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The climate crisis is in the spotlight now more than ever, which is why we consulted experts on how to bring climate discussions to those who see the world differently.
The climate crisis takes more space every day in the media and social networks, and that means that it will probably appear at family events or during the holidays.
The daily stream of weather news is inevitable. Scientists issue warnings about the dangerous trajectory of rising temperatures. Climate disasters are increasingly being linked to human-caused climate change. And politicians cannot agree to establish a global plan of action.
So, here is the opinion of five experts on how to bring climate discussions with family and friends who see the world differently. But before that, we invite you if you want to watch this video where in 10 minutes you will be able to better understand what climate change is about, explained in a simple and clear way:
We summarize the advice of the five experts below:
1 Maybe not
"Valuing the person and relationship on political ideology or opinion," said Sarah Hunt, a conservative clean energy policy specialist and co-founder of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, a "partisan" organization. She said that if a person's climate stance is clearly a product of political tribalism, "it may be better to agree than to disagree."
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, said:
"one. Talking is the most important thing we can do and it makes a difference!
2. Not by discussing science with the dismissive uncle, but by connecting the dots of why we care and what we and others are already doing to fix it. " He explained his top tips in a recent webinar.
2 Be curious: listen and ask questions
Assume the other person's best intentions and seek understanding rather than persuading. Practice active listening: repeat what you think she said, to make sure she understands.
Lori Brewer Collins is the founder and CEO of Cultivate the Karass, an organization that aims to bring together people of different political views to elevate dialogue and find solutions to complex problems.
Collins said an argument is unlikely to change your mind. “What's more likely to bring about change is if I really empathically listen to your worldview, what it's like where you come from, playing it back and forth with you… and then maybe asking some questions about your worldview,” Collins said.
3 Avoid contentious language that can close the conversation
In The Guardian for example, they have a policy of using the words "climate crisis" to describe changes on the planet that are putting human life at risk. They believe that this is the most accurate term to communicate what is happening to a wide audience.
But that does not mean that this is the best way to describe it, with each person in each context they will have to adapt and try to find the best language. Experts suggest that, depending on your audience, you may need to avoid using the words "crisis," "emergency," "extinction," or "revolution."
4 Get to know your interlocutors
With more conservatives, talk about safety for the next generation. With progressives, talk about change and opportunities.
Susan Joy Hassol, director of the Climate Communication group, said conservatives are more likely to want to keep the opportunities they have had and seize them for their children, while progressives are more likely to want broad and systemic change. One area of common ground that he recommends is green energy.
Kimberly Lewis, senior vice president of the Green Building Council, said she focuses on shared values when talking about the climate with her family.
"We are always polarized in our views," Lewis said. “I try to tell you that this is not a political conversation. This is a responsibility of our values and our basis as leaders to hold people personally and individually accountable that their actions and decisions always affect others and the community. "
5 Tell stories
People relate to other people more than they relate to events. Tell stories about the impacts you are having from the climate crisis. Stop reporting that you have read or talk about people you don't know. If you have personally been affected by climate change, for example, tell your own story.
6 Emphasize solutions to climate impacts, rather than climate change itself
Just explaining the risks associated with the climate crisis can overwhelm people.
Hunt suggested a few points that he thinks most people can agree on. In his words:
- An innovative, cleantech economy creates jobs and affordable energy.
- Cleaner air means fewer children with asthma and fewer premature deaths.
- Helping people who have had problems due to the weather.
Don't make people feel stupid
Do not throw statistics or cite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), unless your family members are knowledgeable.
"Social science and psychological research show us that people are not really persuaded by facts, logic, or reason," Collins said. "[Most of us] are persuaded by emotion."
You don't have to be an expert. Talk about what you understand and be open to not being able to answer all the questions.