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The New Climate Change Activists May Surprise You

New podcast series explores how some people are taking unique approaches to climate activism.

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Should those worried about the future of our climate risk getting arrested through direct actions, regardless of their age?

In the latest episode of the new podcast series Stepping Up, producer Claire Schoen tackles that question, exploring how climate activists—young and old—engage in acts of protest in today’s era.

“As an elder woman, I began this story with the question of what my own role should be in facing the greatest crisis of our time,” Schoen said. “I wondered whether it made sense to put my body on the line and get arrested.”

Throughout “Sitting Down,” the second episode of the series, questions are raised about the effectiveness of the strategies used by activists. When it comes to breaking the law in the name of change, interviewees discuss how generational gaps should—or shouldn’t—affect the levels of involvement from “older folks.”

Ep. 2 – Sitting Down

Following in the noble tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, Millennials are turning to civil disobedience to call attention to the looming climate catastrophe. Climate activist extraordinaire Bill McKibben lauds these youth for their courage. But he’s asking elders, who have less to lose, to step up as well.


One friend cautions Schoen against the “risky step” of being arrested, while another explains the value of taking a risk to call attention to the seriousness of the cause.

“Through this journey, I came to understand that there are different risks for young and old, but everyone has a role to play in confronting the climate challenge,” Schoen says.

The new 10-part podcast series features climate advocates who are taking a stand in unique ways. From an evangelical doing the Lord’s work by saving the planet to climate clowns donning red noses and taking to the streets, Schoen said the new podcast series aims to figure out new ways to act—and act out—about climate change issues.

“Climate change is a difficult topic to tackle. People are tired of hearing about it. And they are scared,” Schoen says. “I’m creating a podcast series that welcomes people into this issue. And the best way to do this is through storytelling.”

The Stepping Up podcast introduces listeners to real people who have interesting, surprising, and sometimes funny stories to tell about the creative ways they are finding to address the climate challenge, Schoen said.

The first podcast episode, "The Loudest Smallest Voices," featured a group of five 12-year-olds on a mission to solve problems in the Earth’s oceans. While teamed up with climate scientists, the kids are profiled as they work to spread the word about climate change to adults and other kids their age.

Ep. 1 – The Loudest Smallest Voices

A group of 12-year-olds, tired of the grownups messing up their planet, have decided to solve the problems of the oceans themselves. They are working on issues like coral bleaching, kelp forests and ocean acidification. These kids are stunningly smart. But they’re also...just kids.


Other episodes in the series are slated to publish over the next few months, with a third episode set to feature “climate clowns.”

Schoen has been creating award-winning multimedia stories about the environment over the past 30 years. Previously, she produced the RISE podcast series, which examined the effects of sea level rise and extreme weather events on coastal lands and communities.

“My hope is that listeners of this new podcast will learn to care and identify with the people they meet, will find connections to their own lives, and will be inspired to step up their own game,” Schoen says.