HEATED John Kerry interview responses
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Emily, I’m so glad you pretty much published his answers unedited because it was so obvious he was trying to squirm out of the diversity question. I almost cackled when you doubled down on him to answer it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Kerry, but the whole thing reeked so much of white guy politician speak, it was quite fascinating to behold. Yay for raw interviews that aren’t edited to make the interviewee look better!

Personally, I think he does have a point that we need to get as many people as possible on board for a biggest common denominator but I also think that that might not be enough. I can see Wold War Zero going down the route of too much compromise to appease the more conservative members. And, also, he wasn’t really clear on WHAT it is they are going to do, aside from “getting people on board”, which is such a vague thing.

Love your newsletter! Thank you muchly and greetings from Europe!
1. Could we please see a full list of current signers?
2. What is https://www.americansecurityproject.org/ listed in the Footer as a Partner?
3. What are your specific pledges of financial support to the youth climate leadership movement, aside from Katie Eder, founder of Future Coalition?

Nice read Emily.

The first thing that popped in my head upon hearing this news is similar to a question you asked - what makes this new org so different? Why do we need another one? Doesn’t this just splinter efforts? There is already the bipartisan congressional climate group, we have celebrities in other groups,
groups of scientists, rebellion groups, etc, etc.

Quite frankly, it is getting hard to keep track and keep up with them all. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Secretary Kerry, and applaud his *heat*. I am just wondering why all these founders couldn’t put their political clout behind an existing effort. And fundraising? The last thing people want to hear is a bunch of rich people, with the most significant carbon footprints on the planet, going out and asking for more money from the populace.

Maybe each founder should individually post their own carbon footprint as part of the effort?

It just smells of a control thing - “we want to do it our way.”
I want to start by saying I LOVE love love heated and love the work you're doing, and love John Kerry.

However, this edition of the newsletter just doesn't read like the hard hitting reporting you've been doing - it feels like a press release.

Where are your typically hard questions? where are the challenges?

His answer to we're gonna address people of color is . . . ."we have a black named Stacey signed up"! No.

John Kerry owns a 737 for his private plane. Not a Cessna. Not a private jet share. A SEVEN THIRTY SEVEN, A commercial passenger plane he has for his own private use. And he's been known to fly it up to Black Eyed Betty's on Nantucket and back in one night just because he likes the salad dressing.

So will he be changing or modifying his lifestyle ? If so, how?

And why fundraising from ordinary people if you have so many millionaires? Have them fund it. Ordinary people are strapped enough.

How will you engage indigenous communities already doing this work on the front lines in your efforts?

Why have you named it World War Zero when the colonial thinking of "declaring war on" things is what got us here in the first place?

Why does so much of what he's talking about dovetail with incrementalism?

These are the answers I'd love to hear.

Again, I am your biggest fan and send your work to everyone I know, but there's no time left. We have to do better. You are in the position to do it and reach thousands of influencers and make a difference. I salute the work you are doing and can't thank you enough for it.
Thanks for your interview with Sec. Kerry! After reading it, I "enlisted" and donated. My thoughts are we can use a wide variety of these NGOs to each focus on specific things. I've been involved in or donated to others like Citizen's Climate Lobby, RMI, and various environmental orgs, but the huge problem is all the deniers who are powerful and that dominate the GOP, which could rule as a minority and halt progress for decades given the electoral college and stacked courts. All groups are limited in their effectiveness in US. Specifically addressing climate prioritization to that group with people that could actually influence them is another piece in the puzzle. Anyway, that's why I am giving them my tiny bit of support1
Here are my thoughts re World War Zero:

1) the large concentration of white men and sprinkling of Republicans signals to me that they’re trying to get a conversation started about the climate crisis with people who think they can’t or aren’t allowed to talk about it/engage in solving the problem because it’s considered taboo for the group they identify with. I believe their real agenda is to make the climate crisis a bipartisan issue. If they can do that, great, but talking points are going to have to change as well as the administration and members of Congress for that to matter. (Trump says it’s a hoax and is removing the US from the Paris Accord, The Trump administration has and is determined to continue to unwind Obama era restrictions meant to reduce GHG emissions, the fossil fuel industry has lined the pockets of Republicans for so long (how can this possibly be unwound without ruining their chances of being reelected?), etc. etc.

