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3 Tips for Talking (Productively) About the Climate Crisis

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Talking about the climate crisis can be tricky these days! Here are a few tips for having a positive and productive discussion on this important issue…

The old adage says you should never talk about politics or religion in polite company, but what about climate change? These days, for some reason, climate change is associated with politics (even though, in reality, the health of our planet affects us all and should have nothing to do with politics at all), and that makes it a sticky subject – along with all the other suddenly sticky subjects out there that didn’t use to be controversial.

So if you’re on one side of the climate debate (let’s say, the scientific side), how do you communicate sensibly with someone on the other side, in a way that promotes understanding and cooperation, rather than conflict? This is the question that many scientists – and, yes, politicians – are facing these days, and only by working together on this issue can we hope to solve it.

In the interest of a healthier, happier, and more peaceful world, here are a few tips that may help ease the discussion and lead to more positive results.

1.) Tell a story and make it personal

We love stories, especially when they come from the heart. One of the best ways to get someone to care about something is to share why you care about it. Personal storytelling about why you switched to renewable energy helps make the climate crisis real and makes listeners feel like they can take action, too.

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And don’t be afraid to invoke emotion — without tugging on people’s heartstrings. Use this as an opportunity to connect to shared values or shared experiences you have with the person you’re talking to. Maybe you’re both parents, and you want to leave a stable climate for your children. Maybe you both love hiking, and you want to protect the environments you love to explore. Whatever it is, connect the dots between those values and climate change.

2.) Don’t lecture

You may know a ton about the climate crisis, but dumping everything onto the person you’re talking to is going to get you nowhere. We love facts, and we love clearing up misinformation about the climate crisis, but burying someone under an avalanche of facts can actually hurt your cause if you’re trying to convince them to care about the climate. It can trigger the flight, fight, or freeze response. Instead, meet them where they are and really listen to them. This should be a conversation, not a speech.

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3.) Focus on solutions

Climate change can be depressing, overwhelming, and terrifying to talk about! And fear is not the best ingredient for long-term, sustainable change. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says that we need “rational hope.” So talk about what’s already going well, what innovations are already making a difference. Give people a way to get involved in solutions (like powering their homes with clean energy). Help them feel that sense of rational hope so that they’re more likely to join you in taking action.

Read more at Blog.Arcadia.com

 

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