Rank #1: Ep. 20: The Red State Paradox
Arlie Russell Hochschild spent five years in some of the most polluted parishes of Louisiana trying to find out why some of the people whose lives have been ravaged by the oil and petrochemical industry are deeply hostile to environmental regulation. She is the author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.
Aug 30 2017
Rank #2: Climate Change: How Bad Can it Be?
You’ve probably heard by now that, according to a new UN report, the world has just over a decade to get climate change under control before it’s too late. And the report says we need a profound transformation to get there.
The report has got us thinking about an episode we aired last year about what life on Earth could look like with the worst case scenario.
David Wallace-Wells wrote an article last summer entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth.” It was the most widely read article in the online history of New York Magazine. Its imagined future was so grim, it spawned response articles like “Are we as doomed as that New York Magazine Article Says?” in the Atlantic Magazine.
On this episode, we talk to Wallace-Wells, to find out -- is it really as bad as all that?
Oct 10 2018
Rank #3: Rick Perry Made Me Do It
President Trump says a key phone call at the center of the Ukraine scandal was Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s idea. But Perry asserts that in his conversations with Trump, “not once, as God as my witness, not once was a Biden name ever mentioned."
On this episode we connect the dots between Perry and Ukraine with Jeff Brady, energy reporter for NPR. Get your whiteboards out. There are a lot of names.
Oct 17 2019
Rank #4: Trump and the Philosophy of Climate Denial
How do you change the minds of climate deniers and people -- say the President -- who doubt the scientific process in general? We ask a philosopher of science for some answers.
Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He has written books about defending science and fighting back against “alternative facts.”
Now, McIntyre is out on the road talking to flat earth theorists and people who don’t accept current climate science.
Sep 26 2019
Rank #5: What’s the Future of Global Climate Policies?
The Paris Climate Agreement was put in place to prevent catastrophic and runaway global warming. And since taking office, President Trump has been threatening to pull the U.S. out of it. Earlier this month, he made it official.
On this episode we hear from the man who helped put the U.S. in the agreement in the first place. Todd Stern was President Obama’s chief climate negotiator and now he's a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.
Nov 28 2019
Rank #6: The Pollution Police
What happens when environmental laws and rules aren't enforced? When the environmental cops just aren't on the beat?
Under Trump, EPA inspections have fallen to a 10-year low. On this episode, we hear from Juliet Eilperin who has covered this story for The Washington Post.
Why does the EPA need inspections, penalties and prosecutions? And how is the view of the EPA's role changing under the Trump administration?
Feb 20 2019
Rank #7: Murray Energy, A Major Trump Ally, Goes Bankrupt
President Trump came into office promising to save coal and coal jobs. Instead, the industry has continued to slide. The question now is--how far will it go?
The coal industry once employed hundreds of thousands of workers. Now, it's just about 50,000. And eight coal companies have declared bankruptcies in the last year. The latest is Murray Energy, the biggest privately held coal mining company in the country.
We check in on the state of the coal in the Trump era with Taylor Kuykendall who covers the industry for S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Nov 14 2019
Rank #8: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy
Wildfires have once again spread across California...and millions of residents have been living without power for weeks. The deliberate blackouts by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, are an attempt to prevent power lines from starting new fires, a real possibility in dry and windy conditions.
Hundreds of the fires that started last year in California are believed to have been sparked by equipment from power companies — including the state’s deadliest fire. The Camp Fire was caused by a faulty electric transmission line. 85 people died and the town of Paradise was leveled.
Some have called for nationalizing PG&E to keep it accountable for the safety and maintenance of its equipment and the reliability of its service.
Across the country there's a patchwork of grids providing power to Americans, and *they* still mostly rely on fossil fuels to keep a steady flow of electricity. A couple of years ago, President Trump signed an executive order to speed up environmental reviews and approvals of infrastructure projects that are a high priority for the country, like making improvements to the grid.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has created policies to prop up financially struggling coal and nuclear power plants to ensure the electricity grid is resilient and reliable. But the main character in a new book by Wall Street Journal energy reporter Russell Gold looks beyond fossil fuels to power the grid. The book focuses on one man's mission to get more renewable wind energy online, and into American homes and businesses through transmission lines, and a more thoughtful connection of the nation’s grids. The book is called Superpower.
Nov 08 2019
Rank #9: Who's Watching the Hogs?
Last month, the USDA quietly issued a new rule changing meat inspection standards for pork. Not only would the new rule mean slaughter houses could run their processing lines as fast as they want, it would also change who does the inspecting, giving the pork producers themselves a bigger role in the process.
We talk with Tom Philpott, food and agriculture reporter for Mother Jones magazine, about what the changes could mean for the safety of food and workers.
Oct 09 2019
Rank #10: How the UK Won its War on Coal
Coal was the engine of the Industrial Revolution and employed nearly 1.2 million people in Britain at its height. But the UK has gone more than 1,000 hours without using coal to generate electricity this year - the longest streak since Thomas Edison opened the country’s first coal power station in 1882. How did they do it? Our guest is Carolyn Beeler who covered this story for PRI's The World.
Aug 09 2018
Rank #11: Strengthening Transparency or Silencing Science?
