Episode 1

Navigating the values of climate change

Climate change is likely to affect almost every area of our lives… but how did we get to this point? When and why did we first take notice of climate change? And why has climate change evaded our collective attention and action for so long?

We talked with professor of human geography, Mike Hulme, science historian and journalist Dr Sarah Dry and environmental economist Dr Matthew Agarwala to try to figure all of this out. Along the way, we discovered new ways of thinking about climate change, from a tragic story where the issue is constantly caught between opposing forces, to more hopefully thinking of it as a source of generative change and innovation. 

This episode was produced by Nick Saffell, James Dolan and Naomi Clements-Brod. 

From the University of Cambridge and Cambridge Zero.

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In this episode:

0:00 - Intro

03:15 - What was the starting point for human made climate change?

08:30 - Recap point

10:10 - The economics of climate change and modelling for the future.

14:45 - The tragedy and politics of climate change

16:05 - The concept of values

20:25 - Recap point

22:10 - Can we find a single answer or a single story to solve climate change?

25:50 - The concept of the wealth economy

28:00 - Denialism and climate optimism

32:35 - What we've learned from COVID

33:35 - Recap point

35:20 - Has democracy helped, or hindered climate change?

37:15 - Are there any reasons to be optimistic?

40:45 - In the next episode

Guest Bios: 

Dr Sarah Dry (@SarahDry1)

I write about the history of science. I have written about Victorian fishermen and risk, epidemics and global health policy, the life and loves of Marie Curie, and the history of Isaac Newton’s manuscripts. That last project has just been published in paperback: The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts.

My latest book is Waters of the World: The Story of the Scientists Who Unravelled the Mysteries of our Seas, Glaciers and Atmosphere–and Made the Planet Whole. It tells the stories of the scientists who have uncovered the mysteries of our oceans, atmosphere, icesheets and glaciers, and in doing so, helped us see the earth as an interconnected globe. 


Dr Matthew Agarwala (@MatthewAgarwala)

Matthew Agarwala is an environmental economist interested in wealth-based approaches to measuring and delivering sustainable development. The pace of globalisation, innovation, and social, environmental, and economic upheaval leaves no doubt: 20th century statistics can’t capture 21st century progress. Matthew joined the Bennett Institute’s wealth economy project to transform economic measurement to better reflect sustainability, inequality, and human wellbeing. Initially, the project will focus on natural and social capital.

Professor Mike Hulme 

Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge. My work explores the idea of climate change using historical, cultural and scientific analyses. I seek to illuminate the numerous ways in which climate change is deployed in public and political discourse and to this end am currently finishing a book manuscript on ‘The Idea of Climate Change’ for the Routledge Key Ideas in Geography book series, due for publication early in 2021. I believe it is important to understand and describe the varied ideological, political and ethical work that the idea of climate change is currently performing across different social worlds.

My research interests are therefore concerned with representations of climate change in history, culture and media; the relationship between climate and society, including climate engineering and adaptation; how knowledge of climate change is constructed (especially through the IPCC); and the interactions between climate change knowledge and policy. 


About the Podcast

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Mind Over Chatter
Welcome to Mind Over Chatter, the Cambridge University Podcast! One series at a time, we break down complex issues into simple questions.

About your hosts

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Naomi Clements-Brod

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James Dolan