Episode 43: Solemi Hernandez on Climate Justice

Solemi Hernandez

Solemi Hernandez

Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCL volunteer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes here, and check out the latest episode in the post below.

Originally from Venezuela, Solemi Hernandez has lived in the U.S. state of Florida for the past 17 years. In addition to raising her two sons, Solemi has taken on a very big mission: She wants to save the world starting in her own community. 

Solemi Hernandez and sons

Solemi Hernandez with her sons

Like her father and grandfather before her, Solemi worked for the oil industry in Venezuela. In fact, she grew up in an oil town and saw firsthand the environmental and health hazards that came with the well-paid oil jobs. Once the oil industry became nationalized, Solemi moved to the U.S. and started on a very different path—as a social-justice-minded environmentalist. She began to volunteer with various groups including the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club. She helped create a local chapter of the Pachamama Alliance, an umbrella organization that connects environmental and social justice organizations to work in the community. She also volunteered for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. 

Her concerns for her community and her passion to address climate change deepened in 2017 when she and her family endured a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma. For three days, the family lived in an emergency shelter in a public school that eventually also flooded. They returned to a devastated neighborhood. Their house survived the storm, but the region was without electricity for three weeks. With sweltering temperatures and limited supplies and resources, she and her community worked together to take care of each other. In this podcast episode, Solemi speaks about the added risks marginalized people face who do not have the income and mobility necessary to escape the storms and then to rebuild. 

Solemi admits that climate work is challenging, but she has found purpose and meaning in doing that work. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her story is inspiring. 

Today, Solemi is Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Southeast Regional Coordinator covering Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. She first learned about CCL in 2017, and she immediately signed up as a volunteer because she was inspired by CCL’s mission to create the political will for climate solutions. She is currently enrolled as a Political Science student at Florida Gulf Coast University. Learn more about Solemi and hear her story first hand in this month’s episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio:



Art House

Playwright Chantal Bilodeau returns to the Art House. Every two years to coincide with the UN COP meetings, Chantal and her team organize an international event called Climate Change Theatre Action. They select 50 short climate-themed plays from playwrights around the world. This fall, over 200 communities organized events in 30 countries where they read some of these plays. Chantal shares highlights along with good news about how the movement is growing both in and outside of the theatre community. A book with all 50 of this year’s featured plays will be published in 2020. The collection of 50 plays from 2017 is available now. 


We hear your answers to a question about what household might do with a carbon dividend. Your friend Darren thinks giving out a dividend is a bad idea. He says, “People will just use the dividend they get to continue paying for fossil fuels. Giving them money enables them to stay in their fossil fuel lifestyles.” Hear what listeners had to say in response to Darren.

And here’s a new puzzler question for this month. Imagine you are at a political rally chatting with a new friend. Let’s call her Heather. When you ask her if she wants to join your climate group, she says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t have time for climate work. I feel bad saying that, but I work full time and have two children still in school. I don’t have time for protesting right now.” 

How would you respond to Heather? 

Send Peterson your answer along with your name, contact info, and where you are from. You can email your answers to radio @ citizensclimate.org or leave a voicemail of 3 minutes or less at 518.595.9414. (+1 if calling from outside the USA.)

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Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCL volunteer Peterson Toscano.