It’s hard to believe with all the scientific studies and with all the news stories of once-in-a-hundred year storms every week that there are still many climate change skeptics in the US. But, polling shows many Americans do not believe in climate change.
The Environmental Defense Fund published five suggestions on how to discuss the issue with skeptics. My summary:
1. Don’t dismiss or insult them, just refute their ideas (but super gently). Calling someone ignorant is a sure fire way they will tune you out. You need to have a civil discussion.
2. Don’t paint a portrait of catastrophe. Even though you want to shock them into believing in science, it might just make them feel helpless. Instead, talk about new technology helping the economy and how cleaner air and water is good for everyone, particularly kids and grandkids.
3. Find areas they care about – if they love animals, talk about climate change hurting species like elephants. If they fear immigration, talk about migrations of populations and conflicts that arise from lack of resources due to climate change. If they are religious, point out that religious leaders such as Pope Francis have supported international cooperation on climate change issues.
4. Find the personal in the world. Hearing stats of large numbers or seeing floods in far away lands sadly doesn’t make a lasting impression. Hearing about a family who lost everything in Harvey after losing it all in Katrina may be more memorable and heart wrenching.
5. Know facts. Be smart and do your research and use reputable sources. The latest thing you saw on Facebook doesn’t count…unless it was a link to Nature or some other reputable scientific journal and you read it.