Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical
Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
Leveraging Pensions to Force the Transition | Ian Edwards
“You can't go off and get growth. That's not the foundations of a pension, especially a public pension as a public good. It is about quality curating, stewarding a future for these people. And the reason why I get jazzed about this is because the money, the scale of mone—30 to 50 trillion dollars globally—if we started to move that money for just the beneficiaries, we fix it for everyone. Because that is a lot of money to move.”What if we bought the fossil fuel industry?The value of pension funds in the world is a staggering amount. Unlike other funds, pensions have a fiduciary duty to their beneficiaries, a guarantee to act in the best interest of those who depend on these funds for their retirement. Ian Edwards, Founder of the Bank of Nature, says fiduciary duty encompasses guaranteeing a healthy planet—without a world under 1.5 degrees, there’s no retirement fund to pull from.He joins me to explain the history of fiduciary duty, the role of pensions, and the difference in returns necessary for pensions funds compared to other investments. This lower return means we could use pensions to start leveraging the market and force a green transition. One way, he says, is buying up the fossil fuel industry to retire it. This is about the 99% recognising their combined wealth and power, and shutting down the very system which threatens us all.Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Sep 20
51 min
Creating The Alternative | Pat Kane
“If the internet was based on a kind of commons, an almost scholarly freedom, then we need to pressure the people who are regulating the virtuality of our digital lives and say we need an early internet-like space and zone in this, where people can, for example, test out realities, test out new kinds of economy, prototype things, take those prototypes into reality, see if they work, take them into the virtual world again.”“I think the destruction of the biosphere is baked in and therefore the social disruption is baked in as well. So we need some kind of continuity of civic space on the virtual realm that is potentially before us. We need a civic stake in the specific continuity between being in the streets and protesting and literally having to quarantine because of the next biospheric disruption.”Imagine is a world beyond our wildest dreams...“A life beyond your wildest dreams” is promised to those entering Narcotics Anonymous, a decentralised, collectively-run program for sobriety in which fellow addicts help one another get and stay clean. The promise doesn’t make sense when you first hear it—it’s only after months, even years, of becoming someone different that you realise how limited your imagination was made by addiction. I think of our global relationship to capitalism very similarly. It’s difficult to imagine life without it, and thus a better world, but that doesn’t mean such a world isn’t possible. So how do we unleash our imaginations and creativity to create a culture and a world beyond our wildest dreams, one in which we look after one another and the more-than-human world? How do we code for care? This is what Pat Kane joins me to discuss. Pat is a writer and musician, an activist, and a futurist. He writes a column for The National in Scotland and is also the co-founder of The Alternative, a media organisation embedded into community resilience and imagining alternative ways of organising. Pat to join me to discuss culture—how to understand it, how to code it, how to change it. We explore the possibility of the internet as emergent collective consciousness and a tool for creativity, resilience and connection. We discuss the importance of play: the psychology of play, the impact of play, and how play as resistance reveals the absurdity of the human systems that we are forced to interact with. We meander through this and more on love, truth, cosmology, resilience, difficulty and imagination. © Rachel DonaldPlanet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Sep 13
1 hr 15 min
Fighting for Freedom in West Papua | Jeffrey Bomanak
“From the 1963 up until today, they can't kill our ideology. They can't kill our philosophy. They can’t kill our fight. Because we believe what we fight for. We fight for our right, freedom, dignity, and truth. So, you can come with any number, you can come with any intelligence equipment, you can come with any kind of technology, you can come. I will fight you.”What can be justified in the name of self-defence?Ranging across the vast territory of West Papua, 34,000 guerilla soldiers fight the 700,000 strong Indonesian military controlling their sovereign land. In February, these rebels took a New Zealand pilot hostage, threatening to kill him if the Indonesian government ignored their demands for independence. But in this exclusive interview, Jeffrey Bomanak, Chairman of the Free Papua Movement, promises Philip Mehrtens will make it home alive. After negotiating their freedom with their Dutch colonists, West Papuans discovered the United States had used their land to bribe Indonesia into joining the capitalist economic order in 1963. The Free West Papua Movement (OPM, Organisasi Papua Merdeka) sprung up in resistance and has been fighting ever since. Jeffrey explains how their land was used as a pawn in a battle between world orders, the “genocide” of Papuans at the hands of the Indonesian government, and why organisations like the UN ignore the desperate plea of the Papuan people to maintain their colonial oversight. © Rachel DonaldPlanet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Sep 6
