Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let's talk about climate change!

Yesterday, I attended an event called "Climate and Politics -- What's next for Virginia?"  Although everyone in the room understood the gravity of the current political situation, the discussion was very constructive.  One of the themes of the discussion was communication -- how do we communicate the science, the practical solutions, and the urgency of climate change?

Ed Maibach, Director of George Mason's Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) gave a fascinating presentation about climate change attitudes and communication.  He explained that research indicates that many U.S. citizens are aware of climate change and believe it's occurring, but that they're not acting or voting on the issue.  The next step is to figure out how to communicate climate change information in a way that encourages action.  George Mason's 4C is addressing the communication of basic climate information, as well as the fact that this scientific information has become very politicized.  One step they've taken is to team with Bob Inglis for outreach to conservative voters.

One of the most effective ways to transform knowledge into action is through "behavior modelling".  If people see other people taking action, the behavior seems more "normal," and people will follow along.  Sometimes, we see celebrities doing green stuff.  Athletes have jumped on board with #Sport4Climate.

The take-home message for greenmomsters is this:  we're the role models!  We need to be willing to educate, advocate, and model environmental behavior.  Not just for our kids.  We need to model for our friends, family, and coworkers.  Here's an interesting statistic from yesterday's presentation:

Yup, only 3 in 10 of us are speaking to our family and friends about climate change.  We need to start talking, not just to people with whom we agree, but with anyone who will listen.  The good news here is that we now have our marching orders.  Go out and start talking!

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