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Episode 94: Antarctic Awakenings

A white woman in a black shirt stands in a marsh, smiling at the camera

Elizabeth Rush, author of “The Quickening, Creation, and Community at the Ends of the Earth”

Episode 94: Antarctic Awakenings: Unveiling Climate Change at the Ends of the Earth with Elizabeth Rush and Brett Cease

In this episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio, co-hosts Peterson Toscano and Erica Valdez explore the theme of climate change and its impact on Antarctica. They interviewed Elizabeth Rush, author of “The Quickening, Creation, and Community at the Ends of the Earth,” who shares her experiences and insights from a research expedition to Thwaites Glacier.

They also spoke with Brett Cease, Vice President of Programs for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, who traveled to Antarctica and shared his observations. Additionally, they discuss sustainable fashion, resilience, and the Great School Electrification Challenge.

Journey to Thwaites Glacier with writer Elizabeth Rush

Elizabeth Rush joined a research expedition aboard an icebreaker in 2019 and headed for Thwaites Glacier for 54 days. This remote and deteriorating glacier is critical in understanding global sea level rise. Her book documents this journey, weaving together the awe-inspiring encounters with icebergs and the intense efforts of scientific labor. 

A Deep Feminist Rewriting of Antarctic History

During her time on the icebreaker, Elizabeth embraced her role as writer-in-residence to shift the narrative focus. Antarctic history, often dominated by tales of conquest by wealthy, white men from the Global North, is ripe for reexamination. Elizabeth spent considerable time engaging with the ship’s diverse crew members, including engineers and cooks from the Philippines, whose stories are usually overshadowed by scientists’ stories. By doing so, she highlights the essential labor that makes scientific discovery possible and challenges the traditional narrative that has long defined Antarctic expeditions.

Life Aboard the Icebreaker

Elizabeth’s account transcends typical adventure narratives, offering a glimpse into the daily realities of life on a research vessel. The absence of the internet and the close quarters created an environment of authenticity and camaraderie among the crew. This unique setting allowed genuine interactions and reflections that are rare in our every day, digitally-saturated lives.

A Thoughtful Dialogue on Climate Change and Parenthood

The Quickening” provocatively explores the intersections of climate change and the decision to bring children into the world. Elizabeth tackles this complex topic not by dictating what to think but by inviting readers to engage in a thoughtful dialogue. The narrative steers clear of simplifying the issue to mere carbon footprints, instead enriching the discussion with nuanced perspectives on regeneration and balance.

About Elizabeth Rush

Elizabeth Rush is a distinguished author known for her impactful exploration of climate change and its effects on communities. Her acclaimed book, “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has garnered praise for its deeply felt portrayal of frontline communities facing environmental challenges. Rush’s writing is characterized by her commitment to listening to marginalized voices, whether they are those affected by climate change, the melting glaciers of Antarctica, or individuals excluded from environmental conversations.

“Rising” has been lauded as a vital contribution to the discourse on climate change and sea levels, earning acclaim from publications like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Rush’s work extends beyond her book, with her writings appearing in prestigious publications such as Orion and Guernica. Rush has received numerous fellowships from institutions like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Geographic, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Currently based in Providence, Rhode Island, she teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University while living with her husband and two children.

This is the fourth time CCR has featured Elizabeth Rush on the show. She also appears in Episode 26 In Deep Water, Episode 29, Truth, Fact, and Cli-Fi, and Episode 47, Eco-Grief in a Time of Coronavirus Mourning

Brett Cease’s Antarctic Adventure

Brett Cease, Vice President of Programs for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, shared his enlightening journey to the Antarctic Peninsula. His voyage on the Ushuaia, a research vessel turned expedition ship, offered firsthand insights into Antarctica’s harsh realities and stunning beauty.

Navigating through towering waves and enduring 24-hour daylight, Brett’s expedition highlighted the Southern Ocean’s raw power and unpredictability. The trip provided an up-close view of the continent’s dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife, including several species of penguins.

Penguins and the Impact of Climate Change

One of the most striking aspects of the journey was observing the effects of climate change on local wildlife. The Adelie penguins, in particular, suffer as rising temperatures cause the sea ice they depend on to form later and melt earlier each year.

Brett vividly described the overwhelming smell of penguin colonies, a mix of old cigarettes, ammonia, and rotten shrimp, illustrating the less glamorous side of these adorable but squalid creatures.

