Episode 87: TikTok, Daryl Hannah, and Barbie Take on Climate Change
In this episode, we’re diving into the creative and innovative ways people are reaching the public about climate change. We feature TikTok influencers and a special announcement on behalf of a major toy company.
TikTok’s Climate Challenge: Humor and Creativity for Impact
Creative communicators are harnessing TikTok to engage their followers with climate change messages. TikTok is known for its short, engaging videos, and we talk to two content creators who are using the platform to reach and educate younger audiences in a fun and creative way.
Preeta “Prach” Banerjee is better known as @Prachonearth, a passionate climate activist who aspires gain a TikTok following as she shares her day-to-day life while promoting climate change awareness. A pre-med student at Purdue University, Prach volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Carbon Fee and Dividend Movement, Prach speaks with Citizens’ Climate Radio team member Ruth Abraham and offers insights into her creative process, which involves spontaneity, authenticity, and connecting with viewers on a personal level.
Cyrus Ferguson is a NYC-based strategist, digital creator, and writer. He produces and hosts TikTok shows that imagine new paths for brands to connect to viewers, and if you’re on ArtTok, you’ve likely seen his “Unintentional Sculpture Analysis.” Cyrus playfully analyzes everyday scenes as if they were works of art, bringing a fresh perspective to mundane objects and encouraging viewers to engage with climate change through imagination and play. With nearly 200,000 likes and over 2,400 comments, Cyrus’ Unintentional Sculpture Analysis #13 REFORM is engaging viewers in a ridiculously serious conversation about climate change. He explains his process and shares expert tips and guidance for content creators.
Cyrus Ferguson is currently Content Director at Bilt Rewards, advisor for venture studio Kairos HQ, content creator for brands like Instagram and GQ, and previously worked with award winning creative teams at Recess and Domino Magazine.
Citizens’ Climate’s Research Coordinator, Dana Nuccitelli, delves into the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Dana breaks down the financial incentives offered by the IRA to encourage household electrification and energy efficiency improvements. From tax credits to upfront rebates, the IRA aims to make sustainable choices more accessible and affordable for households across the United States. Dana emphasizes the significance of these incentives in reducing building emissions and promoting cleaner energy solutions. Oh, and you can see Dana talking about Permitting Reform on Citizens’ Climate’s TikTok channel.
Visit The Nerd Corner for more easy-to-understand explanations by Dana and the team.
Good News Story Eco Warrior Barbies: Daryl Hannah’s Major Announcement!
After actress and eco-activist Daryl Hannah shared a groundbreaking announcement on behalf of the Mattel Corporation, the company behind Barbie dolls, Citizens’ Climate Radio host spoke with Daryl about this big bold move.
Earlier this month at a Los Angeles press conference, Daryl announced that Mattel has committed to going 100% plastic-free by 2030 and aims to support a global ban on plastics. To celebrate this important shift in toy production, Mattel will release a line of fully biodegradable Eco-Warrior Barbies, including one made in Daryl Hannah’s likeness.
She shared some of the details with us. “I have a few accessories. I have a mermaid tail so I can do my work in the ocean. I have a monkey wrench. I have some handcuffs, but actually I used chains when I chained myself to a tree at the South Central farm. I have a snorkel so I can also go and check out under the ocean. I have a few more toys, but I definitely have a few non-plastic biodegradable tools.”
If this story sounds too good to be true, it is because it is. It was all a hoax orchestrated by the fictional Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO). The real people behind this political satire is the infamous Yes Men, who for decades have fooled the press and public with their elaborate stunts. While Mattel did announce it has begun shifting its production of Barbie dolls to include recycled plastics and even unveiled Barbie Loves the Ocean; Its First Fashion Doll Collection Made from Recycled Ocean-Bound Plastic with more sustainable packaging, the BLO is trying to get us to envision a world where we find cleaner alternatives to plastics.
In 1993 the BLO infamously swapped the voice boxes of Barbie dolls with GI Joe voices and returned the dolls to store shelves as a form of cultural protest. This time, they’re tackling plastic pollution with a playful spoof involving eco-friendly Barbie dolls. The fake news story made national news with pieces in the LA Times, NY Times, and CBS News.
