The Weekend Australian - Review
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.