Ice Loss and Its Global Implications

The voyage underscored the dramatic ice loss in Antarctica, with the continent shedding approximately 150 billion tons of ice annually. Witnessing these changes was humbling and a stark reminder of the urgent need for global climate action.

Listen Now!

Resilience Corner

Tamara Staton explores the surprising relationship between puppies and climate change. Through her experience with her puppy, Mica, Tamara highlights how pets contribute to our well-being, from reducing stress to promoting physical activity and combating loneliness. She emphasizes how the positive effects of pet ownership can indirectly support climate action by fostering healthier, happier individuals. Tamara invites us to consider pet ownership or pet-sitting as a means of experiencing these benefits. 

To learn more about building resilience in the face of climate challenges, visit the Resilience Hub. Share your resiliency questions with Tamara via email at radio @ or you can text or leave a message at 619-512-9646.

CCL Youth Corner with Veda Ganesan

Veda tells us about the Great School Electrification Challenge, an initiative spearheaded by CCL National Youth Action Team that aims to transform schools into hubs of sustainability by advocating for the electrification of various systems, including HVAC, transportation, and energy sources like solar panels. Through the stories of youth teams in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas, Veda showcases the grassroots efforts to engage school boards, policymakers, and the community in adopting clean energy practices. Highlighting the recent success of the Cincinnati team in getting their electrification resolution unanimously passed, she encourages listeners to join the cause and participate in the challenge

Veda Genesan is a high school student from Texas and the host of the Sustainable Cents podcast

Good News

Erica Valdez shares the adverse environmental effects of the fashion industry, as it uses resources and generates emissions to produce, package, and transport clothing. The good news is there are many groups taking action and bringing this issue to light.

Erica highlights the Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP), a nonprofit center for creative reuse in San Francisco. 

Through after-school programs like Sustainable Fashion Design for Teens, SCRAP educates students about the environmental effects of the fashion industry and teaches them how to reuse and revitalize clothing materials. This program empowers young people with hands-on workshops and educational sessions. It also provides a space to learn and process climate information and connect with other young advocates. SCRAP is a perfect example of how important individual and collective action is and how creative it can look.

Monthly Question

If you could advocate for the climate through art, what kind of art piece would you create? 

This can be music, dance, film, writing, or other mediums you’ve used in rural climate work. We want to hear about it. Please email your answer to radio @ citizens You can also text or leave a voicemail at 619-512-9646. Tell us your story of using art in your climate work.

Listener Survey

We want to hear your feedback about this episode. After you listen, feel free to fill in this short survey. Your feedback will help us make new decisions about the show’s content, guests, and style. You can fill it out anonymously and answer whichever questions you like. You can also reach us by email: radio 

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Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group, on X (formerly known as Twitter) @CitizensCRadio, Instagram @CitizensClimateRadio, LinkedIn, or TikTok @ClimateChangePodcast 



Read the Transcript
Episode 94: Antarctic Awakenings: Unveiling Climate Change at the Ends of the Earth with Elizabeth Rush and Brett Cease


Elizabeth Rush, Tamara Staton, Brett Cease, Peterson Toscano, Veda Ganesan, Erica Valdez


Peterson Toscano  00:00

Welcome to Citizens’ Climate Radio, your climate change podcast.

Erica Valdez  00:05

In this show, we highlight people’s stories. We celebrate your successes, and together we share strategies for talking about climate change.

Peterson Toscano  00:12

I’m your host, Peterson Toscano,

Erica Valdez  00:14

and I’m your other host, Erica Valdez. Welcome to Episode 94 of Citizens’ Climate Radio, a project of Citizens’ Climate Education.

Peterson Toscano  00:22

This episode is airing on Friday, April 26 2024. Hey, Erica, Welcome to the show. 

Erica Valdez  00:30

Hey, Peterson, I’m happy to be here. 

Peterson Toscano  00:32

Congratulations, being co host first time, well done. 

Erica Valdez  00:35

Thank you. 

Peterson Toscano  00:36

We have a very, very full show today. lots of moving parts. What’s something you’re excited about listeners hearing on today’s show?

