WXXI AM News

Climate Change

Dawn Schlaks

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his first priority in his New York state budget announcement on Tuesday: climate action.

The $33 billion plan includes comprehensive nature conservation, a more significant transition to renewable energy, and a major shift to carbon-free transportation.

“We start with the most aggressive climate change program in the country,” Cuomo said in his address. “Because my friends, the clock is ticking and it's ticking faster and faster."

As 2019 draws to a close, we sit down with local climate activists to discuss the year in climate.

How would they “grade” climate action in 2019? We discuss progress or lack of progress made in different fields, the impact certain changes will have on our long-term climate future, and what types of action we’ll need to see in 2020 to create sustainable change. In studio:

On Friday, students around the world will once against walk out of class to go on strike for climate action. Locally, a growing group of students is organizing in a new way. The group is launching a coalition of youth climate activist groups based in New York State; it will be called the New York Youth Climate Leaders or NY2CL for short. 

We discuss the goals and agenda of this new coalition. Our guests:

  • Hridesh Singh, Liam Smith, and Celia Darling from NY2CL

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, we discuss how to have productive conversations with family members about climate change and climate action. Data shows the proportion of Americans that have initiated conversations about the subject is significantly lower than the share of people who report being concerned about climate change.

What’s the best way to approach the topic, especially among people who may be skeptics or express ambivalence? Our guests discuss it: 

The CEO of a local green energy company says he’s discouraged that the discussion surrounding climate change and climate action have become about politics and morality. Kevin Schulte is the CEO of GreenSpark Solar, a residential and commercial solar energy company based in Rochester. In a recent op-ed, Schulte argues that the divisive discourse “is a bigger threat to our society than the climate crisis. To truly slow the earth from baking, we need every person to engage.”

Schulte joins us to discuss his ideas for generating productive, inclusive conversations about climate change. We also hear from local climate activists. In studio:

Astrophysicist Adam Frank recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post that addressed narratives about climate change. In the piece, titled, “Reframing climate change as a story of human evolutionary success,” Frank writes that this new narrative does not let humans off the hook when it comes to their role in causing climate change.

In that spirit, we sit down with Frank to discuss recent climate change narratives from Hollywood – films like “Ad Astra” and television shows like “The Expanse.” He helps us break them down. In studio:

  • Adam Frank, author and professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester

During this conversation, Adam Frank discussed the books "American War," by Omar El Akkad, and "The Water Knife" by Paolo Bacigalup.

C-Change Conversations is a group that formed with a straightforward goal: make talking about climate change non-partisan, non-political. The team has created a traveling presentation that they take to people who are predisposed to doubt climate change. Does it work? Can climate action become nonpartisan, given recent polling showing stark political divides on the issues?

Our guests talk about what they do. They're in Rochester for a presentation at Nazareth College. In studio:

The Seneca Park Zoo Society is gearing up for its second annual Environmental Innovation Awards and Symposium. The event celebrates leadership in environmental stewardship, and honors companies that are creating innovative solutions to complex environmental problems.

This year's keynote speaker, Brett Howell, is an environmental entrepreneur whose work focuses on plastic pollution prevention. He joins us to discuss his recent projects, and our guests from the Zoo Society share updates related to sustainability, green technology, and conservation education in the Rochester and Finger Lakes area.

Our guests:

  • Pamela Reed Sanchez, president and CEO of the Seneca Park Zoo Society
  • Suzanne Hunt, member of the board of trustees for the Seneca Park Zoo Society, and president of Hunt Green, LLC
  • Brett Howell, environmental entrepreneur 

How can different community and governmental entities work together to address environmental health and justice, especially in urban areas? It’s a question University of Rochester Medical Center associate professor Katrina Korfmacher answers in her new book, “Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities.” She explores examples from three communities, including efforts to address lead poisoning in Rochester. Her work focuses on how collaboration is essential in creating positive outcomes for underrepresented and disadvantaged populations.

She joins us to discuss her research and what cities across the country can learn from programs like those in Rochester. The conversation comes in advance of an upcoming book talk at Writers & Books. In studio:

We sit down with local youth climate leaders who just returned from the climate strike in New York City and the Climate Solutions Summit at SUNY New Paltz. They share their message, what they learned, and how they hope to work with adults in their community and beyond to create a sustainable future.

Our guests:

  • Liam Smith, senior at Brighton High School, president of the Brighton High School Climate Club, member of the Citizens Climate Lobby, member of the leadership team for the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders, and intern with the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition
  • Lindsay Cody, senior at Honeoye Falls Lima High School, crew leader of the Rochester chapter of Earth Guardians, member of the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders, and member of the planning team for Metro Justice’s Rochester for Energy Democracy campaign
  • Hridesh Singh, senior at Brighton High School, board secretary for the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, co-founder of the Brighton High School Climate Club, and member of the leadership team for the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders
  • Terry Smith, head of the Harley School's Lower School

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