Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt started Hot Take in early 2020, while the pandemic was rolling across the world and the Trump presidency was nearing its end. Their first episode was called ‘An intersectional look at the climate crisis and the climate conversation’, which is a good way of describing the podcast in its entirety.

Heglar and Westervelt are both based in the US, so the podcast is very much focused on US climate politics. They do sometimes look further afield, though, especially when examining the rise of such people as Jair Bolsonaro, Marine Le Pen and Boris Johnson, and their impact on international climate policy.

Hot Take knows its audience – exhausted, radical climate activists looking for a friendly voice to share their concerns about the living planet – very well, and so this show is not for consumption by the general public, many of whom don’t know what the IPCC is or anything about Joe Manchin. It’s also not designed to act as an entry into climate activism. If it were, it would be going against the grain of mainstream thought, which says people need hope and low bars of entry. Hot Take doesn’t shy away from serious conversations about the systemic power of fossil fuel vested interests, eco-grief and climate emergency-induced mental health crises.

The hosts balance their unapologetic conversation about the alarm many of us feel about the lack of action commensurate with the climate emergency with friendly, chatty and often funny interludes, where they spring dad jokes on high-profile climate journalists from places like Time magazine.

What I really enjoyed about Hot Take was the diversity of subjects. They cover everything from prison abolition and the impact of extreme heat on prisoners to the differences in emotional intelligence of millennials and Gen Zers vs Gen Xers and their emotional (or not) responses to climate breakdown.

Something that separates Hot Take from too many other climate- and politics-related forums I’ve come across is the prominence of climate justice within discussions about climate policy, specifically racial justice. Many climate activists, on at least an academic level, acknowledge that white supremacy and racial capitalism sit at the heart of the causes of the climate emergency. Hot Take excels at keeping the focus on those causes and ongoing injustices.

Although the Hot Take podcast is no longer being produced, episodes are still available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Tom Pashby is a journalist at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), and also writes as a freelancer covering the climate emergency, LGBTQIA+ rights and UK constitution.