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The Sweaty Penguin

93 EpisodesProduced by Ethan BrownWebsite

Sometimes, climate change IS a laughing matter. Every week, The Sweaty Penguin cuts through the noise and the doom-and-gloom of the climate conversation with late-night-comedy-style monologues and in-depth conversations with leading global experts on a variety of environmental issues. Through a nonp… read more

93 Episodes | 2020 - 2022

71. Aerosols

January 21st, 2022


The word “aerosol” might make us think of hairspray and Fabreeze cans, but under the scientific definition, aerosols are a wide range of solid and …

70. Smart Grids

January 14th, 2022


When people flick a light switch, they expect the light to turn on. And supplying enough electricity to meet that expectation in a climate-friendly, cost-efficient way is a major challenge, which led to the invention of …

69. Rubber

January 7th, 2022


Natural rubber is widely considered a more eco-friendly and better product than synthetic rubber, but it still presents some issues. Natural rubber …

Tip of the Iceberg E4: Melting the Thwaites glacier is worse than the worst-case scenario

December 31st, 2021


Research presented at the American Geophysical Union this month found cracks on the ice shelf holding back the Thwaites glacier: a mass of dense, …

Tip of the Iceberg E3: We don’t know if climate change affected this month’s tornadoes

December 24th, 2021


On December 10th and 11th, historic tornadoes wreaked havoc on Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and almost instantaneously, people made the assumption that climate change played a …

68. Sharks

December 17th, 2021


They’re older than the dinosaurs, they’ve survived four mass extinctions, and yet today, in the wake of climate change, pollution, and commercial …

67. Policy Development

December 10th, 2021


Why is it so difficult to achieve effective environmental policy in the United States? Is it just a lack of willpower, or is there a little more to …

66. Influenza

December 3rd, 2021


Flu season is fast approaching, and with it comes a Sweaty Penguin episode revealing that temperature rise, air pollution, and wildfires can actually …

Tip of the Iceberg E2: Phasing “out” coal versus phasing “down” coal

November 26th, 2021


COP26 concluded with the adoption of the “Glasgow climate pact,” which was revised at the last minute due to demands from China and India to change the phrase “phase out coal” to “phase down coal,” which infuriated much …

65. Coffee

November 19th, 2021


The average American coffee drinker drinks over three cups of coffee per day, and that demand is only getting bigger. But unfortunately, coffee is a …

Tip of the Iceberg E1: COP26 was not dead on arrival

November 12th, 2021


Even before the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow started, many in the environmental movement were ready to call it a failure, …

64. Orangutans

November 5th, 2021


Today, orangutans are confined to just two islands in Indonesia and Malaysia, and due to forest loss, poaching, and climate change, they’re endangered. And although there’s tons of conservationists doing interesting …

63. Worker Productivity

October 29th, 2021


We may never notice it ourselves, but climate change and air pollution can actually affect our day-to-day performance at our jobs. Studies ranging …

62. Nuclear Energy

October 22nd, 2021


Is nuclear energy good or is it bad? Is it the answer to our climate woes or is it Chernobyl 2.0? Or, maybe, is it a little bit more nuanced than that? Today, we break down some of the criticisms of nuclear energy such …

61. Chocolate

October 15th, 2021


The chocolate industry is under the control of three companies called the cocoa traders who essentially force the cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and …

Bonus: Tinderbees

October 8th, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with The Sweaty Penguin’s Researchers Olivia Amitay, Megan Crimmins, and Dain Kim to recap season 3. They’ll share favorite episodes, biggest …

60. Rethinking UNEP Reform

October 1st, 2021


Despite being the world’s most powerful international body on the environment, the United Nations Environment Programme is anything but powerful: …

59. Gentrification

September 24th, 2021


The Sweaty Penguin has covered many of the benefits of adding greenspace in an urban neighborhood, building jetties or seawalls to protect a coastal community, or simply living on higher ground in a city prone to floods …

58. PFAS

September 17th, 2021


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals used in nonstick pans, food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, firefighting foam, …

57. Wine

September 10th, 2021


Winegrowing is all about controlling the slightest variations of flavor. With climate change causing warmer temperatures that change wine flavor, …

Bonus: Scrotum Frogs

September 3rd, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with Leo Brother and Velina Georgi for a bipartisan conversation on episode 29: “Maple Syrup.”

Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus …

56. Monsoons

August 27th, 2021


For drought-stricken regions of the world such as India, Australia, West Africa, and the American Southwest, the monsoon rainfall is a welcome gift. But as climate change worsens, the amount of rain may increase, and …

55. Dugongs

August 20th, 2021


A close relative of the manatee found in the Indo-Pacific, dugongs are a hit for tourists and an important part of coastal marine ecosystems. But …

54. Urban Greenspace

August 13th, 2021


From trees to green roofs to rain gardens, urban greenspace provides a laundry list of environmental, economic, health, and social benefits to their …

53. Succulents

August 6th, 2021


As cute plants that survive on very little water, succulents are rapidly gaining popularity as houseplants. But despite their ability to live with …

Extended Cut! Corn with Dr. Natalie Hunt

July 30th, 2021


Our interview segments in our episodes usually last around 15 minutes, but did you know Ethan talks to the experts for a full half hour? This week, …

Extended Cut! Brownfields and Superfund Sites with Dr. Lemir Teron

July 23rd, 2021


Our interview segments in our episodes usually last around 15 minutes, but did you know Ethan talks to the experts for a full half hour? This week, …

Bonus: The Track Is Lava

July 16th, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with Leo Brother and Velina Georgi for a bipartisan conversation on episode 33: “Plastic Straws.”

Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus …

52. Tropical Cyclones

July 9th, 2021


Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons lead to lost homes, wrecked environments, billions in cleanup costs, and even fatalities. And as climate change worsens, these storms are worsening too. Today, we’ll take a look at how …

51. Investor-State Dispute Settlements

July 2nd, 2021


It’s hard to pass policies that aggressively address climate change, public health, and other environmental issues. So when a country does pass them, …

50. Sea Turtles

June 25th, 2021


After a scientist found a plastic straw lodged in a sea turtle’s nose, sea turtles rose to fame in the environmental world, and became the mascots of anti-plastic campaigns. But the issues facing sea turtles go well …

49. Chicken

June 18th, 2021


Chickens might not burp and fart methane like cows do, but raising and feeding them still has a significant impact on the climate. And on top of that, chicken production currently faces issues ranging from waste …

Bonus: Alligator on an Airplane

June 11th, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with Christian Alberga and Matt Grottkau for a bipartisan conversation on episode 37: “Corn.”

Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus …

48. Ultraviolet Radiation

June 4th, 2021


Ultraviolet radiation has a few upsides in small quantities, but too much can cause a slew of health effects from sunburns to skin aging to even skin …

47. Seagrass

May 28th, 2021


Though we might not think about it much, seagrass is really important. It provides food and shelter for many fish and crustaceans, a source of oxygen for the ocean, and a special ability to absorb carbon that makes it …

46. The World Bank

May 21st, 2021


As one of the world’s largest international organizations, the World Bank’s economic development activities have far reaching implications for the environment. Of course, the World Bank has done plenty to help the …

45. Tea

May 14th, 2021


There isn’t anything inherently bad about tea, but the current tea agriculture system faces a number of issues, from excessive pesticide use to …

Bonus: Cicada Coachella

May 7th, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with Christian Alberga and Matt Grottkau for a bipartisan conversation on episode 30: “International Accountability.”

Support the show and unlock …

44. Jellyfish

April 30th, 2021


While climate change threatens most marine species, jellyfish could be poised to come out stronger than ever. Research remains ongoing, but many …

43. NGOs

April 23rd, 2021


Happy belated Earth Day, and happy almost one year anniversary of The Sweaty Penguin! Earth Day is a special holiday for many reasons, one of which …

42. Brownfields and Superfund Sites

April 16th, 2021


From old petroleum sites to chemical dumping grounds, toxic waste sites are disproportionately located in low income and minority communities, and …

41. Fracking

April 9th, 2021


It’s in the news all the time, but what actually is fracking, and why is it under such heavy scrutiny? To kick off season three, we’re diving into one of the most high profile climate issues, examine how fracking …


April 8th, 2021


Sometimes, climate change IS a laughing matter. Every week, The Sweaty Penguin cuts through the noise and the doom-and-gloom of the climate …

Bonus: Mac and Cheese Trees

April 2nd, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with The Sweaty Penguin’s Producers Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, and …

40. Rethinking Natural Resources

March 26th, 2021


When we talk about natural resource issues whether they be food, water, energy, land, or materials, we typically discuss them one at a time and craft …

39. The Amazon Rainforest

March 19th, 2021


The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, home to 427 mammal species, 1,300 bird species, 378 reptile species, over 400 amphibian species, and 30 million people. It’s also a massive carbon sink, …

38. DDT

March 12th, 2021


In 1962, Rachel Carson published the famous book “Silent Spring,” which explored the impacts of the pesticide DDT on the environment and human health and catalyzed a movement that led to the passage of the National …

37. Corn

March 5th, 2021


It’s the most produced food commodity in the United States, but only 1% of it is actually sweet corn eaten by humans. The rest is turned into …

Bonus: Baby Boomer Polar Bears

February 26th, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with Leo Brother and Velina Georgi for a bipartisan conversation on episode 17: “Vanilla.”