2) I think they need to get their talking points straight because there’s a huge difference between low carbon (what does that mean anyway?) and decarbonizing the economy.

3) I don’t understand why it’s mandatory to make a donation to join. There’s a bunch of rich people who got together and are now asking us to make donations to them to save the planet without a clear agenda? Maybe we should be investing that money in electric cars and solar power instead. Why not let people join free and make donations optional? Wouldn’t that be more democratic?

4) Kerry’s lukewarm responses diverge from the very strongly worded language on their website so I’m confused. Are they activists or climate ambassadors or what? From the website:

“We’re uniting unlikely allies with one common mission: making the world respond to the climate crisis the same way we mobilized to win World War II. Join the movement to achieve net zero carbon emissions and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

5) The Green New Deal is a WWII type mobilization that creates millions of new jobs. And they’re not calling it that because the GND is radioactive because AOC’s name is on it? Again, refer to 1) and see below.

It’s all how you frame it. I shared the results of this poll, which actually uses the words Green New Deal, with Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) this summer and he was incredulous.

There is bi-partisan voter support for the Green New Deal. Please refer to the footer to see the question they asked respondents. It’s just incredible to see so many Republican voters supporting a transition away from fossil fuels. This is great news for climate legislation. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/421765-poll-majorities-of-both-parties-support-green-new-deal


Here’s Data for Progress’ latest poll results, further evidence that voters want a Green New Deal. https://www.dataforprogress.org/the-green-new-deal-is-popular

I think their real mission is to strip politics from the climate debate because right now it’s preventing any solutions from moving forward at the national level. I get the impression from Kerry’s responses that they seek to create a broad-based coalition from both parties that will brainstorm solutions so that we’re primed when we have a new president and Congress. The polarization along party lines is after all a human construct many decades in the making and need to be swiftly unwound. I refer anyone who doesn’t believe me to the documentary film Merchants of Doubt. When they see that the fossil fuel industry took a page from big tobacco’s play book, and the same play book was used by the chemical industry in flame retardant legislation, it becomes heart achingly clear that corporations own this country and run it. It’s depressing to see the damage we have let them do to the planet and public healthy and we should all be overheated.

Thank you and keep up your great work.

just read your interview with Senator Kerry. Thanks very much for asking the questions that the NY Times has repeatedly proven unable to muster.

I’m underwhelmed by the WW Zero initiative. It sounds old and tired, another futile attempt at building a middle-of-the-road no-offense-allowed coalition that will have the same lack of results as those tried over the past decades. I bought this argument 30 years ago, but if this approach had worked, we would have started reductions of emissions then, and we’d be in a better place today.

I’m far more energized by the younger voices calling for climate to be addressed in tandem with justice.

By the way, nice spread you cooked for Thanksgiving.
I think you nailed the interview. I really appreciate that you didn't walk away from the diversity question until you got an answer. Very impressive.1
Recounting your Kerry convo without analyzing it, putting it in context, is kinda...

unHEATED. No? You don't answer your lead-in question, even: "That’s good rhetoric, for sure. But is a celebrity-laden group focused on bipartisanship the right vehicle for aspiring climate activists to throw their weight behind? "

Maybe a followup analysis piece?

Love your work.
Nice interview with Kerry. Good job keeping him from getting too full of himself.1
Writing That sounds so like I'm about to start a "help me i'm drowning" letter (reference to John Prine song - Dear Abby), but no I just wanted to say I wish you'd asked Mr Kerry why he decided to call his movement World war Zero.

I mean I get that it's catchy and will go down a wonder on social media etc but seriously this is the mind frame we need to get out of ! Though if he's lucky he'll get a hashtag out of it that will go viral !!! And that may bring in the millions (does it really do that ? ) well it will definitely boost up the data centres and thus the carbon emissions (hmm not really the desired effect!!! - this email will contribute too)

Also World War Zero - that's a world war against carbon ? or the world war to stop all world wars ? the 0 one to the first two? When I was a kid ( ok doomer!! not quite a boomer but still getting on ...) every one was still freaking out about world war 3 ( war games etc) the nuclear war !! the one that could set it's self off !! and even now there are many wars still going on and they solve Nothing - if anything they make things worse. So in my mind World war Zero is not going to help
Why not World war billionaires or multinationals or capitalism or powerseeking (that's what pushing the carbon emissions through the roof) - though I guess that might have put off some of those rich people Mr Kerry was going to talk to in the next few days and most of his board...