Learn more about the Barbie Liberation Organization and watch the spoof TV commercial for the new Eco-Warrior Barbies. See the video interview between Daryl Hannah and Peterson Toscano on YouTube.
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Read the Transcript
Episode 86:TikTok, Daryl Hannah, and Barbie Take on Climate Change
Ruth Abraham, Daryl Hannah, Prach, Dana Nuccitelli, Cyrus Ferguson, Peterson Toscano
Peterson Toscano 00:00
Welcome to Citizens Climate Radio, your climate change podcast. In this show, we highlight people’s stories, we celebrate your successes, and together we share strategies for talking about climate change. I am your host Peterson Toscano. Welcome to Episode 87 of Citizens Climate Radio, a project of Citizens Climate Education. This episode is airing on Friday, August 25 2023. On today’s show, Dana Nuccitelli is back with another installment of the nerd corner. Dean outlined some of the many benefits available to Americans right now as a result of the inflation Reduction Act. We also have a special good news story from Barbieland well from Mattel. Well kinda. I have an exclusive interview with the actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah. She will tell us about the new Ico Barbies. They are made out of mushrooms
Daryl Hannah 00:59
Mattel intends to go 100% plastic free by 2030.
Peterson Toscano 01:06
Sounds a little too good to be true. But first, we enter the world of TikTok, you know that wildly popular social media app. According to the marketing firm Wallowroomedia, TikTok is available in over 160 countries has over 1.1 billion users and has been downloaded over 220 million times in the United States alone. Now that is a massive audience of people who could be inspired challenge and assisted in pursuing climate change solutions. But how do you reach them?
Peterson Toscano 01:46
No, I’m asking because I’ve been creating TikTok videos for over three years. I have nearly 90,000 followers, and they love it. When I talk about the time I spent in South Africa. Some of my videos have gotten over 1 million views and 1000s of comments. But whenever I do a tic tac about climate change. Yeah, it’s definitely like I’m shadow banned and my content is blocked from users. I want to crack the TikTok climate communication conundrum. What better way to learn than to speak with expert content creators. Cyrus Ferguson is going to break down one of his wildly popular climate themed TikToks. But first, I want you to meet an up and coming influencer.
My name is Preeta Banerjee. I go by Prach as my nickname Prach is the way I usually introduce myself.
Peterson Toscano 02:44
Citizens Climate Radio team member Ruth Abraham introduced me to Prach on Earth and her TikTok channel. Not only does Prach create tick talks about climate change and sustainability, she also shares moments from her day to day life. She models what it means to be a climate advocate. Ruth sat down and spoke with brach about her tick tock content and tips she has for any one of us wanting to break into tick tock.
I am an immigrant. I was born in India and I moved here when I was around two years old. I’m very grateful for the life that I’ve been provided here in America. I’m a climate activist. I work with CCL a lot. I also am involved in local community organizations. I’m also a content creator for social media.
Ruth Abraham 03:37
When you’re prepping content, and then pressing record all the way to pressing the post button. What does that creative process look like to you?
I’ll write out a brief script in the Notes app on my phone. And then I’ll usually have to cut it down based off like the length of the video. That’s how I would do voice overs. If I were to just take like a talking video, I set up my ring like I already have in my notes. I’ve written down a lot of things I want to say. I write down my script, I pull out my phone, and I record things in the moment. Because I kind of feel like if I do write down a script way ahead of time, then I’ll probably overthink it. And it’s best to rather put more content out there than holding myself back. Because I don’t think that it’s perfect enough. It definitely helps to harness the energy of the moment to express your ideas in the best way that you can.
Ruth Abraham 04:40
I like the bit of spontaneity. I think that also performs really well on tick tock. What’s the audience you’re trying to attract? And then what message is it exactly that you’re looking to direct towards them?
People that maybe don’t know what the next steps to take are the younger group maybe like high school students and even like college students, or just young adults and teenagers, especially people before they become old enough to vote in elections, they do feel a sense of powerlessness. They’re passionate about helping the world and helping curb the climate crisis. People that already know that they care, but they’re just maybe not sure on the little steps to take to get there. And so kind of showing me in action as well as like me behind the scenes in my day to day life. I’m kind of showing people that like, you know, your entire life, it doesn’t even have to feel like a struggle. It’s actually fun because you’re connecting with all these like minded people. I think with any social media platform, and especially tick tock, there are the positive and the negative sides of it. First and foremost, the strong emotional tie that the younger generation feels towards Tiktok is that it provides a safe space for them to be able to express themselves creatively.
