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Why Is Climate Communication So Impossible and Frustrating? - interview with Guardian columnist, climate change expert and author George Monbiot

Jan 24, 2022

George Monbiot has been working on issues of climate and environmental justice for three decades. A columnist for The Guardian, George's books include Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis and How Did We Get into This Mess? Politics, Equality, Nature. His latest essay collection This Can't Be Happening "calls on humanity to stop averting its gaze from the destruction of the living planet, and wake up to the greatest predicament we have ever faced." 

As a public communicator on climate change, George has experienced deep frustration in trying to convey the urgency of the crisis to a media and and political establishment that refuse to confront reality or accept the need for drastic changes to the status quo. That frustration was captured well, he says, by the recent Netflix satire Don't Look Up, which is about scientists who are unable to convey the importance of stopping a planet-destroying comet from crashing into Earth. In fact, the film is such an accurate allegory for the climate crisis that one scene in directly parallels a recent incident in his own life: the scientist played by Jennifer Lawrence, trying to get the hosts of a celebrity-obsessed TV morning show to take the problem seriously, breaks down in frustration. George has been on a very similar morning show himself to discuss climate change, with very similar results. Watching Don't Look Up, George writes in a column for The Guardian, "made me see my whole life of campaigning flash before me." 

On today's episode, George joins Current Affairs editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson for a discussion of why it's so difficult for climate scientists and activists to get their message across, and what we need to face up to when it comes to the climate crisis. George's work is not hopeless or apocalyptic, and is built around solutions and the determination to work for a better world. But to reach that world, we need to first look up, and start talking and behaving differently, demanding a political response that is proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. We can deal with this crisis but it requires willpower and focus. 

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