Sec general (and that's dodgy too, as a name goes) Antonio Guteres just said yesterday in his in his pre Cop 25 press release that humans need to stop fighting a war on nature - and that's the point - we've got to stop fighting any wars , even if we're heated (and I totally am- just like Mr kerry - meaning I also read Heated every day and I love it- it's brilliant !!! lights up my in box!! )

We can't fight nature - that what's got us here, we are nature and carbon too, Humans fight for our rather insignificant place in the biosphere to overrun all the available space and take the food, air, water etc at the expense of the rest of the living beings on the planet and then we say we are fighting to survive when all we have to do is drawdown our super comfy lifestyles to something more reasonable ( I mean us westerners compared to the 90% rest of the world who could do with having enough to live reasonably. Also how do you talk to other civilizations like China and Russia when you are in a war - they have to be included or are we just going to create another alliance against carbon? - If that's the thinking then maybe natural based solutions are the first step - the ocean has been covering our asses on this stupid situation for the last 30 years !!! collecting the excess carbon and storing it, but now it's also full and acidifying !!!

If any of us would, just for a second, pause to remember what a World war was (I mean we all learn about them for years in school) then we might stop behaving in this mad way - It makes people scared and then they can't think straight and as Naomi Klein says they are ripe for the Shock Treatment - squash them with fear and panic, pass the scary laws that limit hard won (there's another war word !!!) civil liberties and freedoms. Humans tend to lose their imagination and empathy when they are having to fight wars - They kill without compunction just to save themselves - that's really the point - we abdicate our critical thinking and caring when we are threatened - Check out 9-11 and George Bush's war on terrorism - that went really well, didn't it ?

It's actually a big deal how we talk about climate, as we often use this type of language to get ourselves fired up, which tends to lead us to blindly flailing around and doing disastrous damage that we hadn't necessarily banked on - wars of any kind usually just create massive death counts in civilians and huge environmental destruction. It's a military style attitude and - as a rule it stinks for making things better.
One thing though - perhaps it's an American penchant - or rather it appeals to an american ideal - i guess it works too here in Europe but that actually was the battlefield (in the first world wars) so there is another consciousness embedded in the words - and for that matter the ground -
I see that it is something that gathers people together in a common front against a baddy somewhere - even if there isn't one - many politicians use this type of language when they want to start privatising more services and install austerity so they can make people feel like they have to bear a little hardship to serve their country - of course these days it's hard for people to remember what that type of hardship means

Ok I'm rabbiting on here and it seems pretty confused - I hope you can make it out though and honestly I don't have the antidote cos I tend to rather get on the war path about things myself - but it is interesting to consider how our framing of issues in heavily connotated words actually seems to define our actions and warring isn't what is needed for the Climate Emergency - indeed we all need to come together and start applying our lost respect for this plant and it's exceptional wondrous diversity and harmony and life before we wipe ourselves off it !!!

Much regards and love
keep at the newsletter - it really is splendid - thankyou so much
Thanks for your conversation with John Kerry.

The Times article was problematic; everyone mentioned is a rich white guy, apart from Katie Eder representing the youth. So it was great to see your questions and his response. Still problematic though, why wasn’t that all made clear to begin with as they know it’s a vital issue?

I heard him speak about it back in August (he told us the name and general outline but said he couldn’t say more until the launch), so I’ve been waiting all this time to learn more... but the website has no info. What are we supposed to make of this initiative, with just a few photos of a not very inclusive group of people...?

