Day 2: Talk
Today's Action: Starting a conversation on climate
Welcome back! Today’s action is to talk about climate change with at least one person this week. Don’t try to convert a hardcore climate denier (that’s not your job!), but do talk about climate change with someone. Email, call, text, send a telegram, whatever. Just share why you care and what you’re doing to help make things better. (Maybe even invite them to join you on this journey!)
You've got this! (But if you want more guidance, we’ve got your back; check out our tips below.)
Why this action? Turns out that what you say is important! Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says that one of the most important things we can do as individuals is to talk about climate change. Talking helps mobilize action at all levels of our society. Surveys show that even though most Americans are worried about climate change, we rarely discuss it. Kinda hard to fix things when we don't talk about them!
Do yourself a favor, though, and don’t bother trying to persuade a complete climate denier – the 10% of Americans who are truly dismissive – because it’s not going to work. Trust us on this, or read what Prof. Hayhoe has to say about it. Just focus on the other 90%.
Looking for more on today's action? Read on for talking tips, additional info, and further actions!
Tips for talking about climate change:
It’s sometimes easier to talk about climate change to strangers or acquaintances than family members or people you’re very close to. Start with whomever you’re comfortable speaking to about this!
Before talking, listen! This is especially important if you’re talking to someone who has a different opinion on climate change. This podcast uses a real example of a father and son who didn’t see eye to eye, and provides useful tips on climate communication. (Hint: one of the first steps is to always listen first!)
Remember that providing more information isn’t generally what’s needed (because more info doesn’t automatically lead to better understanding), but engaging in compassionate discussion helps to break down barriers and encourage action.
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s formula for talking is simple: “Bond, connect, and inspire.” Look for a genuinely shared value you can bond over (kids, hobbies, location, etc.), and then help the person you’re talking to make the connection between what you both care about and climate change. After you bond and connect, remind them of all the millions of people working to fight climate change and of the solutions that already exist (scientists say we already have most of the solutions that we need!), and leave them feeling inspired to do more themselves.
Skip the shaming. It’s not helpful! As author Paul Greenberg says, “Nobody is climate perfect.” Over here at 31 Days of Climate Action, we’re definitely not. Try to keep your chats free of judgment.
Learn and reflect:
Watch Katharine Hayhoe’s TedTalk (“The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it”), read her Time magazine article on why we must act (and talk) to feel hopeful, or read her book, “Saving Us.”
Listen to this “How to Save a Planet” podcast on talking with family and friends about climate change.
Check out the most recent survey results from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication about how Americans think about climate change (and how rarely we talk about it).
Bonus points if you talk about climate change with more than one person! Start today! Keep talking!
Start identifying people with decision-making power whom you could talk to about climate change. For example, leaders of schools, workplaces, religious institutions, local government, or more. Or maybe that person with decision-making power is you, and you could talk with people on your team, at your institution, etc. Get started talking to them soon, or just keep this list for the future -- we’ll come back to this later in the month.