Peterson Toscano 06:04
Thank you, Prach and Ruth for revealing some of the secrets of tick tock. You can follow Prach on Tik Tok at Prach. On Earth Prach is spelt P r a c h Prach. On Earth. Cyrus Ferguson is a content creator in New York City with a wildly popular series of tiktoks. He calls them unintentional sculpture analysis, with nearly 200,000 views and 2500 comments. These make me laugh out loud, and with unintentional sculptural analysis, part 13 and has nearly 200,000 views and 2500 comments. Cyrus sounds so earnest as he looks at things on the street, and applies a sophisticated art analysis to what he sees.
Cyrus Ferguson 07:00
wading through piles of consumer waste, we find a mountain landscape formed from shattered asphalt, acknowledging that both our natural and urban environments are in crisis.
Peterson Toscano 07:13
I had to reach out to Cyrus about this series.
Cyrus Ferguson 07:17
The unintentional sculpture analysis, I think, is just how my brain works. Like I think walking around New York is the most fascinating thing if you have your eyes open, and maybe your headphones out. And so I think I’m always just kind of like looking for the unusual and the interesting around New York, just walking around my neighborhood. Sometimes people ask me, like, Oh, do you ever stage it? Or do you ever think about staging like, there’s no need, that you like the things that you find you couldn’t come up with a better idea or a better sculpture? So I noticed that that kind of like started jumping out to me seeing these very moving or interesting compositions.
For the first couple. I just was experimenting and trying it out and thought the idea of unintentional sculpture analysis was funny. Yeah, pretty much right away, it started to get people’s attention. And the algorithm found this the right kind of person who’d be interested in it, no matter what an artist’s like, says their subject is, the context of the time they live is going to be embedded in it, you might be like painting portraits, but I bet you somewhere in there, the the climate that you live in, the time that you live in, all those things are kind of embedded in some way. That I think was just a natural thing of like, something I care about something I’m interested in and something when you’re especially looking at tons of trash on the street is going to come to mind fairly, frequently or easily.
Peterson Toscano 08:57
What makes it work is that the art analysis sounds so authentic and his character is so sincere.
Cyrus Ferguson 09:05
I learned how to speak this language, this art speak dialect. I don’t think I came away with any particular skills and painting or lithography or learning to think in this way of like finding meaning and sometimes in a little, maybe overblown way, became very natural. It’s harkening back to those like art school critiques, where half of it is the thing that you made, and then half of it is how you present it. How do you explain it? I’m sort of, you know, lovingly poking fun at all the ways of speaking and vocabulary that you end up learning to use and ways of stringing ideas together. It’s the character of this very intense analyst of art. It’s not untrue. I do believe what I’m saying is just you know, there’s a couple of levels of performance or irony to it.
Peterson Toscano 10:08
Let’s look at Unintentional Sculpture Analysis part 13. It’s only one minute and 11 seconds long but he goes to silly and deep places. I asked Iris to explain what we see in the video.
Cyrus Ferguson 10:23
I’m walking down the street. That’s right, it’s on my laundromat. Well, the shopping cart that’s a dead giveaway just on the street right next to this huge stump, which I always find very sad. And then there’s this beautiful like Mercedes Benz vintage car, and then this DHL van pulls up with a windmill on it, which I wasn’t able to get in the video, but my commenters let me know that should have been part of the analysis. So the DHL van, the shopping cart, the shorn off stump, piles of trash. Oh, yeah, there’s this like construction site, which has all this broken up asphalt that felt very mountainous to me. There’s these strange little mini trees and these planters, which I always thought were funny, walking out of the laundromat, and kind of indicative of this very controlled way that we interact with nature in the city. And then I saw this one way sign, it looks across the street, and there’s this new gym. That’s called reform, a perfect word. Perfect button to end the video on.
