Rooted in hope and the conscious pursuit of solutions, Call of the Wild, the brand-new podcast from WWF delves into ways in which we can redefine our role as a society in the climate crisis and repair our relationship with the natural world.
Hosted by actor and broadcaster Cel Spellman, the podcast which will explore all areas of the climate conversation is set to bring in famous faces and top environmental experts – the first episode featuring Sir David Attenborough with a view of educating and inspiring the next generation of changemakers.
Speaking with 1883 Cel delves into his hopes for the podcast, the lessons about changing mindsets and the limitless potential of young people that he has taken away from the experience. He discusses the delicate balance between pushing climate change as a trending topic, the incidences of greenwashing by corporations for profit and wanting to shine a light on the stories of indigenous communities around the world, among many other insightful topics of conversation.
Has the idea for Call Of The Wild been a long time coming? What inspired it?
The original plan was for it to be released early last year but with where the world was at it didn’t feel quite right. WWF have always been interested in doing something in this space. I don’t know of many charities or NGO’s that had made a podcast, and it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do because it’s a different way to have the conversations that are had all over the place but trying to aim for a younger generation.
We put our heads together and began to shape it, before we knew it we had a series/episode structure involving experts and voices in the climate space where issues are presented in a clear, insightful way. I hope you enjoy it and find it informative, educational and inspiring regardless of whether you’re involved in the climate conversation or not. A lot of conversations around climate can be a bit doom and gloom so the biggest thing is for me is that you come away from it feeling hopeful for the future, feeling like things can be turned around.
Speaking of the experts involved in the podcast, Sir David Attenborough is part of the first episode. What was it like having him be part of the podcast?
We were very fortunate to have him on our podcast because we recorded about two weeks before the first lockdown happened here so it was one of the last bits of work we did for the podcast back then. We’d had that one in the bag for a while so it was quite motivating to return and pick it back up again. It would have felt like a lot of work coming back and having to record all over again but because we’d already started the journey of the podcast with this interview.
What are your hopes for the future with this? Where do you see it going?
To enforce the belief that young people can and will absolutely change the world. I think we don’t give young people enough credit and I think it’s a feeling we can all empathise with that when we were young, you did feel that maybe we were talked down and not listened to. But these young people are really smart and passionate, they want to actually make a difference. This can be very powerful, that’s why you’ve seen the mass movement with the school strikes and it can happen for the climate movement as well. The second thing is giving people more reason to be hopeful. The technology and systems to make a difference are very much out there, we just need to start investing in them and making it a part of our day-to-day routines so that the issue can make it to the top of everyone’s agenda and forefront of everyone’s action.
What lessons have you personally taken away from the experience of doing the podcast?
That if we change our behaviour and change our relationship with each other and with nature, there is no limit to where we can go and what we can do to turn things around. In fact, more people have begun understanding this in the last few years. That’s another lesson I’ve learnt, there has been a massive shift in consciousness and people’s awareness of where things are at when it comes to the environment and climate change. Even five years ago, if you mentioned climate people would roll their eyes and switch off from the conversation. But now more people receptive and open to having conversations about the climate. I’ve learned that actually as a society and planet, we have understood that something has to give and we need to do something about it.
Do you feel like the opposite is true as well? Before many weren’t receptive to the conversations about climate change but those that were, had a serious passion for it. But now it’s become more of a bandwagon to jump on, that people want to talk about climate change because it’s a trend?
That’s a really good point! I think in a way it kind of needs to be a trend. So the fact that it is cool and it is popular helps things moving forward. But one thing you need to be careful about is knowing that greenwashing is very much a thing. And I don’t think necessarily problematic for individuals. But when corporations and businesses start to jump on the bandwagon and go. “Hey, we’re cool and we’re doing this sustainable thing,” you need to look beneath the surface to know if they are saying it because it makes them look good. It’s a fine line between talking about climate change as a trending topic and allowing companies to use it for personal gain and profit.
So what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to having climate conversations without greenwashing?
I’ve been wishing and hoping that climate change becomes a friendly conversation, that allows it to become a part of everyone’s conscious and subconscious. The challenge is getting people to have the conversations and be aware of the issues even if they aren’t on board with it.
How can conversations about climate change become even more than a trend and evolve into a conscious lifestyle choice?
I think if you talk about something for long enough and loud enough it suddenly starts becoming part of people’s routine. For example, if having a reusable bag or cup in place of a plastic bag goes from being trendy to simply being a norm that you’ve done for so long you can’t remember not having reusable ones. That’s what we’ve got to strive for – that if we talk about these things long enough and implement them as a routine then we will start seeing a big change. I do think we still need help from the government and policy-makers but actually we can be the ones that force their hand and push them into a position where they kind of feel they have to do in the got no other choice.
It’s interesting you said “have no other choice,” but you also mentioned how you don’t want the podcast to be all about “doom and gloom.” How do you balance these two sentiments, because a lack of choice can be a lot of pressure?
The challenge is that we live in a time where we want everything quickly. Whatever we want, we feel like we should get it. I think it’s very unbalanced and not a sustainable lifestyle to live. We cannot carry on at the rate going at are so the balance comes from teaching and reminding people that we need to appreciate the privilege we have of existing in a time where it’s been possible to achieve so much with such finite resources. This of course comes back to a mindset change, readdressing our relationship with nature and with each other.
In terms of the podcast, what space would you like to do more in and grow within?
Amplifying the voices of the indigenous and people around the world. Telling their stories and shining a light on where things are at with those communities. These people all have a wealth of knowledge and understanding that has been a part of their communities for decades and centuries. There’s so much there not just to preserve but learn from and be inspired by because they have been living harmoniously and peacefully with the natural world and the environment for so long but it’s their homes that have been decimated and their livelihoods that have been most impacted by climate change and it’s heartbreaking. So these are stories I want to tell, not only because I’m deeply fascinated by them but they are also the ones paying the price for something that they are largely blameless for.
Finally, just like these indigenous communities, whom do you know of who might be doing their part, even if in the smallest of ways?
Sir David Attenborough is worth mentioning with all he’s done for the natural world. All the young people who as I mentioned earlier have taken time to go on strike, persevering until their voices are heard. Some friends of mine who never thought of giving up meat as part of their diets, but giving it a go during Veganuary and coming out the other side saying “I don’t need to eat as much meat as I was eating. I’m going to cut down my intake drastically.” I think even being able to talk to my mum and dad and them not using their cars as much have all been inspiring to me.
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