Be Effective When Speaking to Others & Various Faiths, about Climate Change

September 4, 2015

George Marshall did a great public service when he wrote Don’t Even Think About It – Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.  It is one of the best books published this past year.

Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), has been talking about and researching climate change communications for over 15 years.  GreenFaith and Our Voices commissioned Marshall to investigate how those of different faiths received talk about climate.  Top findings were:

Strong communications say - faith

Be careful about “planet/earth,” which doesn’t really work for anyone.  Also, “natural world” doesn’t work for Abrahamic faiths.  “Creation” doesn’t work for Buddhists and Hindus.

Speaking about “the poor” can create distancing.  Stress that climate change will affect everyone.  Talking about justice does not work well for Hindus and Buddhists.  Social justice doesn’t work well for conservatives.

Speak to the moral challenge – climate change affects everyone and particularly harms the vulnerable.  Our responsibility to preserve the legacy of our parents and provide for the future of our children.

Balance

Balance and lack thereof are helpful topics, while language to avoid includes:  Natural limits.  It’s a sign.  Disobedience.  Religion.  Forgiveness. Proselytizing language.  Blame language is a dangerous path.

We are all responsible.  Though harm may have been unintended in the past, we know climate change is harming us now.

Language to explore:

  • Wake up!
  • Global warning!
  • Journey – path – steps.
  • Inaction is an action.
  • Connectedness.
  • Signs of identity.

Personal commitmentpledge

Most of all, don’t contribute to the “socially constructed silence” on climate change.  Speak up, and say what concerns you or why it matters to you.  Marshall has promised himself to bring up climate change with one new person a day, a good example for us all.