Climate Action

Need another way to fight climate change? Talk about it

Coronavirus pushes us apart, but it also brings us together.

As many of us stay at home to control the spread of COVID-19, we’ve hunkered down with family or roommates — that means we’ve also spent a lot more time talking to with these people (for better or worse).

With Earth Day around the corner, there’s never been a better time to talk about something we all share — the Earth, and its greatest threat, climate change.

A study published last year found that people are more likely to accept climate science when they’ve discussed global warming with friends and family. The study also suggested that when this information comes from families and friends, people are more likely to be receptive.

Of course, starting a conversation on climate change can be stressful. You may get pushback. And you may get anxious at a time when we’re already plenty anxious.

But with all the anxiety and fear surrounding our current pandemic, we also can learn a lot about ourselves and climate change through how we respond to coronavirus. To simply sit back and let a planetary threat like a virus or climate change run its course is both destructive and deadly.

“We’re already seeing how much people are suffering as a result of climate change,” 23-year-old Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate told Earth Day Network. “We need to keep presenting the facts to the public and letting people know that climate change is real and it is something we need to fight right now.”

In these otherwise uncertain and gridlocked times, having a conversation about climate change is an easy way to still do something for the planet.

With schools closed and many parents homeschooling their kids to some extent, this is a great time to discuss climate as part of their education.

“I think parents have a unique opportunity to be more active participants in their children’s education by not only helping to deliver the content, but also learn from it as well,” says Tracey Ritchie, Earth Day Network’s vice president of programs and partnerships.

This intergenerational dialogue is a two-way street, necessary in both creating leaders of tomorrow and adjusting adults’ perspectives.

A study published last year found that children can change their parents’ minds about climate change. Parents tend to put a lot of weight in the opinions of their children, who are unlikely to take a partisan stance on environmental and climate issues.  

Conversely, parents can also be role models for their children to live sustainably, especially with more time together at home.

“Now is a time to reflect on our daily behaviors and actions and see what we can do on the family level to be better stewards of the planet,” Ritchie says. “From what we buy, have delivered, eat, throw away.”

Modeling behavior is something that naturalist and author Ken Keffer brings to his work. As a lifelong naturalist and educator, Keffer suggests owning your passion for the environment to motivate others.

“One of the easiest ways to [inspire others to care about the environment] is just be proud of your connections to your enthusiasm for nature,” he says. “If you have a hobby you’re excited about, it’s as rewarding to share that with others as it is to participate on your own.”

Unless we all start talking and sounding the alarm on climate change, politicians will continue to ignore it. If, however, we continue bringing awareness to the problem, politicians must respond.

“The more people that are aware there is a problem, the more they will demand for action,” says Nakate. “Let us keep pressing for awareness and reaching out to more people… so that the movement grows bigger and bigger.”

Start a conversation about climate change today, and on April 22 — the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — join the largest online mobilization in history.