Climate Change Poet: Franny Choi, UVM Disses Fossil Fuel Stocks, 2021 Goldman Winner Thai Van Nguyen, What is EPR Anyway?!

by | Sep 17, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate Change Poet: Franny Choi, UVM Disses Fossil Fuel Stocks, 2021 Goldman Winner Thai Van Nguyen, What is EPR Anyway?!


Climate change affects everything, from the air we breathe, to the food we eat to the way we interact with the world. It’s becoming more and more difficult to interact with the world based upon how we used to. This past summer was one graphic example after another after another of how quickly climate change is altering our reality. So how to cope?

How about through poetry. As Amy Brady of the Chicago Review of Books wrote, “Responses by poets in particular are deeply moving. They capture the emotional and personal tenors of climate change in ways that few other arts forms can, while also bringing greater attention to the fact that climate change affects everyone and everything–we’re all connected.”

I recently encountered Franny Choi’s climate change poem, “The World Keeps Ending and the World Goes On.”

And if you like this one, check out her other climate change poem, “How to Let Go of the World.”  She wrote “How to Let Go of the World” as a segmented prose poem for the PEN Poetry Series. It simultaneously captures feelings of helplessness and fierce love. I feel reading it helps those of us processing personal feelings on the climate crisis and solastalgia.

Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014).

DEEPER DIVE: Poetry Foundation, PEN America, Franny Choi, The World Keeps Ending…\



We said we’d hip you to at least one college or university per show that’s actively divesting fossil fuel companies. Today’s collegiate climate champion is the University of Vermont. In July, 2020, the University of Vermont’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to divest the university’s endowment of fossil fuel investments, adding another milestone in UVM’s long history of leadership on environmental issues.

The university ended new direct investment in fossil fuels, with a goal to fully divest from public investments in fossil fuels by July 2023. Furthermore, UVM is allowing pre-existing multi-year private investments, which it stopped acquiring in 2017, to lapse without renewal.

In making the announcement, UVM president, Suresh Garimella, said, “Divesting from fossil fuels is the right thing to do for the University of Vermont, given our history and longstanding commitment to sustainability efforts.”

Why does what the flagship college of the Green Mountain State does matter to us? As the climate crisis deepens, divestment brings attention to the global need for governments, organizations and individuals to aggressively confront the challenge of climate change.

UVM claims to have been a sustainability leader in American higher education since 1972. That’s the year it launched the nation’s first cross-college program in environmental studies. In 1973, UVM created the School of Natural Resources, which became the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources in 2003.

In 2007, UVM became a charter member of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment—now called the Carbon Commitment—a high-visibility effort to address global climate disruption by committing to neutralize campus greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate research and education to restabilize the Earth’s climate.

DEEPER DIVE: UVM News, Second Nature, Carbon Commitment



Thai Van Nguyen founded Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which has rescued 1,540 pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2020. He also established Vietnam’s first anti-poaching unit, which, since 2018, has destroyed 9,701 animal traps, dismantled 775 illegal camps, confiscated 78 guns, and arrested 558 people for poaching, leading to a significant decline in illegal activities in Pu Mat National Park.

Pangolins are the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal despite an international trade ban. Heavy demand for their meat, scales, and blood threatens pangolins with extinction; all eight pangolin species are on the IUCN Red List.

Similar in appearance to armadillos, pangolins are the world’s most heavily poached and trafficked mammal because their scales are believed to cure everything from asthma to cancer. Pangolins are heavily used in Chinese and Vietnamese traditional medicine. Despite their scales, pangolins are easy targets for poachers because they curl up into a ball when stressed or threatened.

In the past decade, an estimated one million-plus pangolins were poached worldwide, and Vietnam is a particular hotbed: in 2004, 60 tons of live pangolins were seized in Vietnam.

Between 2014 and 2020, Nguyen’s leadership, and the activities of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife staff, a reported 80% decrease in illegal poaching has occurred. His partnerships with government, law enforcement, scientists, veterinarians, and fellow activists have been critical to his success.

Why does protecting Vietnamese pangolins matter two us? Two words: biodiversity and pandemics.

Every one of the planet’s regions has its own unique biodiversity. Reducing that in any way is ultimately harmful to the overall climate. And, initially, it was thought that COVID-19 crossed the animal-human boundary through human contact with a pangolin in a Chinese wet market.

DEEPER DIVE: Goldman Prize, Save Vietnam’s WildlifeInternational Union for Conservation of Nature



People are starting to throw around the term, EPR with regularity. But what is EPR and why does it matter to us?

EPR stands for Extended Producer Responsibility. It’s based on the “polluter pays” principle. In other words, it involves making manufacturers responsible for the entire lifecycle of the products and packaging they produce.

Swedish academic Thomas Lindhqvist framed this idea in 1990 as a strategy to decrease products’ environmental impacts by making manufacturers responsible for the goods’ entire life cycles – especially for takeback, recycling and final disposal.

On the one hand, EPR puts the onus on the manufacturer and to many, represents a mandatory approach. On the other hand, it also introduces the concept of Product Stewardship. Product Stewardship means that all parties – designers, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, consumers, recyclers, and disposers – involved in producing, selling, or using a product take responsibility for the full environmental and economic impacts of that product.

The idea of Product Stewardship is gaining in popularity because of its less regulatory nature and its recognition that other parties have a role to play.

 Again, why does EPR matter to us?

Because it breaks the “cycle” of the LINEAR economy– “take-make-dispose” economy where value is created in this economic system by producing and selling as many products as possible–  and forces the adoption of the CIRCULAR economy– a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling.

DEEPER DIVE: EPR, The Conversation, Thomas Lindhqvist,