An Irish Novelist Who Wanted Nothing to Do with Climate Change

By Peterson Toscano

Irish author Shirley McMillan wanted nothing to do with climate change. A busy mom with a young child, she did not deny the reality or seriousness of climate change, but it all felt too much. She was also uninspired by the many suggestions for how women can do all the hard work to lower the family’s carbon footprint.

Then something changed. Shirley began to see climate change as something more than just an environmental issue. She realized it is also a human rights issue. Still, creating good art that addresses climate change is often challenging. Climate-themed art pushes artists to expand their skills. Many sincere efforts fail. Being concerned about an issue does not immediately mean you can produce art about it.

Hear a lively conversation with Shirley as she explains why it took her a while to warm up to climate action. Learning about her reasons may help you better understand why your own friends and loved ones switch off when you start talking about climate change. Discover how, over time, you can influence your friends to embrace climate action.

Coming up next month, the Climate Stew Players present an original radio play, Survivor Generations 2145.  

If you like what you hear, you can listen to full episodes of Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunesStitcher Radio, Spotify, SoundCloudPodbeanNorthern Spirit RadioGoogle PlayPlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.

(Top image: Peterson Toscano and Shirley McMillan.)

This article is part of The Art House series.


As host of Citizens’ Climate Radio, Peterson Toscano regularly features artists who address climate change in their work. The Art House section of his program includes singer/songwriters, visual artists, comics, creative writers, and playwrights. Through a collaboration with Artists and Climate Change and Citizens’ Climate Education, each month Peterson reissues The Art House for this blog. If you have an idea for The Art House, contact Peterson: radio @


Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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