Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson on the “feminist climate renaissance”

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Hey y’all, it’s Brittany. I’ve been thinking a lot about Darnella Frazier. She’s the 17 year old who filmed the murder of George Floyd and honestly she helped refuel a global movement. Actress Marlee Matlin even gave a shout out to Darnella at the Academy Awards on Sunday. She called her video a catalyst for change. I’ve also been thinking about what friend of our pod, Jenna Wortham tweeted. She wrote, quote, “I really hope that everyone invested in mentioning Darnella Frazier’s name is equally invested in making sure she’s safe and okay and has what she needs right now to heal. Amen. For all of the many viral videos of police violence against Black, brown and indigenous bodies, we — we often don’t talk enough about the folks behind the camera or what they go through. It’s already hard enough for me as just an observer to see a barrage of anti-Black trauma every single time I scroll my timeline. So imagine how hard it is to go to sleep, having witnessed that trauma firsthand. Imagine knowing that if you hadn’t captured what happened to George Floyd, his family wouldn’t have even gotten any accountability at all. Imagine the guilt of feeling like you didn’t do enough, even though you literally did all you could. Imagine living under constant scrutiny and fear and intimidation just because you turned on your camera. As we continue to fight the systems that be, let’s pour some of that energy into supporting Darnella. It is the very least we owe her. If you are able to help, there’s the official Peace and Healing for Darnella Fund on GoFundMe. Darnella, we speak your name and we are committed to your healing, whatever that looks like for you. 


On the show today, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. I’ll be talking to the marine biologist about climate feminism and how, as a Black woman, racism can threaten to derail her efforts to save the planet. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Last summer, I couldn’t focus on anything else. Right? I was supposed to like, be making a podcast about how to save a planet. And I was just like, you want me to interview some white dude about planting trees today? Like, I just don’t care right now. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s coming up, but first, it’s your “UNtrending News.”    

On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a sweeping investigation into the Louisville Police Department. It’s been over a year since police there killed Breonna Taylor during a botched raid on her home with a no-knock warrant. The investigation will focus on whether or not Louisville Police Department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force. And I think if you ask the activists on the ground, they will tell you they do. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland It will also assess whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And it’s not just Louisville. Last week, Merrick Garland also announced that the Justice Department is looking into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of using excessive force. We absolutely need to address the systemic epidemic of police violence in this country, and investigating police departments in total is an important step toward doing that. But here is what we have to keep pressing on. What happens next? What happens as a result of these investigations? Will police departments actually hold tight to the consent decrees that often follow? And can we as a society imagine something beyond policing? We have to. 

Elizabeth Warren, our girl, has reintroduced a 700 billion dollar plan to help families get affordable, quality child care. President Biden initially put 40 billion dollars toward child care in his Covid relief plan and is now proposing more than 400 billion as a part of the American Families Plan. But, you know, our girl, Liz, was like, uh uh, we need more. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren Our child care system is on the brink of complete collapse. Today, millions of women principally are not able to go back to work because they can’t find child care. If this pandemic has shown us nothing else, it has shown us the critical importance of parents having access to dependable child care. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah, we need guaranteed universal child care. We are way behind so much of the rest of the world on this, and that is what the 700 billion is for. It would mean, according to Senator Warren, that no family would spend more than seven percent of its income on daycare and that child workers who are predominantly women of color would actually be making living wages with benefits. Now, that sounds like a plan. Let’s show our support. 

And finally, on Sunday, Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman and woman of color to win the Academy Award for best director. She won for Nomadland. Congratulations, Chloé. It was a strange show and it was capped off by an even stranger ending. I’m still upset over the Chadwick Boseman upset, but there were a lot of firsts to celebrate you. Yuh-jung Youn, who we all adore, won best supporting actress for Minari. And like all of us, she adores Brad Pitt. 

Yuh-jung Youn Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Youn is the first Korean to win an acting Oscar, and Ann Roth won best costume designer for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which makes her at 89, the oldest woman to ever win an Oscar. And Mia Neil and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win the makeup and hairstyling Oscar for their work on Ma Rainey. Y’all, you got to hear some of Mia Neil’s speech. 

Mia Neil And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future because I can picture Black trans women standing up here and Asian sisters and our Latinas sisters and indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking. It would just be normal. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I know that’s right. These firsts and the increased diversity this year, is all great. It’s amazing. But if we’re being honest, this is the Academy doing the bare minimum. As Andra Day said on the podcast last week, the idea that those categories, every single one could be filled with minorities is not such a foreign idea. It’s life. 

Coming up, I’ll be talking to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson about centering women and people of color in the climate movement right after this short break. 

