Climate Comedian, Theatrical Performance Activist, and Storyteller
Peterson is the type of person you talk to and then find yourself thinking about certain things in new or exciting ways for the rest of the day. I just got off a call with him and wish we had another hour to keep chatting!
Peterson is a theatrical performance activist who playfully explores gender, religion, and climate change with his one-person comedies and lively lectures. He sees all of these as human rights issues and has performed for audiences in North America, Europe, and Africa. He approaches these serious topics through humor and storytelling. His goal is to show the human element, make it relatable, and leave people more curious about the topic than they were before. His shows include A Queer Response to Climate Change—What Would Walt Whitman Do? and The Weight of Carbon Dioxide and Chihuahuas.
Climate change is the most recent issue Peterson started speaking up about. It started in 2012 when he found his husband having an existential breakdown after reading an article about climate change. As Peterson started to learn more, he saw that climate change was a social justice issue just like his other topics. One of the turning points for him was when he learned that something he cares about and thought would always be there may be in trouble – he realized the supply of his beloved pasta was at risk!
Along with his live performances, Peterson has been hosting podcasts on climate change since 2014. He recorded 50 podcasts with his organization Climate Stew and now produces Citizens’ Climate Radio (I really enjoyed the episode on mental health and climate change). If you’d like to get a taste for his performance style, I’d recommend watching this video where he goes over the different stages of learning about climate change.
Peterson often ends his live performances with a message to young people and adults. “My sister, Maria asked me one day, ‘Are you scared about climate change?’ ‘Yes, I feel alarmed no doubt,’ I told her, ‘but when I look out on an audience like you, I wonder, ‘Who is sitting in this room? What are they going to do in their lives in this incredible moment in our history.’ I told my sister, ‘No, most days I am not filled with fear. Instead, I’m feeling—what an honor it is to live on the planet right now, to witness what is happening but also to be part of a group of people who are going to find solutions to make the world a better place.”
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