A caretaker at the Atta Rainforest Lodge in Guyana watches birds with his son. Photo by Tim Boucher.
A pair of tule elk lock horns. Photo by Jeffrey Rich
A young girl looks up through the sea grape canopy as she walks with her family at The Nature Conservancy's Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, Florida. Photo by Kinzie + Riehm
A mother brown bear and her yearling cub come out of the river after attempting to catch salmon; at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska. Photo by Jennifer Leigh.

Can we talk climate?

7 in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, yet more than half rarely talk about it.

Talking about climate change doesn’t have to be scary or divisive. Let those close to you know that we have climate solutions that could address global warming, avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and provide economic opportunities.

Most people’s reasons for why they don’t speak up fall into four basic categories. Explore each reason below, along with our guidance for overcoming these obstacles.

“I don’t know enough”

Most people are are afraid that when pressed to discuss the science behind climate change in detail, they won’t know what to say. But you DO know enough about climate change to talk about it:

  • When 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity, a deep dive into the raw data is not necessary. If you do find that you have to first supply some basic info on how climate change works and why it’s a problem, you can use these resources.
  • Facts and figures don’t change people’s minds. Talking about shared values and personal observations can be more persuasive than facts.

“I don’t want to talk about scary things”

Humans don’t like instability. Climate change threatens to disrupt our communities in drastic ways. Sometimes it’s just easier to avoid things that are scary, especially in a social setting. You CAN talk about climate change without scaring people:

  • Talking about climate change does not have to be infused with fear. There are solutions that can make a big impact. We know how to help communities adapt to reduce climate change impacts, we can take direct action to reduce carbon emissions, and nature offers its own powerful strategies.
  • Climate change solutions bring opportunities for more jobs, cleaner air, and better energy choices. These are all highly positive things.
  • Even more important than discussing the problem of climate change is highlighting the need to act now.

“I don’t think I can make a difference”

Research shows that when a problem seems too big, we freeze up and distance ourselves. But you CAN make a difference, even just by talking about it:

  • The truth is there really are things that you can do to make a dent in your own carbon footprint, and there are actions you can take to support climate-friendly policies. For example, take one of our 30-day challenges and share your commitment!
  • The more people hear conversations about climate change, the more socially validated these conversations become. Showing that climate change is important enough for you to talk about it makes it easier for others to talk about it as well.

“I don’t want to cause arguments”

In an age where divisiveness seems to reign, having a different opinion from your family and friends on climate change potentially exposes you to stressful conflict. But you CAN talk about climate without causing an argument:

  • There’s a lot more consensus on climate change than many Americans presume. Only 15% of Americans know that there is overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change.*
  • Seven in 10 people think climate change is happening and half believe that it’s caused by human activity. Strong voices are advocating for climate change on both sides of the aisle. Many people don’t know that there’s actually a bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus that actually tripled in size in 2017, and is composed of half Republicans, half Democrats.
  • No matter what your political identity is, there are individuals that are strong advocates for climate action who can show how addressing climate change is consistent with your personal identity and your hopes for a healthy family and prosperous community.

Looking for more resources on climate change conversations? Explore our full suite.