Sep 23, 2010

How to talk about climate change (or any other issue, for that matter)

One of the most important things that sustainability advocates can do is to persuade more people to care about the issues we find important, and to support solutions that will work.  Because—thank heavens—we don't live in a dictatorship, we must do this to make progress.  It's difficult, frustrating work, but we have some resources and ideas to help.  The things I'll be writing about in this post are specifically for talking about climate change, because it's one of the most difficult issues to do this with, but the advice translates to any contentious or sensitive issue you want to persuade people to listen to you about.

Joe Brewer, who is part of our Leadership Circle and taught last month's How To Bring About Large-Scale Behavior Change workshop, recently published an excellent article: Responding to Climate Skeptics' "Change Argument".  You should read the whole thing, but the gist is that it's essential to build trust in order to be listened to at all, and to understand where the skeptic is coming from in order to respond well to their argument.  This is good general advice that we should all follow, and in the article Joe expands on this and adds some specific advice about climate change and some common reasons why people who are neither malicious nor stupid continue to deny that there's a problem.

I can read as many articles about this as I like, but when it comes to using the theory there's no substitute for practicing.  To give you a chance to practice how to talk about climate change, we are putting on an evening workshop on October 7th called Stop Global Warming With Words.  It will start with a short lecture by Louise Stonington, but most of the time will be devoted to practicing your message, and giving each other feedback on this.  We hope it will serve as a good warm-up for the 10:10 campaign and worldwide work party.

We're also planning another intensive workshop with Joe early next year - watch this space for details.

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