Each day of the month of April leading up to Earth Day (April 22), I will be offering a suggestion for how we can really honor the Earth this year. This list will go beyond the usual suggestions to change your light bulbs and take shorter showers. Instead, the focus is on collective action working toward radical social change.
Despite the overwhelming weight of the scientific consensus about anthropogenic (human-made) climate change, it can be daunting for a lay person to talk about it publicly. One thing you can do to honor the Earth on Earth Day is to learn how to talk about climate change.
Here are some links to reliable sources about climate change: NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), National Academy of Sciences, and the Government Office for Science (UK). You can learn how to respond to many of the arguments that climate change deniers make here.
Remember, as important as the facts are, so are feelings—a lot of climate change denial is the driven by emotions (like fear) disguised as rational argument. Speak from your own personal experience. Talk about what in your life is threatened by climate change. You can read here about how some scientists talk about their feelings about climate change.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling contempt for your fellow human beings. These feelings are guaranteed to undercut your work. If you encounter resistance, consider carefully where that resistance comes from and build on the values people already have. Remember that you didn’t come out of the womb knowing that climate change is real. The person you are talking to is evolving, just like you are.
Radical empathy is not only good for the soul, it will actually make you a more effective activist.