A Matter of Degrees

By Leah Stokes, Katharine Wilkinson

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 May 3, 2021


Give up your climate guilt. Sharpen your curiosity. This show is for the climate-curious people who know climate change is a problem, but are trying to figure out how to tackle it. We’re telling stories about the levers of power that have created the problem -- and the tools we have to fix it.

Episode Date
Biden's Climate Plan Could Reshape America (Live w/ Julian NoiseCat)

We're back with another live edition of the show! So much is happening in the Biden era. We didn't want to wait until our second season to unpack all the activity.

This week, we feature a conversation with Julian Brave NoiseCat that we recorded at the Crosscut Festival. 

Julian is a writer, activist, and policy expert with a deep understanding of Washington climate politics. Julian was actually a guest correspondent in season one — go episode 7 from our first season: “Changing Woman: One Navajo’s Fight for a Just Transition."

The protagonist of amazing episode, Wahleah Johns, is now working in the Biden Administration as a senior official at the Department of Energy!

Julian is the Vice President of Policy & Strategy at the think tank Data For Progress and a Fellow at the Type Media Center. He’s also a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Vox, Vice and many other outlets.

In this episode, we look at all the action happening in Washington on climate change: big-name hires, big-ticket policies, and the potential high-impact outcomes.

May 13, 2021
The State of Global Climate Talks (Live w/ Mary Robinson)

As we work on season 2, we're sharing a live episode of the show that we just recorded  at the Bloomberg Green Summit.

The conversation is all about where things stand in the lead-up to global climate talks in the fall. 

We were fortunate to get Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, to talk about this topic with us. Mary served as the President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She’s now the chair of the Elders.

Mary has dedicated much of her career to solving the climate crisis. She’s the author of two moving memoirs, “Everybody Matters” which was from 2012 and “Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future,” was published in September 2018. She is also co-host of a podcast on the climate crisis, called “Mothers of Invention.” 

In this episode, we go deep with Mary on what we can expect from this year's international climate negotiations.

May 02, 2021
The ‘Darth Vader’ of Electric Utilities

In 2013, a series of attack ads blitzed television sets across Arizona. They warned of a dire threat to senior citizens. Who was the villain? Solar energy.

These ads came from front groups funded by Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility. It was part of a years-long fight against rooftop solar that turned ugly.

“I mean, for Star Wars fans, APS became the Darth Vader of electric utilities in America. I mean, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a utility that behaved as badly as APS did in the last decade,” explains former regulator Kris Mayes.

But APS isn’t alone. It’s a prime example of how monopoly utilities abuse their power to influence regulatory decisions and slow clean-energy progress.

What happens if your electric utility starts doing things you don’t agree with? What if they start attacking solar and proposing to build more and more fossil gas plants? What if they actively resist clean energy progress? 

Well, you don’t get a choice. You have to buy electricity, and you have to buy it from them. As a customer you’re funding that. 

In this episode, we’ll detail how it happened in Arizona -- and how public pressure forced APS’ to come clean.

Featured in this episode: Ryan Randazzo, Kris Mayes, David Pomerantz

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A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio. 

For more episodes and transcripts, visit our website.

Jan 07, 2021
Presenting: How to Save a Planet

We're pleased to introduce an episode of "How to Save a Planet," produced by our friends at Gimlet and Spotify. The show is co-hosted by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Alex Blumberg. 

"How to Save a Planet" has a lot of similarities to our own, so we think our listeners will like the stories they tell. In this week's episode: a story about the Black Lives Matter Movement and how the fight for black lives connects with the struggle for climate justice.

Find more of their episodes here. And stay tuned for our final episode of the season, coming soon.


Dec 22, 2020
The Stages of Black Climate Grief

This week, we have a special episode featuring activist and researcher Nikayla Jefferson.

Most of us are in the first stage of climate grief: denial.

But what does it feel like to enter the stage of grief? And how is that grief different for black people?

Even if you’ve seen the impacts of climate change up close, even if you’ve felt the tropical winds whip your cheeks, stood in floodwater knee deep in your own home, watched a fire come down the ridge line, said “wow, I can’t remember a summer this hot” -- you are likely stuck in some state of denial. 

In this episode, Nikayla shares her journey breaking through denial and into grief. She also talks with 

As a black person, grieving for the planet can look different, feel heavier and more immediate. 

Featured in this episode: Nikayla Jefferson, Jacqueline Patterson, and Princella Talley.

Follow our co-hosts and production team:

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio. 

For more episodes and transcripts, visit our website.

Dec 15, 2020
Changing Woman: One Navajo’s Fight for a Just Transition

This week, we have a special episode about the long and winding energy transition in an often overlooked place: the Navajo Nation—the largest Indian reservation in the United States.

Journalist and climate policy expert Julian Brave NoiseCat is our guide.

Ten percent of Navajos lack access to electricity. Some spend up to $700 per month on fuels to travel to places with electricity, or charge electronics in their cars and trucks.

But the Navajo Nation isn’t exactly an energy-poor place. In fact, until recently, the reservation was home to two of the largest coal strip mines in the world. In recent decades as many as five coal-burning power plants surrounded Navajo lands. For many Navajo, power lines connecting coal to major cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles, have come to symbolize this vastly unequal system.

We’ll look at the deep history of energy extraction and colonialism that led to the current clean-energy transition for the Navajo people.

Featured in this episode: Wahleah Johns and Andrew Curley.

Follow our co-hosts and production team:

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio. 