36. The Great Barrier Reef

February 19th, 2021


Spanning over 100,000 square miles off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, providing a home to thousands of marine species, sequestering millions of tons of …

35. Elementary Education

February 12th, 2021


As climate change becomes more and more pressing, educators have faced the challenge of how to teach it to young children. The Next Generation Science Standards have started to push the needle with a few climate …

34. Mangrove Forests

February 5th, 2021


Mangroves are the only type of tree that can grow in saltwater, but that barely scratches the surface of why they’re special. These tropical coastal forests protect the adjacent land from storms, provide nurseries for …

33. Plastic Straws

January 29th, 2021


It’s the environmental issue everyone’s talking about, with companies and cities banning plastic straws all over the world. But while it’s often played up as either a super simple environmental issue that cities and …

Bonus: Neptune Balls

January 22nd, 2021


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Ethan sits down with episode 3’s Velina Georgi and Leo Brother for a bipartisan conversation on episode 21: “ADHD.”

32. Artificial Intelligence

January 15th, 2021


Artificial intelligence is most often discussed in the environmental world as a sustainability solution capturing invasive starfish and detecting the …

31. Landslides

January 8th, 2021


For many living on or by mountains, cliffs, or other slopes, landslides pose a huge risk. The ground itself can come crashing down or slip out from under you. Globally, landslides kill thousands of people per year and …

30. International Accountability

January 1st, 2021


International environmental treaties are a fantastic start, but they also regularly struggle because even when a country signs a treaty, they still …

29. Maple Syrup

December 25th, 2020


Maple syrup is a staple for every breakfast on Christmas morning, but with climate change harming the health of maple trees, maple syrup is under threat. Today, we’ll break down how climate change affects maple syrup …

Bonus: Cyclone Simba

December 18th, 2020


After some of the latest environmental news updates, Matt Grottkau and Christian Alberga sit back down with Ethan for a bipartisan chat about episode 13: “Wild Salmon.”

28. Airplanes

December 11th, 2020


Airplanes are a really tricky issue. They emit greenhouse gases, create air and noise pollution, and operate in a ridiculously unstable business …

27. Electrification

December 4th, 2020


Powering everything through clean, carbon-free energy to mitigate climate change requires not just decarbonizing electricity, but actually making several things like cars, furnaces, and factories electric. But with the …

26. Ventilation

November 27th, 2020


To help prevent the indoor spread of coronavirus, buildings around the world have been checking up on their ventilation systems, often for the first …

25. Carbon Neutrality

November 20th, 2020


When organizations and governments create climate plans, they often contain the same phrase: carbon neutral. And carbon neutrality is a major piece …

Bonus: Diners, Drive-Ins, and Yellowstone Hot Springs

November 13th, 2020


As promised, the bipartisan discussion bonus episodes are here! Today, Ethan sits down with episode 1’s Christian Alberga and Matt Grottkau to hear their first impressions and find some common ground on episode 20: …

24. Organic and Fair Trade Certifications

November 6th, 2020


Certifications such as organic and fair trade are great ways to quickly inform consumers that a product they want to buy was made at a high environmental and ethical standard and give producers meeting those standards …

23. Old-Growth Forests

October 30th, 2020


Old-growth forests provide a lot of services that are unique from their younger counterparts, from increased carbon storage capabilities to homes for several endangered species. And on Wednesday, the United States …

22. Light Pollution

October 23rd, 2020


We often hear about light pollution preventing us from seeing the night sky, but it is responsible for so much more, from massive economic costs to …

21. ADHD

October 16th, 2020


October is ADHD Awareness Month, and in addition to genetic and biological causes, ADHD is partly caused by toxins in the environment such as BTEX …

Bonus: Annoying Orange Jr.

