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What Climate Change and Covid-19 Have in Common

Courtesy Emily Atkin
Emily Atkin, "before she went outside for a socially distanced rage workout"

The overlap of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, a critique of Tiger King, and a deeper look at the phenomenon of big cat ownership in the United States.

For a long time, solutions to climate change were focused on individual action: recycle cans, compost veggie scraps, drive less, bike more. But this is a framing encouraged by fossil fuel companies and other industry polluters, rather than implement industrial changes or systemic shifts.

Bcause individual action cannot reduce carbon emissions enough to curb climate change, many environmentalists have pivoted to focus less on an individual's "carbon footprint" (a term coined and embraced by the fossil fuel industry) and more on reducing the emissions of our society as a whole.

But for Emily Atkin, the coronavirus pandemic might be refining her thinking on collective versus individual action.

"Coronavirus has shown me that individual action isn't worthless. It's also shown me that systemic action is the most powerful, still. It's not one or the other, it's everything," said Atkin, author of the HEATEDnewsletter and podcast, a publication for "people who are pissed off about the climate crisis."

Credit Illustration by Zoë van Dijk
Cat People episode art

Plus, an interview with Rachel Nuwer, author of Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking and host of Cat Peoplefrom Longreads, a four-episode podcast series about the phenomenon of big cat ownership in the United States, and how the peculiar stew of American policy and circumstance have made it very easy for private citizens to own 500-pound wild animals.

Nuwer's Cat People series also touches on the story of Joe Exotic, the same story covered in Netflix's popular, but problematic, documentary Tiger King.

"If you're looking for something that will educate you and not make you feel slimy afterwards, then Tiger King might not be the best option," said Nuwer.

Credit Anthony Hutcherson
A prize-winning Bengal named Prestige, a descendant of a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and a common housecat

If you liked this, you might also enjoy Outside/In's "Loser Wolves: A Cat Fancy," an episode about a different version of owning a wild cat: the world of cat breeding, and the effort to create the look of a leopard, in the body of a housecot.

This broadcast was produced by Sam Evans-Brown, Justine Paradis, and Taylor Quimby.

Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.

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