Nicole Loher on Climate Policy and Being a Climate Optimist

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Despite your best intentions, maybe your eyes glaze over a little bit any time you read about climate change policy. If yes, this is the podcast episode for you. 

Today we bring on Nicole Loher, a strategist, adjunct professor at NYU, and climate change advocate in New York. After accidentally becoming a competitive triathlete, Nicole now balances her passions for training and for climate change policy (with a little bit of fashion thrown in – yes, she contains multitudes). She talks us through Climate Policy 101 and what the Green New Deal *actually* means. Plus, she overviews the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal that Biden recently signed.

We also talk about “climate anxiety,” the feeling of dread that’s induced by the thought of the future of the climate), and how that might affect women differently than men. (And food for thought: the search term “climate anxiety” hit its peak popularity in August of 2021, and it’s remained popular since). And similar to Azora Zoe’s perspective that “sustainability is a spectrum,” Nicole also explains why it’s a myth that you don’t have to be a perfect climate activist to be an effective climate activist. 

One of the most fascinating themes running through our conversation was something surprisingly uplifting: climate change is not the fault nor the responsibility of any one individual. Moreover, Nicole identifies as a “climate optimist” who believes there’s time to turn this Spaceship Earth around. 

“It’s not an individual’s job to solve the climate crisis,” she says in this episode. “This is a bigger issue that should fall on the shoulders of corporations in tandem with policy pushing those corporations.” She also points to the factoid that it only takes 3.5 percent of a population to move a movement along – which seems totally manageable. 

nicole loher
Photograph by Bridget Badore

About Nicole Loher:

Nicole Loher is a triathlete and fitness enthusiast as well as a student at Columbia University and a professor at New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her work sits at the intersection of insights, strategy and emerging technology to help tell stories that advance complex climate communications goals. Her strategic work has received multiple awards (Shorties, Drum), has been recognized in the press (Forbes, Adweek), and is featured in the Smithsonian. She is currently finishing her Master’s at Columbia University’s Climate School with a focus on policy and communications and consulting for a variety of climate and solution focused organizations. In her down time, she’s an Adjunct Professor at NYU, where she’s led the creation and development of the school’s first social media course curriculum and social media certificate. She has also overseen the research and publishing of two white papers with a focus on the influence of social media on consumer behavior. She’s a Council on Foreign Relations member focused on advancing the conversation around climate change within corporations, she has her own column focused on discussing the implications of future climate policy, and she ghostwrites for a swath of technology executives on various topics within emerging climate tech.

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.