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My Climate Journey
Reframing the climate narrative with Dr. Genevieve Guenther
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Reframing the climate narrative with Dr. Genevieve Guenther

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Today’s guest is Genevieve Guenter, author, activist, and Founding Director of End Climate Silence

Dr. Genevieve Guenther is a Renaissance scholar and literary critic who turned to climate activism after having a child and becoming increasingly alarmed about the world she might leave to her son. Using her training in rhetoric and cultural politics, she works to revamp the ways that we think and talk about the climate crisis. She is guided by the conviction that our language for the crisis is largely inaccurate and misleading, and that fixing this problem requires us not just to reframe talking points, but to recognize how our speech itself—what we say and what we don’t say about climate change—reproduces fossil-fuel ideologies. 

Mobilizing through digital and direct action, Dr. Guenther founded End Climate Silence, a volunteer organization that pushes the news media to start talking about the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves. Dr. Guenther also advises activist groups, corporations, and policymakers, and she serves as an Expert Reviewer for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Her next book, The Language of Climate Politics, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. 

Jason and Genevieve have a great discussion in this episode about many of the topics we typically cover on the My Climate Journey podcast, but Dr. Guenther offers a unique perspective given her background. They also dig into some areas of disagreement and find that once again people who are dedicated to working on solving the crisis agree on a lot more than the polarized environment of Twitter may have them believe.

In today’s episode, we cover: 

  • [3:39] Genevieve's background and her work in climate 

  • [10:04] Use of the word "uncertainty" among scientists and in climate communications

  • [13:35] An overview of End Climate Silence 

  • [16:06] How Genevieve's views about the nature of the problem have evolved 

  • [24:40] Her views on the gravity of the problem, and challenges of modeling human behavior and warming 

  • [35:46] Energy poverty and justifying fossil fuel production 

  • [39:30] How Genevieve would transition to clean energy if she was in charge 

  • [44:31] Her thoughts on carbon removal

  • [49:44] Challenges with direct air capture as a solution

  • [57:03] Issues with entrepreneurs overpromising on carbon removal

Genevieve's book recommendations:

Visit our website for the full transcript of this episode.

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 11, 2022.

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MCJ Newsletter
My Climate Journey
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.