This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Nature Conservancy. All opinions are 100% mine.
Climate change is something I never really thought about until I started to travel the world full time. I mean, we hear about it on the news occasionally or see a post about it on social media but until I was out in the world seeing it with my own eyes, it didn’t really sink in.
As you know, it’s a hard topic to talk about. There is a lot of information, and misinformation, circulating that can make it hard to have a productive conversation. Not everyone sees things the same or feels the same, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about it.
Conversation is healthy. Conversation sparks interest and conversation raises awareness, when done right. We were recently challenged by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to engage in conversations about climate change in a productive way, sharing our experiences from travel and using it as a way to get people thinking about the broad effects that climate change has on all of us, even if we don’t see it in our daily lives.
I’ll be honest, it’s a topic I typically avoid. It’s hard to engage in a conversation with people when you’re not on the same page or have the same experiences. I’ve often struggled with how to have these conversations without it turning into a full-on debate of differences instead of focusing on the bigger picture. So, my interest was piqued when TNC introduced me to Let’s Talk Climate, a how-to guide that offers tips on how to have a conversation around climate change that is both productive and respectful.
I won’t give away all the details of the guide, but I am going to share with you how I was able to use the tips in this guide to start a conversation that ended with more questions instead of accusations. I am going to preface this by saying my family LOVES to talk about hot topics, politics and everything in between. We have strong support on both sides, no matter the topic and it often escalates.
Rewind to Christmas. After spending a majority of our travel year in the Arctic and a return from Antarctica just before the holidays, climate change was a topic that was front a center for me. I have seen with my own eyes the devastating effects that it’s having on our planet and have a renewed passion for helping to spread the word and activate other people to care too. The problem lies in how do I share what I’ve seen, how I feel and encourage others to at least consider these things in a way that is non-offensive or too forward? I don’t have the ultimate answer, but I was able to make some progress.
As per usual, the sensitive topic conversation starter of the family laid the topic of climate change on the table with an underlying message of it being a hoax, accompanied with a sly grin hoping to provoke me. While I might have taken the bait under other circumstances, not this time. I was determined to have a civil conversation laced with not only facts, but respect. I remembered the guide and chose to stick with it.
I won’t lie, as the conversation progressed and tempers remained stable, the usual suspects of ‘bear poking’ slowly left the room. While I was bothered by it at first, I later realized it didn’t matter because despite them not staying till the end, I was able to engage with them without temper flaring or enraged emotions about a sensitive topic. It was progress, even if they couldn’t stick it out this time.
I had the attention of people and a chance to really talk about the reasons why I feel so strongly about climate change. I had the chance to tell my story to people that actually listened. They asked questions, I answered. They weighed in, I listened. We posed questions to each other about why and how. Made out loud observations based on the information each of us was providing and challenged each other, respectfully, to think beyond what we thought we already knew.
We literally talked about how the right way to change is conversation and awareness. We have to talk about these issues in a way that is respectful if we ever hope to be part of a change that will save our planet. In doing so, I was able to share my actual observations and concerns with people who took that information and formed new questions around things they thought they had the answer for. Now THAT is what it’s all about.
So, what was the turning point in this conversation for me? I’ll tell you because I feel sharing my personal experience can help you. I’ve become extremely concerned with the amount of ice loss on our planet. I’ve been to the Arctic and Antarctic. I’ve read the reports and talked in person to the scientists that study these areas. I’ve stood in places where glaciers are receding at rates close to 100 times of the past 100 years, the evidence is staggering.
I’ve never in my life felt so urgent about something and communicating that is difficult. The people in the room during our conversation hold heavily to a theory that change is something that happens across generations and that fast change is not possible. That if we start to educate people now about climate change, that we can expect real change and concern around 4 generations from now.
Now, I totally agree with this and in my travels have seen this being implemented in a variety of sustainable projects. It does work, but my argument comes from ‘what if it’s not fast enough?’. This one question spurred a devoted ‘4 generation change supporter’ into a different mindset as I explained that approach works for many things, but the ice won’t wait. Hold the phone!
I’ll never forget the look I was given when I posed this question. The absolute, stop in your tracks, inner reflection moment, that came from my one question that I was able to pose because we had a productive and respectful conversation. That one moment spurred off a brilliant mind to start thinking of a way that CAN help in time, that CAN make a difference before it is too late for our polar regions.
We need to start having these difficult conversations about climate change and encouraging ways of thinking outside the box so we don’t lose things that are vital to the stability of our planet, like ice. I encourage you to invite these conversations instead of shy away from them, use Let’s Talk Climate. You can download the guide by entering your name and email to read the tips and start a conversation today. It worked for me and I can’t wait to hear about how it works for you.