[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction
[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.
[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.
[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.
[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction
[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello friends. Welcome back, welcome back.
[00:00:56] Anna Stoecklein: This week we've got a great conversation [00:01:00] with another woman who is helping to lead the way in this fight to save the planet, Dr. Katharine Wilkinson. Dr. Wilkinson is a bestselling author, strategist, and teacher working to heal the planet that we call home, and she's doing it very well. Time Magazine featured her as one of the 15 women who will save the world. No pressure there.
[00:01:24] Anna Stoecklein: Dr. Wilkinson's books on climate include the bestselling anthology, All We Can Save. This is an incredible book that features the writings of 60 women who are at the forefront of the climate movement, including Xiye Basta, who I spoke to in episode 10 of this series. I highly recommend it. It's an anthology of essays and poems, there's some drawings in there, it's a really amazing combination of women that are really leading the charge in this climate movement.
[00:01:55] Anna Stoecklein: Dr. Wilkinson's books also include the Drawdown Review, the New York Times Bestseller [00:02:00] Drawdown and Between God and Green. She'd co-hosts the podcast A Matter of Degrees, telling stories for the climate curious with Dr. Leah Stokes. Dr. Wilkinson leads the All We Can Save Project, that's the same name as the book that I just mentioned, and she co-founded this with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. You'll hear us talk about this project today and how you can get involved with it.
[00:02:23] Anna Stoecklein: Dr. Wilkinson has given talks at National Geographic, the Skoll World Forum, and the United Nations. Her TED talk on climate and gender equality has nearly 2 million views and Apolitical named her one of the 100 most influential people in gender policy. She serves on boards of the Doc Society, Chattahoochee Now, and Wild Arc and advises for numerous climate related initiatives. So it's not hard to see why time thinks she's one of the women who will help to save the world.
[00:02:58] Anna Stoecklein: In our conversation [00:03:00] today, Dr. Wilkinson walks us through some of the basics going back to what is the difference between global warming and climate change, and where do we currently stand in both of these areas? And we also talk a lot about solutions, the technology and the policies, and also the importance of storytelling and the different kind of climate leadership that's needed for this moment, not just in business and politics, but everywhere and how whatever you do, wherever you are, you can be a climate leader. And Dr. Wilkinson makes the case for why and, very importantly, how you can do that, um, in our conversation today.
[00:03:40] Anna Stoecklein: So if you enjoy this conversation and you wanna help shift the narrative and, you know, save the planet, feel free to share it with a friend. It really, really helps. But for now, please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson.
[00:03:59] Section: Episode
[00:03:59] Anna Stoecklein: Hi, [00:04:00] Dr. Wilkinson. Welcome, thank you so much for being here with me today.
[00:04:04] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Anna, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited for this conversation.
[00:04:08] Anna Stoecklein: I am too, very much so. I wanna start with a tale as old as time. You know where I'm gonna go with this one, a woman who made a historic contribution that was completely overlooked and of course eventually credited to a man, Eunice Newton Foot. To start us off, tell us about Eunice.
[00:04:30] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So, Eunice Newton Foot, in the middle of the 19th century was sort of an amateur scientist, right, this is an era when women were largely not getting the institutional access or backing to do research. But Eunice was one of these folks who were sort of finding a way despite those barriers, and she did some really groundbreaking research on the greenhouse effect on our planet.
[00:04:57] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And she set up an experiment, [00:05:00] essentially, I think in her backyard, of testing different combinations of gases to mimic the air and the atmosphere of our planet, and then seeing what effect that had on temperature. And sure enough, she found that carbon dioxide would lead to a hotter planet than what she called plain air.
[00:05:24] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And so she published a paper documenting this impact, right, that we now all know as the greenhouse effect and the contributions of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to more heating. Basically, she was pretty well forgotten for a century and a half or so. And where the story gets really interesting and irritating is that there's a guy named John Tyndall, who is often credited as the grandfather of climate science and of understanding the [00:06:00] impact that greenhouse gases have on our planet.
