How do you communicate climate change? This is a question that I have talked about with concerned friends for many years. Last night I went to a joint eco-congregation/TEARFUND event where Katherine Hayhoe and Alistair Macintosh were the main speakers. Katherine Hayhoe gave a presentation which was certainly not about what I was expecting. Instead of it being about the current science she looked at peoples objections to climate change and how to get round them.
She believed that most peoples objections are not really political or religious and if they claim to be than we are fully equipped to take them on since we have so much in common in terms of values. She used a number of examples of this to communicate climate change. These included fishing, skiing and parenthood. But the best example was over speaking to a local rotary club. They had a set of values shown below in the image. She saw these believed that climate change fitted with everyone and rewrote her talk accordingly (quickly). Afterwards one person asked what he could do since what she had said fitted with the clubs values. She also gave examples of how to interact with evangelicals in the same way.
There are two problems with all this. Firstly as she did not specifically say most peoples problems are economic not political or religious. These objections are a smokescreen. The second problem is that no one talks about climate change in the US (literally true according to polling) or elsewhere. These are problems she did not suggest a solution to as such. A final thought she though using the polar bear as a symbol of climate change was a mistake. If you think about she’s right.