Want to share the facts — and urgency — of our climate emergency? Here are a few tips and tricks.
If you’re an environmentalist — like we are — you’ve probably come across this problem before. How do you encourage your loved ones to care about sustainability?
The climate crisis is too complex to fight as individuals. If you’re the only one in your social circle who cares about the environment, it can grind you down.
We all need to share our problems, and this is the biggest problem of all.
So today, we’re going to share our best advice on creating sustainability allies. From gathering the right information to effect ways of communication, these five tips will help you spread the word.
1. Get the facts right
Sharing bad science is the best way to discredit the movement. There’s no need to make up or exaggerate the facts — things are extreme enough in reality.
When you’re looking for data, use scientific peer-reviewed journals. Websites such as Nature provide huge numbers of papers on climate change, and the review process means that you can be confident that the facts are solid.
Wherever you get your information, make sure you look into the processes each paper has undergone. If it’s not been peer-reviewed (i.e. checked by other experts in the field) then it’s not been scrutinised as thoroughly as it should be.
The next challenge for you and I is communicating those facts. This brings us to our next step.
2. Don’t preach!
It’s a cliche we loathe, but some environmentalists have been accused of ‘preaching’ the facts.
Regardless of whether that’s true, it’s important to consider the implications. Preaching shows a lack of self-awareness and humility — and is rarely the best way to change someone’s mind.
When you’re talking with friends and family about the climate crisis, watch your tone. Are you speaking at them or with them?
Spread information as if you’ve just discovered something amazing and want to share it. This technique will also add enthusiasm to your voice that’ll make you more engaging.
3. Undercover sustainability
For most people, the climate crisis isn’t a daily concern. Money, health and other domestic affairs take centre stage.
So if your family and friends are way out of the loop, you’ll have to be more considered in your approach.
Luckily, sustainability usually feeds into these other concerns.
It’s also been found that removing meat from your diet plan can save you money.
This technique works with plenty of issues — from travel methods to buying clothes — so you don’t always have to talk about the climate to encourage sustainable changes.
4. The drip-feed approach
Human beings can only take so much information at a time. Sharing the facts gradually is better than unloading a truckload of statistics at once.
It’s also natural that we resist being bombarded with data that we’re not familiar with. It can feel like a personal attack on our intelligence.
So when you’re talking about the environment, take it slow. Drop in a fact or two here, then maybe bring it up again a week later.
Before you know it, you’ll have shared loads of important points that can encourage sustainable action.
5. The intervention
Now we come to the most daunting of all techniques: the intervention.
When you’ve been inside the world of sustainability for a while, you might want to unload all your facts and opinions at once. But as we’ve touched on, that might not be the best technique.
Our working memory — how we hold on to information in the short-term — can only hold so much. When we dump a load of new data into it, it’s impossible for everything to stick.
So if you’re desperate for your family and friends to know about the severity of our climate crisis, you might have to be patient.
We’d recommend a more conversational approach, where it doesn’t seem like you’re preaching or talking down to them. Speak to them how you always speak to them — if you trust one another you can be sure they’ll listen carefully.
It might not spark an overnight change, but everyone works on a different timescale. Once they realise the severity of the problem — and how much it means to you — it’s likely that they’ll at least give it some consideration.
Communicating is such an important part of the environmental movement. Once you’ve encouraged family and friends to get involved, the change is exponential.
Don’t doubt the ability of one person to change the world.