[00:06:03] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Well, he published a paper on colorblindness in the same issue of the same journal as Eunice published her research. And there weren't all that many publications circulating at that time. In all likelihood, he probably read her paper in that same issue. And then a few years later, Did his own experiments with more institutional backing and support, right, he was able to do sort of a more sophisticated take on that and published his work and where I went to graduate school at Oxford, there's like John Tyndall Research Centers and we don't even have a photograph of Eunice Newton Foote.
[00:06:44] Anna Stoecklein: Wow.
[00:06:45] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Here's the other really interesting thing. Eunice was also involved in the early efforts to get women the right to vote. So Eunice Newton Foot was one of the signatories, actually along with her husband, on the Seneca Falls [00:07:00] Declaration from one of the first big summits about women's suffrage. And so it's really interesting, I think, to think about Eunice as both an early climate expert and scientist, and a feminist, and I don't know how much she was bringing those two things together, but it certainly does feel like she was the beginning of a really powerful legacy of so many women who have been leading this work and still are too often not getting the credit they deserved. And as I was writing up Eunice's story initially for an op-ed and then for the introduction to All We Can Save, I was imagining her learning about John Tyndall's research and being like, I literally just said that dude.
[00:07:46] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Like, you know, the way so many of us have felt in a meeting or a conference or whatever, where it's like those words literally just came out of my mouth and no one paid attention. And now a dude is saying them.
[00:07:58] Anna Stoecklein: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:58] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And people are like, oh, that's very [00:08:00] wise and smart and insightful.
[00:08:01] Anna Stoecklein: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
[00:08:02] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So, Eunice.
[00:08:04] Anna Stoecklein: Eunice. So 150 years later, and people are still saying his name, putting his name on buildings, which, you know, we can still say his name, but
[00:08:12] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Totally, totally.
[00:08:13] Anna Stoecklein: Where's hers? Exactly as you say. So everyone take note. Eunice Newton Foot, the grandmother of Climate Science, I think we can call her, right?
[00:08:21] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I think that's right. Yeah, I think that's exactly right.
[00:08:24] Anna Stoecklein: Eunice's alarm bells having been ignored for a century and a half, let's talk about where we are now and you know, we'll get more into climate leadership and this intersection of feminism and climate leadership, which is a big area of your work, but I just wanna set the scene and go back to the basics for a minute. If you can help us understand global warming and climate change, what they even are, perhaps the difference between the two and maybe a bit about the reality of our situation as it stands.
[00:08:55] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: We think of this as being something relatively new, but I [00:09:00] think Eunice's story helps us understand that we've been really clear about the basic physics of this for a very long time, and it's actually quite shocking when you look back at early scientific projections or even what the oil companies were studying in the sixties and seventies, like we are smack in the place that scientists have been predicting. So where are we and how did we get here?
[00:09:27] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So we've got an atmosphere around the planet. And in some ways we can kind of think of it as like an invisible blanket that does something really important, right, it helps keep some of that heat that's coming in from the sun to make this planet habitable. If we didn't have an atmosphere, this would not be a very good place to live.
[00:09:48] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: But what we've been doing, and I say we, we can unpack some of that. But basically since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we've been burning a lot [00:10:00] of coal and then oil and then gas, and all of those are made of carbon. So we've been releasing extra carbon than the planet's natural cycles would have done into the atmosphere and that's essentially thickened that blanket. So it means more heat is getting trapped than would otherwise be happening.
[00:10:26] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I point out this word we, because we throw this around a lot, right? We, we've been doing this, we've been doing that. Well, emissions have come really unequally from different places around the world. The burning of fossil fuels has largely been driven by originally Europe and then the United States, and then developing economies like China and India more recently, but most of the, what we call historic emissions, right, you send this stuff up and it stays there for a while. Most of the problem that's been created in our [00:11:00] atmosphere has been created by the western world and by the leaders of global capitalism, but of course came out of global colonization.
[00:11:09] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: You know, it's worth understanding, I think, what some of those deeper root causes are to where we are, and also why it's been so hard to get a handle on this thing, right? Like I said, folks have known that this was a problem, right, that if we burned a bunch of this stuff from underground and sent it up into the atmosphere, it was gonna have an impact.
[00:11:33] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And that's been very much part of our national discourse in the US, which is where I'm based, but also part of our global discourse since the mid and late eighties. So, for a large part of my lifetime. And yet emissions just keep going up. What's going on there and why has this been so hard to reign in?
