One thing you can do:
Be a climate communicator
By Tik Root
So, you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint and you’ve identified the individual actions that work for you. Great! But what next?
Try talking to others about climate change.
“Family and friends are our most trusted source of information,” said Connie Roser-Renouf, an associate professor at George Mason University who specializes in science communication. “Talking about what you do and giving people a sense that they can do to make a difference is extremely important.”
One example, Dr. Roser-Renouf said, is the strong link between parents and children in terms of attitudes toward climate change. A recent study found that children talking to their parents about the issue can have a big influence. “The parents get more engaged,” she said, “and everyone does more.”
Another study found that people were better at conserving electricity when the power company informed them of their neighbors’ energy usage. Research published in June concluded that “perceived social consensus is associated with a higher percentage of people who believe climate change is real and human-caused.”
Yale Climate Connections has guides on how to talk about climate at social gatherings, and to children. The Times also has advice on discussing climate change with young people. Dr. Roser-Renouf says the first step in talking to others is to find out how they feel about the issue, then you talk about why you care about the issue.
Connecting climate change to your local community often provides a good point of reference, she said. Asking someone to become part of a group that you participate in can also be effective, she noted, pointing out that such a request is among the top reasons that people join an organization.
Regardless, Dr. Roser-Renouf says that being a climate communicator is a critical contribution. “Interpersonal communication is much more powerful than mass media information,” she said. “It’s the people we talk to and care about that persuade us.”