As we wrap up a very unusual year, we’re looking back at our favourite podcasts from 2020 (and a couple from previous years that we still enjoy). We hope you enjoy them on your own or with your household!
New and ongoing podcast series:
Scales of Change
The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our lifetimes. But even those of us who accept the science and urgency of climate change can struggle to act on our own knowledge and values. Why? Our minds are subject to the ‘Dragons of Climate Inaction’: 36 different species of rationalizations – stories we tell ourselves consciously and subconsciously. Produced by Future Ecologies, with support from the University of Victoria, this podcast explores the psychology of climate inaction and proves that another story is possible.
Mostly set in the 1990s in the Pacific Northwest. A time when a logging boom was turning the USA’s last remaining ancient forests into clearcuts, and environmental activists were burying themselves in front of bulldozers or spending months sitting in the tallest trees in the world. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s seven-episode podcast Timber Wars tells the story of how the Northern Spotted Owl and a small group of activists and scientists reshaped the way we think about ancient forests and the ecosystems they support.
Hosted by former Irish president Mary Robinson, comedian-writer Maeve Higgins, and series producer Thimali Kodikara, Mothers of Invention is a podcast about feminist climate change solutions from (mostly) women around the world. Every episode celebrates inspiring climate leaders around the world carving a path to climate justice for all.
This Gimlet produced podcast asks the big questions: What do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and how do we get it done? Journalist Alex Blumberg and scientist and policy nerd Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, scour the Earth for solutions, talk to people who are making a difference, ask hard questions, crack dumb jokes and — episode by episode — figure out how to build a better future.
Drilled is a narrative podcast that puts the story of climate change, and climate denial, into a true-crime framework. Season 1 (2018) focuses on the climate research conducted by oil companies and when and how they shifted from studying the problem to denying it. Season 2 (2019) follows a community of crab fishermen as they become the first industry to sue Big Oil. Season 3 (2020) chronicles the 100-year history of fossil fuel P.R. campaigns and ties them to the propaganda we still see today.
The Daily’s Sunday Read: ‘The Social Life of Forests’
Before Canadian ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that underground fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest, foresters typically regarded trees as solitary individuals that competed for space and resources and that were otherwise indifferent to one another. On the contrary, Simard demonstrated that an old-growth forest is a vast, ancient and intricate society where seedlings severed from this network are more likely to die; chemical alarm signals to warn of danger can be passed between trees; and a dying tree can sometimes pass on a share of its carbon to neighbors.
CBC Ideas: ‘The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World’
Widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a member of Alderville First Nation and teaches at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Denedeh. Her 2020 Kreisel lecture featured in this CBC Ideas episode focuses on four stories about the Beaver — Amik — and its place in Anishnaabe worlds. Simpson demonstrates how the figure of the Beaver offers lessons in how to live connected to the world around us — through knowledge, wisdom and industriousness.
Co-hosted by Mohawk and Tuscarora from Six Nations playwright and performer Falen Johnson and first-generation Canadian writer, performer and producer Leah-Simone Bowen, this CBC podcast highlights the people, places and stories that probably didn’t make it into your high school textbook. This episode dives into the complex history of water, and how it’s been managed throughout time.
Nearly every day, we hear of new innovations moving the world toward clean energy. But this transition raises many questions. What actually counts as clean energy? Who should make decisions about how it’s produced — and how do these projects impact communities? In which ways do we need to rethink land use in a clean energy economy?
Co-hosted by former CBC journalist Susan Elrington and Caitlyn Vernon, Campaigns Director with Sierra Club BC, Mission Transition: Clean Energy and Beyond dives into these questions and more with interviews from thinkers and doers who are all passionate about making the transition happen.