If Science Is Not the Way to Communicate On Climate Change, What Is?

How would you describe climate change to someone if you were limited to the length of an elevator ride? That's the question posed by Climate Crocks to Blessed Tomorrow Leader, Katharine Hayhoe, a Climate Scientist at Texas Tech University. Hayhoe, an Evangelical Christian and climate science educator contends that science is the last place you want to begin the conversation.

That's right, the climate scientists doesn't lead with science. While this may seem odd at first, I assure you, she is correct. According to Blessed Tomorrow's report, Communicating on Climate: 13 Steps and Guiding Principles, "If you want people to care and act, you need to make the issue relevant to them." For many, climate change still feels like an abstract concept, something that is happening far removed from their immediate lives. It's important to demonstrate, according to Hayhoe, how climate change is affecting them directly.

In relating to the particular values of an individual, you not only appeal to their interest, you scale climate change down to something more manageable and less overwhelming. The goal here is to empower the listener by explaining how small steps can make a huge difference in caring for God's creation.

We have conducted an enormous amount of research on communicating climate awareness and concluded that science, albeit the bedrock of our efforts, does not encourage people to take action. Encouraging climate leadership (in all communities) requires a focus on positive, manageable action that will empower the listener to make a change.

New Series: Climate Change – The Elevator Pitch

By Peter Sinclair for Climate Crocks

When we interviewed scientists in San Francisco in December, John Cook had the brilliant idea to ask each of them one last question –

“Ok, you’re getting on an elevator with someone, and they say, –
“So you’re a climate scientist – what’s all this about climate change and
global warming?”
“You’ve got 10 floors. Go.”

We got a range of answers from some of the best known minds in the world, as well as a number of ‘not the usual suspects”. I’ve pulled together two of these so far, and have posted Katharine Hayhoe’s first, here.

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