Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication

Use your voice to influence the people around us, in our ordinary day-to-day low level social interactions.  Key :  Make the effort to hear their point of view and speak to their concerns.

A magnificent resource to polish your technique is Connecting on Climate:  A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication, written by teams from Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions and ecoAmerica.

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
  2. Channel the power of groups
  3. Emphasize solutions and benefits
  4. Bring climate impacts close to home
  5. Connect climate change to issues that matter to your audience
  6. Use images and stories to make climate change real
  7. Make climate science meaningful
  8. Acknowlege uncertainty, but show what you know
  9. Approach skepticism carefully
  10. And finally, make behavior change easy (that’s actually the very reason we created Global Warming for Busy People!)

For example, to a military family, mention that we can easily avoid future oil wars by simply driving more fuel-efficient cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes, or by switching over to electric cars (as well as advanced plug-in hybrids which get 85 MPG or more).  Point out the military is well aware that runaway climate change will cause brush wars and failed nations in may of the world’s poorest regions.  The best war is the one we avoid, by being farsighted and smart.

Or, to people of faith, mention that every religion now says it is a moral wrong that our pollution harms the weakest among us, the poor, elderly and children who always suffer first and worst.  And it is a moral wrong that our fossil fuel-caused climate change will (and has already started) harm the poor in ever-worsening ways.  For example, share with them excellent Encyclical Pope Francis wrote on June 19, 2015, “On the Care of Our  Common Home.”  It makes the case that we have a sacred trust of wise stewardship for the Creation.

Or, to parents, grandparents and teachers, point out that pollution disproportionately affects children, who are inherently fragile.

Or, to adults caring for elderly family members, point out that global warming creates more frequent and more extreme heat waves, which have been shown to hurt the elderly more than other age groups.  And that climate change is creating more frequent and extreme floods, which the elderly are more likely to be unable to escape as we saw in New Orleans.

Or to a free market businessperson, point out that there are a vast number of business opportunities in renewable energy, driverless cars, ridesharing, electric or advanced plug-in hybrid cars, smart grid, energy storage and many others… in 2016 there are already around 2.5 million jobs in the advanced energy sector and some of our brightest, most motivated young workers are excited to make their careers in the next wave.  Contrast that with only 250,000 remaining in the coal industry.

Or to the expense-conscious retired couple, point out that they can cut their gasoline costs per year in half by getting rid of one of their two gasoline cars.  Replace it with a used electric car, which costs virtually nothing for around-town driving, while they keep their other car for long trips.

Use your voice to influence the people around you!

(Another great resource is the book How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate, by Seth B. Darling and Douglas L. Sisterson.)

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How does one get started saving the planet?  Start by deeply knowing your own sources of personal power:  1) To save the planet, Change Yourself First; 2) To save the planet, Invest Your Working Life; 3) To save the planet, Use Your Voice and take advocacy seriously!  Never miss a chance to vote, and never stop influencing your government and businesses locally, at the state level, and at the national level.  

And in all cases and at all times, cast aside the learned-helplessness that infects so much of modern life…

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© William Murphy and Global Warming for Busy People™, 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Murphy and Global Warming for Busy People with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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