Picture this: you’re at a restaurant having dinner with friends who you haven’t seen in person in over a year. You’re celebrating the end of Zoom happy hours and the beginning of a new chapter.
While enjoying an engaging, lively conversation, the topic of climate change comes up. You feel the mood shift as an image of melting ice caps flashes through your mind. Inevitably, the depressing reality of the climate crisis shuts down the cheerful tone of conversation.
Talking About Climate Change
Discussing climate change is challenging for many reasons. It can be politically polarized, abstract, and intangible. It feels distant from our day-to-day lives, and it can seem daunting and uncontrollable. And just as there is danger in understating the evident risks of climate change, there is a danger in presenting the problem in a way that feels unsolvable. Scare tactics are traditionally a bad way to motivate people into action. Fear makes parts of our brains shut down and keeps us from thinking logically.
Instead, it is helpful to shift our focus toward all the good things happening to fight climate change, and what we can do to help. The theme to this year’s Earth Day is Restore Our Earth, “which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.” According to the president of Earthday.org, Kathleen Rogers, climate literacy is the key to building a greener workforce and consumer movement.
Altering the way we communicate is a small but meaningful change we can all make to help shape a greener future. Here are things to consider when talking about climate change:
Lead with Hope
Most people are well-aware of the climate crisis, so try leading with a solution instead.
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a sustainable, clean-energy future. Unfortunately, they are often overshadowed by alarming statistics and projections that make us feel as if we are rapidly approaching the end of the world as we know it.
It is in response to these projections that people all over the world have taken action in tangible, replicable ways. To name a few hopeful trends:
Know Your Audience
Take into account what the other person cares about, and link it to climate change to make it real for them.
As Margaret Atwood wrote in a 2015 essay, “It’s not climate change, it’s everything change.”
People are more open to talking about topics they’re personally invested in, and there is no shortage of topics that will be affected by climate change in our daily lives.
Chatting with a foodie? Talk about sustainable farming practices and farm-to-table restaurants helping local farms feed their city.
Are they a car fanatic? The automobile industry is taking an innovative and ambitious approach to cut emissions.
Atwood’s message is clear: the overarching impact of climate change in our lives is all the more reason to personally relate to it and do what we can.
Power in Numbers
Sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty and do something.
You may not fix climate change alone, but with your village you can work together to do what’s in your power, and have fun doing it! Here are some examples of how you can make a difference in groups:
- Spend the day outdoors and organize a park, beach, or street cleanup.
- Curb food waste and ask local restaurants to donate their leftover food.
- Work with your organization to implement clean, sustainable practices in the workplace, such as efficient recycling and composting, as well as creating sustainability goals and incentivizing employees with awards and prizes.
At TransPerfect, we’ve implemented sustainable environmental initiatives for our global operations in 40+ countries by choosing airlines, hotels, and conference centers that have clearly documented environmentally responsible practices.
In addition, we have a company policy to book hybrid vehicles for auto rentals whenever possible, along with other policies that promote sustainability within TransPerfect.
This Earth Day (and every day), you too can encourage your friends and colleagues to approach this global issue in a more hopeful way that empowers, validates, and encourages them to take action.