I signed up, but I didn’t donate. I’m an artist, money is non existent, so I need to know what they’re really doing before I can support financially.
It occurred to me while reading the interview with John Kerry that, while name recognition can be important to kicking off a climate initiative, perhaps as general rule dropping a name that everyone will recognize should have to be coupled with a name everyone should recognize. You can say Leonardo DiCaprio and then you’ve got to say Stacy Abrams before you can say Ashton Kutcher, but if you do, then you have to say Emily Atkin (yes I’m flattering you). It’s a small thing but could be very powerful in directing people attention.
You wanted to know what readers wish you had asked. When Kerry said that one of the things he wanted WWZero to do was to get people to take climate change to the ballot box, I would like to have heard whether or not he (especially because he’s from Mass.) and/or his organization is supporting Ed Markey’s re-election. If people like Kerry think we need large-scale governmental action to address climate change, how can they not get behind the co-sponsor/author of the GND?1
I read your “Heated’ and it is important, focused….and informative…. and thank you!
The recent John Kerry interview is very inspiring to, thus, learn there are many experienced persons putting their minds and energy to this….even if there have already been many.
And yet the most important question you asked is if he is including the diversity and specifically how people of color, women, and minorities
are deeply included, brought to the table, and addressed.
Loved your chat with Sec. Kerry; this response of his stood out:

"... So that will come when people take climate change to the public arena, when they take it to the ballot box, when they lobby, when they make necessary personal choices in their own lives."

I'm an instructions kind of guy (anomalous, I know Emoji). So what, exactly, does that look like, what he said - for the average person (suffering with an old white guy handicap)?

"Take climate change to the public arena" - participate in Greta-inspired Friday protests? Call in to local radio/tv stations? Organize local marches (I'm a shy, nervous guy, so probably not.) What?

"Take it to the ballot box" - OK, that one's pretty self explanatory, but with so many D's making this a campaign issue and so many R's making it a "that's idiotic - we can't destroy our economy just to please a handful of libs" issue, how do we work across the aisle on this?

"When they lobby" - excuse me? How the hell do I lobby? I figure I've had a big day when a response I pound out gets published in the NY Times online; how do I "lobby"?

"When they make necessary personal choices in their own lives" - this one struck me. OK, so I'm not using as much plastic as I used to. I try to eat less meat. I want my next car to be electric. I fly less. But I'm no Greta, OK? I'm retired and I work part time. I spent the last 6 years of my career living & working on the African continent; today I want to be just a regular American consumer. How about daily reminders about what helps and what hurts the environment; what contributes and doesn't contribute to global warming? I just bought a new product today - yup, palm oil. Am I contributing to the problem?

So, yeah - number five needs input.

Love your newsletter & your down-to-earth approach; keep it coming.
John Kerry is right. No nation is taking the appropriate action to combat climate change. America has a President that mocks climate change and science. Our emissions are increasing and the administration is pushing forward with more fracking, more exports of LNG, attacks on public lands, and dismantling of environmental regulations. This truly is a national and worldwide emergency. Anything that John Kerry can do to get people across the nation to demand immediate, and major action on climate change would be a major step in the right direction. I am thinking of supporting World War Zero. I already support several organizations working to fight climate change.1

Thanks, again, for everything you are doing. For keeping me and all your readers in the loop on what is happening in the climate world. Even though I consider myself a part of it, I would not have the understanding I have now without your work!

I read about the World War Zero work this weekend, and since I first heard about it, I wondered how I could be involved. My research is on engaging people on climate change and my focus has turned to figuring out how to de-politicize the issue, help people from across the aisles recognize we have more in common than we disagree, and starting dialogues and conversations that lead to long-lasting solutions. The environment shouldn’t be a divisive issue among the public, and for that reason - I’m really hopeful and excited about this group. I hope they allow people to recognize that it is OK to talk about climate change and that it won’t harm their sense of self or be counter to their identity as say a Republican or a Democrat if they do. In fact, all of us Americans, whether we consider ourselves Republican or Democrat know climate change/global warming is an issue.

So - yes, I like this. My hope is that they keep ideology out of it (which may be tricky with Hollywood involved?), include all different kinds of spokespeople, and that they think carefully about how they engage with different communities, so that everyone feels like they should be a part of this effort.
First, thanks for the newsletter, I really enjoy reading it every day.

