Resource Guide: Talking About Climate Change
My Conflict-Averse Eating Habits
There are people in my family who don't know I work for an organization combatting climate change. Why? Because conflict-averse me would rather suffer guilt-ridden indigestion than ruin a family dinner.
With aspirations of overcoming my fear of confrontation, I have been steeping my brain in cross-cultural climate communication resources. In case you find yourself in a similar scenario (and I am guessing most Americans do), I am sharing all my favorite tips, videos and guides with you in this post.
Bringing Climate Home
Even though climate change is gaining national attention through town halls and student strikes, the U.S. still has a long way to go to connect the dots between scientific reality of climate change and how it will affect Americans. In fact, according to the Yale Program for Climate Communication, 70% of Americans think the climate is changing but only 40% of people think it will affect us personally.
Talking about the way climate change can affect air, water, food, economics, and national security can connect the abstract notion of climate change with everyday life. It is also a way to find common ground with people who may not care about climate on a global scale, but who ecare deeply about making sure that their own communities are healthy and safe.
Resources for Talking About Climate Change
If you want to bring climate change up with your friends and family but don't know where to start, I hope this post is helpful! I have included links to quick primers on what climate change is, how to talk about it with people who come from different backgrounds, and a basic intro to climate solutions.
If you are looking for more comprehensive information or resources on something not included here, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to help!
What Is Climate Change?
A 13-minute primer on climate change.
Still have questions?
Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe answers questions on all things climate change in her Global Weirding YouTube series. The videos are linked here so you can view the ones that answer your “burning” questions.
How Do I Talk About Climate Change?
Video #1: The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk About It
In this TedTalk, Katharine Hayhoe shares why talking about climate is important and how we can approach it. This isn't a scientific analysis, but it shows why "heart connections" are key to good communication.
Video #2: Communicating Across The Aisle
This video, created by Citizens' Climate Lobby, highlights key ways to communicate with progressives and conservatives about climate change, its consequences, and its solutions. The discussion is tailored to talking about the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (a carbon fee and dividend policy aimed at cutting carbon emissions), but the ideas are more broadly applicable to other discussions about climate. Maybe listen to it while making dinner one night or doing some light dusting (that's how I get through longer videos...).
Guides to Connecting with Others when Talking About Climate Change
Let's Talk Climate: A How-To Guide by the Nature Conservancy
6 pages of communication wisdom from the Nature Conservancy. A quick, must-read on how to communicate well with people from different backgrounds.
Climate Change Toolkit by the CDC
Page 2 of this toolkit provides 4 key ideas for communicating effectively: 1) Know your audience, 2) Say it simply, 3) Say it often, and 4) Touch the heart.
What Are the Solutions to Climate Change?
There are way too many proposed solutions to climate change for any one person to grasp them all. I've sat for hours listening to scientists discuss different approaches, and at the end of it all, I just felt less empowered (and more confused).
What is important to understand is there there are two ways people address climate change. There is mitigation, which is about cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent further climate change, and there is adaptation, which is about dealing with the effects of climate change.
Obviously, we are still really rooting for mitigation as we try to avert catastrophic levels of warming. I love Project Drawdown's work analyzing all the top solutions to climate change (shared about in the video below). I also love the broad-scale perspective on climate solutions discussed by Dr. Michael Mann in an article in Time Magazine (also below). But at the end of the day, we need everyone to vote for candidates who care about climate change and creating policy-level solutions. We need rapid and large-scale solutions if we are going to avoid the worst.
Project Drawdown: The Top 100 Solutions to Climate Change
Project Drawdown has analyzed a bunch of different ways to mitigate climate change in the video below.
A Case for Pricing Carbon
I also highly recommend this article from Dr. Michael Mann in Time Magazine: “Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough to Save the Planet. Here’s What Could.”
This is the big one. And this recommendation is coming from me — a hater of politics to the core. People can also join organizations lobbying for climate legislation (NRDC, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Earth Justice, etc.) but if there is one action point I can convey to anyone, it to:
Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Elections (and vote by mail if possible to make it easy on you)
VOTE for candidates prioritizing climate change solutions on their agenda (I like to vote by mail so I can research everyone on the ballot while I am filling it out)
I hope these resources are helpful to you! If you have recommended resources, please comment below. I will update this page as I come across new content in the future.