Erica Valdez  00:44

I’m especially looking forward to hearing from Elizabeth Rush. She talks about her new book, The Quickening. It’s about her experience on a trip to Antarctica and how she sees this continent being impacted by humans. I’m always looking for a good environmental book recommendation. And I just love hearing personal stories about other climate advocates.

Peterson Toscano  01:01

Yeah, she’s an amazing writer. She’ll give us a reading as well. I’m super excited about your good news story that you worked on. You researched it? You recorded it. You did all the audio and it’s about sustainable fashion. I’m super excited about that. Yeah, me too. Well, with this Antarctica theme, we also have a segment with Brett Cease from Citizens’ Climate Lobby, he traveled to Antarctica to and he shares with us the sights, the sounds and the smells, which I didn’t realize they were so strong in Antarctica.

Erica Valdez  01:32

And we also have a CCL Youth Corner. Today, we’re bringing you a special episode focusing on the Great School Electrification Challenge. They talk about what electrification is all about, and how either igniting change in their schools and how you can inspire youth to join the cause.

Peterson Toscano  01:48

We have a new section thanks to you questions and answers with listeners. So thanks for that suggestion. So are you ready, Erica? 

Erica Valdez  01:56

Yep. Are you? 

Peterson Toscano  01:57

I think so. Let’s do it. 

Peterson Toscano  02:00

Elizabeth Rush is the author of Rising, Dispatches from the New American Shore, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Her work focuses on listening to marginalized voices and frontline climate-affected communities, and she explores the crucial questions of our responsibilities and emotional responses in a rapidly changing world. Elizabeth returns to Citizens’ Climate Radio to tell us about her newest book, The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth.

Erica Valdez  02:34

In 2019 Elizabeth Rush joined a research expedition aboard an icebreaker to Thwaites Glacier, a remote and rapidly deteriorating region critical to understanding global sea level rise. Her book, The Quickening, documents this journey, blending on inspiring encounters with icebergs and intense scientific labor, while pondering the profound personal question of what it means to bring a child into a world undergoing radical change.

Elizabeth Rush  02:59

When I took a position on this boat as like the writer in residence, I knew that I wanted to spend a lot of time on this ship, interviewing and speaking to people whose voices are traditionally left out of Antarctic stories. It turns out, as I like delved into Antarctic research, that like if you’re not a wealthy white dude from the global north like you’ve definitely been written out of Antarctic history, I did very purposefully spend a lot of time during the expedition talking to like the engineers, and the able-bodied seaman who all came from the Philippines, the cooks on board, because our modern Antarctic stories tend to center the work of the scientists that are trying to do climate science or groundbreaking science in Antarctica. And if you just look at like the crew list on our boat, the Nathanial B. Palmer. We were 50/50 support staff and scientists federally funded scientists, so I was really interested in like whose labor makes the scientific discovery possible. Who aren’t we hearing from? 

Elizabeth Rush  04:12

I mean, it’s a book about Antarctic history. It’s a book about how in the little bit of time that human beings have had contact with Antarctica, we’ve really like crushed this continent of ice into like a very limited masculine narrative of conquest and derring do and Antarctica serves as like a backdrop and that story, I sometimes say it’s like a deep feminist rewriting of Antarctica. A lot of these books tend to be about like extreme environments. And I was like, you know, for all the time I spent in Antarctica, the reality is most of it was inside a climate controlled boat with like four meals a day cooked for me and stuff. So I tried to kind of lean into what it was actually like and not to over dramatize it, there was no choice but to be yourself. People really didn’t perform for each other, there was a certain amount of like deep authenticity that being on this boat just demanded, because otherwise you would wear yourself out by like day three.

Elizabeth Rush  04:13

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like that. The closest is sort of like summer camp when I was 10, or something. I mean, I don’t know how people felt about summer camp, but, I don’t know just like there’s like a deep sense of camaraderie that developed amongst us going through this like really strange experience together. I think all the characters in the book come across as very authentic, and they just kind of like shed their armor, and let it all hang out.

Elizabeth Rush  05:48

The mechanism of the book is one where you’re kind of a fly on the wall eavesdropping on really interesting people for like two and a half months as they, I don’t know, plow into the ice and like go sedate elephant seals, and then play bridge for hours on end because they have nothing else to do. We had no internet, like no functional internet, which was awesome. Like, you just had to be with each other. It was really fun. I think it was some of the happiest of my adult life. Without internet, there was none of that kind of like knee-jerk. Oh, I’m like standing waiting for my groceries, let me read the newspaper. My time became way more expansive, because it wasn’t divided into these smaller and smaller chunks constantly, which I really, really, really liked.

