Skyrocketing temperatures. Historic floods. The family from Encanto is talking about Bruno. This is some end-times shit. We’ve been warned that this is an emergency for a long time now, and some of us (those of us who believe science isn’t a global conspiracy to give Nancy Pelosi eternal life, anyway) have been furiously recycling our water bottles and riding our unicycles to work to try to stop it. But wouldn’t you know, that was some bullshit.

Before you close this tab and unleash an unceasing wail into the void, there is one piece of good news. As Jesse Jenkins said on our show, “We failed on avoiding dangerous climate change, but we’ve managed to pull back a bit from total catastrophe.” HELL YEAH.


We’ve been hammered by messages that reducing our “carbon footprint” was the key to stopping climate change. But it turns out that dutifully turning off our lights was never gonna be enough to ensure our continued survival on this planet. The idea that we as individuals alone were responsible for reversing this was actually just a clever ruse, largely influenced by a marketing campaign from BP, the massive oil company.

We DO of course need to reduce our carbon footprint as a society, but if we want to get close to reducing it enough to actually matter, it requires changes across industries and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in a major way. We simply can’t bike our way out of this.


OK, so our massive stockpile of tote bags is not the key to humanity’s survival. But, as satisfying as it would be, we can’t pin this entire thing on fossil fuel companies. After all, we’re the ones addicted to using their product to power everything from our hummers to our hair dryers and curling irons.

As Jon said on the episode, “Fossil fuels power our comfort and convenience, and the fact that they may also be the architect of our impending doom probably won’t get us to change our ways.” So rather than focusing on individual actions, we need to make big changes in the way we make and consume energy. That’s something politicians could do in theory, but considering they can’t even agree that their workplace being broken into by an angry mob out for blood is a bad thing, that’s a big ask.


While we all have to act together to reverse this, that doesn’t mean the impact of climate change falls equally on all of us. With rising temperatures and prolonged droughts, we’ll see massive population migrations, and communities across the world will see unprecedented impacts. These events will disproportionately affect countries in the Global South. Even within the U.S., the impacts of climate change have already had a bigger effect on poor communities — and people of color have been disproportionately affected. 

We’re responsible for these climate impacts because America is the largest carbon polluter in history. Developing nations need our support to grow in a more sustainable way. In 2009, the richest countries in the world promised that by 2020 they’d provide $100 billion every year to ensure that countries in the Global South could develop in ways that will help avert climate disaster.

Well, that didn’t happen, and most of the public funding for climate change has come from loans, which put low-income nations further in debt. We’re not gonna get very far unless this transition works for everyone, not just a few economic superpowers. It’s not only about the direct transfer of funds, either. The U.S. can, for example, help proliferate cheap, clean energy around the world.