Susan Cook-Patton

The Science Behind Carbon

“What keeps me up at night is that people would think that we can use natural climate solutions like reforestation instead of fossil fuel reductions, because it’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.” -Susan Cook-Patton

Susan Cook-Patton, a senior scientist at the Nature Conservancy, joins hosts Patrick Leung and Armando Davila for a deep dive into the science behind carbon and nature-based climate solutions. Susan gives us an insider’s look into the world of scientific data, sharing practical insights and revealing the gaps that exist in climate research. She shares that recent studies paint a dire picture of our future if we don’t act fast (within the next decade) to change our destructive course, and yet also shares her “stubborn optimism” that we will pull through. This delightful and deep conversation is both intelligent and love-filled and is a must-listen for anyone interested in science, nature, and sustainability.


  • Susan’s work as a carbon accountant
  • Reforestation as a powerful natural climate solution
  • The importance of local engagement in reforestation projects
  • Why good data is critical for addressing the climate crisis
  • Susan’s journey of becoming a climate scientist
  • How planting native trees supports the health of the entire ecosystem
  • The secret world of caterpillars
  • The abundance of information that’s already available to answer research questions
  • Why natural carbon solutions are not enough: It’s critically important to reduce carbon emissions as well!
  • Why no one single solution holds the answer
  • The ability of forests to rehabilitate themselves
  • Why mixed timber plantations are much better than monoculture plantations
  • Why we need more women in scientific professions
  • How we can improve knowledge sharing and the importance of open source data
  • Why more up-to-date information is needed in the scientific community
  • Biodiversity loss and how science can help
  • The importance of using conscious language when speaking about nature
  • Susan’s “stubborn optimism” for a better future and how she cultivates and shares it with others


Earthshot Labs:

The Nature Conservancy:

Susan’s LinkedIn: 

Intro & Outro Music by Little Whale:

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