Sep 5 • 1HR 4M

An eco-modernist approach to climate with Alex Trembath (The Breakthrough Institute)

My Climate Journey podcast episode 225

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A growing body of knowledge about climate change and potential solutions. This series traverses disciplines, industries, and opinions with hundreds of deep-dive conversations with science, technology, and climate leaders.
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Today’s guest is Alex Trembath, Deputy Director at the Breakthrough Institute

The Breakthrough Institute is a global research center that identifies and promotes technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges. Their vision is of a world that is good for both people and nature, and they believe that human prosperity and an ecologically vibrant planet are possible at the same time. Their eco-modernist perspective embraces technological innovation without sacrifice. 

In this episode, Jason and Alex discuss eco-modernism, the work at the Breakthrough Institute, Alex's views on the nature of the climate problem and what some environmentalists get wrong in his opinion. They also talk about potential solutions, the role of innovation, the role of policy, how urgent this challenge is and some of the best ways to address it. 

💥 Starting on Wednesday 7th September at 9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm BST  Alex will be participating in an AMA with our MCJ community and answering questions asynchronously for 24 hours. Set your reminders!

In today’s episode, we cover: 

  • [5:38] An overview of Breakthrough Institute and their focus on technological solutions to environmental problems 

  • [7:18] Alex's climate journey and early ideological frictions with Breakthrough 

  • [9:22] Origins of Breakthrough 

  • [12:48] Alex's views on the right vs wrong way to think about the problem of climate change 

  • [17:44] Dealing with climate anxiety 

  • [25:26] Why different groups of people can look at the same data and have drastically different conclusions about the level of urgency required to address climate change 

  • [28:02] GDP as a measure of human well-being 

  • [31:01] Ways of decoupling emissions from economic growth 

  • [33:49] Capitalism, colonialism, and mixed economies around the world 

  • [39:00] Policy tools Breakthrough pursues to accelerate decarbonization 

  • [43:42] Problems with net-zero pledges and voluntary offsets from big companies 

  • [45:54] The role of individual behaviors and eco-modernist virtue signaling 

  • [48:15] The role of government 

  • [54:00] What drives Alex in his work 

Get connected: 

*You can also reach us via email at info@mcjcollective.com, where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded on August 8, 2022.