We need to talk about how we talk about climate. The “no, seriously, we’re all gonna die” approach is how many activists unknowingly start the conversation about global warming. Environmentalists like me are trained to use scientific facts and figures to convince people to protect the planet.
There’s no doubt that the reality is scary. The International Panel on Climate Change concludes that we have a decade until we cannot reverse the dramatic effects of global warming. Every day new studies surface on melting glaciers, devastating flooding, and rapidly warming oceans. Closer to home, the 2018 New York Times reports that our children’s Yellowstone will be dramatically different because of climate change.
But the problem is that many of us can’t handle the truth. The calamitous scientific warnings don’t scare most of us into action — even people who believe that global warming is an existential threat. Instead, we want to curl under a blanket, watch Netflix, and act normal. Jonathan Safren Foer in his recent book, We are the Weather: Saving the Climate Begins at Breakfast, makes the case that global warming is too big to comprehend and that individual action can seem futile.
Environmentalists need to shift the conversation by celebrating positive solutions to climate change that have immediate benefits whether or not people “believe in” global warming.
Please check out the full op-ed here.