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This is one of those episodes I want to put the hard sell on. It’s one of the most important conversations I’ve had on the show. The fact that it left me feeling better about the world rather than worse — that was shocking.

Varshini Prakash is co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement. Sunrise is part of a new generation of youth-led climate-change movements that emerged out of the failure of the global political system to address the climate crisis. They’re the ones who made the Green New Deal a litmus test for 2020. They’re the reason there might be a climate debate. They’re the reason candidates’ climate plans have gotten so much more ambitious.

Behind these movements is the experience of coming of age in the era of climate crisis and the new approach to organizing birthed by that trauma. We also talk about Sunrise’s theory of organizing, why it’s a mistake to say you’re saving the planet when you’re saving humanity, Sunrise’s motto “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,” the joys of organizing in the face of terrible odds, and, unexpectedly, the Tao Te Ching.

This is a conversation about climate change and about political organizing, but it’s also about finding agency amid despair. Don’t miss it.

Book recommendations:

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.

This Is an Uprising by Mark Engler and Paul Engler

Tao Te Ching by Laozi 


The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at before July 31st. One vote per category.

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