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Topic: Communications

[Episode #228] – Public Persuasion

Full Episode

Most climate communicators emphasize the risk of climate change, in the belief that if only people understood how dangerous it is, they would do something about it.

But what if terrifying messages about rising sea levels and life-threatening weather events have the opposite effect? What if they only serve to turn people off, rather than motivate them to act?

And what kinds of messages do resonate with people and get them interested in taking action on climate and participating in the energy transition?

In this episode, we are joined by the Jessica Lu, the Associate Director of Strategy and Analytics with Potential Energy’s Insights Lab. Her team has used established market research techniques to test various messages to unearth what motivates humans to care about climate change. The insights she shares with us are simultaneously surprising and obvious, suggesting much more successful strategies for climate communications.

Because we feel that this information is critically important for all climate communicators to understand, we decided to make this episode one of our occasional lagniappe shows and put it in front of the paywall so that subscribers and nonsubscribers alike can enjoy it. So, nonsubscribers, now you can see what you’ve been missing! And we hope you will all share this episode widely with your friends and colleagues.


Jessica Lu is Associate Director of Strategy and Analytics and leads Potential Energy’s Insights Lab. She leads teams that execute hundreds of message tests and focus groups and perform in-market measurement analytics to unearth what motivates humans to care about climate change.

Prior to PE, Jessica was an analyst at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, supporting entrepreneurs building innovative, non-profit startups and social enterprises to solve gnarly social issues. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

On Twitter: @pe_coalition

On LinkedIn:

On the Web:

Geek rating: 1


[Episode #114] – Cyber and Climate Risks

As energy transition progresses and more internet-connected distributed energy resources (DERs) join the grid, they increase the grid’s flexibility and dynamism, but they also expose those systems to the risk of being hacked. What kinds of protections do we need to have as grid modernization proceeds and more and more devices in the so-called “internet of things” (IoT) become part of the grid ecosystem? Should we be encouraging the adoption of smart, interconnected devices at all? Or would we be better off using devices that were not connected to communication systems in any way, to better ensure their security? And what are the relationships between cybersecurity on the grid, and the effects of climate change?

Our guest in this episode is a cybersecurity expert with the Idaho National Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, who provides strategic guidance on topics at the intersection of critical infrastructure security and resilience to senior U.S. and international government and industry leaders. He’s a longtime expert in this domain with a deep and wide set of relevant expertise, and you’re sure to learn a lot in this conversation about things that you probably didn’t even know existed, but that are intimately connected with grid security, climate change, and energy transition. Open your mind wide for this one – it’s a doozy!

Geek rating: 9


[Episode #104] – 4-Year Anniversary Show

In this anniversary episode, we welcome back Jonathan Koomey to talk about some of the interesting developments and raucous debates we have seen over the past year. We’ll be talking about the flawed concept of “committed emissions” and how we should be calculating future emissions instead; we’ll expand that discussion and critique the conflicting stories that we’ve been hearing about the expectations for coal usage and emissions in India; we’ll review some of the efforts to execute so-called “just transitions” in coal country; we’ll take a little excursion into a recent raging dialogue on Twitter about RCP8.5 which had its genesis in the PhD thesis of our producer, Justin Ritchie, which we explored in Episode #49; we’ll move on from there to discuss the communication challenges around climate change science, and what’s wrong with the kind of hysterical journalism being practiced by writers like David Wallace-Wells in his book The Uninhabitable Earth; we’ll take a look at Jon’s latest research on the energy demands of Bitcoin mining; we’ll consider the rapid deployment of utility-scale storage and what that might mean for the future of the grid; we’ll review Jon’s update of global energy intensity data and ask what it all means; and we’ll wrap it up with another look at the energy transition modeling work of Christian Breyer’s team at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, which we explored in Episode #95.

Geek rating: 6