The Weekend Australian - Review


- ERIC GE­ORGE Climate Change · Ecology · Spotify · Greta Thunberg · Podcasting · Alex Blumberg

How to Save a Planet is the lat­est in a new mould of pod­casts to com­bine re­port­ing with ac­tivism. The new show, from US pod­cast startup Gim­let (now owned by Spo­tify), is a ral­ly­ing cry for ac­tion on cli­mate change. The mes­sage for lis­ten­ers is that yes, you should be very freaked out about the fu­ture, but don’t lose hope, as there is still much that can be done to fix things. Each episode com­bines a re­ported story with some anal­y­sis around the science and pol­i­tics of cli­mate change.

The rise of wind farms is pre­sented as an ex­am­ple of how some Amer­i­can cities have adapted to the shift­ing eco­nomics of en­ergy gen­er­a­tion.

There’s a story about how the Green

New Deal swept through Europe, cat­a­pult­ing Greta Thun­berg to in­ter­na­tional fame.

The pre­sen­ta­tion is sharp and snappy (often lit­er­ally in the case of some of the pod­cast’s mu­si­cal scor­ing), with a fo­cus on not let­ting the ma­te­rial bog down in a sense of doom.

Gim­let’s co-founder Alex Blum­berg and co-host Ayana El­iz­a­beth John­son, a ma­rine sci­en­tist, have a strong sense of chem­istry, with plenty of ban­ter to carry things along.

But there is a strange, re­cur­ring re­liance on sign­post­ing that feels jar­ring in a pro­duc­tion as slick as this.

The hosts will joke about the nar­ra­tive de­vices em­ployed through­out an episode, not­ing that it’s time for a throw for­ward or a wrap up.

Per­haps this kind of awk­ward hu­mour is de­signed to save How to Save a Planet from seem­ing too for­mu­laic. But even ironic ref­er­ences such as these largely serve to dis­tract the lis­tener by plac­ing at­ten­tion on the ar­ti­fice rather than the story it­self.

Pod­casts are ex­cel­lent at build­ing com­mu­ni­ties, and How to Save a Planet is clearly de­signed to gen­er­ate some ac­tion around cli­mate change.

Lis­ten­ers are shown how to make small changes in their lives, and the pod­cast has launched a news­let­ter de­signed to turn an au­di­ence into a “team” try­ing to change things for the bet­ter.

Lis­ten to How to Save a Planet on your favourite pod­cast­ing app.

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