And we’re back. Well, last week marked another Earth Day, and if you were able to take some time to reflect, things are not looking so great for our beautiful blue planet. Clearly, we need new solutions to tackling climate change. We need fresh ideas and transformative leadership. And that’s why my guest today says we cannot solve the climate crisis without women and people of color. Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist and climate policy expert. She’s co-founder of the think tank Urban Ocean Lab, co-host of the podcast How to Save a Planet, and co-editor of the anthology All We Can Save. Yeah, Ayana has been busy saving the world. So how does diversity actually lead to a more effective climate movement? Let’s hear from the ocean lover herself. Ayana, it is so good to hear your voice, thank you for joining us. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson My pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham  So set the scene for us. Bad news first. Just how dire is the state of our planet right now? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Oh, it’s bad. The stakes could not be higher. We’ve changed the atmosphere of the entire planet. We’ve changed the chemistry of the air. We’ve changed the chemistry of the entire ocean. Everything is sort of fraying. And that’s scary. And for me, I focus on the ocean side of things. So the ocean has absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide that we humanity has emitted by burning fossil fuels. And that has changed. The chemistry of seawater like the ocean is 30 percent more acidic. And obviously, like if you’re living in a liquid that’s getting dramatically more acidic, like all marine life, that’s going to have all sorts of knock-on effects. You’re smelling through the water. So you don’t smell your prey. You don’t smell predators coming. You don’t smell home. Right? You don’t smell your mates. And the — one of the facts, as someone who, you know, did my Ph.D. research on coral reefs, there was a U.N. report that came out two years ago that said if the planet warms by one and a half degrees Celsius, we’ll lose about 95 percent of coral reefs as we know them. And if it warms by two degrees, which is quite likely, we’ll lose 99 percent. And that’s the kind of stuff that just like breaks my heart because I know what that means. Like, I intimately know what we would be losing. And I know how many tens or even hundreds of millions of people depend on these ecosystems for their nutrition, their livelihoods, their — their culture, their well-being. It’s like, as bad as you could imagine. It’s that bad. What’s coming. I mean, the Earth has already warmed over a degree Celsius. So we’re well on our way to just a very, very different future. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham It’s probably as bad as you can imagine and probably worse than lay folks like myself imagine. So connect the dots for us. Right? How are gender and race and climate justice really intertwined in terms of what we’re facing? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson We know that women are disproportionately the ones displaced by extreme weather events that are caused by climate change. And the, you know, women being displaced has all sorts of risks because of gender violence around the world and just puts a lot of pressure on homemakers when we have all of these disruptions in our climate. So women are the most at risk. People of color are also the most at risk. And I think this is actually why, this will be of no surprise to people like why addressing the climate crisis has not been as much of a priority for the United States because of who is impacted first and worst. For so long, our media was telling the story climate change is going to affect poor people and people of color in faraway places. So, like, it sucks, but we’re going to be fine, right? But, you know, the chickens have come home to roost like we’ve seen so much in the last year. We have from wildfires to floods to droughts to hurricanes, like it’s all happening now on a scale that is unprecedented because we’ve changed the chemistry of the atmosphere in the ocean. And I think connecting those dots, not just globally, but within the U.S. is important. We think about it in terms of, you know, Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Maria, like who is impacted or Superstorm Sandy here in New York. A lot of times, the flood prone areas, there’s a lot of low income housing in those places.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Right.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson The public housing in New York is disproportionately in flood zones. And so it absolutely is a justice issue along the lines of both gender and race. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And so when it comes to solutions, you’ve said that we need, quote, a feminist climate renaissance. Yeah. I mean, now, you know, Ayana, I like the sound of it, but what exactly does it mean? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson So that’s a term Dr. Katharine Wilkinson and I came up with when we were hosting a retreat for women leading on climate a few years ago. We were like, asked to fill out some form like, name your event. And we were like, I don’t know, feminist climate rennaissance sounds like a nice thing. And so we described this as seeing climate leadership on the rise that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity and collaboration. And then we we briefly mentioned four important characteristics of this feminist climate renaissance, which are a clear focus on making change rather than being in charge. So that’s obviously the ego competition piece. Second is a commitment to responding to the climate crisis in ways that heal systemic injustices rather than deepen them. There’s this like innate intersectionality in a lot of the approaches we’re seeing. Third is an appreciation for heart centered, not just head centered leadership. We need them both, obviously. And — and women are bringing that in droves as far as integrating head and heart in — in the work and forth, a recognition that building community is a requisite foundation for building a better world. And the reason I’ve sort of been enamored with this term “renaissance” is because so much of the language around how we talk about climate has been war metaphors. It’s been we’re going to fight it. We’re going to defeat it. We’re going to battle climate change. We’re going to, you know, all that kind of stuff as opposed to renaissance, which has this dual implication of being artistic and creative, but also being about rebirth. And I think that that is the way I want to think about our opportunities and our responsibility as far as shaping the future. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s right. Because you’ve said that the climate crisis is a leadership crisis. So when you marry that with just how much the patriarchy has been in charge of solving our most intractable problems, all of the things that you just listed make women such good leaders on this issue. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Mm hmm. And we know quantitatively, when you have women have more seats in parliaments, for example, those parliaments pass better environmental protections. They protect more land area. They pass better environmental laws. Those laws are better enforced. We think about the United Nations climate agreement, the Paris Agreement, where countries for the first time all committed to certain reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. That was women who led that negotiation that was finally successful after all these years. It is mostly teenage girls who started up the youth climate movement. Right? We know that when women have an equal opportunity to participate, like we just get it done. And yes, the climate crisis is a leadership crisis because if we had the leaders that we needed, we wouldn’t be quite in this mess. Right? And it has been mostly white men who have had positions of power in climate work so far. It’s been, I would say, overly technological, like the assumption that we could invent our way out of this problem when it really is a challenge of how we interact with each other and with the ecosystems all around us. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And we’ve got plenty of folks at the helm of this, much like yourself and a lot of your collaborators who are not white men. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Yup.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham But there is one white guy we got to talk about.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Oh gosh. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Because he’s the president. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson I was like, oh, no, where is this going? Yes. Happy to talk about President Biden. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham We’re going to President Biden. Right? Because we know he ran on a pretty ambitious climate plan and he promised to make climate change a priority while, of course, dealing with all of these other, you know, existential, political, economic and pandemic problems. What’s your take? How — how is he doing so far? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson I think the most remarkable thing about President Biden is that when he was a candidate sort of early in the Democratic primaries, literally no one would point to Biden and be like, that guy’s got a great climate policy, right? Like, that’s just not what he was known for. He wasn’t at the leading edge in terms of policy plans. And when he became the nominee, so many environmental groups were like, you got to do better. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson And so in a very remarkable turn of events, he actually moved left during the general election on climate at a point when all candidates are kind of trying to move to the center, generally speaking. And that was a big deal and that’s the result of a lot of organizing. So I would say he has come way further on climate than anyone ever imagined, and he’s following up, following through on it now that he’s in the White House. Both with who he’s appointing, personnel is policy, as people say. And like the executive orders, introducing bills into Congress, the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure bill is like half about climate. It’s about the infrastructure shifts we need to shift to electric cars and to improve public transit, to create a civilian climate corps, to restore and protect ecosystems along the coastline that are helping to protect infrastructure. So seeing how — how savvy this administration has been on — on making climate an economic issue, on making it a jobs issue, on the opportunity side, because it’s just total nonsense that we have to choose between a strong economy and the environment. Right? Like the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars that we lose every year because of the impact of extreme weather events. That’s climate. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson And so we can’t just pretend that there’s a cost and no benefit, which is how people often do these analyses. It would cost too much. We can’t do anything about it. You know how much it costs to do nothing? It’s extremely expensive. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham It literally costs us our lives and our homes and our families. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Yeah. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So we also know that last week on Earth Day, President Biden hosted a virtual two day summit, a climate summit with 40 other world leaders. And there he called climate change the existential crisis of our time. It sounds very different from what we’ve been used to hearing over the last couple of years. But he also encouraged other leaders to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Curious to know what your reaction was to the summit itself. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Honestly, relief, like it’s just so nice to have a political leader who is taking this seriously. And the commitment that Biden made at that summit was to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 relative to 2005 levels, which was our peak. And that’s a big deal, cutting by 50 percent in the next 10 years. That’s going to take a lot of doing. That’s going to take, you know, a federal mobilization to shift things, because what we need to do is not just solar panels and electric cars. Right? We have to transform our entire electricity system. He’s committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2035. Like that’s going to take a lot of work. We have to change our whole grid. We have to, like, figure out how to get off of fossil fuels, off of coal and and oil and natural gas to, like, to renewables like across the entire country within 15 years. Like, that’s really hard. Right? So this is why having inclusion in who’s participating is so important, because we need people all across the country, in every community, in every sector of the economy leading this transformation. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I want to dig more into that a little bit, because you really make the case that if we are going to save the planet and ourselves, the climate movement has to expand its coalition. So you alluded to this a bit before, but I would love to hear you talk a bit more about why we can’t solve the climate crisis without women, people of color and folks from marginalized communities. Why is it impossible without us? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson I mean, we’ve got a lot of good ideas and there’s a lot of us, right, like I think just like a fundamental level, it’s the winning strategy. And there’s — there’s one particular piece of polling data that I think is informative here, because we’ve been sold this lie that people of color don’t care as much as white people about the environment, and it’s just nonsense. So Yale and George Mason universities to a lot of really great public opinion research around climate. And one of the things that they found was that when you poll Americans and you disaggregate that data by race, about 49 percent of white Americans are concerned about climate. 57 percent of Black folks in America are concerned and 69 percent of Latinx Americans. So if we would like to, you know, rally all the people who already care and like, let’s all get together and push forward all the many solutions we have at our fingertips. It just makes sense to include people of color, communities of color, especially when we think about the fact that a lot of these changes need to happen at the community level right? The — regardless of what happens in terms of federal climate policy, the implementation is local. You need to bring people along, you need to have people on board. People have to actually do the work in all of these places. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious because people of color are fighting every battle, right? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Yeah.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham A lot of us are concerned. But a lot of us are exhausted. I mean, you even wrote in The Washington Post after George Floyd’s murder about how as a Black woman, racism can really derail your efforts to be saving the planet. You ask, “How can we expect Black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our streets and our communities and even in our own homes?” How do you answer that? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson You know, it kind of depends on the day. And last summer, I couldn’t focus on anything else, right? I was supposed to like, be making a podcast about how to save a planet. And I was just like, you want me to interview some white dude about planting trees today? Like, I just don’t care right now. And as I’m sure is a skill you’ve developed as well, you like, learn to act. You put on your poker face and you just like, go through the things you’ve committed to. But I’m — I’m really grateful to my co-host for the show, my co-editor for All You Can Save, and the work that we were doing at the time that they were just like, we got it. Like, don’t worry, I can take all the time you need, because I just could not be my normal, productive self. And when I talked about that polling data, what that means is there are over 23 million Black Americans who already care deeply about the environment —

