It's about climate: S-Town gets serious about the personal ramifications of climate change

The most popular podcast of the year talked a lot about a big subject

By Cody Permenter
April 11, 2017 10:23PM (UTC)
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If you haven’t listened to it yet, stop reading here and come back later to avoid spoilers. The seven-part Southern audio drama features a main character by the name of John B. McLemore, a boisterous, middle-aged clockmaker who lives in rural Alabama.

It begins with McLemore contacting reporter Brian Reed to ask him to investigate a murder in his small town. We quickly find out that the real story is about McLemore and mental illness, and the podcast turns into a biography of a uniquely endearing and interesting man.

Worries about climate change weave their way in and out of McLemore’s conversations with Reed, drawing attention to the little-discussed concept of “climate grief” — anxiety, sadness, or depression about the changing climate.

Although climate-related anxiety is relatively new to some, it is receiving more attention as people open up. In Utah, there’s even a nine-step program for people who experience climate grief. Considering that S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times within a few hours of its release, perhaps more people will be seeking out those kinds of programs.

Cody Permenter

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