I Tried Adding Comedy and Removing Politicization From Environmental Reporting. Here’s How It’s Going.

Ten episodes in, Ethan reflects on The Sweaty Penguin's mission of making climate change less overwhelming, less politicized, and more fun.

Source: PxHere

Three months ago, while bored in quarantine, I teamed up with some friends to launch a comedy environmental podcast: The Sweaty Penguin. Today, we reached the ten episode milestone. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of the content we’ve released so far, and what’s coming in the next few months.

A lot of the environmental news I read is (1) depressing, overwhelming, and can make me feel hopeless, (2) tough to understand, even as an environmental policy student, (3) not always communicating the important intricacies of the facts and science, and (4) deeply politicized, to the point where anyone who doesn’t share the political viewpoint of the author would tune out, and understandably so—I have that experience all the time.

On The Sweaty Penguin, we’ve worked so hard to share these stories differently by (1) explaining issues in a late-night-comedy-style monologue to make them fun, (2) speaking to an audience who’s new to environmental issues and keeping each episode specific to one problem, (3) extensively researching each issue from multiple sources and all sides, sharing facts even if they run counter to the mainstream messaging of environmental activists, and (4) presenting the facts first, then listing a variety of solutions and their upsides and downsides so the listener can decide which ones they like instead of telling anyone what to believe or do. Number 4 was the primary reason I started this podcast—helping liberals and conservatives get on the same page as to what the problems are. If we agree on the problem, even if we disagree on solutions, we can find common ground and make progress. And so far, I’ve heard positive feedback from both liberals and conservatives, which has been so exciting!

Thank you to everyone who’s contributed to the podcast—researching, recording ads, composing music, or providing moral support. Thanks to our ten interviewees for taking the time to share their expertise on these important issues, and our student guests for their great perspectives. And a really special thanks to my good friends and co-Producers Frank Hernandez for making every call run smoothly and mixing every single episode, sometimes staying up ridiculously late on Thursdays to be sure the episode comes out on time; Caroline Koehl for writing some awesome scripts and providing really helpful feedback on mine which has taught me a ton about these issues; and Shannon Damiano for making the funniest environmental memes and blog posts you’ll find on the Internet.

Check out our first ten episodes on thesweatypenguin.com or any major podcasting platform (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc). The episodes are self-contained, so no need to go in order if one looks particularly interesting! Can’t wait to share the next ten!

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Ethan Brown

Ethan is a recent graduate of Boston University from Bethel, Connecticut with a dual degree in Environmental Analysis & Policy and Film & Television.


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