Peterson Toscano 11:29
Okay, you have a visual of this new york city street corner, and now Cyrus and his unintentional sculptural analysis, part 13.
Cyrus Ferguson 11:39
Welcome back to unintentional sculpture analysis, this piece clearly depicts the ravages of climate change. First, we are confronted by our historic obliteration of nature, then, a butter cream bends with California plates, the fading American dream of never ending expansion. The artist pairs this symbol with a DHL van, the ultimate symbol of having anything we want delivered around the world whenever we wanted an empty, all black shopping cart exposing the ultimate hollowness and blight of this fantasy. wading through piles of consumer waste we find a mountain landscape forms from shattered asphalt. Acknowledging that both our natural and urban environments are in crisis. The nature that we have left is relegated to ever shrinking plots of land and yet still it grows Hardy vibrance, while government action has consisted largely of half hearted warnings and dysfunction. The one way through this disaster is to shine a light and cross the road to large scale reform.
Peterson Toscano 12:51
The many comments to this video reveals that Cyrus has found a way to reach his audience with climate change messaging. But why tick tock and not some other format.
Cyrus Ferguson 13:03
I started experimenting with short form video tic tock in particular, because it is this kind of extraordinary, mysterious platform and like way of reaching people, and I think I was just at first making whatever ideas were coming to me that that I found funny or interesting or inspiring in some way.
Peterson Toscano 13:30
Like Prach already mentioned, humor is a key component with many of the serious topics covered on tick tock that means there is a place in the climate movement for the class clown.
Cyrus Ferguson 13:43
Some of us are born to be the research scientists who God bless them are doing so much. But some of us are, you know, little jokesters and that that doesn’t mean that we can’t be involved in the greater kind of push towards this.
Peterson Toscano 14:03
So are you thinking you might want to try your own climate change? tiktoks CYRUS Ferguson provides us with insights he has gained through his own tick tock content experience.
You have to follow your intuition and your personal taste and interest and follow that thing. Follow that curiosity. This idea came about because of studying Marcel Duchamp in school and watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia somehow, in between this idea emerged. I haven’t seen someone do something quite like it on Tik Tok. It’s impossible to kind of like give people a template to what’s going to be good content. Ultimately, the things that are the most personal that only you could have come up with or only you could have put into motion. Shouldn’t at this specific time, if that’s what’s going to be the best content, what’s going to, I think really connect with people to find that like, personal specificity and strive for originality over, oh, this person is successfully doing this format, let me transpose it and do it myself. It may work, but it gonna feel more rewarding if it’s something that feels personal.
Cyrus Ferguson 15:26
What’s been really interesting to me about unintentional sculpture analysis, and the way that people have received it is that, I believe it shows that there’s an appetite for imagination and for play. That’s sort of the opposite of where our minds usually go, when we’re talking about something serious and something like climate change, that we feel strongly that like, people need to hear this, people need to do something this is, this is really grave. That’s so true. But I think that there’s both dread and apathy that emerges from the scale of the issue. There’s something about using imagination and play, which I think is what people enjoy about watching these videos is that I’m kind of inviting them to play. I’m inviting them to pretend with me. And I think people, especially adults, we’ve maybe been ground down into everyday realism really appreciate. We can engage with things that are weighty, but it doesn’t have to be so dark or serious all the time. There’s a way to engage with these things that can be through a lens of imagination. And that might be honestly a easier shortcut to some of these things. Because the facts and the data are out there. And we’ve been told them for decades. If you feel so moved, maybe there’s a way to try going the opposite direction as a way to kind of engage with people.
Peterson Toscano 17:06
That was Cyrus Ferguson. Follow him on Tiktok @CyrusFerguson or just do a Google search for unintentional sculpture analysis, you will totally find him.
Peterson Toscano 17:19
Coming up. I speak with actress and eco activist Daryl Hannah. She has a very big announcement to share that will forever change the future of Barbie dolls. Plus, you’ll find out how you can save a lot of money while lowering your household emissions.
