot of positive responses and sort of thankful reactions to things like that.

And so I think we’re hoping to continue in that vein, making people feel comfortable in the discussions that we’re having and comfortable asking the scarier questions so that they can be a part of the solution in every form the easy and the hard tasks.

But I really like the practical approach and and the fact that you’re making it very clear what people can do to make a difference. And so I greatly encourage the audience to check out your anti dread climate podcast at KCRW and tune into your program. It’s great chatting with you and wish you all the best going forward.

And you know what, look forward to collaborating with you on communicating these ideas out to a wider audience. So check out our podcast at A Climate Change.com And as I said earlier, subscribe and follow us on Apple, or iHeart, or Spotify and we will plant a tree in your honor.

So everybody have a great week and look forward to having you tune in next week.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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