Building a Successful Conversation Through Diversity
"Dare to dream in public."

Inviting Someone Into a Conversation on Climate Change

One of the key purposes of The Earth Project is to support people engaging in conversations with one another on topics that are important to them regarding Climate Change.

The hope is that in time these conversations will result in individual or collective visions of a future time when we will be flourishing in a de-carbonized world with substantially reduced unproductive waste. You can learn more about the options for such a world in this overall blog site and particularly in this specific blog post.

I would like to provide guidance in terms of how to invite others into a conversation and what initial question you could ask that would catalyze such a conversation. I will offer one idea here. However, I appreciate that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there with all of you. Each of you will approach this differently and we can all learn from each other.

How to invite someone into a conversation?

ME: I have been giving a great deal of thought to what is happening with our environment and the whole issue of climate change. It would be wonderful if I had someone to share these thoughts with and also to hear other perspectives and maybe even to come up with some ideas. Would you have some time to talk to me about this over a cup of coffee? I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Starting the actual conversation.

ME: One issue that I think about a lot is how to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and how to do it quickly. I believe that we need to significantly reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere caused by fossil fuels. [ This is where you set out the issue and your opinion.]

ME: It seems that much of the technology is already in place to switch to solar or wind and it is now an issue of investing in building more of this equipment, creating the jobs to design and manufacture this equipment and offering government incentives to support installation. [This is where you set out your thinking, your rationale.]

ME: What do you think? [This is where you ask for the opinion of the other person.]

THE OTHER PERSON: [This is where the other person speaks and you listen courteously and carefully to what they have to say.]

Asking the other person.

ME: Is there a particular issue about Climate Change and the future that you worry about?

ME: [This is where the other person speaks and you listen courteously and carefully to what they have to say.]

Beginning to talk about a desirable future.

ME: I look forward to a time when I can walk outside every day and clearly see the mountains that surround me and smell air as fresh as being in the country. There is no longer soot and smoke from nearby coal-fired power plants or industrial waste being expelled into the air. I check the output from the solar panels on the roof and see that once again, we will have an electricity credit. We no longer receive electric bills and, in fact, some months we receive a credit from the electric company for electricity that we have generated. Traffic nearby moves quietly because all of the vehicles are electric. I feel more content knowing that with each day, the carbon footprint of our city and country and the world is becoming less.

THE OTHER PERSON: That is a wonderful vision. I would like to add to that.

MY QUESTION TO ALL OF YOU READING THIS POST:

  • How would you go about inviting someone into a conversation about climate change?
  • What question(s) would you use to start such a conversation?
  • What can you do be doing to ensure that this is a successful conversation?

Please submit your responses in the Comments section of this blog.

 

Comments

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Bernard

Hi Barry, This sounds like a great project. Here are some initial answers.

For a "believer" ...I would ask them what they are thinking about with regard to climate change these days, what small and large actions are they aware of locally, nationally and globally that give them glimmers of hope or perhaps even surprise them with optimism. Then I would ask what small collaborations might they and I take to support positive action.

For a conversation with "believers"...it's important to avoid being dragged into an "ain't it awful" or a "those !!!** republicans" conversation...and instead acknowledge that our major challenge is not technical but social.

Yael

This seems like a great project. From my perspective, I find it very difficult to initiate talks about this topic without being perceived as judging and preaching and therefore in this matter (as with politics and other value-laden topics), I'd rather do than tell. For example, I keep recycle bins at home so it makes it easier to other family members to recycle at home. I also encourage them to take part in activities that bring them closer to nature and to the idea of inter-relatedness, for example - going to family hikes, meditating and taking part in meditation retreats. With children, it is very easy as there are plenty of ways to bring up the subject through films and TV shows (such as wall-e, Bambie, Free Willie, etc.) and outdoor activities.

Glyn

I would not out of the blue discuss this. There would need to be some trigger or event that causes us to talk about it. For example, discussing the destruction in the Bahamas could start a conversation. We might then talk about what do we need to do to protect people from storms that are coming. Whether a conversation is fruitful or not could depend on the level of knowledge that people have. If you don't know anything about this, what could you say. Many people have given up in the U.S. because you need a government role to deal with this.

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