You might not realize this, but talking about climate change to people you know is incredibly important. What the people we know think, say, and do has the biggest influence on our own attitudes and behaviour. In fact, research shows that friends and families are one of the most trusted sources of information on climate. That’s why the conversations you have with friends, family members and others in your community can bring about even bigger change.
No matter where you live, there’s a good chance that most of the people around you are already thinking about or even worried about climate change. Talking with people can create the space for change and help us find ways to work together and make everyone feel part of the solution.
However you choose to do it, try to approach the conversation with an open mind. We’re all in different places - remember, there was a time when you didn’t think climate change was a huge problem, too. While one conversation won’t solve everything, you can play an important part in helping others respond to the climate crisis in a way that expresses who they are and what they care about most.
Not sure about how to talk about climate change? Dr. Katharine Hayhoe recommends starting the conversation with things you have in common - interests you share or things that matter to you. Then, make connections to how climate change puts these things at risk. Wherever possible, focus on people’s daily lives and practical solutions to the problem, not abstract ideas. For more, see her TED talk, her Global Weirding video or her article about how everyone cares about global warming, they just don’t realize it.
You might plan the conversation in advance, but you can also look out for opportunities to react to what other people say - if a friend mentions the weather has been weird lately, this is a great opportunity to bring climate change into the discussion. You could pick a book or a movie to drop into conversation.
If you want to learn more about the climate crisis and how it affects us, check out these videos or read a short summary of the science called What We Know. For answers to common objections you may hear, see Skeptical Science’s comprehensive responses to nearly 200 climate myths. For a helpful template on how to have positive and respectful conversations, see Climate Outreach’s Talking Climate Handbook or George Marshall’s TEDx Talk and an app for conversation starters called Climate Mind.
However you choose to do it, try to approach the conversation with an open mind. We’re all in different places - remember, there was a time when you didn’t think climate change was a huge problem, too.
Talking about climate change can help people around you understand why climate change matters and what they can do to tackle it. For people who are already concerned, it lets them know they’re not alone and helps activate them. Even though most people are worried, only a tiny fraction of us are doing anything about it. In most cases, it’s because we don’t know what to do. And that’s where a conversation comes in!
After talking about why climate change matters and what real solutions look like, people are more likely to then have more conversations with others - at their school, at their work, and in their communities. That first conversation can be contagious, leading to many more people talking about climate.
Research shows that one of the main reasons people decide to engage in climate action is because someone they know and respect asks them to. So by sharing what you’re doing to take action, you give others the confidence to make a change and be part of the solution too.
You’ll also learn from what other people think and the insights they have. So make sure to ask lots of questions, listen and keep an open mind. Everyone has something positive to contribute and we need everyone onboard.
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64% of people believe climate change is a global emergency
Across many countries, people say that the issue of climate change is either “extremely” or “very” important to them personally.
As sources of information on climate change, people trust their family and friends more than almost any other source, including political leaders and the media.
Discussing global warming with friends and family leads people to learn influential facts. In turn, stronger perceptions of scientific agreement increase beliefs that climate change is happening and human-caused and further leads to increases in global warming discussion.
Everyone already has the reasons we need to care about climate change; we just need to help them figure out what they are, and how they can respond.
Long-lasting climate change engagement is more likely to arise from deep discussion with close members of one’s social network.
The widespread, impactful, persistent, and often undetected effects of social norms demonstrate that they are fundamental to social behaviour.