[00:11:56] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Well, about three quarters of the problem is burning fossil [00:12:00] fuels, and the fossil fuel industry has more money and thus more power than any industry the world has ever known. So you can imagine they're not super keen on we've gotta change everything and we're not gonna be burning this stuff anymore, which means you're not gonna be making millions and billions of dollars of profit every year.
[00:12:22] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And there was kind of a moment right when these companies were waking up to the science and the situation that was being created that they were creating in large part and instead of saying, you know, we're gonna be leaders in this transformation, they said mostly we're gonna double down on our business model and to be able to do that, we're gonna sow confusion and disinformation for the public, for political leaders, and we're gonna try to get a bunch of political leaders in our back pockets. So that's been an enormous challenge in terms of like, well, if [00:13:00] we know that this is so bad and we know this is the direction we're going, why haven't we changed course?
[00:13:06] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And I mentioned about three quarters of the problem is burning fossil fuels, right, and that's for transportation, that's for electricity, that's for heating water heaters, heating our homes, all of these kinds of things. About another quarter of the problem is stuff we've done on land, so deforestation, big time, industrial agriculture. And also we have some challenges with how we create cement and steel and some of these critical materials, plastic things that have become really dominant in our world and in our lives.
[00:13:40] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So it's a lot to change. And the other thing that I think is important to say about where we are is that we have an incredible toolbox of solutions. So sometimes people think like, oh gosh, this is such a huge problem, what in the world will we do? Well, we've got amazing [00:14:00] technologies, we've got amazing practices, we have things that we can remember how to do, like regenerative agriculture, which we hear a lot about now, is just how we used to farm before we started injecting fossil fuel derived fertilizers all over our landscapes. Like some of this is about innovation and some of it's just about remembering. We have most of the tools we need to turn this thing around.
[00:14:28] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Now we are a little bit over one degree Celsius of warming so far since the start of the Industrial Revolution. I think we're right about 1.1. Scientists generally have a consensus that a world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming starts to become a pretty gnarly place to live in terms of drought, extreme heat, storms, floods, things that we're already seeing, right, play out even at this [00:15:00] level of warming. And so we've got a lot of, I think, messages from the earth that like, we don't wanna keep going down this path and we need to pick up that toolbox of solutions and put it to work as quickly and at scale as we possibly can.
[00:15:15] Anna Stoecklein: That was a very good overview, albeit a stark one, but it's good to know that there are tools, that we have a toolbox. It's a matter of using them and having the leadership that knows how to use them, which we'll get into next. But first I wanna ask about one thing in our toolbox that we don't often talk about, but your work centers around, which is storytelling.
[00:15:41] Anna Stoecklein: And it's interesting you just mentioned that there's all this sewing of confusion and disinformation, so we can already start to understand why storytelling might be important to get us out of that. I'd love for you to tell us why is storytelling so important when it comes to the climate, and also [00:16:00] a bit about our current story that's not working, and what's a better narrative?
[00:16:04] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So I'm a big fan of the late systems thinker and theorist Danella Meadows, who folks might have heard about her framework of leverage points for change in a complex system. One of the things that becomes clear in a systems analysis is that the most powerful leverage points we have for change are around our collective beliefs or paradigms that really shape everything about how the world works or how we think the world could work.
[00:16:38] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And to me, stories and narratives are kind of like the conveyor belts of our collective beliefs and paradigms, right? When we hear things like "the world as we know it is powered by fossil fuels, and the future would be horrible, we'd be back to the dark ages without them," right, is sort of one example of a [00:17:00] narrative that we hear.
[00:17:01] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Another narrative we might hear is "well, yeah, we have some of these solutions, but actually the solutions are worse than the problem. Have you seen what wind turbines do to our views of the mountains?" Right? Or simply, you know, "the problem is too big and there's just nothing, nothing that can be done."
[00:17:20] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And I think one of the things that's so important is to be able to hold both the really hard reality of where we are and the hard things that are gonna be coming our way, even if we do the best we possibly can, right, because there's stuff that's already sort of baked into the system of the atmosphere and the planet and alsothere is still possibility and it is extraordinary that we are alive in this moment with real solutions in hand. And my goodness, we should be so lucky to have this [00:18:00] moment to impact not just our own lifetimes, but truly the choices that global society makes over the next eight to 10 years will reach centuries and even a thousand years into the future.
