Show #244 – Dr Rebecca Huntley on Climate Change Impact to Communities


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And on this week’s show!

This week is an interlude show between our parents and carers series this past month and the brain series we have from next week. Our interlude is on climate change with guest Dr Rebecca Huntley who has recently been commissioned to do a report on climate and the health of individuals and communities. We discuss her book last year on climate change and how to talk about it more effectively in a melting pot of very strong opinions and beliefs, not always shared. We also discuss how superannuation is one of the most powerful ways we can contribute positively to change and we discuss how we can accelerate change from our own daily lives and how we can take it up the chain more effectively. 

Questions I asked Rebecca:

  • Were you always intent on getting to the bottom of things growing up? 
  • At what point did the issue of climate/climate destabilisation come on your radar as an author/journo? 
  • We both attended the Climate Reality Training with Al Gore a couple of years ago… curious to know how that event impacted you? Main takeaways (just for us to have a chat about that together as a shared experience) 
  • Your book last year “How to talk about Climate Change in a way that makes a difference” – So good. The blurb says: “The key to progress on climate change is in the psychology of human attitudes and our ability to change. Whether you’re already alarmed and engaged with the issue, concerned but disengaged, a passive skeptic or an active denier, understanding our emotional reactions to climate change – why it makes us anxious, fearful, angry, or detached – is critical to coping on an individual level and convincing each other to act.” How do you cope on a personal level, being so well researched in the facts when it comes to your day to day, your conversations, and driving change from your little corner? Do you think that part of the reason people deny it’s happening or accelerating, is due to a fear of change? Ie, a miner whose job depends on it being scared there won’t be satisfying, well paid work on the other side of ‘going green’, or a political leader afraid of losing crucial political donations from lobby groups, or scare of economic collapse if they change things too fast? Or a person being too worried that joining the movement will socially isolate them or mean uncomfortable conversations they don’t feel equipped to have? 
  • How can we best talk to someone whose feet are firmly planted in the denier camp? Is it worth it? 
  • Part of your work is helping to get NGOs talking more effectively in this space with the research you carry out for the likes of the Wilderness Society and WWF – what has some of the most shocking evidence of social impact of climate change been that you’ve had to report on and advise on? 
  • Given you have a PhD in gender studies I’m curious to know – do you have any findings on how climate change affects women/men differently in any way? 
  • Now let’s talk about a recent report you’ve prepared in partnership with Aware Super to discuss Australia specifically and the risks/benefits of action vs inaction… The first thing that jumped out was that the lack of action on climate change could reduce Australia’s economic growth by 3.6% per year – when from our current political leadership, we’re sold the line that we need fossil fuels to secure economic growth – please explain? 
  • How does being proactive on climate change, impact mental and physical health? 
  • Resilient, secure communities mean less poverty, violence/crime, greater mental/physical health… what are the major roadblocks to driving meaningful change, and how do we become a part of the change from our corner and apply collective – and effective – pressure on councils, state and federal governments?

Other helpful links:

Rebecca’s book How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference is available at Booktopia and The Book Depository

Know more about Rebecca’s amazing work here.

Connect with her on Twitter @RebeccaHuntley2

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Enjoy the show,






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