Webinar | February 16
"Don't Look Down":
How Misinformation & Science Denial Obscures the Global
Plastics and Climate Crisis

During the February 16 webinar, the panelists discussed the impacts of plastics on climate and human health and how industry uses science denial and misinformation to prevent urgent and transformative solutions from being adopted. The webinar featured Yvette Arellano, Founder & Executive Director of Fenceline Watch; Shilpi Chhotray, Co-Founder & Executive Director of People Over Plastic; and Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science & Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, whose work and persona provided inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the satirical film Don’t Look Up.

PANELISTS

Yvette Arellano
Yvette Arellano is a Mexican American Gulf Coast organizer based in Houston, Texas. They are the Founder & Executive Director of Fenceline Watch, an environmental justice organization dedicated to the eradication of toxic multigenerational harm on communities living along the fenceline of industry. In 2015, Yvette led a campaign against H.R. 702, which had opened the floodgates to U.S. crude oil exports. They were instrumental in the Center for International Environmental Law’s report “Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet.” Yvette has testified before the U.S. EPA, state, and federal legislative bodies about public health impacts from toxic exposure and potential solutions. Additionally, they represented Texas in delegations to UNFCCC COP 21, 25, and 26. In their advocacy, they have aided in the effort to halt fossil fuel expansion and offshore drilling, and have advocated for critical chemical disaster response. Currently, Yvette and Fenceline Watch are leading efforts in Texas to remove historical language barriers that limit the public participation of migrant communities in the oil, gas, and petrochemical expansion process fueled by plastic.
Shilpi Chhotray
Shilpi Chhotray is a globally recognized communicator on the plastic pollution crisis with an eye for capturing the hearts and minds of the public and influencing decision makers. From July 2017–August 2021, Shilpi served as the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) Global Communications Lead and has been integral to challenging and shifting the pro-industry narrative and establishing BFFP and its allies as the preeminent voice on the plastic pollution crisis. This past fall, Shilpi launched People Over Plastic, a BIPOC storytelling collective working towards an anti-racist and plastic-free future. With 99% of plastic coming from fossil fuels today, People Over Plastic believes conversations about the climate crisis and the plastic pollution crisis must center people of color and indigenous voices who are most impacted from it.
Dr. Michael Mann
Dr. Michael Mann is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. His research focuses on climate science and climate change. He was selected by Scientific American as one of the 50 leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002 and was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geophysical Union in 2012. He made the Bloomberg News list of 50 most influential people in 2013. He has received the Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education, the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication, the Award for Public Engagement with Science from the AAAS, the Climate Communication Prize from the American Geophysical Union, and the Leo Szilard Award of the American Physical Society. He received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 2019 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2020. He is a Fellow of the AGU, AMS, GSA, AAAS, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is co-founder of RealClimate.org, author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, numerous op-eds and commentaries, and five books, including Dire Predictions, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, The Madhouse Effect, The Tantrum that Saved the World, and The New Climate War.

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