Elizabeth Rush  06:43

It was after dinner and you’re sort of like, oh, I don’t know what to do with myself, you’re not like wow, let me just like read something on Twitter. Maybe I should walk up to the bridge and look to see if there are whales out there. And maybe I’ll chat with someone, I felt that there was a lot more sort of very low-stakes socializing that happened. And that replaced the internet a little bit like it replaced Twitter, it replaced social media. But with actual human beings, it was wonderful, I really felt liberated.

Elizabeth Rush  07:17

Experiencing something extraordinary with other human beings, there’s nothing quite like it. And it doesn’t have to be a glacier, it can just be a shared space. It can be a fire at the end of the day.  I want to make the reader feel like they’re pulling close to this glacier, and looking at it, and having to kind of like consider it fully, physically, spiritually. The book really doesn’t tell you what to think about climate change and parenthood. Instead, I hope it creates a meaningful space for the reader to like engage in their own thinking on that quandary. It’s not you should have kids, you shouldn’t have kids. There’s no shoulds at all. It’s just, man, this is complicated. Here are lots of ways to think about it.

Elizabeth Rush  08:17

When I read about climate change and Parenthood in the news, it often gets sort of reduced to like conversations on the carbon footprint. And like, oh, a kid is like your biggest contribution to your carbon footprint. And I just think that’s a bunch of BS, and I could go down that rabbit hole. We don’t have to right now, but choosing to have a kid is not the same as like getting a Jetta, or a Prius, or whatever. And I really don’t appreciate the comparison because I think it denies folks the opportunity to have a real conversation about like what does regeneration mean as the planet tips out of balance? I really wanted the book to have space for like a thoughtful conversation around those subjects without getting prescriptive.

Erica Valdez  09:02

Elizabeth agreed to read from the quickening.

Peterson Toscano  09:05

Think of this section as a monologue spoken in the voice of Peter, one of the researchers aboard the ship.

Elizabeth Rush  09:14

So this is Peter. I had a moment yesterday. Do you ever just stop and think: what the eff am I doing? That we’re about to sail to the goddamn Southern Ocean? Why would anybody in their right mind go to Antarctica, which is like the great beyond? I just had one of those moments where I went, What am I doing? I’m from Norfolk, I shouldn’t be here. Most of my friends who are not scientists think I’m kind of mad. Antarctica is bad enough, but Thwaites? They look at me like really? Is there a need? They find the fact that it’s called a cruise particularly entertaining because you know, a cruise to them means rattling around the Caribbean on the QM2 with a cocktail in hand.

Elizabeth Rush  10:00

On our cruise, there’s no alcohol, you have to share a cabin, you eat what you’re given, and it’s freezing bloody cold. And the thing is, you can’t get off if you don’t like us. If there’s someone you really hate, you can’t get away from them. It’s the same on all the scientific cruises, no matter where you go. At breakfast, they’re there. They spent all night on the same boat as you, you have no choice but to make it work. Otherwise, you’d throw yourself off the side. It may surprise you to find that I’m a quite sociable person. So to cut myself off from all my friends almost completely? Well, I’ve got to find some sustenance somewhere. Here we are, on this boat with this motley crew of people who most of us just met, and now will embark on this incredibly intense journey. That is its own kind of social experiment.

Elizabeth Rush  10:57

All right, and then this is arriving at Thwaites. This is the night into morning that we arrive at Thwaites. That night sound sleep eludes me. I wake often, each time hopeful that we’ve arrived. Finally around five o’clock in the morning I rise, shuffle up the four flights of stairs, undog the door by the ice tower, and walk out on the bridge wings. Thwaite’s gray margin wobbles in the gloaming. We wind alongside entering small coves and rounding odd promontories. Our pace slow to hold this precarious line. The ice face soft as dunes. The night’s new hint of darkness gives way to the bruised light of dawn, and many others appear to watch what each of us has been working toward for weeks for years, and in some cases for decades, come into sharp focus. We don’t talk. When someone wants to say something, they whisper as though we’re in a giant, roofless cathedral. We, who’ve been at sea for so long, finally gaze upon the glacier that has already given us one another. Rick stands attentive at the ship’s helm. The captain next to him, steering us along the edges of Thwaites’ unfathomable fracturing, its hemorrhaging heart of milk.

