How to Communicate About Climate Change?

Climate change can be a scary topic, we’ve all felt overloaded and trodden down by the sheer weight of facts.

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t often make for pleasant reading. 

The thing is, intimidating facts, moral diatribes, and naughty lists probably aren’t helping.

It does more harm than good, turning people off the subject and leading to frustration. 

Or even worse, Climate Anxiety…

It’s hardly surprising, when we’re communicating and talking about climate change, it’s impossible to sell someone on the hellish future we’re being painted. You don’t sell or convince anyone on anything by spelling out the negatives.

You don’t sell a house by listing its faults, you sing to the positives, benefits and personal needs. Although, I hope you’re not picturing me as some sort of slick estate agent of climate change.

So how do we communicate about climate change, what are the positives and what are the dos and don’ts? Millie Charrington joined us on the Clean Mountain Living Podcast to unravel the subject. Plus there are more Climate Anxiety-free tips below:

Tips for communicating about climate change

There’s a balance that you have to strike between demonstrating facts with statistics and the kind of information that might change your mind or inform opinion. 

Then you need to add emotive language that emphasizes your point, but you don’t want to go too far either way.  

It’s about using really clear, concise information. People don’t want to be spoken down to. They don’t want to be here if you criticize them. You don’t want to write an article or open a conversation that’s just going to be a moral diatribe.

You don’t want to just list everything you’re doing wrong. Try helping people come to their own conclusions.

I think the main conversation area is positive solutions rather than scaring people. Having said that, it’s really important that you get across the facts but the way you phrase the language really changes your message. 

Nobody likes being told what to do. Moral instruction is never going to get you anywhere unless you can find a connected value. You need something that’s going to appeal to individuals. 

So much of the information that we get from scientists, governments, newspapers, the media, is so restrictive. It’s always framed in terms of ‘we need to stop using this’ or ‘you need to drive less.’

It needs to be much more positive with a personal connection. There’s a professor in the States who has been working with farmers in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. Climate change there is very political, almost a dirty word, but trying to get them to acknowledge it is just the first step. 

So using their connection to nature, making them feel like they are stewards of nature or stewards of their environment removes the political tag. Actually acknowledging that these changes are happening, that’s really the first step. 

It’s about taking data and problems and framing them with a human connection.

They can acknowledge the fact that, okay, it’s raining more or maybe it’s raining less or maybe a crop harvest isn’t as high as it usually is. Just start with those facts so that you acknowledge that it’s happening. This takes it away from a heavily politicized word. It is not about placing an infringement on people’s freedom anymore. 

People don’t really care about the global figure. ‘More rain has fallen across the globe or there’s wildfires in Australia’. For most people that doesn’t affect their little world. So it’s got to be really personable. 

If you want to talk to discuss climate change with someone, framing it in a way that affects their lives is how you connect with any person on any topic. 

People care about themselves. They don’t really care about what’s going on elsewhere because they’ve got better things to worry about. People don’t really want to worry either, so it’s important to present everything in a positive light.

To put it simply, communicating about climate change needs two important factors, positivity and personal. That’s the way to open a dialogue.

The dialogue is important as it works so much better as a topic when it’s a discussion. 

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