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Climate Stew Blog

Civil Disobedience is Essential for our Survival

Since 2014 we have been talking about the need for non-violent, direct action. From the first episode of our Climate Stew podcast, we recognized that for any real action to happen that leads to policy and systems change, it will require putting pressure on the system.

One model we have looked at is the model early HIV/AIDS activists displayed when taking on a system that ignored the people who were suffering and refused to act.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Our curator, Peterson Toscano, speaks out regularly about the lessons we can learn from earlier generations of activists. People are listening.

Elizabeth Rush, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, was inspired by the connections Peterson has been making. She writes:

A little over a year ago, I had a conversation that would change the way I think about climate activism. It was a day so swelteringly hot that the interview I was to give for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby podcast got rescheduled indoors. As Peterson Toscano, the host, and I fell into a deep discussion, I found myself turning the tables on him, asking a string of ever more personal questions.

I was beginning a new project about gender and the Antarctic, and I wondered how, for Toscano (a self-proclaimed quirky, queer climate activist), the climate crisis intersected with queer rights. Toscano’s response has stuck with me to this day and is best summed up with a line from his one-man show Everything Is Connected—An Evening of Stories, Most Weird, Many True.

He says, “I’m going to tell you the worst-case scenario with climate change, promise me you will not freak out. Promise? Well, we are looking at the potential extinction of the human race…but what other people on the planet have faced potential extinctions and exterminations before? Lots of people. But also LBGTQ+ people…There is a special time in our history when we learned a lot of things that might be applicable today. I’m talking about the HIV/AIDS crisis.” Toscano told me that the activist movements of the 1980s didn’t just change hearts and minds; they changed public policy.

It occurred to me then that a cross-movement conversation in the era of climate crisis would bear vital fruit. A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Peter Staley, a founding member of ACT UP, and Roger Hallam, a founder of Extinction Rebellion. It’s my hope that this conversation can demystify direct-action activism while helping us think about what comes next.

What follows is an extraordinary conversation. You can read it for yourself in Document Journal.

‘We’re facing a societal collapse’: Extinction Rebellion’s Roger Hallam speaks to ACT UP’s Peter Staley about disrupting the world in order to save it

(Featured Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Fashion in a time of Climate Change with Tatiana Schlossberg

In the most recent episode of Citizens Climate Radio, I chat with Tatiana Schlossberg. She is the author of the new book, Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have.  In it she highlights just how good we are at being bad when it comes to fossil fuel pollution. She exposes the pollution generated by four major industries–Fuel, Food, Internet, and Fashion. For our conversation we talked about fashion, which turns out to be a very dirty busy when it comes to pollution.

I love Tatiana’s laugh, which comes through a lot even though we are talking about such serious issues as pollution and climate change. There is something about her relaxed, friendly tone that signals hope and a belief that humans will do the right thing. When it comes to fashion, it will take a lot more than consumers making the “right choices” when they purchase clothing. We have so few choices. Large system changes are required.

Catherine Pierce

For the Art House segment, I spoke with poet Catherine Pierce. She describes the many steps took and decisions she made when crafting her poem, Anthropocene Pastoral.  In it she explores the significant of beautiful manifestations of climate change, like the California Super Bloom of 2017. She starts the poem:

In the beginning, the ending was beautiful.

In producing the segment I was heavily influenced by the podcast Song Exploder. They invite a musician to unpack a song and talk about almost every aspect of it and their creative process. In the Art House, Pierce does something similar for us with Anthropocene Pastoral. The poem first appeared in the American Poetry Review. It has a haunting beauty to it. I find it emotionally honest too and very moving. After describing the poem, Catherine reads it for us.

Listen to the end of the podcast and you will also hear answers to the puzzler question. Two college students give advice to a middle school student who is freaking out about climate change. We also hear from elementary students from River Valley Nature School. Their presentation at the recent Climate Strike in Lewisburg, PA was a big hit with the audience.

You can hear Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher RadioSoundCloudPodbeanNorthern Spirit RadioGoogle PlayPlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio. See the full show notes here.

Featured Photo by naeim jafari on Unsplash
Photo by Hanna Cody on Unsplash

Dealing Directly with Climate Grief

A university professor reached out to me and asked me what resources I have for people who are concerned about climate change and who are beginning to feel distress and grief about it. We can get easily overwhelmed in taking on climate change and with the good work we are doing. In order for our work to remain sustainable so we do not lose our minds, we need to consider our mental health and wellness.

Through Citizens Climate Radio I take on this issue in a number of ways with some pretty amazing guests. Below are some episodes that address climate grief and despair. They provide helpful steps for how you can take care of yourself.