Peterson Toscano 17:38
Do you want to connect with other creative climate advocates? Well then join us for building community beyond barriers a people focused conference. This is a virtual Citizens Climate Lobby conference that doesn’t focus on policy. Instead, we’ll focus on the experiences of people working towards climate justice and action around the world. We’ll hear individual climate stories celebrate courage, resilience, men learn from each other. This online conference is hosted by CCL affinity action teams, building community beyond barriers CCL is Inclusion Conference will be held on Saturday, September 16 2023. Plus, there is a virtual Reception The night before on Friday, September 15. To learn more about the conference and the free registration, visit CCL usa.org/inclusion, at CCL usa.org/inclusion.
Dana Nuccitelli 18:40
Hi, I’m Dana Nuccitelli, CCL research coordinator, and this is the nerd corner. I’m here to highlight some interesting new climate research for the nerds out there, and to make it understandable for the nerd curious. In this episode, I’ll tell you about the inflation Reduction Act, also known as the IRA. We consider the question what financial incentives does the inflation Reduction Act offer to reduce our homes carbon footprints?
Dana Nuccitelli 19:13
This question is critical to Citizens Climate lobbies new focus on building electrification and efficiency. Burning fossil fuels and buildings accounts for about 13% of America’s climate pollution. And the IRA provides billions of dollars in incentives to reduce those building emissions. Space and water heating account for about two thirds of the energy use in buildings. Fortunately, the IRA provides incentives to install clean, efficient appliances that can do both jobs.
What appliances can do that? Heat pumps instead of burning fossil fuels to warm the air and water, heat pumps just move and amplify heat from a source like the surrounding air. This is a much more efficient process and so heat pumps not only reduce climate pollution, but they can also save on monthly energy bills. electric stoves are also more efficient than gas stoves and electric stoves reduce indoor air pollution that can cause health problems like asthma and kids. Similarly, electric cars are more efficient than gasoline powered cars. The growing fleet of electric cars on our roads also reduce local air pollution. Solar panels reduce monthly electric bills while generating carbon free power. And weatherizing our homes through steps like improving insulation, sealing leaks and upgrading windows can greatly improve their energy efficiency. The inflation Reduction Act offers financial incentives for all of these electrification and efficiency improvements.
Dana Nuccitelli 20:57
These incentives come in two buckets, tax credits, and upfront rebates. The tax credits are available right now. The Ira tax credits cover up to 30% of the costs of heat pump space and water heaters, home weatherization, solar panels and battery storage, and electrical panel upgrades. And there are also tax credits available for new and used electric cars.
The tax credits are applied via your annual federal tax return, most households will also qualify for $14,000 in upfront home electrification and efficiency rebates. The rebates will cover up to 100% of upgrade costs for low income households, and up to 50% of costs for middle income households. These rebates will apply to heat pumps, bass and water heaters, electric stoves, and electrical panel and wiring upgrades if needed. High income households can also get rebates for overall home energy retrofit projects, but state energy offices first have to set up the rebate programs with the Department of Energy, so the rebates may not be available until 2024. To learn more check out rewiring America’s Ira savings calculator to see which tax credits and rebates you qualify for. Just visit CCL usa.org/ira-calc, that CCL usa.org/ira-calc.
I’m Dana Nuccitelli. With the nerd corner. Thank you for being curious and for your commitment to climate progress. Joined the discussion about climate science, technology, Economics and Policy with CCL is research team, check out the nerd corner at CCL usa.org/nerd-corner That CCL usa.org/nerd-corner I hope to see you there.
Peterson Toscano 23:32
Thank you so much, Dana. If you have a question for Dana, email us radio at citizens climate.org That’s radio at citizens climate.org. We will make sure he gets your question and read more of Dana’s analysis by visiting CCL usa.org/nerd. Corner.
Peterson Toscano 23:52
Our good news story today comes from Barbieland or Malibu or I guess Hollywood, I speak with Daryl Hannah. She’s appeared in many hit films including splash, Kill Bill volumes one and two. And in Blade Runner. You have good news and an announcement from the Mattel Corporation.
Daryl Hannah 24:11
Yes, Mattel intends to go 100% plastic free by 2030. In all of their toys, they hope to support a global ban on plastics. It’s really what needs to be done. Hopefully others will follow suit immediately so that they can stay competitive. It just makes sense. It does. And it’s just fantastic.
Peterson Toscano 24:37
It is and why are you so passionate about this particular issue?