[00:18:15] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And what an extraordinary thing to be alive in a moment that matters as much as this one. It's going to take all of us. Nobody is coming along to sort this thing out. Climate touches every aspect of our economy, our society, our culture, our lives. And so, you know, I think part of the challenge in this moment is calling people in and all of us figuring out how to take the superpowers that we have and use them in some helpful way in this moment.
[00:18:48] Anna Stoecklein: Which leads nicely to leadership because when I mentioned leadership right away people might be thinking about politicians, business leaders, people at the [00:19:00] oil companies, but, well, I'm not gonna give it away, I want you to, so I'd love to hear, you know, you've mentioned All We Can Save, that's big on climate leadership and I really like this line, I can't remember now where you said it or I read it, but you said "the climate crisis is a leadership crisis" and this All We Can Save project really focuses on that. So yeah, I'd love for you to elaborate on this need and tell us a bit about the All We Can Save project and how that's helping to change the landscape.
[00:19:26] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: You know, there are different ways to understand the climate crisis, right? Some would say, well this is the crisis of our energy technology, or this is a crisis of, you know, and I think many pieces of this analysis are right in some way or another.
[00:19:40] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: But when we really think about, okay, if this is a big systems problem and systems are made up of people, primarily, we have a human issue here. Anna, you mentioned the politicians, the CEOs, right? Part of the leadership crisis is that there are people with real power and influence who [00:20:00] are not using it in effective ways to secure a livable future.
[00:20:05] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: In fact, I think there's way too much focus still on short-term profit, short-term prestige, and actually sustaining a status quo that's working for a small fraction of our population on earth, but certainly not humanity at large. So that's part of the problem.
[00:20:25] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Another part of the problem is that we've got a lot of folks on the sidelines. So in the US for example, now the majority of Americans are worried or very worried about this issue, but only 8% are taking action in any way. So we've got a big gap. I really hold in my mind a lot of times, like the visual of a crowd on the side of a marathon, right? Or a parade or a big football game or something like that. People are awake to some degree, they're paying attention to [00:21:00] some degree, but they're not yet participating. So that's a piece of it.
[00:21:04] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And then also when we think about the fraction in action, the folks who are involved in this work, conventionally climate leadership has centered a pretty narrow set of voices, perspectives, ideas. Largely male, largely white, largely of the global north. So we're not getting the full constellation of capabilities, visions, superpowers in the mix. And also this work is hard. It's a lot to show up for planetary emergency every day, and I think we haven't always done a very good job of taking care of the people who are trying to take care of the planet.
[00:21:44] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So we see growing mental health issues around climate change, especially for young people. And burnout in this work is a growing challenge. So there are kind of these different layers, I think, to how this is a leadership crisis and [00:22:00] what's the antidote to a leadership crisis? Well I think it's a really broad leadership upwelling of folks in every place, in every sector, in every organization being willing to step up and say, it's hard to know how transformation is going to play out, but I'm willing to be part of doing the work.
[00:22:21] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: That's actually, just to touch back on your question about storytelling, I think the ability to imagine the future that we do want is often really challenging, and we hear things like, well, everything has to change. Well, what will that look like and what kind of lives would we be leading? And I think cultivating that collective capacity to imagine the world that we do want is so important and such an area where storytelling can help and help more of us see ourselves in that unfolding collective climate story.
[00:22:57] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And that was something we really [00:23:00] tried to do, my co-editor Ayanna, Elizabeth Johnson and I, with the anthology, All We Can Save, it's a collection of essays, poetry, and art by 60 women who are leading on climate in different ways. And you begin to see, oh, there's a role for journalists and there's a role for psychologists and there's a role for visual artists and there's a role for scientists and policy makers and advocates and on and on and on. Like there are so many beautiful footholds. Whatever you have to give, we need it.
[00:23:32] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So that's what our work at the All We Can Save Project is all about, is helping to nurture the leaderful climate community that we need if we want to reach these aspirations of a just and life-giving future.