45 min
Overshooting Earth's Boundaries | Bill Rees
Humankind’s footprint threatens to squash life under its heel.Our impact on the planet cannot be understated. We have thrust Earth into a new geological period, destroyed the majority of the world’s wildlife, razed her forests, and rendered innumerable species extinct. We are expert consumers with no limits to our appetite, it seems. Unless the climate becomes so unstable our own systems break down. This, of course, is what we’re already seeing.Bill Rees, bio-ecologist, ecological economist, and originator of the ecological footprint analysis, joins me to discuss this breakdown—how we got here, where we’re going, and why he has little hope for humankind to make it through. We discuss systems change, potential outcomes, and how to create “lifeboats” in a crisis. We also go head-to-head on the framing of some of these issues before finding common ground towards the end of the episode.“Half of the fossil fuels ever used on planet Earth by human beings has been consumed in just the last 35 years. This is the power of exponential growth. So hugely important things have happened in 50 years, including the first book that warned us of limits to growth. We've seen the evidence before the US Congress on Climate Change. We've had 27 COP meetings on climate change, a half a dozen formal agreements to reduce carbon emissions. There's been several formal scientists’ warning to humanities. This has all taken place in the last 50 years.“Yet, during that past 50 years, the pace of negative change has accelerated. So, despite the best of our science, despite the best evidence you can possibly come up with in terms of climate activity and so on and so forth, the mainstream has not budged.”Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Aug 30
1 hr 11 min
Religious Naturalism | Ursula Goodenough
“There isn't likely to be a future where all critters have no interest in themselves and are only interested in the collective. That's not gonna work. But to temper those two directions so that there is self maintenance, but also a self that joins the community, is, I would say, the goal.”What if religion wasn’t about God—but about each other?Religion is a divisive topic at best and the cause of war at worst. It has been used to control, dictate, punish and destroy people throughout the ages. Yet faith, it seems, is a critical aid in humankind’s individual and collective existence. I have always believed that faith is an act of imagination where religion is an act of dogma. That’s why I was curious when Ursula Goodenough, Professor of Biology Emeritus, emailed me a copy of her book, The Sacred Depths of Nature, suggesting we discuss “religious naturalism”. During the episode, Ursula introduces the topic as a grand story to unite humankind. We go on to discuss humankind as a symbolic species, the necessity and beauty of symbolism, how we evolve with symbolism, and how we can use story to anchor our existence. We discuss language and mindedness, consciousness and the brain, community and individuals, and the relationship between mystery and knowledge. Ursula also gives her insight into what separates religiosity, spirituality and religion.© Rachel DonaldPlanet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Aug 23
1 hr 2 min
Mainstreaming Behaviour Change | Bill Ryerson
Human population is a problem—tackling it through education isn’t.We need to slow our global fertility rate to 1.5 children per woman if we’re to lower our population to a sustainable level of around 3 billion. That decline is already happening in many post-industrial nations, to the chagrin and panic of their leaders. However, many cultures around the world still prize large families. But in a world of increasingly scarce resources like water, limiting family sizes remains the main driver of some campaigners, including Bill Ryerson.Bill is an ecologist and founder of the Population Media Center, an initiative which creates mainstream entertainment in many nations around the world, pushing the needle on cultural practices to drive behaviour change on population and even gender violence. PMC produces telenovelas and radionovelas which have seen fertility rates decline in nations they’ve been shown.Bill and I spend the first half of the episode talking about the population problem, the policy problems, the history of population growth. He then introduces the concept of the demographic dividend, which showed that small families actually lead to economic growth, before explaining the successes and heartwarming stories of the work PMC has done around the world.Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Aug 16
1 hr 3 min
Protecting the Amazon | Paul Rosolie
It’s so much more than “climate change”.The most biodiverse regions of the world are under threat. Beyond the models, the data, the papers and the Twitter spats, the world’s ecosystems are collapsing under the pressure of mankind’s interference, extraction and exploitation. The Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, has been mined, plumbed and sawed for its resources to the extent it may soon become a carbon emitter as its systems begin to decay. Protecting it is vital in the fight against our own destruction. Paul Rosolie set out to do just that when he was 18 years old.Paul is a conservationist, writer, speaker, filmmaker, protecting 55000+ acres of Amazonian habitat and wildlife Director of JungleKeepers and Tamandua Expeditions. His memoir, Mother of God, documents his years spent deep in the jungle fighting to save it. Paul joins me to discuss this and more. He reveals the gifts of the Amazon and the lessons to be learned from its inhabitants. He also explains the limitations of typical conservation efforts due to the pressures of our globalised financial system. Finally, he gives a vision for what conservation could be in the future—and a call to action for those who understand the depth of the emergency.Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Aug 9