Ep 39 Envisioning and Communicating Climate Success features communication experts from NNOCCI—National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation. They are zoo and aquarium educators talking about climate change and base their techniques on research. In the episode they speak directly about climate grief and PTSD and how we can look after ourselves. The entire episode serves as encouragement and inspiration for anyone doing climate work.

Ep 23 Mental Health and Wellness features psychiatrist and expert on climate psychology, Dr. Lise Van Susteren. Also, public health expert Dr. Natasha DeJarnett joins her. It is a very honest and helpful discussion about how climate change emotionally and psychologically affects the public and climate advocates.
She might also appreciate my conversation with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. We talked about the hope-despair binary and how she addresses climate dread.Ep 31 Dr. Katharine Hayhoe
Another great resource is The Good Grief Network , which “builds personal resilience while strengthening community ties to help combat despair, inaction, eco-anxiety, and other heavy emotions in the face of daunting systemic predicaments. The state of the world seems unmanageable, chaotic even.” They have articles, a podcast, and 10-Steps climate advocates can walk through.

What resources do you know about and want to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Over on Facebook Sherri Michalovic shared this article that appeared in the Guardian. Don’t Despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is by Rebecca Solnit.

The histories of change that have made me hopeful are often about small groups that seem at the outset unrealistic in their ambition. Whether they were taking on slavery in antebellum USA or human rights in the Soviet bloc, these movements grew exponentially and changed consciousness and then toppled institutions or regimes. We also don’t know what technological breakthroughs, large-scale social changes, or catastrophic ecological feedback loops will shape the next 20 years. Knowing that we don’t know isn’t grounds for confidence, but it is fuel against despair, which is a form of certainty. This future is as uncertain as it’s ever been.

Featured Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Discover what it takes to be an incredibly effective climate communicator

Blair Bazarich in SF Zoo Mobile

Peterson Toscano has had so many amazing guests on his podcast. In the latest episode of Citizens Climate Radio, he speaks with skilled communicators who reveal proven techniques that they use in zoos, aquariums, and beyond.

Climate Communication experts Blair Bazdarich from the San Francisco Zoo and Hannah Pickard at Boston’s New England Aquarium share proven insider tips about effective communication strategies. They are both leaders at NNOCCI, the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation. They train aquarium and zoo professionals how to speak about climate change. NNOCCI is a network of individuals and organizations in informal education, the social sciences, and climate sciences.They are currently working in 170 institutions in 38 states. NNOCCI members reach over 190 million people each year.
In this episode Hannah and Blair share the techniques they have been using, including a “values-first” approach. Through NNOCCI’s research, they identified two motivating values that prove highly effective in opening up conversations with members of the public. The first value is Protection—we feel a strong need to protect the people and places we love. And the second is Responsible Management. We value solving problems earlier before they become too big.
Sean Dague, leader for the Mid-Hudson South chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, leads us through a powerful exercise. He asks us, What does a decarbonized world look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like?

Once you hear Sean’s vision of a successful future, we invite you to continue the exercise. Try some creative writing. Write a short story or a letter from the future about what you see, smell, and hear.  Maybe create visual art, a drawing or painting. If you can’t draw or paint, get images from magazines and on-line then create a collage. Write a song, create a map, choreograph a dance. Use art to capture a vision of a decarbonized world. Even if you do not see yourself as an artsy person, just try it.

Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Professional Sports and Hot Climate Action

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

It is amazing to hear about the variety of people and niches of people that are seriously taking on climate change, talking about it, and pursuing solutions. Last month Peterson Toscano interviewed professional baseball player, Brent Suter. In the latest episode of Citizens Climate Radio he chats with Lew Blaustein of Green Sports Blog.

Lew outlines a growing movement among professional athletes, teams, and leagues to not only green the sporting world but to speak out about climate change.

Lew puts the challenges we face into perspective. He says, “Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels—best player in baseball—recently signed a 400 plus million dollar twelve year contract extension. Twelve years is also what the IPCC said is the time frame that humanity has to reduce our carbon footprint by 45%—basically Mike Trout’s contract.” Lew believes sports fans can become instrumental in taking on climate change. “We need to get the masses of people who follow sports…to engage on positive climate action.”

liz gonzalez with Chaco!

He believes professional sports is an essential arena to make this happen. “We’re athletes. We know how to solve problems and overcome obstacles.”

In the Art House meet poet, liz gonzalez, writing about a rapidly changing semi-natural world in Southern California. She reads poetry and prose about the Santa Ana winds.

All this plus the monthly puzzler–What color or sound do you associate with climate change?

Check out Ep 38 of Citizens Climate Radio

Featured photo credit: Keith Johnston on Unsplash