Peterson Toscano  12:55

That was Elizabeth Rush, author of The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth, which is available wherever books are sold.

Erica Valdez  13:05

To learn more about Elizabeth and her other publications, visit

Peterson Toscano  13:13

It turns out, you don’t need to be a fancy scientist or a creative writer to visit Antarctica. There are tourist cruises you can take. Well, not luxury cruises, but you can travel with scientists who are doing their research.

Erica Valdez  13:29

Brett Cease, Citizens’ Climate’s vice president of programming, traveled to Antarctica with his father and sister. He shares some of his experiences with us, including the shocking truth about penguins.

Brett Cease  13:42

We were on a boat called the Ushuaia, named for the city, obviously, that you leave from South America to get to the peninsula on. It’s a 279-foot ice-strengthened expedition ship, specifically that was built for NOAA as a research vessel back in 1970, it tops out at about 16 miles an hour. So, it goes very slowly, chugging along with its old diesel engines. It’s about 52 feet wide, and there was space enough for 90 passengers and 38 crew. And it now serves as not only as a transportation for those scientists to get to the peninsula but for tourists and individuals that are interested, like my family was, to go along with them and during the journey, learn about the research that they’re doing, get educated and have the chance to interact with those people as we made the voyage.

Brett Cease  14:36

These were the people in the world that are doing some of the front line research, trying to understand the changing climate of Antarctica, the early signals that we’re already detecting and impacts that it’s going to have on a whole system of food chains. Just imagine a house-sized wave crashing over your boat, your, the bow of the boat every five to 10 seconds for two days straight. Yo u literally kind of have to velcro your head to your pillow, or else you’ll roll out the bed. The winds and the current swirling around, this endless surging raw power of the Southern Ocean. It felt like being at the bottom of an endless grandfather clock pendulum.

Brett Cease  15:16

It wasn’t too cold, we were in the Antarctic summer. There’s no darkness, that is another beautiful thing. You know, imagine being in a world of 23+ plus of light. And yes, we, just like Elizabeth, we reveled in the chance to share and get to know the other travelers in the crew. Just to get into the flow of the season, and the wildlife, and the quiet ice passing by us. It was unforgettable. You’re struck immediately by how quickly the mountains rise up from the ocean. It’s actually the highest, and driest, and windiest continent of the world, not just the coldest. It’s known for its katabatic winds, which have speeds of over 200 miles an hour. And it’s constantly there.

Brett Cease  16:02

There are three types of penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula that we all got to see during the expedition: the gentoo penguin, the chinstrap penguin, and the adelie penguin. And here is where climate change rears its head. Rising temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula are actually hammering the region’s adelie penguins and the sea ice that they depend. Ice forms continually later each year, it melts earlier, and that whole species is disappearing entirely from that Peninsula. Some of the sounds that you might, kind of, imagine with penguins include the cooing, the beautiful squawks that they give to each other as mates. Penguins make affectionally for life. So, it was really inspiring to see both the male and the female parents take care of their young chicks, and build up their stone nests with little pebbles that they’d wobble over across all the mud to collect.

Brett Cease  16:56

On top of being adored lovable birds that we all just enjoy looking at, penguins live in absolute squalor. This is one of the things that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s detailed by an NPR article that I love replicating here. They say the best way for you here at home, listener, to recreate the old factory experience for your own nose is to take some old cigarettes, soak them in ammonia, mix in some rotten shrimp, put this all in a bottle if you will. And then let it sit out on your windowsill in the sun for several days. Mix it up, and then take a big whiff in. And then breathe that in constantly, and that is the smell of penguin guano. Because of their sheer scale, these colonies that we visited were literally hundreds of thousands of birds. You can imagine that that gets overpowering pretty quickly.

Brett Cease  17:49

Antarctica is losing ice mass, that means it’s melting at an average rate of 150 billion tons of ice each year. Witnessing these icebergs that are floating now in the cold, open channels of the ocean, hundreds and hundreds of them, we got to see icebergs calving, we got to see the ship being navigated through channels that were clogged with them. They were composed of snow that had been compacted long before I was born, long before even, on some of them, the dawn of humankind. And thinking about the impact that all of us have in changing, so dramatically and so quickly, this entire landscape was incredibly humbling in harrowing.