52 min
Non-Violence in the face of Violence | Rose Abramoff
“The ways in which we really value property, that to me is an extremely infinite growth capitalism, hyper-masculine and extractive and colonialist thought — this idea that property is as important as like the lives and comfort and kindness that we show people. We must show that same love and kindness and respect to property. And so in that way, I think that we could redefine nonviolence to include property destruction, destruction of specific property, which is essentially doing violence upon future generations or present generations of people in the global south.”Are we really going to protect private property at all costs?That’s the question myself and Rose Abramoff, an earth scientist and activist, circle around this week. We live in a violent world, one in which profiteering infrastructure kills, millions, threatens billions, and is tipping our planet over the edge. In the face of such violence, would sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure really be an equivalent act of violence? Or would it be a necessary act of sabotage to protect life on earth? Rose is one of the first earth scientists to be fired for protesting against the climate crisis. We discuss the reality of the emergency, how to view taking action as a science experiment, the different kinds of action around the world, and the ethics of property destruction. Rose began her career as a forest ecologist and now studies the effect of climate change and land use change on the land carbon cycle, with a focus on plants and soil. As an activist, she works on a variety of environmental justice issues with Scientist Rebellion and other groups. She has engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience targeting colonial resource extraction, luxury emissions, and fossil fuel expansion and funding. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Mastodon at @ultracricket© Rachel DonaldPlanet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Aug 2
59 min
The Eco-Fiscal Crisis | James Meadway
“If you think about how you might get out of this and get to something better, what really matters is the distribution of resources. Who has what? Who holds the wealth? And what are they doing with it? Government borrowing and quantitative easing, this sort of thing, can change some of that, but really when you get down to it, you're going to have to think about how you're going to tax some of that wealth because you need to shift actual resources around. The most effective mechanism we have for doing that is taxation.”Economics is a pretty bizarre field: A social science masquerading as an actual science, economics inflexibly dictates life, relationships, election manifestos and policy despite none of it being set in stone. The beauty of economics is we can radically overhaul our economic systems and institutions to better serve us, rather than being prey to the outputs of a haggard and worn out system. Such a realisation is, though, beyond the imagination of most economic leaders.But there are economists out there working to debunk the myths, cut through the noise, and creating policies which would serve both people and planet. James Meadway—former treasury advisor, member of the Progressive Economy Forum council, and the host of the Macrodose podcast—is one of them. He joins me to discuss the emergency and long-term policies we should implement to navigate the climate crisis, the economic crisis, and to radically overhaul and transition our societies to those which support life over productivity. We discuss some alternative frameworks that are being researched around the world, including de-growth and modern monetary theory, whilst James insists that which needs to be re-evaluated is value itself.Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Jul 26
1 hr 1 min
The Problem With Language | Ray Ison
What to do when words get in the way?We see the world through language, reality shaped by the words we use to signify concepts, systems, relationships and even knowledge. This surreal layer over the world then becomes more true to us than reality itself, shaping desire, hatred, ideology and conviction. Yet, we have evolved with language, we need it to make sense of the experience of being human. So, how do we reimagine our relationship to language so it may reveal the real instead of hide it?This is what Ray Ison and I discuss in today’s wonderful episode. Ray is a Professor in Systems at the Open University who has been investigating systems and language for decades. We discuss relational dynamics, metaphor theory, knowledge creation, governance, meaning and obfuscation.Ray also explains other forms of signification and communication being explored in the systems community, and how we can participate with language to deframe the world as we see it and reveal its true complexities.Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription. Get full access to Planet: Critical at
Jul 19
59 min
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