by Jen Stevenson
Chances are, dear reader, that you know climate change is real and a really big problem. That’s grand! Sadly, 29% of Americans are NOT of the same opinion. 44% of Americans don’t believe that humans are responsible for causing climate change. EGAD!
We need buy-in to the idea that humans are causing climate change and that humans can thus take steps to alleviate the problem. But how are we, as a society, going to get people on board? This is what keeps me up at night, since believing the science is what shapes policy and influences people’s behavior. As my shero Katharine Hayhoe discusses in her sweet Ted Talk, us believers have to start talking about it! But we can’t just spout off statistics and use complicated lingo. When talking about this issue (or any other, I’d argue) it’s best to meet people at their level.
How do you meet people at their level? Ask them questions about what matters to them! Maybe it’s their grandkids, maybe it’s money, maybe it’s that beachfront property they just bought or a new compressor station that’ll pollute the air near where they live. The point is this: there is always a way to tie the climate conversation in with what people hold near and dear.
Climate change isn’t this far away thing happening elsewhere to other people. It affects all of us. It comes in many shapes and forms: wildfires, flooding, heat waves, cold snaps, droughts, and so on. If people believe it is negatively impacting them, they are more apt to get involved in the conversation and take action, which is half the battle.
Another important point to consider is the impact of doomsday rhetoric. There is an unending supply of Debbie Downer news out there and a lot of it is true. Coral reefs are dying, bee populations are dwindling, etc., etc. It’s important to know these things are happening, but you also have to acknowledge that a constant barrage of negative intel doesn’t exactly inspire action. In fact, a lot of people get so overwhelmed by the bad stuff that they resign themselves to the worst case scenario. They’re paralyzed with ennui, doubt, maybe some fear, and feel completely doomed by the idea that what’s done is done. This emotion is perhaps the most dangerous of all. If, collectively, we are to get greenhouse gasses to the point where they aren’t wreaking havoc on our environment we need people to fight the good fight, to feel energized, and to be compelled to do their part.
This is what Climable aims to do. It’s even in our name: yes, the CLIMate is changing, but we are ABLE to do something about it. We keep it positive with our eye on the prize. Part of the equation is rapid integration of renewable energy onto our electric grid. Part of it is changing human behavior (like reducing plastic use, buying electric cars or gasp using public transportation, avoiding wasteful water habits). And part of it is talking about the issues in a practical yet encouraging way. We hope our work inspires you to talk to someone about an enviro-issue today.
If you are in Boston and you feel so inclined, please come to our big ole climate action party, CLIMAPALOOZA, on September 14th. This outdoor shindig will rally around the fact that together, we can turn the tables on climate change and ensure a livable future for all. Details here: www.climable.org/events/climapalooza19