[00:23:46] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. You said "the only credential that is needed is to be alive on this planet in this moment." So if you're listening, you qualify.
[00:23:53] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Exactly.
[00:23:55] Anna Stoecklein: Maybe could you tell us a little bit about some of the programs in All We Can Save? I [00:24:00] know there's programs for deepening your place in climate work, but also just kind of connecting with others. Can you kind of give us an overview of those?
[00:24:08] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: We think about three main tools that we use in our work: narrative change, community building and deep learning. And the through line of those is that we try to kind of tend the emotional, spiritual route that climate engagement grows from, which is a little bit different, I think, than how some people come about this. But I think fundamentally this is sort of heart work connected to our head and our hands, and I think we can't get it done without attending to that inner depth.
[00:24:42] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So the narrative change work, things like the anthology. We co-create the podcast A Matter of Degrees. How do we create vehicles for these like multivocal storytelling efforts that lift up a wide [00:25:00] variety of voices and perspectives?
[00:25:02] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: The community building work, for example, we have a wonderful program called All We Can Save Circles, which is actually a great thing if people are wondering like, where should I begin in this? They're kind of a like jazzed up, cooler version of a book club. It's like a small group, super simple, DIY, you gather up a group of friends or family or colleagues, read the book together and use the book as a jumping off point for just deeper and more generous dialogue than we often have about this topic, but more importantly, building relationship around it, right? Because that is really, I think what action and social change grows out of is that relational strength and trust between us.
[00:25:48] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And then our deep learning programs, we have built out a whole suite of resources for educators who want to bring more of a [00:26:00] solutions-oriented, justice-oriented, and leaderful perspective into the classroom. And we also have a program that we built and piloted last year called Climate Wayfinding, which is meant to support people who are seeking clarity on their climate journeys, and that could be folks who are really new to this topic, folks who are pivoting in from other spaces or trying to connect the dots, or also folks who've been in this work and feel stuck or frustrated or hungry for a deeper sense of purpose and contribution.
[00:26:33] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And we're in the midst of taking the pilots from that work and building it out for scale, specifically for use across higher education because what we need are more of us having that navigational muscle to understand the outer landscape of the climate crisis and climate solutions and be able to figure out, where do I fit in? How do the things that are my [00:27:00] sources of power and joy contribute in this space? And who can I link arms with to make change?
[00:27:06] Anna Stoecklein: Incredible. So we've got anybody asking, how do I start? Where do I begin? All We Can Save project, great place to get started. And the book, I can definitely attest to that.
[00:27:17] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I'll also add, we did in our last season of A Matter of Degrees, we opened with a three part miniseries answering the question, what can I do? Through the lens of the personal, the professional, and the political. So that's also a really great resource for folks who are like, yeah, what can I do, where do I start? And it could be really helpful.
[00:27:39] Anna Stoecklein: That's great cuz I think that is usually the first question people have and then it can just kind of get overwhelming when you're looking at a crisis of this magnitude of starting out into that so.
[00:27:49] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Totally. And it's worth also just naming, none of us can do quote unquote enough. But we are each, I think, a node of [00:28:00] possibility and we each have something to give to this bigger system of change. And so releasing the idea that anything will ever be enough from the jump, I think is helpful. And looking for those points of greatest leverage, right? We all only have so much time, so much energy, so much financial resource or whatever to throw at these things. So how do we be smart about how we deploy our efforts?
[00:28:29] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, I think that's a really good point and something that probably will provide some comfort to listeners. You know, knowing that there is this shifting narrative, speaking of shifting narratives, going away from the individual to the collective, from asking what can I do to what can we do?
[00:28:46] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: It's just also more fun to go to this party, if we can call it that together, right?
[00:28:52] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, yeah. Very true. Very true. So we're talking kind of solutions and what can we [00:29:00] do and broad stroke solutions. And another one of that is simply equity. I like this quote from you as well, you said "equity is not secondary to survival, as some suggest, it is survival." I really like that reframing and, you know, a lot of people are coming to understand now how it's women, people of color, indigenous communities, people in the global south that are hit hardest, but as you point out, they're also the ones closest to the solution. So I would love to have you elaborate on that, but then also, yeah why is it that equity isn't just secondary, but it is actually survival?
