Commonwealth Club of California Podcast
Commonwealth Club of California Podcast

The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. As a non-partisan forum, The Club brings to the public airwaves diverse viewpoints on important topics. The Club's weekly radio broadcast - the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1924 - is carried across the nation on public radio stations and is now podcasting. Our website archive features audio of our recent programs, as well as selected speeches from our long and distinguished history. This podcast feed is usually updated twice a week and is always un-edited.

Airs on:
THU 10pm, FRI 1am

CLIMATE ONE: On the Ground at COP28: What’s at Stake with the Global Stocktake?

The 28th annual Conference of the Parties, COP28, opens this week in Dubai. For the 28th time, the nations of the world have gathered to see what progress they can make on addressing the increasingly global climate crisis. It’s fair to wonder why, after three decades, we still haven’t taken the collective action necessary. And it’s equally fair to wonder why diplomats continue to bother with what Greta Thunberg famously called “blah, blah, blah.” This year’s COP marks the first “Global Stocktake,” an assessment of how the nations of the world are doing compared to the emissions-cutting commitments they made in Paris. The answer? Not well. And with COP28 being hosted by a major oil and gas producing nation and led by an industry executive, what hope is there for progress? Guests: Daniel Esty, Professor of Environmental Law & Policy, Yale Law School Ben Stockton, Investigative Reporter Aisha Khan, Chief Executive, Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change  This episode features a segment from Contributing Reporter Rabiya Jaffrey. For show notes and related links, visit our website. 📞 Call us at (650) 382-3869 to share your clothing story for a chance to be featured on an upcoming episode! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

George Musser: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe Through Human Consciousness and AI

The whole goal of physics is to explain what we observe. For centuries, physicists believed that observations yielded faithful representations of what is out there. But when they began to study the subatomic realm, they found that observation often interferes with what is being observed―that the act of seeing changes what we see. The same may also be true about cosmology: our view of the universe may be inevitably distorted by observation bias. And so whether they’re studying subatomic particles or galaxies, physicists might need to first explain consciousness. Searching to answer that question, George Musser turned to neuroscientists and philosophers of the mind. Neuroscientists have built up ever-better understandings of the structure of the brain. Musser asks whether that could help physicists better understand the levels of self-organization they observe in other systems. At the same time, physicists are trying to explain how particles organize themselves into the objects we perceive around us. So Musser also has asked whether those discoveries could help explain how neurons produce our conscious experiences. Join us for a special online-only program in which Musser tackles the potential interconnections between quantum mechanics, cosmology, human consciousness and artificial intelligence, providing a revelatory exploration of how a "theory of everything" may very well depend upon our understanding of the human mind. NOTES A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Celebrating 50 Years of Ms. Magazine

For more than five decades, Ms. magazine has been a beacon of feminist ideas, sparking conversations and setting the stage for transformative discussions on women's rights, equality and empowerment. As the first magazine to feature prominent American women demanding the repeal of laws that criminalized abortion, explain and advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, rate presidential candidates on women’s issues, feature domestic violence and sexual harassment on its cover, and commission and publish a national study on date rape, the voice of Ms. has shaped modern day feminism and many contemporary issues.  Join us in a celebration of Ms. at The Commonwealth Club as our featured speakers Katherine Spillar (Ms. executive editor), Dr. Sophia Yen (CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health), Hon. Betty Yee (former California state controller), and Aimee Allison (founder and president of She the People) explore the voices that have shaped feminism and continue to shape our world. About the Speakers Aimee Allison is the founder and president of She the People, a national organization that elevates the voice and power of women of color as leaders of a new political and cultural era. She organized and moderated the nation’s first presidential forum for women of color in 2019. Katherine (Kathy) Spillar is the executive editor of Ms. and editor of and contributor to 50 Years of Ms: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine that Ignited a Revolution. She is also the executive director of Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Majority, national organizations working for women’s equality, empowerment and nonviolence; one of the founders, she has been a driving force in executing the organizations’ diverse programs securing women’s rights both domestically and globally since its inception in 1987. Hon. Betty Yee has served as the female vice chair of the California Democratic Party since May 2021 and also recently served as California state controller from 2015 to 2023. She has 35 years of experience in state and local finance and tax policy. Sophia Yen, M.D., M.P.H. is the CEO and co-founder of birth control delivery service Pandia Health and has a passion for making women’s lives easier, preventing unplanned pregnancies, and educating women about Periods Optional. She also serves as a clinical associate professor at Stanford Medical School in the Department of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Youth Talk: The Influence of Environmental Activism on Gen Z Voting

