Solutions journalism and its role in the climate movement

Estimated reading time: 4 min

In this Q&A you'll learn

I learned about Hothouse Solutions sometime in early 2021. They've published some of my favorite climate pieces like this one on green burial. They go in-depth on climate solutions that I'm interested in and ones I've never heard of, so when I got the chance to interview their co-founder Mike Coren, I couldn't pass it up! In addition to founding Hothouse, Mike has a professional journalism background -- here's more about him.

I’m a reporter at Quartz where I cover climate, energy, and economics. We live in interesting times. I try to make sense of them.

Hothouse co-founder Mike Coren with his wife Ashley Coren and their husky Miska.
Hothouse co-founder Mike Coren with his wife Ashley Coren and their husky Miska.

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Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google
  1. Tell us about Hothouse Solutions and why you decided to start a newsletter.

    Most articles on climate change are doom and gloom. And most of us, I think, are left with an urgent, undefined sense of needing to do something. But what? That’s what Hothouse answers. We report on climate solutions and practical things you can do in your own life.

    Skepticism is warranted. Individuals taking responsibility for carbon emissions is a strategy some corporations have used to foist off accountability, a cynical gesture disguised as concern. But climate answers are not really neatly divided into personal, government, and corporate. Each one complements the other. Debating about personal versus collective action can miss the point.

    Take the best predictor for whether someone installs solar panels. It’s not subsidies or geography or policy. It’s whether or not your neighbor has panels, according to the journal Nature. It’s even affected by how close they live to you. People living within about 200 meters of a home with solar panels are more likely to buy their own than someone slightly further away. 🌇

    Solar panels, in other words, are contagious.

    We started Hothouse to tap into this aspect of human nature. Hothouse gives you the evidence-based solutions that you can adopt in your own life, and share with your family, your neighborhood, and your community. It’s not the only answer, but it’s one of many, and a place to start.


  2. What informed your approach to building Hothouse? What is solutions-oriented journalism?

    Solutions journalism isn’t about writing feel-good fluff. It’s like investigative journalism: it examines a problem, interrogates potential solutions, and shows how those solutions might work (or might not). Instead of recounting litanies of problems, it goes to the heart of the challenge by investigating the response. It’s easy to be a critic. It’s harder to show how problems can be fixed. When it comes to climate change, that’s what we need. Most of the press reports on climate change as if it was 2000. Most people no longer need to be convinced (and for those that do, more articles may not be the answer). The deniers and naysayers just aren’t our audience. Today, we need to clarify how to progress against global warming, cutting through the confusion. Solutions journalism advances this tenet of journalism by seeking how to improve public life, not just through information about climate change, but by interrogating the policies, beliefs, and actions to address it.


  3. What are the biggest challenges you face in the work that you're doing?

    Our greatest challenge is sourcing solutions and great writers. We put a lot of time and resources into finding writers with the right knowledge and expertise to tell these stories in a compelling manner. Check out the kinds of stories we’re looking for here.


  4. Tell us more about why Hothouse is unique. There are soooooo many climate publications out there — why should we trust and read yours?

    First, you’re excited to see Hothouse in your inbox each week. That’s something readers tell us over and over. Most publications 1) obsess over gloom and doom and 2) lack the rigor to dig into the technical details. Each month, Hothouse delivers two solutions stories each month you’ll actually want to read. It will change how you see the world and what actions you (and your community) can take to begin to tackle climate change (Soapbox does a great job of this, too!). We deliver original journalism paired with rigorous reporting you’ll find at the best publications. 

    And, of course, it’s fun to read.  


  5. What is one thing you wish more people understood about the movement for a more sustainable future?

    I wish more people understood that we're not doomed. The climate is going to warm, but we have a choice to slow and perhaps even reverse that warming in the coming centuries. We have to start now. And it begins with all of us.

  6. Any advice for people who are new to the fight against climate change or aren't sure what their place is?

    Check out our piece on recareering for the climate.

    Kevin Doyle
    , executive director of career development at Yale School of the Environment, argues there are as many ways to become a climate professional as there are people. But he recommends starting with four questions: 

    1. What do you want to work on most?
    2. What skills and methods do you want to use?
    3. What sector do you want to work in (e.g. public, private, academia) 
    4. Where do you want to work?

    “Find the project that leads you to the people, and the people lead to you the advice, and the advice will lead you to the plan,” says Doyle. Read more here.

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 5,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Thank you! You're signed up for the fight against climate change. Make sure you add us to your contacts or mark our welcome email as important so we stay in your primary inbox instead of your promotions tab.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. it's okay; try this!
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google