[00:29:41] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So I think, you know, one of the most gutting things about climate change is that the parts of the world, the countries, the institutions, the people that have been hardest at work causing the problem and also [00:30:00] benefiting from the fossil fuel economy are not the hardest hit. The hardest hit by and large because of, and this has to do with both mechanics of our planet and the intensity of things that will hit in the tropics, which are largely part of the global south, but also have the least capacity to cope in this wildly unequal global economy that we have.
[00:30:25] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So you can imagine a storm hits and what's the capacity of getting people out before that happens, what's the capacity to rebuild? What's the capacity to relocate to a safer place? What do you do in a country like Bangladesh where huge parts of the country that already has a lot of folks living in it are not gonna be habitable?
[00:30:49] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: You get into some really heavy, hard questions quickly, and you realize that the people who are making our big decisions [00:31:00] globally, the heads of corporations, the heads of powerful countries are not representative of the people who are going to be hit the hardest and who are already hit the hardest.
[00:31:11] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Somebody asked me recently, do you think we're really in a climate emergency? And I was like, well, I think it depends who you are and where you literally stand because if you live somewhere that's already going underwater, yeah, this is a climate emergency. Now, if you're a super wealthy person who has multiple homes and you can sort of jaunt off to your mountaintop, maybe you don't feel it as much yet.
[00:31:34] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Although we are already seeing climate impacts on every continent. So what does that mean? It means that there are profound issues of injustice at the heart of this whole scenario. And so if we're not thinking about how to build in justice to our solutions, we're missing such a huge part of the puzzle.
[00:31:58] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And it also [00:32:00] means that at the tables where climate decision making is happening, which is in every city council, it's in every national government, it's in every company. Like who's at the table making those decisions? And are we actually having decision making driven by the people who are most profoundly impacted by this issue, and generally the answer is no. Guess who had more delegates at the last international climate negotiations than anyone else? The fossil fuel industry.
[00:32:32] Anna Stoecklein: Wow.
[00:32:33] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Yeah. The inequity in our leadership structures and power structures means we're not going to get to the best collective answers. And I've obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this from the perspective of gender, but we see underrepresentation of women in virtually every climate decision making space from government [00:33:00] to business to media. And we have a growing body of evidence that when women are present and leading, not even at fully equal numbers, the outcomes for the planet are better. And that means the outcomes for global humanity are better.
[00:33:17] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So this is like, okay, you know, for whatever reason this is the case. And I think what we see is that there's a different style of leadership also that's often coming forward, right, that's more creative, it's more compassionate, it's more collaborative. Now, this is not true across the board, but there are sort of trends that we see that I think point to what some of this efficacy is all about. And similarly, in a moment when dominant culture, dominant society and global capitalism is proving to be maybe not in line with our desire to keep living on this amazing planet that we call home, shouldn't the cultures and the communities [00:34:00] that have remained in step and in balance with the natural world, indigenous peoples around the globe, should they not be the ones who are helping to point the way forward? Or at the helm of pointing the way forward?
[00:34:14] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: There's something really, really important about listening. And for folks who are in positions of power of some kind or another, whose voices are you hearing and whose voices are you not hearing? And what might unlock or be possible if we are actually tapping into like the incredible, vibrant hive mind of a fuller constellation of humanity.
[00:34:38] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah and the communities that have been living out the solutions that we need now for, like you said, hundreds, thousands of years, I think not just more involvement, but leading the way. It's just, if only evidence and data were all it took to convince people. So Eunice dropped off a century and a half [00:35:00] ago and we're still very far behind in our representation. So everybody listening probably agrees with you and sees, yeah, this she's right. But how do we go about making sure that justice is embedded in the solutions?
[00:35:15] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I think the really important thing is getting as close in proximity to the local as possible. So I think part of what happens is that decisions are being made by people that have profound impact somewhere that they may never even have set foot. There is an issue I think about proximity and relationship.
