How to have a conversation about climate change

While it can be tempting to go into a conversation with a panicked look in your eye and the urgent tone of ‘we’re all going to die!’ this is generally not the best way to go. Let EcoAdapt, Freshwater Future and the Kresge Foundation show you a better way. 


It’s always important to remind ourselves of the best practices of communication before we try and engage people on the issue of climate change, especially when it can be so easy to forget that not everyone lives in the same climate change internet bubble that I do.


Have a goal for your conversation and work out whether or not you need to agree on every detailed point about climate impacts first to get them to agree with your call to action (you don’t).

Consider people’s motivation and find the common ground. I love skiing, you may hate the cold, but we both might love coffee!

Know your audience and choose a frame that works for them, with language that doesn’t alienate them. Talking about reducing the number of car trips people make won’t rank as a concern for me if I don’t own a car.

Don’t be all disaster all the time. Telling stories of mass extinction alongside a thousand photos of people being flooded and their houses destroyed won’t motivate many people who don’t already read that stuff for ‘fun’.

Use risk framing to move past uncertainty. Because duking it out over 95% certainty vs 97% certainty to the third decimal place is so 2009. 


image: Asim Bharwani, cc via flickr

Date: 2014
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Evaluation, Framing, Other
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Evaluation, Framing, Other

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