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How to Talk About Our Changing Climate

Inspire climate action with this guide to crucial conversations

1280px-Glacial_iceberg_in_Argentina
© IlyaHaykinson
Maya Canonizado
© Maya Canonizado

Written by Maya Canonizado, Communications Intern at Ocean Conservancy, based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a recent graduate from University of Southern California with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Management Consulting. Maya was born and raised in the Bay Area, California, and continues to consider it home base. Growing up and living on the coast her whole life sparked her love for the ocean and the desire to protect it from a young age. In her free time, Maya loves to cook and bake for her friends and family, travel to new places, and explore nearby parks.

There is no doubt that climate change is the single greatest threat facing our ocean. Now more than ever, we need to know how to talk about it with each other. Luckily there are experts who can teach us how to have these important and sometimes uncomfortable conversations. One of my favorites who’s helped inform my own thinking is Professor Katharine Hayhoe.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when attempting to talk about climate. They will help you in conversations with your friends and family about the urgent impacts of climate change.

Identify a common value, interest, community or culture.

Many people who reject climate change have their own reasons for thinking that way. It can often be difficult to see eye-to-eye. You can help break down that barrier by connecting with them on a shared value, interest, community or culture.

For example, talk with them about your shared love of spending time with family at the beach. Then tell them how you support coastal restoration projects to make sure our beaches won’t wash away. Healthy coastal ecosystems will reduce the damage from sea level rise. By restoring them we’re not only protecting our beaches, but also fighting what’s causing our beaches to erode—climate change!

Find out how climate change impacts them or their community.

People are more willing to act on climate change solutions if they see and feel the effects of climate change at home. Try to find out where the person is from which is easy if they’re from the same community. Connect with them by talking about how climate change affects their specific community.

For example, if you’re talking with someone from your same town, discuss how much you both hate the pollution choking up your parks. Tell them that switching to renewable energy can reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. This can clear up your favorite outdoor places and help our fight against climate change.

Icebergs float in the water
© Brocken Inaglory

Talk about climate solutions that benefit things they care about.

Some people are often scared that solutions to climate change will come at the cost of things they care about or their ways of life. If this is true of the person you’re talking to, you can help provide information to remove that fear.

For example, let’s say the person you’re talking to values energy independence. Let them know wind and solar farms can power whole communities. This reduces our reliance on nonrenewable energy sources from foreign countries. Remind them that we are safer and more resilient when we can produce our own renewable energy.

Emphasize that advancing climate solutions does not take away from their current quality of life.

Many people have concerns that climate change policies will impact their current lifestyles. It’s true that a shift to more renewable energy resources and green infrastructure will come with inevitable change. But this change won’t severely affect our everyday lives and is necessary to build resilience. Allowing climate change to progress beyond our control will affect our lives.

If you’re a courageous advocate who wants to have a healthy discussion about the health of our planet, try out these tips. They will help you achieve the most productive conversation possible. While a single conversation may not solve climate change, gaining more consensus gives us the power to advance necessary solutions before it’s too late. So what are you waiting for? Have a conversation about climate change today!

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