Peterson Toscano  18:45

That was Brett Cease, vice president of programming for CCL.

Erica Valdez  18:50

Visit to see some of Brett’s photos. Still to come, you hear some good news for me about a program that teaches school students about making fashion sustainably. We also learned about resilience and puppies from Tamara Staton. And hear the next installment of the CCL youth corner. Stay tuned!

Peterson Toscano  19:20

Now it is time for the resilience corner with Tamra Staton.

Tamara Staton  19:24

Hi, I’m Tamara Staton, CCL’s education and resilience coordinator. And this is Resilient Climateering Through Unexpected Climate Connections. Today’s topic is puppies and climate, two seemingly unrelated concepts that actually relate to one another in quite a few interesting ways. And to be clear, while this episode highlights the relationship between puppies and climate change, you could easily substitute puppies for kittens or many other sweet pets that regularly bring you joy.

Tamara Staton  19:54

In March, we got a puppy and we named her Mika she’s almost a year now, and it’s been quite an amazing journey. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a puppy, especially a working breed like a German Shepherd, but as much work as she’s been, I’m so happy that she’s in our lives. When Mika was just a few months, old romping around in the backyard, I found myself wondering if there’s a connection between puppies and climate change. While it may seem like a stretch at first, I actually see a boatload of connections.

Tamara Staton  20:25

In a nutshell, puppies, and the pets that we love, offer so many benefits to our lives, which end up helping us in our efforts to address climate change. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, simply petting a dog, or a pet, lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. And the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel good hormone, oxytocin. As highlighted from the National Institutes of Health, oxytocin can induce anti stress-like effects, such as reduction of blood pressure and cortisol levels. It increases pain thresholds, and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. It also promotes growth and healing. When we’re growing, healing, and healthy, climate action gets to take a front seat in our lives. Pets and puppies can help us stay healthier, and naturally reduce the stress that many of us feel on a regular basis when we think about climate change.

Tamara Staton  21:24

In addition to lowering my stress, and blood pressure, at least most of the time, my puppy, Mika, forces me to be more active and more present and to go outside. I take her on walks in the sun and the rain, I head to the park, and walk through the trees. I meander through my neighborhood speeding up at times, but also slowing down so that we can both take in our surroundings and be fully present with whatever we see, hear, and smell. And perhaps most importantly, at least for me, having a puppy leaves me feeling more fulfilled and less lonely. Granted, she’s on on their climate advocate working on the same cause. But the opportunity to snuggle with her on a regular basis, to feel her love to feel her loyalty? Those are sensations that are hard to replicate even with other people.

Tamara Staton  22:14

In fact, one study in 2011 found that pets provided greater social support than humans in mitigating depression. And another study found that pet owners had better self-esteem. Maybe you’re not up for a puppy, or a kitten, or a pet of your own anytime soon. There’s definitely a time and a place for taking that on. But maybe you consider pet sitting or time sharing or borrowing a snuggly pet from a friend or family member. Or maybe, you just lean into the love that you recognize that your own pet offers you. I’m Tamara Staton with the Resilience Corner. Thank you for listening and for your commitment to progress. To learn more about tools, training, and resources for staying strong through the climate challenge, check out our resilience hub at And until next month, remember this. Find your passion, let it guide you, and you’ll do amazing things for our world.

Peterson Toscano  23:14

Thank you, Tamara. You know, Erica, now I definitely need a puppy. Desperately.

Erica Valdez  23:19

You and me both. Do you have a question for Tamara? She’s very happy to consider your resilience questions, conundrums, and suggestions. Send an email to . That’s radio @ or text us at 619-512-9646.

Peterson Toscano  23:39

The resilience corner is made possible through a collaboration with Tamara Staton, education and resilience coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Education. Now it is time for the CCL youth corner with Veda Ganessan, our youth correspondent.

Veda Ganesan  23:55

Welcome to Citizens’ Climate Radio’s Youth Corner. We’ll delve into the latest developments in climate action and environmental issues, all from the youth’s point of view. I’m Veda Ganessan, CCL’s national youth podcast lead. Today, we’re bringing you a special episode focusing on the Great School Electrification Challenge. What is electrification all about? How are youth igniting change in their schools? And how can you inspire youth to join the cause? Oh, and I’ll be telling you about one team that got their resolution passed.