Word leaked a few weeks ago that the EPA is poised to finalize a rule to limit the types of scientific studies that can be used to create new regulations. The proposal -- named “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” -- would require public health researchers to release their raw scientific data in order for their work to be considered when the EPA sets regulations. These regulations dictate things like how much pollution companies can release into the air and water.
When the rule was first proposed, the agency received nearly 600,000 comments, the vast majority of them in opposition. One of those came from Dr. Mary Rice, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She also studies the effects of air pollution on lung health. On November 14th, Dr. Rice was one of 5 scientists to testify before the House Science Committee on the proposed rule.
Dec 12 2019
Rank #12: Ep. 44: Goodbye Scott Pruitt, Hello Andrew Wheeler
For months on end, Pruitt seemed to defy the laws of gravity at the EPA, maintaining his job through more than a dozen scandals. But Pruitt’s term has ended after it was reported that President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly--presumably at the president’s behest--asked Pruitt for his resignation.
So the big question is--why now? And, importantly, what happens next?
On this episode Reid Frazier talks with Zack Colman, a reporter with E&E News.
Jul 11 2018
Rank #13: Ep. 45: Brett Kavanaugh is Trump's Pick. Should Environmentalists Be Worried?
Less than a week after the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy would retire, President Trump nominated DC Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Kennedy’s replacement. In this episode, we learn more about Kavanaugh's environmental record and what cases he'd be weighing in on if confirmed. Our guest is Melissa Powers, a law professor and director of the Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School in Oregon.
Professor Powers also talks about Justice Kennedy’s environmental legacy.Kennedy was the swing vote in Massachusetts v. EPA, considered the most consequential ruling on climate change. Without his vote, we might still be fighting to have CO2 recognized as a pollutant at all.
Jul 12 2018
Rank #14: A Surge of Black Lung Disease in Appalachia
This week we're bringing you a interview with NPR's Howard Berkes about the proliferation of black lung disease among coal miners in Appalachia. It comes from our sister podcast called Energy Explained, produced by the public radio collaboration StateImpact Pennsylvania The interview covers not just this administration's current policies on coal mine safety but those of previous administrations. And it really is an important piece of reporting that Berkes and his team did.
Feb 08 2019
Rank #15: Zinke's Out. What's the Damage to Public Lands?
The federal government is the nation's largest landowner, managing 500 million acres under the Department of the Interior. And while some expect that America's public lands are managed for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, others say the Trump administration has allowed interests like energy development to lead land policy.
Trump's first interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, literally rode into Washington on a horse a couple of years ago promising to be a land steward in the style of President Theodore Roosevelt. More recently, he signed his resignation letter in a now infamous, barely legible, chunky red pen. On this episode, we take stock of Zinke's legacy and what it means for the country's public lands. Our guest is Collin O'Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation. He wrote a recent opinion piece about Zinke in the Washington Post.
Jan 10 2019
Rank #16: Ep. 43: Could the Endangered Species Act go Extinct?
When Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act on December 28, 1973, it made the United States the only nation on Earth to declare a basic right of existence for species other than our own. Currently, the Act protects more than 1,600 species across the country. Now, the landmark legislation is being targeted by industry, with support from the GOP. What happens next could determine the fate of hundreds of endangered species.
On this episode, we talk about the future of the Endangered Species Act with Jennifer Kahn. She wrote an article published in The New York Times magazine earlier this year titled, Should Some Species be Allowed to Die Out?
Jun 28 2018
Rank #17: Environmentalists Could Change Election Outcomes. They Just Need to Vote.
Historically, polls have shown that environmentalists are terrible at voting. In the 2014 midterm election, more than 15 million environmentalists didn't show up on Election Day. And to be clear, all of them were already registered and already committed to environmental issues. So why are they so bad at voting? And will they turn out in the midterm elections?
We dig into the topic with Nathaniel Stinnett, founder of the non-partisan organization, Environmental Voter Project. He has a plan for getting environmentalists to the polls on November 6th.
Oct 31 2018
Rank #18: Bonus Episode: Michael Mann’s Journey Through the Climate Wars
Today we're bring you an episode of a podcast we've been enjoying lately. Democracy Works, produced by Penn State's McCourtney Institute for Democracy, aims to rise above the daily news grind and take a broader look at issues impacting democracy — which can be just about anything. If you’re looking for partisan bickering or hot takes on the news, this is not the podcast for you.
This episode is an interview with one of the most famous and vocal climate scientists. Michael Mann was on one of our earliest Trump on Earth episodes, but this conversation with him is a different take. We hope you enjoy it.
You can learn more about their podcast at democracyworkspodcast.com or search "Democracy Works" wherever you get your podcasts.
Oct 04 2018
Rank #19: The Green New Deal: Two Takes
Now that a proposal is on the table, some see it as a chance to create jobs and equalize the economy. But critics say it should laser focus on climate action.
Mar 20 2019
Rank #20: Will Climate Change Matter in 2020?
There wasn't a single question about global warming in the 2016 presidential debates. Will 2020 be different?
There are 23 Democrats vying for their party's nomination. Who has a plan to fight climate change (and who doesn't)? And what will President Trump's eventual Democratic challenger say on the subject?
Today take a look at where the candidates stand on climate change with Emily Holden, environment reporter for the Guardian.
May 23 2019