Climate change is real, it’s happening and everybody knows it. But sometimes it’s hard to bring it up in conversation, because we’re afraid the discussion will have a political aftertaste. Fortunately, chatting with friends and family is a small way you can help the issue, and it doesn’t have to be contentious.
Anyone can be a “climate communicator,” as a recent New York Times article puts it, because people most trust and value what they hear from those close to them. Just by being a person in their life who knows and cares about the climate crisis, you’re shifting how they relate to the issue.
Now, we didn’t say argue. Just talk. You’re not going to win a fight with a conspiracy theorist about whether all the climate scientists are lying. But you could chat with your outdoorsy friend about how the temperature and the tick population have changed in their lifetime.
You could mention to your NASCAR-loving uncle that the famous Pocono Raceway has been totally solar powered for almost a decade and even contributes electricity to the nearby town. And you can talk to anyone, sadly, about the floods, wildfires, and hurricanes that have suddenly become a lot more common.
Basically, all you have to do is not ignore the role of climate in all of our lives. And if you’re afraid of stepping on toes, Yale Climate Connections has a few suggestions for talking about climate at social gatherings. The most important point they make there, in my opinion, is the one that should have been obvious all along:
Actually listen to people. Don’t just spout facts or argue against what you imagine their position to be. Give them an opening, see what they think, and answer questions as they come up. After all, they’re your friend, and you’re just talking.