“The Influence of Environmental Activism on Gen Z Voting” unites four environmental leaders from a variety of backgrounds for a thought-provoking discussion about environmental activism and civic engagement. Representing the voices of student activists as well as professional environmentalists, our speakers will explore the movement’s impact on voting and youth turnout in recent elections and discuss the strength of environmental activism as a form of civic engagement. Accomplished leaders in their own right, panelists will share their personal journeys and provide key takeaways from the intersection of environmentalism and politics, to inspire the next generation of voters and citizen leaders. This event is part of the Creating Citizens Speaker Series at UC Berkeley, a partnership between The Commonwealth Club, the Associated Students of the University of California Vote Coalition, and the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. The series gives UC Berkeley students and community members opportunities to listen to and ask questions of leading minds in politics, media and education as they learn how to become better, more involved citizens.  We look forward to welcoming community members and students from around the Bay Area to participate in this riveting conversation and to join us for future programs in the Creating Citizens Speaker Series. This program is part of The Commonwealth Club’s civics education initiative, Creating Citizens. Produced in partnership with the EAVP Vote Coalition. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

CLIMATE ONE REFRESH: Another Look at Bridging the Great American Divide

Most Americans support climate action, but you wouldn’t know it from Congress or the courts – or from most of the media. People on both the left and the right experience the same devastating floods, the same life-threatening heatwaves and the same catastrophic wildfires. Yet individuals tend to socialize within insulated political tribes, operate in completely different information bubbles and see the problems and solutions through different lenses. How can we learn to bridge ideological divides, develop trust, and find the common ground needed to rebuild respectful civil discourse? Guests: John Curtis, U.S. Rep., Utah (R) Joan Blades, Co-founder, John Gable, Co-founder, For show notes and related links, visit Climate One's website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Dr. Carla Hayden: Inside the Library of Congress

When the Library of Congress (LoC) was authorized in 1800, its first collection consisted of 740 books and three maps. Today, located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Housing about 173 million items and employing more than 3,000 employees, the LoC is led by Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and first Black librarian of Congress. She assumed her position on September 14, 2016. and is only the 14th person to hold this position in 221 years. Serving as the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and housing the U.S. Copyright Office, the LoC gets direct appropriations from Congress to fund its work. But it also receives gifts and private donations that support a broad range of activities by the library, including hundreds of projects that have been supported by the James Madison Council's philanthropic members. Find out about this important national institution, how it works, why it receives hundreds of thousands of in-person visitors and more than 150 million online visitors a year, and the role it plays in a knowledge-based society. Join us for an inside look at the nation's library. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Democracy at the Local Level

What do two of the youngest city councilmembers in California have in common? Both believe that young people belong in politics. Creating Citizens, The Commonwealth Club’s education initiative, is excited to host Oakland Councilmember Janani Ramachandran and South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman as they talk with high school students about the role of young people in civic life. Both city councilmembers, born and raised in the communities they now serve, find themselves as the youngest members of their respective city councils. As they work to empower their communities, they find they must constantly navigate a much older political ecosystem that isn’t always the most welcoming to young faces. The councilmembers will be joined in conversation with Dr. Stephen Morris. Dr. Morris, the CEO and co-founder of the Civic Education Center, has spent more than 20 years working in education. Together, they will discuss local government and how everyone, from politicians to students, can work with people with whom they disagree. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

David Brooks: How to Know a Person

“There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization, or society: the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen—to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood.”  —David Brooks Really knowing another person is not something people seem to do well. All around us are people who feel invisible, unseen, misunderstood. David Brooks set out to help people do better, posing questions that are essential: If you want to know a person, what kind of attention should you cast on them? What kind of conversations should you have? What parts of a person’s story should you pay attention to? Brooks draws from the fields of psychology and neuroscience and from the worlds of theater, philosophy, history, and education to present a welcoming, hopeful, integrated approach to human connection. He brings that message to The Commonwealth Club, to help people become more understanding and considerate toward others, and to find the joy that comes from being seen. Along the way he offers a possible remedy for a society that is riven by fragmentation, hostility and misperception. How can we look somebody in the eye and see something large in them, and in turn, see something larger in ourselves? To find out, join us in Silicon Valley as David Brooks explains.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit