In this episode we look at the question–why. Sure polar bears are at risk and future generations are too, but besides the classic reasons for talking about climate change, why should we act? We hear from many voices, young and old (and some fictional). We also hear good news out of Florida, in fact, the story of a Republican lawmaker concerned about climate change. In That Day in Climate History, Timothy Meadows celebrates the Queer Family Alliance, a group that formed to take on LGBTQ homelessness, particular in times of disaster. See links and transcript below. And please feel free to share with your friends and followers.
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- Florida Banned the Terms Climate Change and Global Warming (The Guardian)
- Florida Republican Congressman Calls for Action on Climate Change (New York Times)
- Lonely RepublicanVoices Buck Party to Urge Action on Climate Change (Scientific American)
- Obama in the Everglades: Threats from Climate Change “Can’t be Edited Out” of the Conversation (Miami Herald)
- Caught in the Act of Being a Climate Change Hero (Citizens Climate Lobby Blog)
- Casa Ruby is a Chosen Family for Trans People who Need a Home (National Public Radio)
- Casa Ruby providing shelter for homeless transgender adults and youth. (official website)
- Over and Over from Five Song Demo by Mark Chadwick
- Live Action News by Sean Pope
- Boogie Belgique performing Piccadilly and Final Parade from the Nightwalker album
- Romo Can’t Say Goodbye from Listen, Love (vol III) album
- Dream On on Lush Life by Poldoore
Hello and welcome back to the Climate Stew Show or hello for the very first time. I am Peterson Toscano serving up some fresh, tasty, and creative stew for you. This is Climate Stew, the climate change audio magazine that understands sometimes you have to be silly to get serious.
Thank you for the comments and the notes on episode 26 with Lilace Mellin Guignard and our look at Black Lives Matter affecting disaster relief. And Thank you for sharing this podcast with your friends and follows. You may not know this, but many of the individual segments from each episode are also available over on SoundCloud, so you can easily post them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email them, or share them however you share stuff. Just go to SoundCloud dot com, search for Climate Stew, then click on my name, Peterson Toscano. Or checkout our show notes at Climate Stew dot com and click on the link to SoundCloud.
On today’s show we hear from multiple voices—young, old—real and fictional—to consider many different reasons—serious and fanciful—to get off our butts and do something about climate change. This is bigger than polar bears. Not that I have anything against the polar bears.
We also will travel 150 years into the future and hear from Timothy Meadows who looks back fondly on our generation and the many amazing things we are about to do to address the climate crisis.
But first Marvin Bloom in Long Island New York has some good news out of Miami, Florida.
News—Republican in Florida concerned about Climate Change
Hi this Marvin, Marvin Bloom with a climate news story from Florida. I hate Florida, which sounds awful because I have so much family that moved there from New York. But I hate the heat and the bugs. And its a weird place politically. Not that I am that much into politics. But when it comes to climate change recently the media has been mocking Florida a lot.
Have you heard the story about when Florida’s Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of the words Climate Change and Global Warming? I’m sure you heard it. It was the only quote unquote climate news story out there for awhile and clogged up Facebook walls and tweeter feeds.
According to the Guardian Newspaper, Kristina Trotta, a Florida DEP employee revealed
“We were instructed by our regional administrator that we were no longer allowed to use the terms ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ or even ‘sea-level rise’,” “Sea-level rise was to be referred to as ‘nuisance flooding’.”
Well here is a different story about a Florida Republican lawmaker talking about climate change that you probably have not yet heard. I found out about it from Steve Volk over at the Citizens Climate Lobby who wrote about Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo. While touring the Everglades on Earth Day with President Obama, Curbelo again a Republican US congressman from Southern Florida said, you ready for this?
“I share the President’s concerns about sea-level rise, and its effects on our drinking supplies, our economy, and our way of life. I am committed to finding common ground to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
After hearing about this some Miami fifth graders in science teacher Denise Mendoza’s class got so excited about the lawmaker’s statement about climate change they began to write thank you notes. The idea spread throughout the school and on May 8th Representative Curbelo visited the school and received 200 thank you notes from the students. Even Scientific American magazine got wind of Curbelo’s proactive climate talk and the school’s glee. They reported Curbelo saying,“It is vital Congress works in a bipartisan manner to mitigate the effects of climate change and I’m proud to be a pro-environment voice in the Republican Party.”
With sea level rise in Florida and this recent awful flooding after a severe drought in Texas, and the projected hurricane season ramping up, Republican presidential hopefuls like Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry might want to sing unto the voters a new song when it comes to climate change.
Main–Why on Earth Should we Act on Climate?
Why oh why should we do anything about Climate Change? Ok that may sound like a silly question. I mean we are in a crisis, one that will just get bigger and more dangerous if we do nothing about it. Still most people have nothing to do with climate change. Seriously. Most people do not actively read or research the topic let alone engage in climate action. The sense I get is that people in North America do not talk about climate change. Or if they do they may talk about climate deniers and how awful those people are. I mean let’s be honest, the topic can feel overwhelming. Where does one begin?
I admit too can get overwhelmed. But then I remember just one aspect of the problem—for instance, coffee, something near and dear to my heart. It might sound shallow, but the thought of coffee as an endangered specie wakes me up faster than a double espresso. Then I remember the people connected to coffee, not just other coffee lovers and cafe owners but the growers, their families. I think of migration and immigration and human rights. Things also near and dear to my heart. ThenI feel empowered to press in and learn more and do something. And really in this time of climate change we each need to find ways to stay awake because we are very much needed today on this changing planet.
So I have been asking a question as I travel around North America in hopes of getting people to think and dream beyond the typical talking points and to find a hook for them that gets them closer to climate change and climate action. For some people it is children and grandchildren. Yes, we need to think about future generations and what sort of planet they will inherit from us. I don’t know about you, but whenever I moved out of a place—from a dorm in college or apartments in New York, Ecuador, and Memphis, I wanted to make sure the place was neat and tidy. Ok in part because I wanted my deposit back, but also so that the next person wouldn’t have to clean up after me. Oh and I guess judge me as a slob.
When talking about climate change we often hear references to future generations. That’s fine, but this perspective can delay the crisis to the future as if climate change is something that will happen over the next 50 years and not something that earthlings have already been experiencing, and increasingly so, for past 50 years.
When talking about climate change we also look to nature and the traditional environmentalist approach of saving stuff, like animals and places. Save the whales. Save the pristine wilderness hiking trail far from where I actually live and maybe only go to once every three years. Oh, and save the polar bears. Not that I am against preserving and saving natural beauties, but the reality is, most people are too caught up in their human worlds to care enough to do anything but maybe like something on Facebook. Sure it might be grand to see a vast transformation where people are awakened to the beauty around them and our interconnectedness to the natural world—a massive eco-conversion revival movement with multitudes in stadium events streaming down the altar to give their hearts to Al Gore. Uh, actually that sounds creepy. And completely unrealistic. So instead of changing people so they are dramatically moved in new ways that are foreign to them, how about we try to figure what already moves them. Where do they already have skin in the game?
So I have been asking audiences: Besides doing it for “the children and grandchildren” and those adorable, lonely, and actually quite dangerous polar bears, what are other compelling reasons to engage in climate action? It is a brainstorming activity without judgement. Think big. Think shallow. Just try to think beyond the traditional talking points to expand our reasons to act.
Recently at the Watkinson School in Hartford, CT I asked a group of ninth graders this question. I actually encouraged them to think like Mad Men, advertisers who appeal to people who are not thinking about children or nature, but like most of us are really thinking about themselves.
Here are some responses:
(Responses from Kelly, Ryan, Gayle, Jasmin, Aiden, Isobel, Sam, Lori, Glen, and those strange voices in my head)
Now my turn. What is a reason to respond to climate change? Well as a long time LGBTQ activist, I think of climate change as a very queer issue, one that directly affects LGBTQ people. Right now in most cities in the US there are people living on the streets, including youth. Up to 40% of these homeless youth are transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, genderqueer. Many times they don’t feel safe in traditional homeless shelters where people are forced to go to either all male or all female spaces with little regard for gender identity and presentation. Often shelters are run by churches where it is unclear how welcoming an LGBTQ young person might be especially if they are gender non-conforming. As a result, they often avoid shelters. For the same reason transgender adults who live on the streets also steer clear of the shelters.
So what happens in a time of extreme weather? When we have Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, what happens to the folks living on the streets? What happens to these LGBTQ young people? Similarly what about the many LGBTQ senior citizens, many of whom live alone without supportive family nearby. Many do not have children checking in on them.
As I think of the projections for more storms, more extreme heat, more displacement, I wonder about the role of LGBTQ community centers, of religious communities that seek to be open and affirming, of cities that have anti-discrimination policies when it comes to employment but may not take into consideration the needs of transgender, bisexual, genderqueer, lesbian and gay people who need shelter and temporary housing or during a time disaster relief. A reason to act on climate change is for the homeless and elderly LGBTQ people in their time of need.
Now your turn. What about you? Now that you heard some people share their thoughts, what are reasons beyond polar bears and other species and regard for future generations, that we should act. Send me an email email@example.com that’s firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts in the comment section of this podcast at climate stew dot com or let me know over at the Climate Stew FB page or on my Twitter feed. Let me know if I can share some of your thoughts with listeners.
That Day in Climate History–The Queer Family Alliance
I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday, June 1st 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. By the year 2020 the increase and intensity of extreme weather events created chronic crises for cities globally. The disaster especially affected those people without homes or reliable housing. In the early 21st Centuray, transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay youth comprised up to 40% of all homeless youth in most major US cities. In addition many transgender adults were unemployed, underemployed, and homeless. Because of strict gender policies in both public and religious run homeless shelters, many transgender, gender queer, and queer homeless people found these shelters unwelcoming and unsafe. During times of heatwaves, flooding, blizzards, and dust storms, many lost their lives.
As a result the Queer Family Alliance formed. Inspired by the work of Casa Ruby, a collection of alternative housing for homeless transgender, gender queer, and queer adults and youth started by Ruby Jade in Washington, DC, a group of activists in 2021 decided they needed to expand this type of work to other cities. In their mission statement the Queer Family Alliance proclaimed, “Since some of us could no longer find shelter with our families, we sought out a chosen family. In providing safe, loving, and supportive homes for LGBTQ adults and youth, we are demonstrating our family values.”
In coalition with community centers, affirming faith communities, and transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay organizations, the Queer Family Alliance established over 250 homes and shelters in 50 cities throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to shelter, they provided assistance in obtaining employment, permanent housing, health care, and healthy food, much of it grown in Queer Family Alliance community gardens. It is estimated that by the year 2060 over two million people found temporary and longterm shelter through the Queer Family Alliance.
On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History.
Climate History is brought to you by Exxon-Mobile Renewables—proud sponsors of the 2165 Arctic Games.
Thanks for joining me for another raucous round of Climate Stew. Visit Climate Stew dot com to see full show notes, a transcript, links, and music credits. Also welome Climate Stew’s newest crew member, Marin Toscano. Special thanks to Jay Butera from the Citizens Climate Lobby for his work in getting those Miami students to meet with Congressman Carlos Curbelo, to Dr. Jennifer O’Brien and her 9th grade environmental science class, and all those folks who contributed today: Kelly, Ryan, Gayle, Jasmin, Aiden, Isobel, Sam, Lori, Glen, and those strange voices in my head. And thanks to Joe G, who has taught me to embrace my role as a saucy press magnet