[00:35:39] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I also just think as we are making our own decisions in our organizations, in our voting choices, in where we make donations, et cetera, like we can bring this down, I think, to a more micro level of like, well, who's leadership are we supporting? If we're [00:36:00] part of a nonprofit board, who else is in the room with us? If we're around a conference table, who's here? Who's not here? Who am I casting a ballot for? Where am I sending, charitable dollars? Like these begin, I think to take it from this theoretical construct to like, well, actually we're making choices a lot of the time, day in and day out that could be, I think, more aligned with inclusive leadership and a just climate future than we often are.
[00:36:29] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So one of the interesting federal climate priorities that has come to be in the US and is still very much kind of a story in motion, is this concept of Justice 40, that we're gonna be deploying a whole bunch of capital for climate solutions and what we need to make sure is that that deployment of resources actually goes to benefit the communities that have been most impacted by the fossil fuel economy, right, the [00:37:00] frontline communities where cancer, asthma, all sorts of environmental justice issues are huge challenges, that they benefit. And the communities that are going to be hit the hardest and have the least capacity to cope are benefiting.
[00:37:14] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So that's sort of one example of an actual policy mechanism. Justice 40, meaning 40% of the benefits of these investments need to be cascading to those communities. That's the example of one at a federal level, what that can potentially look like.
[00:37:31] Anna Stoecklein: And are there any other solutions that exist that, you know, we talked about the toolbox, stories, leadership equity. You've just mentioned this policy, and this is still quite a big, broad question, but what you see is some of the most important tools in our toolbox.
[00:37:49] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: When we think about how much of the problem is an energy problem, what becomes really clear is the need to, as the saying goes, [00:38:00] electrify everything. Because if we electrify everything from our stoves to water heaters, to the furnaces that keep our buildings warm, transportation, right, our cars, our buses, if we electrify everything that currently depends on burning fossil fuels, then that electricity can be provided by solar panels, by wind turbines, by geothermal, by sources of electricity generation that are clean. And we can solve a lot of the problem with that combination of electrification and then clean electricity generation.
[00:38:42] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So to me, like, it's really exciting because we have all of those technologies and things will keep getting better, right? We'll get better batteries that don't have so many of the mining problems that Lithium has. We'll keep improving, but like we're ready to go with those [00:39:00] things. But it means that a lot of things need to change in a lot of places, and this is actually where people can make choices at home that start to change our fossil fuel infrastructure.
[00:39:11] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Get an induction cook stove, for example, change out your water heater. These things can really start to add up in powerful ways and also have huge health benefits. So one of the things we've learned more and more about in recent years is how dangerous it is to be burning gas in our homes, and particularly the impacts on asthma for children. So there are lots of other reasons to do it, not just climate.
[00:39:34] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Another piece, when we think about the deeper drivers, it takes money to make all of this happen. It takes money to create a new fossil fuel pipeline or a new oil field. It takes money to stand up a wind farm or retrofit the buildings of a city. Money is critical in either direction, and right now a lot of the money in our global [00:40:00] financial system is accessible to and helping the fossil fuel industry keep doing what it's been doing, and particularly the big bank City, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, they have sent so much money into expanding fossil fuel infrastructure since the Paris Agreement was signed, right since the world said, we agree we've gotta try to keep things to 1.5 degrees of warming, but that money is from pensions. It's from savings accounts.
[00:40:32] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: A lot of us might not be very happy to know what our money is doing at night while we sleep, and so actually moving our money out of institutions that are funding climate destruction and moving them into institutions that are funding climate solutions and climate transformation is a really powerful way to be part of the solution.
[00:40:56] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: We actually look at that in that first, what can I do [00:41:00] episode on A Matter of Degrees cuz it's also one of those things that's like once you've done it, it's done right? You don't have to keep turning the lights off every time you leave the room, you've actually done something that is super powerful and can not just put a brake on the problem, but put the foot on the pedal for the solutions.
[00:41:18] Anna Stoecklein: Do you have any names of places that you'd like to share?
[00:41:22] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: There's an amazing leader in this space of climate finance her name is Marilyn Waite, and her website has a living curation of resources and tools. They're organized for every part of the world. And that's a great one stop shop to find those.
[00:41:42] Anna Stoecklein: Lovely. I will put that in the show notes. We've got lots of resources now. So I'm curious, I wanna ask about roughly 10 years time from now and not what do you hope will be most different, cuz there's a lot of things you'll likely hope is most different, [00:42:00] but I'd be curious to hear you describe a world in 10 years out that is more ideal than our current one and indicates to us that we're moving in the right direction.
[00:42:11] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I love this question. It's gonna put my imagination skills to the test. 10 years from now, I think there will be evidence of climate transformation everywhere we look and also we'll be reaching a point that we don't have to think about some pieces of the puzzle that much.
[00:42:32] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: I think we will look around and see many more rooftops with solar panels. We will see many more buildings retrofitted with good, efficient green updates. We will see induction cook stoves everywhere. We will see electric vehicles rather than gasoline powered vehicles. There will be, I think just as we scan the landscape around us, we will see much more of the solutions kind of embedded [00:43:00] into our spaces and into our days.
[00:43:03] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And we won't have to be thinking as hard about so many of those things. We won't have to opt out of dirty electricity and pay extra for solar because solar and wind are cheaper and actually our grids are gonna be migrating in this direction. And so we'll know that when we're at home and we plug in we're not plugging into coal, we're not plugging into gas. We won't have to worry so much about, you know, if you get in an electric vehicle, are you gonna get stranded on the side of the road because charging infrastructure will have rolled out.
[00:43:40] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Like there will be so many things I think that just become in the flow of our lives. I also hope we are going to be in a space where we look around and we're talking about climate all the time everywhere, because we're still gonna have [00:44:00] a lot of work to do at that point, and it's going to be in the flow of how government decision making happens, business decision making happens. There will be no, like, oh, it would be nice if we thought about climate. It will be as important that we are thinking about that as we currently in many of these spaces think about something like G D P.
[00:44:21] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: And I think we're going to see the impact of truly this upwelling of leadership, particularly from young people as they come into more influence and holding power in our global systems. I really think the transformations are going to accelerate in such incredible ways because there is a paradigm shift that has happened in the turnover of the generations already, and that is not to say by any stretch, it's on you guys sort it out. No, I think that they will be driving the older generations [00:45:00] to do what we should all be doing as participants in this incredible web of life on this planet.
[00:45:08] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: We're also gonna be seeing more intense climate impacts unfold. This is not just a sort of rose colored glasses sort of vision. Sea levels will be higher, storms will be more intense. There will likely be issues with growing our food because of drought, because of floods, and I hope that what we also will have developed are better ways to cope through all of that in mutual support, mutual aid modalities, that we will be beginning to figure out how to help communities relocate that are in a place that is no longer safe to live. And how we do that with a real fundamental humanness and care and not putting up walls to try to keep people out.
[00:45:53] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: So we're gonna be still very much in the thick of solving the challenge of [00:46:00] greenhouse gas emissions as we try to figure out how to cope with the world that's already been baked and all of that is going to be hard, and I think there is nothing that I could imagine being more meaningful work to do on this planet in this time. And so I also hope that we have this sense of an upwelling of collective purpose as well, and a commitment to coming back into balance with the living systems on this planet.
[00:46:30] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, like you said in the beginning, there's this small window that we're living in, in this moment that's gonna impact centuries and millennia to come. So if that's not a purpose, if you're out there looking for one, I don't know what is.
[00:46:43] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: You know, life force on this planet has been, despite all the odds, moving forward to more life force for billions of years, a handful of billions of years. And to me, that life [00:47:00] force, that dynamic, is our inheritance and hopefully it can also be our legacy becoming participants in that life force. I mean, what an extraordinary calling for humanity in this moment.
[00:47:14] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. If people take one thing away from this conversation with you today, what would you want it to be?
[00:47:22] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: There's a lot of work to be done, and please know that there is a place for you in that work and whatever you've got to give, whatever you can bring to this work of climate transformation, it's needed and it's helpful, and we're ready to welcome you in.
[00:47:40] Anna Stoecklein: Welcome. Love it. Amazing. Dr. Katherine Wilkinson, thank you so much for being here today. This conversation was amazing and your work is incredible and I'm excited to continue to watch you cultivate all of these climate leaders around the world so thank you so much.
[00:47:57] Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Truly my pleasure, Anna.
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[00:48:54] Overdub: This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.
[00:48:58] Overdub: It was edited by [00:49:00] Maddy Searle. With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.