The Sweaty Penguin This might just be the most fun you've had learning about climate change... From the Amazon rainforest to artificial intelligence, every week on The Sweaty Penguin, get to know one climate change issue in-depth and hear from an expert in the field to gain a deeper perspective on society's most pressing climate concerns and solutions. The goal? To make environmental issues more fun and less politicized so people of any political ideology or interest level can learn, engage, and find common ground.
The Sweaty Penguin

The Sweaty Penguin

From WLIW

This might just be the most fun you've had learning about climate change... From the Amazon rainforest to artificial intelligence, every week on The Sweaty Penguin, get to know one climate change issue in-depth and hear from an expert in the field to gain a deeper perspective on society's most pressing climate concerns and solutions. The goal? To make environmental issues more fun and less politicized so people of any political ideology or interest level can learn, engage, and find common ground.

Most Recent Episodes

Tip of the Iceberg E62: Could Saudi Arabia derail COP28's biggest victory?

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, wrapped up in the United Arab Emirates last month, bringing several steps forward for global climate cooperation. Chief among them: all 195 countries signed onto a "transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science." That said, some countries' plans are not in keeping with this commitment. A new investigative report revealed Saudi Arabia is working with developing countries to try to set up oil-based infrastructure, locking in future oil demand for the coming decades. In this week's Tip of the Iceberg, Ethan explores the good news from COP28, how Saudi Arabia's Oil Demand Sustainability Program could derail it, and why wealthier countries like the U.S. should outcompete the Saudis with clean energy partnerships in this week's "Tip of the Iceberg." Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at ⁠patreon.com/thesweatypenguin⁠. CREDITS Writers: Ethan Brown, Shannon Damiano, Mo Polyak, Emma Quarequio Fact Checker: Alia Bonanno Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

Tip of the Iceberg E62: Could Saudi Arabia derail COP28's biggest victory?

132. Polar Bears

As climate change drives the melt of Arctic sea ice, polar bears are facing a major challenge. Scientists have said it is likely the global population of polar bears will fall by more than a third within the next three generations. But why does this issue matter, beyond polar bears being really cute? Today, we explore the ecological and economic importance of polar bears, the variety of threats they face in a changing climate, and a variety of tangible solutions to protect polar bears moving forward. With special guest Dr. Andrew Derocher: Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at ⁠patreon.com/thesweatypenguin⁠. CREDITS Writers: Aana Shenai, Emma Quarequio, Emma Jones, Ethan Brown Fact Checker: Alia Bonanno Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

Bonus: Why Do You Want to Take Over Gotham City?

In The Sweaty Penguin's second annual "Holiday Mailbag," Ethan rounds up a few of the most cynical audience questions from 2023. Learn why the change from "global warming" to "climate change," where climate alarmists may have taken things too far, and ChatGPT's response to everyone calling Ethan a clown in this can't miss bonus episode to conclude another year of The Sweaty Penguin. Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

131. Rethinking Carbon

If and when humans completely stop emitting carbon dioxide, how will the climate respond? For some time, communicators were operating with the misconception that there would be a "carbon lag" — carbon previously emitted would still be in the atmosphere, still be trapping heat, and still be warming the planet, and this lagged warming would continue for several decades. Recently, scientists clarified that this was not quite right. This lagged warming effect does exist, but simultaneously, oceans suck carbon out of the atmosphere creating a cooling effect. The two ultimately cancel out, and the global climate can stabilize as quickly as three years after emissions halt. Today, we explore how the greenhouse effect has worked through history, what this updated science means for both us and our oceans, and why this science should mostly be seen as good news moving forward. With very special guest Dr. Michael Mann: Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science and Director of the Center for Science Sustainability in the Media at the University of Pennsylvania. Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writers: Mikaela Gonzalez, Emma Jones, Ethan Brown Fact Checker: Sophie Colbert Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

Tip of the Iceberg E61: But what about China and India?

A couple weeks ago, world leaders descended on Dubai for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) — a reminder of the fact that the United States cannot mitigate climate change alone, and needs China and India to curb their emissions too. But that's not an argument to slow climate progress at home. Ethan explains that while global participation is necessary for the climate, smart climate solutions also have benefits for local environments, health, justice, security, and the economy in this week's "Tip of the Iceberg." **Note: This episode was written prior to COP28, so the opening references some pessimism I was feeling going into the conference. As it turns out, the conference had some pretty exciting successes, which we'll break down in Tip of the Iceberg 62. However, due to some delays in editing, we were not able to release this episode before the conference as planned. The rest of the episode remains relevant though, so we hope you still enjoy!** Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writer: Ethan Brown, Velina Georgi, Mo Polyak, Emma Quarequio Fact Checker: Aana Shenai Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Velina Georgi Music: Brett Sawka