Daryl Hannah 24:42
Well, I’ve been engaged in all aspects of fighting for our planet, our planet’s inhabitants, not just the humans but the other creatures as well and our ecosystems for pretty much most of my adult life. It’s not even something that I consciously have decided Do something I can’t not do. When you love something you want to protect it. I just love this planet, I love the, the birds and the creatures under the ocean and the plants, all the different things that food pop out of, and all of them, the planet has everything we need to live and thrive and survive. And if we could just manage to take care of it, to give it the love and respect and care that it needs, it can support us beautifully. Like we could not create a better planet than this water popping out of the ground and fruit popping out of trees and food jumping out of the earth.
Daryl Hannah 25:37
And I mean, it’s just phenomenal. It’s such an incredible place, we just need to treat it with respect, treat it mindfully not to stupid, like cut it all down and fill it with poisons and mine it all up and, and release more poisons. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last several decades. And we just need to stop doing it because now we are actually reaping what we have sowed. And we’ve seen that the damage that is causing us and if we don’t turn ourselves around really fast, and stop doing those stupid things. We’re really sorry to swear on your radio show. I don’t know if I can sort that out
Peterson Toscano 26:18
For decades, girls, women, many drag queens have been pressured to be modeled to look like Barbie. And how does it feel to be the person who has influenced how Barbie looks now that there is a Daryl Hannah, Eco Warrior Barbie.
Daryl Hannah 26:35
I don’t think they had to go too far from their original adults and sort of do their doll of me since he already had, you know, my kind of height and coloring and whatnot. But the important part of it is to show that kids, they already have the common sense to know that they want to protect animals, they want to protect the things that they love, and they want to protect the Earth. The kids have taken on the bulk of the responsibility in the last couple of years and really have been the ones that were serious and like don’t leave us this mess that you guys created. You got to straighten this. I’m gonna swear again. You gotta straighten this out. We don’t want to you know, take on your garbage. It’s a beautiful thing that that kids seem to know. You know what time it is.
Peterson Toscano 27:22
The action figure they made in your likeness has an accessory that goes along with her two accessories, I believe.
Daryl Hannah 27:30
I have a few accessories. Well I have a mermaid tail so I can do my work in the ocean. I have a monkey wrench. I have some handcuffs but actually in fact I used chains when I changed myself to a tree at the South Central farm that I have a have a snorkel so I can also you know go and check out under the ocean. I have a few I have a few more my toys but I definitely have a few non plastic biodegradable tools.
Peterson Toscano 28:00
Thank you. Thank you so much for playing along with this wonderful spoof of the Barbie Liberation Organization thrilled that they are updating their message they won from their last battle about gender roles and voices and now they’ve stepped up to the next fight.
Daryl Hannah 28:16
It’s all one thing you know, just trying to get ourselves to live in a world that functions with more common sense.
Peterson Toscano 28:23
Well, thank you so much for being on Citizens Climate Radio.
Daryl Hannah 28:25
Thank you very much for having me.
Peterson Toscano 28:28
That was Daryl Hannah playing along with a spoof organized by the BLO or the Barbie Liberation Organization. They are also known as The Yes Men. In 1993, the BLO infamously swapped the voice boxes out of talking Barbie dolls, with GI Joe action figure voices. They then repackage these and returned them to toy store shelves. Of course, they’re back again taking on plastic pollution to see their hilarious video spoofs including the fake TV ads for the ego Barbie collection. Visit Barbieliberation.org For links to news stories about the hoax and video of my complete interview with Daryl Hannah. Visit CCL usa.org/radio. If you have good news you want to share on our show, email me radio at citizens climate.org. That’s radio let citizens climate.org
Peterson Toscano 29:28
Thank you for joining me for episode 87 of Citizens Climate Radio. Please share our show with your friends and your colleagues. We’re growing in leaps and bounds in regards to our audience and we want to make sure we get into the ears of the people who will benefit the most from our program. Visit CCL usa.org/radio, to see our show notes, transcript and find links to our guests, and many thanks to Ruth Abraham for her story about Prach on Earth Tiktok channel, city Citizens Climate Radio is a project of Citizens Climate Education.