Selling the Truth
of the Climate Crisis
The clock is ticking on efforts to prevent climate collapse, but many Americans have hit the snooze button. The gap between the severity of consequences from unchecked global warming and the persistence of denial and the business-as-usual response of many is truly alarming.
The answer starts with a different approach to communication.
Presentations about climate change often go like this:
- First we see graphics showing the unprecedented rise of CO2 in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and the parallel increase in global temperatures.
- This is followed by impressive pictures or videos showing the consequences of global warming with floods, heat waves, storms, drought, and fires.
- The solution is described as the transition to 100% renewables with solar panels and wind turbines.
- And, finally, the audience is told that they need to vote for and lobby politicians who will support that transition.
There are problems with this narrative:
- It hasn’t always been effective in generating action.
- The science can seem abstract and hard to understand.
- Much of the audience that we need to reach won’t see this because they don’t read articles, attend lectures, or watch programs on the topic. The messaging on climate change has mostly been “preaching to the choir.”
- The focus on disasters leaves the audience feeling overwhelmed, which causes people to tune-out.
- Given the current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the transition to renewable energies is necessary but not sufficient. Many other responses are needed as well.
- Voting every other year does not feel like an adequate response to an emergency of this scope.
- The importance of individual and community responses is often minimized or overlooked. Even among those who accept the science, many are waiting for others — politicians, scientists, or entrepreneurs — to “fix” this.