Veda Ganesan  24:36

Schools are among the largest energy consumers in the public sector. They generate emissions equivalent to those of 18 million cars each year. We students hope to change that. Enter the Great School Electrification Challenge. This initiative was launched by CCL’s national youth action team. In this challenge, teams of students are calling on their school boards to pledge to electrify everything in their schools. That means HVAC systems, lawn maintenance, school bus fleets, and even adding solar panels. It’s about embracing clean energy and sustainability in the places where we learn and grow. We’re gearing up for round two of the challenge right now.

Veda Ganesan  25:15

Sharon Bagatell, the CCL youth action coordinator, describes the challenge as fun, informative, and empowering. And it’s no wonder. Students hold a unique position as the primary users of school facilities, giving them the right to influence and advocate for change. The challenge is also about creating a safer, more comfortable school environment that fosters better academic performance. Now, the big question: how do students make it happen? I’ll tell you about two different use teams, one in Cincinnati, Ohio, and one in Dallas, Texas.

Veda Ganesan  25:48

First, let’s take a look at DFW Gen Green. Led by me and Care Share, our team in Texas has developed a meticulous roadmap that includes electric school bus fleets and solar panel installations. We’ve convened high-level discussions with representatives from critical departments. These include the school superintendent, CFO, facilities, energy construction and contracts to enhance our efforts. We’ve connected with the community through tabling at local events, publishing op-eds, and organizing district-wide art shows. This ambitious endeavor comes at a crucial time for the district, particularly amidst budgetary challenges.

Veda Ganesan  26:25

Now, zooming in on the Electrified Cincinnati Schools Team, we see that they have been developing relationships with board members and influential policymakers to make changes. They’ve even hosted discussions with guest speakers and local environmental activists. And just recently, the Cincinnati Board of Education unanimously passed the team’s electrification resolution. They’re the first team to do so in the national youth action team.

Veda Ganesan  26:48

With 11 more teams across the United States, including the Los Alamos High Eco Club and the Tahoe Youth Action Team, the opportunity to get involved awaits you. To learn more and to register, visit Again, that’s The Electrification Challenge is an invitation to contribute to a greater cause, affect real change within the community, and ignite inspiration for others. The top three electrification teams in round one will be receiving cash prizes for their hard work. Learn more at

Veda Ganesan  27:35

As a high school student, I see the great electrification challenge as a symbol of our commitment to a brighter, greener and more sustainable future. It empowers us to be innovators, forward thinkers, and environmental stewards. So let’s embrace the challenge, ignite change, and create a world we’re proud to pass on to future generations. We’ll report more on this in future episodes as more teams join the challenge.

Veda Ganesan  28:00

So that concludes our time with you. Thank you for joining us for the CCL youth corner and stay tuned for our next episode on the goat campaign. To learn more about CCL youth, visit

Erica Valdez  28:18

Thank you, Veda. That was Veda Ganessan with the CCL youth corner. Now it’s time for our good news story.

Peterson Toscano  28:40

This story was researched, written, and produced by you, Erica Valdez; thank you so much.

Erica Valdez  28:46

Do you know which of these products takes more water to produce? Is it our food, our clothing, our cars? If you guess clothing, you’re right. The fashion industry is the second most water-intensive industry in the world. To produce and packaged clothing takes a lot of resources, not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions it produces to transport all of them. These processes have a huge impact on the environment. And it’s hard for us as individuals to steer clear from the consumer culture when things have become so accessible.

Erica Valdez  29:16

The good news is, that groups are stepping up to bring this issue to light and support individuals in taking action. One of these groups is the Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts, or SCRAP. I had a great conversation with Danielle grant. She’s a programs director at SCRAP. She told me about the background of the nonprofit and how it’s empowering young people in the climate conversation.

Erica Valdez  29:39

Here are some quick facts about SCRAP. It’s the oldest and largest creative reuse nonprofit center in the United States. Scrap was started in response to the defunding of arts education in the San Francisco School District. And it was established nearly 50 years ago, in 1976. At this time, the environmental movement was gaining momentum worldwide. I mean, it was the 70s. This decade brought the first Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency. People were advocating for the climate by sharing the science, protesting, and collaborating with others across the world.

