The week of Septemer 10, people from around the world gathered in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. Convened by the State of California, the Summit brought together leaders—representing nations, states, cities, companies, investors and citizens—to celebrate climate action, and step up their ambitions to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement.
Monterey Bay Aquarium took part in the Summit to call for protection of the ocean, our most powerful tool to mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of, climate change. But what about the everyday work for climate solutions—the conversations we have with our families, neighbors, friends and colleagues? Aquarium Conservation Interpreter Allison Arteaga shares tips on how to make your next climate conversation a productive one.
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a mother and her teenage son encounter an abalone at a touch pool. They’ll learn how they can help give shell-building animals like this one the stable ocean chemistry they need to support entire marine food webs.
A retired couple watching a green turtle glide through the water at the Open Sea will discover what they can do to protect the next generation of sea turtles, which need stable beach temperatures to nest successfully. And a group of young adults mesmerized by the swaying of a kelp forest will be inspired by the ways in which, like the kelp itself, local communities are now getting their energy from the sun in order to protect the ocean.
Conversations like these have power. At the Aquarium, we believe talking about climate change is an important part of the solution. That’s why we’ve been working for more than a decade on effective strategies to engage the public, particularly our 2 million annual visitors, in conversations about climate science and solutions.
Share what you learn
We encourage our guests to share what they’ve learned with their friends and family members. Solutions for climate change exist today. We are making “exponential progress” bringing them on line, according to Christiana Figueres, who heads the U.N. climate program. A groundswell of public support can help build a brighter future. Each of us has a powerful tool to help solve climate change: our voice.
Social science research supports this approach. As a member of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, we’ve worked alongside experts from FrameWorks Institute, New Knowledge and Pennsylvania State University , who have found that talking with others about climate change can build understanding, hope and an increased willingness to take action.
The key is effective communications techniques, like using a reasonable tone, starting with shared values, making the science accessible and focusing on collective solutions.
Overcoming our reluctance
So, what’s holding most of us back from talking more about climate change? A recent study by Yale and George Mason University found that 65% of Americans discuss climate change “rarely” or “never.”
Talking with others about climate change can seem scary. But it shouldn’t be. A poll by Stanford University this past summer found that 80 percent of Americans agree human action has been a cause of rising global temperatures, and 68 percent agree that our government should be doing more to deal with climate change.
Surprised? You’re not alone. Most Americans underestimate how many others share their views on climate change, the study found.
More allies than we think
In other words, a critical mass of Americans support action to address climate change. But it can be a hard to raise a collective voice for climate solutions if we don’t realize how many of us are already on the same page.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to talk about climate change—around a campfire, a dinner table or a water cooler. Tell your friends, family and co-workers why your care, and discuss the types of solutions you support.
A brighter future is waiting. Getting there starts with a conversation.