The Importance of Listening When Talking About Climate Change

Left vs. RightThe overwhelming majority of scientists believe that global warming is caused by human activity – but less than half of Americans share that opinion. If we are to build mainstream support for climate solutions, is it essential to change their minds? Maybe not. As this GreenBiz article points out, many Americans who are firm supporters of clean energy are also climate skeptics. And often, that reluctance to accept climate science is based on deeply held political beliefs. By agreeing to disagree on the causes of climate change, you can avoid the politics and move on to talking about solutions.
This isn’t to say the climate debate should never be brought up, or that the science should be ignored. But as Peter Byck says below, acknowledging that you and your audience hold different points of view helps create an atmosphere of mutual respect that will make it easier to find areas of common ground.

Want to Connect With Climate Skeptics? Just Listen

By Peter Byck, contributor to GreenBiz
Americans respect those who stand up for what they believe, who go to the mat even if they don’t agree with you — and this holds especially true for the politically conservative.
When the Senate version of the House’s Waxman-Markey climate bill failed to even get a vote in 2010, and then withered on the vine, a counterproductive decision was made by the folks who really wanted that measure to pass: Never bring up climate change when talking with a skeptic or conservative. Ignore the debate.
I think that was and is a huge mistake.
Our feature documentary, “Carbon Nation,” has the tagline “a climate change solutions movie (that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change).” We worked three years to make the documentary, and we worked three years on the tagline.
We thought long and hard on whether to include climate change in the tagline. Maybe we’ll turn away the conservatives and skeptics we’re trying to reach. At the same time, our hunt for solutions to climate change was exactly why we made the movie.
But what about those folks like my Uncle Phil, who sent me climate change denier articles the whole time I was filming “Carbon Nation”? We chose not to pander.
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