October 9th, 2020


In the final episode of season 1, Ethan sits down with The Sweaty Penguin Researchers Olivia, Megan, and Dain to discuss the most recent four episodes and their reflections on the season. After that, he chats with the …

20. Economic Recovery from Coronavirus

October 2nd, 2020


The coronavirus plunged the world deep into an economic recession, and to recover from a recession, governments typically start spending a lot  of money. Where that money goes has a lasting effect on the economy and the …

19. Mercury

September 25th, 2020


John Oliver seems quite taken by Danbury, Connecticut’s history as the Hat City, but hatmaking came at a price: the mercury used to make felt  for …

18. Wastewater Treatment Plants

September 18th, 2020


Wastewater treatment plants made national news this month after the mayor of Danbury, CT (the city where Ethan was born) responded to a joke on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” by naming Danbury’s sewer plant the …

17. Vanilla

September 11th, 2020


The global vanilla market is ridiculously unstable, with vanilla prices  swinging from $20/kg to $600/kg in the span of a few years, higher than the …

Bonus: Queen Methane Emissions

September 4th, 2020


Join us for a conversation with The Sweaty Penguin’s three Researchers  Olivia Amitay, Megan Crimmins, and Dain Kim about mega(n)cities, fast  fashion, salmon, and some of the recent climate-induced hurricanes and …

16. Fast Fashion

August 28th, 2020


As fibers like cotton and polyester became cheaper to procure, fast  fashion stores began creating items that appeared fashionable at a  fraction of …

15. Pellagra

August 21st, 2020


During the coronavirus pandemic, a global economic collapse, and  increasingly frequent and severe droughts, what better time for southern  African …

14. Megacities

August 14th, 2020


In the last thirty years, the number of cities with a population of over  ten million jumped from 10 to 34. Today, 55% of the world population  lives …

13. Wild Salmon

August 7th, 2020


We often hear about projects that will harm salmon such as the recently  proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska, but why does it matter? As it …

Bonus: Chariot of Chameleons

July 31st, 2020


On this week’s bonus episode, we’re discussing the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, reflecting on last week’s Rethinking Climate Change episode as Frank’s home in Puerto Rico experiences a tropical storm, …

12. Rethinking Climate Change

July 24th, 2020


Climate change is so often framed as a problem for “our kids and our  grandkids,” and that’s true, but climate change is also here right now,  and it’s causing a lot of problems. We’ll take a look at a few of the …

11. Gypsy Moths

July 17th, 2020


Murder hornets may be getting all the attention, but gypsy moths are another invasive insect species causing a lot of damage by defoliating trees, …

10. United Nations Environment Programme

July 10th, 2020


Aside from some scary climate change reports you may hear in the news, what does the United Nations Environment Programme do? As it turns out, a lot less than you might expect, and that’s because UNEP was designed to …

9. Asthma

July 3rd, 2020


As coronavirus continues to spread, people with asthma have faced a higher death rate. And asthma itself is a huge issue too, killing ten Americans every day. This week, we take a deep dive into the South Bronx in New …

Bonus: Socks, Sandals, and Barbecue Fires

June 26th, 2020


This week, we bring you our top environmental news headlines, and then sit down with The Sweaty Penguin’s Producers Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, …

8. Natural Gas Compressor Stations

June 19th, 2020


Whether it’s for heat, cooking, or electricity, most Americans use natural gas regularly. But before arriving at your home, natural gas traveling …

7. Earthquakes

June 12th, 2020


Most environmental issues we hear about are caused and controlled by humans, but earthquakes happen whether we’re here or not. But just because we …

6. Rare Earth Minerals

June 5th, 2020


What do cell phones, computers, airplane engines, and wind turbines have in common? They all require rare earth minerals, and while these minerals can be mined and processed sustainably, they currently are not, leading …

5. Beef

May 29th, 2020


Wondering why there’s so much fuss in the news over cow farts? We’ve got you covered. This week, we discuss why beef’s environmental impact far exceeds most other food products and consider ways to reduce those impacts …

Bonus: Plankton Buys a Glowstick

May 22nd, 2020


This week, we bring you our top environmental news headlines, and then sit down with The Sweaty Penguin’s Producers Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, …

4. Lead Paint

May 15th, 2020


We often think of lead paint as a problem of the past, but in reality, any house built before 1978 could have lead paint on the walls, and when they …

3. Yosemite National Park

May 8th, 2020


Yosemite was set aside as a national park in 1890, and since then, we haven’t done a spotless job preserving and managing it. There’s even a Starbucks in the park! We’ll discuss the economic inefficiencies, inequities, …

2. Lawn Pesticides

May 1st, 2020


We often hear “pesticides are safe” or “pesticides are toxic,” but in reality, it’s not that simple. We’ll discuss the impacts of various lawn …

1. Traffic

April 24th, 2020


Not only does traffic contribute to climate change, but it costs the average American $1,377 per year in lost time. We’ll break down the issue, and …

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