The Podcast: Author Jonathan Alter says Biden should learn from Jimmy Carter

The Podcast

The Podcast: Author Jonathan Alter says Biden should learn from Jimmy Carter

Share on

Jimmy Carter turns 96 this week, and journalist and historian Jonathan Alter is celebrating his birthday with “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life,” which is Carter’s first ever full length biography. Alter argues that Carter was misunderstood but ahead of his time and how Biden could learn from his legacy — and his mistakes. Also: Zombie fires lurk in the Arctic, and why the climate question was Joe Biden’s best moment in the first presidential debate.


In this episode:

  • Before speaking with Alter, host Jared Downing summarizes our report about “zombie fires,” a.k.a. holdover fires, smoldering beneath the Siberian tundra, waiting to re-emerge next spring. These kinds of fires release underground carbon into the are and could have a huge impact on the climate.
  • Next, Jared speaks with Jonathan Alter, who describes how Jimmy Carter was morally ahead of his time, and how his environmental policies laid the groundwork for the environmental work of subsequent presidents and Barack Obama’s own battle for clean energy. He says that Biden may possess the Capitol Hill savvy that Carter lacked, and could carry on Carter’s torch — if he has the fire in the belly.
  • Finally, Jared talks about the first presidential debate, arguing that climate change was the only topic in which Biden really shone — and that Trump was truly stumped. It goes to show, he argues, Trump’s utter disinterest in environmental issues and how Biden can use that to his advantage in the coming weeks.

Written by

Jared Downing

Jared Downing is managing editor of Climate & Capital Media. Before Climate&Capital, he spent five years in Yangon, Myanmar, producing the human rights podcast Doh Athan and producing features, columns, and cartoons for Frontier Myanmar, that country's leading English language magazine. Prior to that, he was a freelance writer in Birmingham Alabama, focusing on city culture and social justice.