Why We Need To Change The Way We Talk About Climate Change

  • To recognise that the problem will impact our local area
  • To recognise that the problem is a problem now, and not at some far-away point in the future
  • To feel some level of positivity (‘what can be gained, not what is lost’).

The current doom and gloom narrative of climate change

Is ‘climate change’ even the right word to use?

“Global is good. Warm is good. Even greenhouses are good places. So how can ‘global warming’ be bad?”

It’s true that ‘global warming’ is too subtle a term. Living in the UK, it’s not uncommon to hear people speaking thankfully of global warming — ‘finally, a warm summer!’ And ‘climate change’ is no better. The term was actually first suggested as a ‘less-threatening’ substitute to global warming in a NASA paper by Eric Conway, which is telling in itself. The inclusion of the word ‘change’ murkies the meaning: is it a positive change, or negative? It gives the impression that it’s still up for debate, which it isn’t: we have the scientific evidence of what climate change means for our planet and for us.

Conclusion: the best way to communicate climate change

Psychology tells us that the best methods of communication demonstrate positivity (gain) rather than negativity (loss), as well as being local and relevant to the individual. The current language and conversation around climate change isn’t doing this, and instead is spreading a narrative of doom, gloom, and despair. So what do we need to do? In every conversation you have about climate change, emphasise:

  1. The local impacts of climate change: what does it mean for your local area and home?
  2. Positivity: there are ways to turn it around and to ensure the longevity of our planet and of humanity.

Ramblings on communication and our climate crisis🌱

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store