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson — who could make a huge contribution to all of the climate work that needs doing. But we’re burdened with all this other stuff. Right? And so I think it’s important to remember to hold both at the same time. That people of color and women are disproportionately impacted by the effects of the climate crisis, but also disproportionately prone to do the work to fix it. And if we can remove these massive weights of racism and sexism, we can actually unleash all this potential for — for doing, for getting — getting the work done. And it’s — it feels kind of lame sometimes to focus just — on just how practical that is strategically. But like we’ve got to succeed. So like, let’s welcome people into this work. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So given that this is a heavy weight on so many people, to your point, we need as many people as possible doing this work. And you really stressed repeatedly that the taking on the climate crisis needs to be a collective effort. So put us to work, what can we all do —

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Yeah. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham — to help bring about a healthier planet and a more just world. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Let’s start with a tiny question, Brittany. I think the most important thing is for people to just figure out how they can be most useful. And while it’s very tempting for people to want just like tell me the one quick, easy, simple thing I can do to save the planet, like we’re just past that, that’s not going to cut it. Like, we can’t just change our light bulbs and then be fine. And so when people ask me what they should do, my first reaction is to say, well, what are you good at? And how can you do that in service of the climate solutions that we need to push forward. So I think of it as a Venn diagram with three overlapping circles. And the goal is to like do the thing in the center where those overlap. Right? So if one circle is what are you good at, what are you bringing to the table, what skills, what resources? All of that. And the next circle is what is the work that needs doing, whether that’s getting more bike lanes or composting or shifting to renewable energy or shifting culture. What’s your jam? Pick one. And then the third circle would be what brings you joy? And I think that’s important because this is the work of our lifetimes. And so there’s no reason to, like, pick a way to contribute that just makes you miserable. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I want to ask you about that, because I find what your jam is to be so fascinating, because like you say, you’re not just a policy expert. You’re a marine biologist. Like, go ahead, Black girl. And I love this story about you growing up in Brooklyn, the working class family. And the only vacation that your family would go on was that one summer that you all went to Florida and you fell in love with the ocean. And so I’m just — I’m really curious because you talk about how heavy this all is. On a personal level, after all these years, what keeps you so passionate and so motivated to keep on keeping on and working for climate justice? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson It’s love. I think that has to be it. Right? I just think the ocean is so dope. I mean, octopuses exist.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Right, amazing.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Like coral reefs exist, like schools of fish so big you could get lost in them exist, and coastal cultures exist. I think of ocean conservation as a matter of cultural preservation. My dad was Jamaican. My PhD research was in the Caribbean. I worked in the Caribbean for about a decade. Like what is the Caribbean without a fish fry, without grandparents being able to take their grandkids fishing? Right? It’s not just about dollars. It’s not just about biodiversity. It’s about like, who we are as humans. And I don’t want to live on a planet without, like, these healthy ecosystems all around me. Like we know during the pandemic, people have, like, really found a lot of solace in nature. People have been like going to parks more, going for all these walks outside, going hiking because like, nature is like literally healing us. I don’t know about this like nature’s healing thing, but like nature heals us. Like we know this quantitatively. The science is there in terms of our stress levels and like all that kind of stuff. And, yeah, it’s just it’s this combination of like wonder and love and obligation. And I think a lot of kids want to be a marine biologist when they grow up and don’t actually get to do it. I like, had the chance to be what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I don’t take that for granted like that’s, you know, that’s partially me being stubborn, but partially that these opportunities were open to me in a way that they’re not open to all Black girls from Brooklyn. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I’m so glad that you were stubborn about it, because listening to you talk about the ocean, the wonder and the love is so evident. I mean, we’ve talked about science — 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson It’s loveable, it’s not hard to love. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham — we’ve talked about science. We’ve talked about that hard, stark reality of the situation we’re facing and then that wonder and that love comes through. Are you — are you optimistic about the future of humanity, of our planet? 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson I don’t know. I don’t consider myself an optimist. I consider myself a realist. I know that possibility exists. When I look at the scientific data, the projections about what the future could be in terms of temperature or sea level rise or ice melting or whatever, we know the trends are all going in a bad and dangerous direction. But we also know that there is a wide range of possible futures. It depends on what we do, depends on how fast we transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a regenerative economy, depends how fast we welcome people into this work and help them find where they can be most useful. And so I sort of just wake up thinking about possibility instead of like assuming anything is going to work out and just making my contributions, even without any certainty of what the future could hold and knowing that every tenth of a degree matters. Every foot of sea level rise matters, every species that continues to exist matters, every area that we’re able to protect in terms of nature matters. Because, you know, we’re talking about the difference between a hundred million climate refugees and a billion climate refugees. We’re talking about the difference between a few feet of sea level rise and a few meters of sea level rise, we’re talking about like, food security and scarcity for billions of people. And even if we can’t fix it, we can make it a lot better than it would otherwise be. And that’s worth trying.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s worth trying. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson It’s been so remarkable to see over the last few years how people have, like, gotten a handle on the intersectionality of this. And I want to just give a shout out to the Movement for Black Lives for having had climate and environment in their initial policy platform. Was that like six years ago, like always seeing that this was connected. And now they’re working on a red, Black and green new deal to make sure that justice is a part of federal climate policy. And I couldn’t be more inspired and enamored with that work. And I think regardless of my optimism or hope, there’s so much possibility and — and we’re seeing it happen. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Possibility, hope. Thank you, Ayana, for your time. Thank you for loving the ocean, and the earth, and thank you for loving us —