I'm a little skeptical on the whole "World War Zero" thing. It feels like a distraction, or a way for wealthy people to feel better that they're "doing something". The bits that trigger alarms for me are:
All the talk of fundraising from grassroots organizations. I don't think the hardest-hit people need to be giving up their limited money to wealthy people to get them to talk about climate change and prioritize it.
That the goal of the group is to get politicians and powerful people to talk about climate change, prioritize it, and hold them accountable. It's not clear how they plan to hold people accountable, and the first two are already happening thanks to activists and students around the world. It doesn't feel like this group is bringing anything new other than jumping on the bandwagon and asking people for money.
The only concrete goal Mr Kerry described was raising money to buy advertising.
Overall it feels like this would have been a worthwhile effort 25 years ago, but today it's just more talk and delay when action is needed.
I like the "World War Zero" name and the approach that is bi-partisan. What I would like to see is coordination among the groups, like Gore's and Climate Citizen's Lobby among others. I've not been part of any national group even though I was intrigued by Gore's efforts. I didn't find a handle that seemed right for me. I've spent my efforts on data collection for a phenology study with UC system that involves the California UC-reserve system, National Parks and I think State Parks. Every plant we study is essentially a little climate monitoring sensor. I also take kids on field trips introducing them to nature (NatureTrack.org). That's too slow really for this crisis level climate problem. So I reached out to the local CCL group and will see if I can find a way to work with them. I will look at Kerry's group as well. I don't want to be part of another group where all I feel they want from me is money. I already belong to the Sierra Club and have never found a place in the group to be active.

I really want to see Trump out of office and don't see a way for me to make that happen. At this point I don't have a favorite candidate though I'm watching. Climate action seems like the current thing to focus on. So support World War Zero, yeah!
Since you encouraged sending you our comments to the John Kerry-Interview, I'll give it a try: John Kerry's initiative seems to mostly consist of rich people helping to make climate change a top priority within all levels of government. This is all well and good but I can't help thinking: aren't rich people the main problem? There is quite a famous study revealing that the richest 10% are responsible for 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions. And if these 10% would reduce their individual footprint to the level of the average European, global emissions would be cut by one third (source: https://www.democracynow.org/2018/12/11/scientist_kevin_anderson_worlds_biggest_emitters). What blows my mind about this is that the average european is probably me. I'm not living a bad live; as a matter of fact, my life is pretty comfortable!

So I wonder if John Kerry is not fundamentally wrong trying to make the people who are a big part of the problem solve it. Instead of donating a minor part of their wealth to this they might do more to solve the climate crisis by stopping to be b/millionaires. I'm sure I'm not the only one with this comment.
My question that remains after reading this week's edition: Why do conversations cost money? Why do we need $500,000 "for the first week" to launch 10 million conversations about climate change? I admire the ambition to make climate change a bipartisan priority. I am confused by the floating numbers. If this initiative is really about having conversations with people, why do huge lump sums of money need to be involved?

At the moment, your newsletter doesn't have a paywall. Your work has launched at least hundreds of conversations about climate without a $500,000 backing. In the context of "environmental justice" and "grassroots organizing" why does money have so much meaning? Will a dollar sign really initiate meaningful climate conversations?

How is the abstract number ($500,000+) producing concrete impact?
Great to see more bipartisan work in the climate space. I love that this is both bipartisan and building agreement on a bold goal—working together doesn't have to mean watering down the results. 1
Cool interview! I still don't think I understand what his goal is or what the specific intent of WW0. If I'm being cynical, I feel like it's a countermeasure against a Green New Deal policy and that "making sure we're seeking compromise" is code for "ensuring the corporate community is protected." If I'm being super cynical, I feel like this is some tax haven foundation sort of thing for the purpose of do-gooder optics. I'm sure he's concerned about the climate, but you also seem unsure of what his primary objectives are. Looking at the WW0 website and seeing the scrolling images of the rich people involved, I have a hard time seeing them getting behind the kind of candidates who would push for aggressive change. After talking to him, do you have a more definitive sense of what he's up to?1
Yes! get more money from the wealthy!! that's exactly where the money should come from. interesting how he didn't want to use the term "rich"1
Thanks for doing this. I have been working at the local level to enable climate action in my state and largest city. One issue I keep running up against is the lack of funding for racial justice organizations to add environmental justice to their repertoire of issues they are actively educating about and advocating for. As an activist, the best way for us to get work done is to fund it. I was disappointed reading the dialogue with Former Secretary John Kerry because he did not lay out how he was going to empower local communities and ensure historically ignored populations are centered. When I saw his announcement, I was hoping it was going to fill this major gap in climate justice activism and advocacy-- help ensure money is getting to the boots on the ground in the states. Instead, it reads like he plans to do digital education and bring wealthy people together. That doesn't feel helpful to where the real fights are happening right now.

