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Why the most important thing you can do this holiday season is talk about climate change

Polar bear climate change comic

Why the most important thing you can do this holiday season is talk about climate change

Check out the decision tree below and get some ideas about how to have a climate conversation this holiday season. Your voice matters!

Chart with talking points on how to talk about climate change

Do you have a visit with your in-laws coming up and have a list of topics that are “no-gos”, like politics, whether it’s ethical to lie to children about Santa Claus, or the inspiration for Aunt Margo’s hand-knit sweaters? Is climate change on that list?

You might assume that those around you don’t want to talk about or engage in climate conversations, so you add it to the “no-fly zone list” of topics. You also might not feel like an expert on the subject and shy away from not being “perfect” or having all the answers. Intentionally or not, you’re contributing to a spiraling effect called the Spiral of Silence. Two in three Americans (66%) say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends, while about one in three (34%) say they discuss global warming “occasionally” or “often.”

“The most important thing people can do about climate change is talk about it, because talk is the precursor to action.” – Dr. Katherine Hayhoe

Research tells us that people who often or occasionally discuss climate change with their friends and family don’t just have a greater understanding of climate change itself, but are more likely to support pro-climate policies and are more likely to take climate action.

Plus, the latest research from behavior scientists at Rare found that Americans are more likely to adopt the latest climate law’s behaviors if they think their peers are doing it, too. This builds upon their existing research that found that the strongest unique predictor of climate action is whether a person believes that other people are taking action. Your potential to influence climate action is monumental and crucial.

There has never been a better time to be bringing up climate action, thanks to the latest climate legislation heavily incentivizing clean energy action. The incentives for climate solutions like EVs, solar panels, and home energy retrofits have a massive potential to reduce harmful emissions and protect the planet for the next generation, but only if individuals tap into them.

So how can you help increase your loved ones’ willingness to take climate action and their perception that their energy matters? Talk about climate change! Press pause on the holiday caroling and use your voice to engage in a conversation.

How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Dr. Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community, and religion — and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate, they just don’t know it yet. 

“We can’t give in to despair,” she says. “We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”

Not sure where to start? Check out our decision tree above for inspiration.