Shifting the Climate Change Narrative: Fearful, or Full of Possibility? with Anne Therese Gennari (Episode #162)
“Climate Optimism.” Now those are two words you don’t see together very often! In this episode, Anne Therese Gennari (mercifully) gives us a fresh perspective on how we can carry our concern about climate change. In her new book, The Climate Optimist’s Handbook, she moves our mental chatter from the gloom of anxiety and guilt, to the thrill of possibility and enthusiasm for all that is happening to improve the future.
About Our Guest:
“Everything changed for me when I realized my life’s mission isn’t about minimizing my negative footprint, but maximizing my positive one.”– Anne Therese Gennari
Anne Therese Gennari is the author of The Climate Optimist’s Handbook, a book that will take your climate anxiety down by a factor of 10 by shifting your focus from a “responsibility” to an “opportunity” mindset.
With that fresh perspective, Anne Therese is emerging as a beacon of hope, amid all the doom and gloom of the climate change narrative. She is offering us another option when it comes to how we cope with this issue of climate change anxiety by reminding us that this coin has two sides, and we are free to choose what we focus on. Instead of looking at every mistake we make all day long when it comes to “not doing enough,” what if we simply tracked the daily opportunities that we actually did make the most of?
You know that feeling of the guilt we sometimes feel when we think we are not recycling enough, or when we purchase a single-use convenience item? Well, what if we remember the things we’re doing right: that we carefully brought our lunch to work for a whole week in reusable containers, we walked to get a few groceries one evening rather than taking the car, we donated to an ocean clean-up project, and we helped an elderly neighbor understand how to sort her own trash and make better choices.
Turns out, if we focus on seeking opportunities, we will be far happier; and if we focus on balance, we will definitely be in the positive when it comes to being a change-agent in our own sphere of influence.
And here’s the interesting twist: Anne Therese’s fresh perspectives come from a life experience that includes a long time spent in the depths of climate activism, anger, and despair. Yes, she has come from a place where hopelessness was the guide in her daily journey. But all that changed one day. As a master of story-telling, she shares with us some pearls from her journey out of that darkness, into a hopeful, joyful light.
In fact, the story of Anne Therese’s transformation and perspective is so compelling that she has delivered commencement speeches at esteemed institutions, has guest lectured at renowned institutions like Columbia University and graced various platforms including The Weather Channel and BBC Radio 1. Her impact even stretches into the corporate realm, collaborating with industry giants like BMW, Cisco, HubSpot, Hootsuite, and Tetra Pak. She’s hosted podcasts, conducted workshops, and spearheaded motivational sessions focusing on sustainability and climate optimism.
And now, as a new mother, Anne Therese sees the act of bringing new life into the world as the most climate-optimistic step she’s ever taken, dedicating her book to her daughter and shaping a future she believes in.
Here is a quote from one of her masterclass students that speaks to Anne’s genius very succinctly:
“There are leaders who inspire with their wisdom and energy and there are leaders who educate with their knowledge and expertise. Anne Therese is that rare and beautiful unicorn who does both! She is left brain and right brain. Theory and practice. Creativity and execution.”– Michael Bossome
So in this episode we dive into all of that as Anne Therese shares many welcome perspectives like:
- Changing how we allow climate change to sit in our own brains and in our culture
- Her recommendation to “complain a bit, and then get over it”
- Our choice between fear-based change versus positive incentive change
- How much “Generational Amnesia” has a role to play
Her philosophy of climate optimism isn’t about idle hope, but centers on proactive steps towards awareness, resilience, and hopeful action. In a nutshell, Anne Therese is proposing that instead of walking around in a funk about the problem and its scope, we instead celebrate—and gravitate towards—the opportunities to help (small and large) that do present themselves every day to us.
Anne Therese Gennari is the picture of someone who is extremely well-informed and chooses to see the glass half full. Here’s a beautiful, fresh recommendation that sums up her work, fresh perspectives, and this interview:
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”– Mary Oliver
She is using her voice of experience to amplify this simple message: there are so many things we can do to co-create a better world. and we are proud to celebrate all this wisdom!
- Anne Therese’s Website: TheClimateOptimist.com
- Anne Therese’s Book: The Climate Optimist Handbook
- Follow Anne Therese on Instagram: @AnneThereseGennari
- Get The Climate Optimist Newsletter
- Mary Oliver on the On Being Podcast
- 00:00 – Intro & Welcome
- 02:58 – Raising Chickens?
- 04:43 – Maximizing Positive Footprint
- 11:22 – Climate Change Outlook
- 13:55 – Break
- 16:11 – Generational Amnesia
- 19:31 – Insights on Being Wrong
- 21:12 – Retruthing Concept
- 30:16 – Doom & Gloom Impact
- 33:02 – The Unimaginable
- 37:08 – Unknown Destinations
- 39:57 – Community’s Role
- 42:16 – Core Message