While reading your interview, I did not sense a strong distinction between what Al Gore is doing with climate reality except that Kerry will be less in the community. It read like he will rely on digital communications with signers and send high profile officials to cities across America to talk about climate change with the goal of creating a consensus. I do not see how this will rapidly speed up the pace in which our national climate politics is moving. I also don't see how it will empower local communities. I would love to see a commitment from wealthy folks to allocate funds to local and state-based nonprofit organizations, especially that currently focus on racial justice, to form local coalitions to intervene in city planning measures and fight for state carbon-limiting policy. This has been successful in big states. I personally am looking for a disrupter to the current funding mechanisms to state operations that break the semi-problematic status quo and bolster environmental justice and local climate action.
I am singing on to any effort that has a chance of making a difference and this one meets that criterion. If Kerry can mobilize the right people who are willing to go out and speak and lobby and make noise, that makes sense to me. If you are a former Secretary of Defense, you likely have some credibility among sitting Congress folks as well as state reps and senators in their state. I think such people would be unlikely to step up and do the work they need to do without an organization that embraces them and that they believe in.

You could have asked some more questions about who Kerry thinks will be involved in his million or so conversations. My sense is that most of those will take place within the borders of the US. Does he believe that he can recruit folks from other key countries to make a difference outside our borders?
I'll just be parroting Naomi Klein style talking points here, but World War Zero isn't for me.

World War Zero is good insofar as it is a measure of the success of the grass roots movements have had over the last year. People from ruling circles are starting to take notice.

But WWZ is just too muddy. Kerry says we need people/politicians who are not deniers. But then he also says that people who think gas is a bridge fuel are in his coalition, as are people who embrace fracking. That's denialism. We should not embrace coalition with deniers. We should seek to politically destroy them.

I'm tempted to think, in fact, that in founding WWZ, they are undermining groups to their left like Sunrise Movement, 350.org, and Extinction Rebellion. WWZ money could go a long way with groups like those, but those groups won't (and shouldn't) hold their rhetorical fire on corporate and bipartisan political failures, so instead we get the well-funded porridge of WWZ.

It's the _zero_ part of WWZ that the group seems not to really understand. Zero means zero.

Can solutions be combined? Can fee and dividend stand (in some forms) alongside GND? Sure. But (as Klein says) we have to actually say what we are FOR. Otherwise, the same creeps who got us into this mess will be the ones who will determine policy, and the most likely thing they will want to do is hope for some kind of miraculous carbon capture that is paid for by the federal government, that then allows the fossil fuel industry to continue. Because Zero means Zero, that industry cannot continue.

I'm happy to organize alongside people who believe WWZ is the way forward. They should join us this Friday for the climate strike, and we should figure out together how to have the political discussions we need to have. But I won't be signing their document, or building their org.

all human solidarity,

Keith Danner
I am almost surprised that you are so positive about John Kerry, given your absurd and unsubstantiated and unprofessional attack on David Victor (who has spent his entire life looking for climate solutions). The problem is that every country says the other countries should act first, and Victor has spent his life looking for ways around that.

Even though he is doing the right thing now, John Kerry voted to reject the Kyoto Protocol in 1999, when the US senate voted 95-0 for the Byrd-Hagel Resolution which said that the US should not reduce emissions unless every other country also does that. You could have asked Kerry about that.

Anyways, that's fine. Kerry is doing the right thing now and that is what matters.
Hi Emily, thanks for another awesome email. I read about John Kerry’s previous speech a few weeks ago where he mentioned WW0 and was super chuffed to find out that it’s an actual movement and not just a sound bite. Imagine how disappointed I was when I tracked down the WW0 site and discovered that every time Kerry said “people” that should actually have said “Americans”. The sign up form has a field for (US) zip codes but not for country. We need all the help we can get in Australia, how about getting some climate aware expat Aussies involved to start things off over here as well? Like maybe Cate Blanchett? Perhaps you could suggest it in a follow up? Because right now I’ve got a very sad face.1