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Thank you so much.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham — because I know your commitment. We appreciate you. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson It’s great to be with you. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, climate policy expert and co-founder of the All We Can Save Project. Y’all, I’m not gonna lie. The first part of my conversation with Ayana had me shook. Like, I’m no scientist, so sometimes that stuff can go right over my head, but what I hear is that we are in real trouble, Girl. From wildfires to droughts, flooding to food insecurity, it is all connected and it’s all happening right now. But Ayana gives us a dose of that disciplined hope. Y’all know how I love disciplined hope. Like she said, when it comes to climate solutions, there is so much untapped potential. Women and people of color, we have so much brilliance to contribute. And I love the idea that we are not just leading with our minds, but with our hearts. So find a way into the climate movement that brings you joy, something that makes you feel as passionate for the environment as Ayana does about coral reefs and octopuses. It’s not over yet and there are still possibilities, different, better choices that we can make to save the day, to save the planet and ourselves. Every degree does matter. So let’s do the right thing. 

That’s it for today, but never for tomorrow, especially not if we can manage to save this planet y’all. 


UNDISTRACTED is a production of The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios. 

Our lead producer is Rachel Matlow. 

Our associate producer is Taylor Hosking. 

Thanks always to Treasure Brooks, Grace Chen and Hannis Brown. 

Our executive producers at The Meteor are Cindi Leive and myself, and our executive producers at Pineapple are Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky.  

You can follow me @MsPackyetti on all social media and our incredible team @TheMeteor.  

Subscribe to UNDISTRACTED and rate and review us. 

Share us with your friends and family. 

You can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcast or wherever you check out your favorite podcasts. 

As always, thanks for listening. Thank you for being. And thank you for doing. 

I’m Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Let’s go get free.