Erica Valdez  30:11

I love that SCRAP is open to the public. People can shop, explore how to use materials, and attend educational workshops. What caught my attention was one of SCRAP’s after-school programs that teaches students how to reuse and revitalize clothing materials. This program is called Sustainable Fashion Design for Teens. In this program, students usually have two classes per week. One is more learning and curriculum based where they discuss the fashion industry worldwide and its environmental effects. The second is a hands-on workshop. Over 12 weeks, students work up to a final project, or fashion show, to present to their friends and family.

Erica Valdez  30:43

SCRAP’s main objectives with these school programs are to 1.) keep materials out of landfills and reuse them in schools. And 2.) to teach a young generation the importance of reducing waste in the fashion industry. While talking with Danielle, it’s obvious that these students need these spaces. SCRAP provides a space to learn and process climate information. Students not only hear about our shifting climate, but they also experience it in the Bay Area of San Francisco. They see and breathe in wildfire smoke and they also experienced a new phenomenon: the atmospheric river bringing extreme amounts of rainfall. This is a very heavy topic and SCRAP gives them tools to cope with climate anxiety. They also get to connect with other teens and make an impact.

Erica Valdez  31:24

Danielle phrased it perfectly. Quote, “This program gives students a little bit of hope and agency around participating in the fight that lies ahead” end quote. Sustainable Fashion Design for Teens is just one of many programs that SCRAP offers. And it’s not the only one doing this work. In fact, when looking for sustainable fashion groups to feature in this episode, I found so many around the world, I had trouble narrowing it down to just one. These groups show how important individual and collective action is, and how creative it can look.

Erica Valdez  31:52

Want to get involved? SCRAP has worked with other reuse nonprofits to help them implement similar programs. And they’re looking to collaborate in other areas and schools to create more learning opportunities like these. You can find more information about SCRAP programs at Again, that’s I put that link in the show notes for you. And there, you can also find photos of the students SCRAP projects. Just visit

Peterson Toscano  32:19

Thank you Erica. If you have good news you want to share send us an email radio @

Erica Valdez  32:26

You can also text us at 619-512-9646.

Peterson Toscano  32:31

Last month, we asked listeners to tell us about the role they play in the climate movement. Are you a helper, advocate, organizer, or a rebel? Tanya wrote to say she is a helper, but reading her message, you can see she’s also an advocate. Tanya wrote, quote, “I made a decision to live a more sustainable life and do things like buy bamboo toilet paper, and try really hard to stay away from plastic. I also sometimes make calls for the environmental voter project. And I belong to my local chapter of CCL. I make calls to my congressmen and senators when asked, and before all of this, I actually met with my congressman on my own and gave him a presentation and specific asks.” Thank you, Tanya, so much for that message.

Erica Valdez  33:16

We want to give listeners a chance to respond just like Tanya did. So, if you could advocate for the climate through art, what kind of piece would you create? This can be music, dance, film, writing or other mediums you’ve used in your climate work. We want to hear about it! So feel free to send us an email radio @ You can also text or leave a voicemail at 619-512-9646 and tell us your story of using art and your climate work.

Peterson Toscano  33:43

Thank you for joining us for episode 94 of Citizens’ Climate Radio. Our show is written and produced by Erica Valdez.

Erica Valdez  33:52

And Peterson Toscano along with Horace Mo. Other technical support from Ricky Bradley and Brett cease social media assistance from Flannery Winchester. Moral support from Madeline Para.

Peterson Toscano  34:02

Over the last month, many of you have shared our post on your social media. Here are some of the people and organizations that have shown us some love: CCL groups in Boulder, Colorado in Arkansas, Austin, Texas and San Diego. Many thanks also to Robin Elsebeth Jenkins, Robert D. Evans, Michael Cooper, and Bill Nash. Thank you so much.

Erica Valdez  34:26

You can now follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and TikTok. Call our listener voicemail hotline- not hotline.

Peterson Toscano  34:34

I like hotline.

Erica Valdez  34:35

Yeah? Caller listener voicemail line at 619-512-9646. That number again is 619-512-9646. Visit to see our show notes and find links toward guests.

Peterson Toscano  34:51

Citizens’ Climate Radio is a project of Citizens’ Climate Education.