Well Made

Kendra Pierre Louis: Motivated by obligation – Well Made E151

July 15, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

Climate anxiety is real. Expounding environmental factors and consumer guilt can make it hard to want to click on the latest climate change headline. But, climate reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis has a track record for making climate change coverage go viral. For example, she wrote a story in The New York Times about evil purple urchins.

Whenever climate change swoops in in the form of a flood, fire, or fuzzy caterpillars, Kendra is there to follow the story. Despite her "Gloom is my beat" Twitter username, Kendra has a bullish way of making you care about climate change — in her writing and in her reporting on How to Save a Planet. She does it by rooting her reporting in human stories, offering actionable solutions, and making it funny whenever possible. 

On this episode, she pulls no punches and cracks lots of laughs. Get ready to get real about shifting climate responsibility from consumers to companies, devaluing oil, and being fueled by obligation over hope.

Global plastics production

0:39 To be a climate reporter is to be inundated with bad news, sift through it, then communicate it clearly without making readers "feel like poop." 

The philosophy of How to Save a Planet isn't to pressure individuals into making big lifestyle shifts. Instead, the show offers ways for individuals to make enough noise that corporations and governments enact new regulations.

18:46 Kendra’s recommendations for companies that are contemplating when and how to create more sustainable supply chains is to do it now. It’s cheaper and easier to start with more sustainable choices than to retrofit. 

23:14 Kendra isn’t sold on offsetting carbon or plastic. “The idea that we can continue to pollute on one side and just sort of suck it up on the other side, hasn't been proven to work. “

At its core is one big issue — waste is getting more coverage than manufacturing. For example, plastic production is one the rise, yet most coverage is about capturing plastic waste. Kendra says that the only way to really curb production is to make oil more expensive. 

29:44 The zero waste movement was meant for companies, not consumers. The methodology of consuming less is great, but the message isn’t getting through to companies and corporations that are tossing perfectly good clothes, food, books, and other goods, for risk of devaluing their product. 

33:54 The team at How to Save a Planet says that they’re putting out a show every week until climate change is solved. Kendra talks about what it looks like if their show is successful. 

37:22 In the past few years, there were two moments that accelerated the public's engagement with climate change: 2017's uptick of hurricanes and wildfires and in the IPCC's 2018 report: Global Warming of 1.5°C.

46:59 We end with recommendations for sci-fi television series and climate change newsletters.

Also mentioned on the show:

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