For more episodes and transcripts, visit our website.

Dec 08, 2020
Cleaning Up the Carbon Mess

We’ve made a carbon mess. How do we clean it up?

Imagine the atmosphere as an overflowing bathtub. The water keeps gushing from the tap. Clearly, we need to turn it off. We have to bring emissions of heat-trapping gases down to zero, stat. 

But even after we do that, we still have a mess on our hands. So, we need to open the drain, let some water out. 

In this episode, we’ll explore the different ways we can manage carbon emissions with natural and technological solutions. What are their benefits and drawbacks? And how do we think about them in our broader solutions toolkit?

Featured in this episode: Lisa Song, Judith Schwartz, Jane Zelikova, and Etosha Cave.

Follow our co-hosts and production team:

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio. 

For more episodes and transcripts, visit our website.

Nov 19, 2020
After Trump: The Silver Linings Playbook

It’s official. Joe Biden will be the next president. And he ran on a platform that put climate at the top of the agenda.

There’s still a lot of tension. What will happen to the balance of power in Congress? Can we make progress on climate, even with Democrats losing down-ballot races?

Even with so much uncertainty, there's actually a lot of good news. In this episode, Leah and Katharine dig into what this moment means for the future of the planet.

We were joined by two heavy-hitters this week: Heather McTeer Toney and Sam Ricketts.

Heather is the Senior Director at Moms Clean Air Force. She’s a former EPA regional administrator. And she was the first African-American, first woman, and youngest person ever elected mayor of Greenville, Mississippi. She knows the ins and outs of what a Biden Administration could do to pursue a “just” climate agenda.

Sam Ricketts is a senior fellow for Energy & Environment at the Center for American Progress. And he was climate director for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign. He co-founded Evergreen, an organization at the forefront of developing detailed, progressive climate policies.

Resources mentioned on the show about the Georgia runoff:

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A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio

Nov 08, 2020
The Big Fossil Fuel Bailout

In July, the FBI charged Larry Householder, Ohio’s Republican Speaker of the House, with a conspiracy to pass a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in dark money. The racketeering was allegedly orchestrated by Householder and the utility FirstEnergy to kill Ohio’s renewable energy law and prop up aging coal and nuclear power plants.

What’s happening in Ohio is part of a broader story playing out under the Trump Administration. Fossil-fuel companies like FirstEnergy have used their ties to the Trump regime to push massive bailouts for dirty energy. And the pandemic was the perfect opportunity for the industry to grab more money.

In this episode, we’ll detail how these companies are raking in billions of government dollars in the wake of the $2 trillion covid stimulus package -- while millions of Americans struggle financially from the pandemic. 

Featured in this episode: Neil Waggoner, Antonia Juhasz, Alexis Goldstein, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin.

Don't forget to read the climate change voter's guide before casting your ballot.

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A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio

Oct 29, 2020
An Electric Number: 2035

When talking about climate change, we often get deep into the weeds quickly and throw a lot of numbers around. And these numbers can feel really disconnected from our lives: Two degrees, 415 parts per million, 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

In this episode, we've got one number we really want to focus on: 2035. It’s a date that carries a lot of hope and opportunity. If we can make progress by 2035, then we can actually make a lot of changes to our energy system and really our entire economy. 

And guess what? We have nearly all the tools to achieve that aim. In this episode, we’ll detail the reality of climate solutions -- they’re right here, right now.

Katharine and Leah will explain: why 2035? Where did this date come from? It’s a radical departure from what the clean energy community had been talking about. Up until last year, most people were planning for the electricity system to be cleaned up by 2050. And suddenly, that number has been pulled 15 years forward.

Featured in this episode: Tim Echols, Donnel Baird, Sonia Aggarwal, Jesse Jenkins, Bracken Hendricks and Sam Ricketts.

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You can also contact us on our website.

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio.

Oct 22, 2020
Give Up Your Climate Guilt

The biggest climate stories blame “all of us,” or cast solutions as “impossible.” These narratives leave people feeling hopeless and confused about what we actually can do.

In our first episode: individual actions versus structural change. What’s the right way to think about the role they each have in addressing the climate crisis? We’ll explore the nuances and misperceptions. 

Leah and Katharine dig into their own personal histories and revelations. Plus, we’ll hear from Bill McKibben about why plastic straws and lightbulbs do very little about the problem. And we’ll hear from Dr. Shahzeen Attari about how individual behavior can have an impact on the climate crisis.

Follow our co-hosts and production team:

You can also contact us on our website.

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio.

Oct 15, 2020
A Breakthrough Moment?

Climate change is no longer a far-off scenario. It’s happening now. It’s getting more intense every year. And young people are seeing a scary future play out right in front of them.

In recent years, the youth climate movement has gained unprecedented strength. Borrowing from the civil rights movement and early environmental activists, young leaders are forcing politicians to grapple with climate change in new ways. Are we truly at a breakthrough moment? Or a breaking moment?

In this episode, we’ll hear stories from Erin Bridges, Isha Clarke, Varshini Prakash, and Mary Anne Hitt.

Follow our co-hosts and production team:

You can also contact us on our website.

A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio.

Oct 15, 2020
Introducing 'A Matter of Degrees'

People don’t often hear the real story about climate change: it’s happening now; fossil fuel companies with money on the line have lied about it; and it doesn’t have to be this way. 

This show is for the people who know climate change is a problem, but are still trying to figure out how we tackle it.

Oct 07, 2020