130. Maritime Shipping

Maritime shipping is a bit of a paradoxical climate issue. On the one hand, it accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, burns extremely dirty bunker fuel, and has a number of inefficiencies leading to outsized pollution. On the other hand, it is also by far the most sustainable mode of transporting goods, as compared to planes, trains, and trucks — making it a sort of climate solution. Unfortunately, in the United States, that solution is being blocked by a regulation called the Jones Act, which requires any ships traveling from one U.S. port to another to be built, flagged, and crewed in the U.S. Meant to protect national security and support American shipbuilders, the regulation has substantially driven up the cost of American goods particularly in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, wrecked entire industries (including offshore wind), and led only 2% of U.S. freight to be carried by ships — leaving 98% to be carried by more expensive and more polluting alternatives. Today, we explore why maritime shipping isn't living up to its full potential as a sustainable transportation mechanism, how the Jones Act has impacted it, and what steps we could take to rectify the situation moving forward. With special guest Dr. Russell Hillberry: Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writers: Emma Jones, Emma Quarequio, Ethan Brown Fact Checker: Alia Bonanno Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

Tip of the Iceberg E60: Floods have solutions

In the last few months, catastrophic floods have ravaged parts of Libya, Myanmar, Cameroon, India, and Somalia, not to mention several such disasters in the United States. Climate change and floods have an interesting relationship — scientists contend climate change may be leading to fewer floods overall, but the floods that do happen become much more intense, particularly in urban areas. As overwhelming as this reality can be, it's equally important to remember that even in a changing climate, floods have solutions. Ethan explores how climate change will impact future floods and how communities can assess flood risk, prevent floods, adapt to floods, and rethink floods in this week's "Tip of the Iceberg." Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writer: Ethan Brown, Velina Georgi, Mo Polyak, Emma Quarequio Fact Checker: Aana Shenai Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

129. Rice

A staple food for over half the world population, rice is perhaps one of the most universally enjoyed foods. But recently, as India enacted an export ban on rice and other countries have considered the same, global prices have spiked, Americans began panic buying, and many farmers and consumers around the world have suffered the consequences. At the root of the problem is climate change. Today, we explore how climate change impacts rice, why rice has a surprisingly high impact on climate change, and what common sense solutions could make rice farming more sustainable in the future. With special guest Dr. Sonali McDermid: Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at New York University. Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writers: Ainsley Jane Tambling, Hallie Cordingley, Velina Georgi, Ethan Brown Fact Checker: Alia Bonanno Editor: Saige Gipson Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka

Tip of the Iceberg E59: Don't knock baby steps

Many climate solutions are extremely exciting, but none are perfect. All have their limitations, and Hywind Tampen — the world's largest floating offshore wind farm — is a prime example. Owned by fossil fuel company Equinor, Hywind Tampen is used to power drilling operations in the North Sea. It will lead to more fossil fuel extraction and potentially some greenwashing, but it will also reduce carbon emissions from this project and potentially encourage fossil fuel companies to see the advantages of clean energy. So how should we react? After completing the Solutions Journalism Network's Climate Beacon Newsroom Initiative, Ethan reflects on this question, exploring why covering limitations of solutions is important but why we can still get excited about imperfect baby steps in this week's "Tip of the Iceberg." Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writer: Ethan Brown, Velina Georgi, Mo Polyak, Emma Quarequio Fact Checker: Alia Bonanno Editor: Saige Gipson Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Velina Georgi Music: Brett Sawka

128. The North Dome Gas Field

Last year, The Guardian did a five-month investigation into "carbon bombs," or fossil fuel projects that would, over the course of their life, emit over one billion tons of carbon. They found that there are 195 planned oil and gas carbon bombs around the world, and if they proceed as planned, these projects alone would blow past internationally agreed upon climate targets. For our thirteenth deep dive on carbon bombs, we take a look at the North Dome Gas Field: the world's largest gas field located in northern Qatar, singlehandedly home to eleven carbon bomb projects that collectively could emit over 41 billion tons of carbon dioxide. But North Dome has a unique history, transforming Qatar from a largely impoverished nation to one with one of the highest GDPs per capita, rapidly blossoming education and tourism, and the home of global sporting competitions like 2022's FIFA World Cup. Despite these exciting developments, the North Dome Gas Field does present challenges from an environmental, human rights, geopolitical, and even economic perspective. This week, we cover the issues facing the North Dome Gas Field, why Qatar has incentive to transition away from natural gas exports and diversify their economy, and what a sustainable and feasible path forward could look like. With special guest Dr. Geoff Harkness: Associate Professor of Sociology at Rhode Island College. Now more than ever, The Sweaty Penguin needs your help to continue! Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin. CREDITS Writers: Alia Bonanno, Owen Reith, Mo Polyak, Ethan Brown Fact Checker: Ainsley Jane Tambling Editor: Megan Antone Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Megan Antone Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak Music: Brett Sawka