As an eco-conscious individual, you know that global warming is a real threat to our environment, but there’s a good chance you know a handful of climate change deniers. Here are some tips on how to discuss global warming with people who don’t believe it’s real.
If you’re like other environmentally conscious people, you might cringe when you overhear someone say that global warming is just a myth.
Despite the years of scientific research that proves that we are facing an environmental crisis of climate change, there are people, from politicians to your next-door neighbor, that refuse to see the real danger of a planet that’s heating up.
Looking for some ways to debunk the global warming myth and try to change a climate change denier’s mind? Consider some of these tips before you get stuck in a dead end and frustrating discussion.
Enter The Conversation With An Open Mind
If you want to debunk the global warming myth it’s important that you enter a conversation with an open mind. Just because a climate change denier may not be willing to budge on their beliefs, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep your mind open.
By no means should you sacrifice or change your own beliefs in the effort to better understand someone who doesn’t believe in climate change, but having an open mind may allow you to understand a denier’s perspective (whether you believe them or not).
Calm and Respectful May Be Effective
Many climate change deniers might assume that environmental stewards may be unreasonable or aggressive and even combative and as someone who believes in global warming, you may think the same about climate change deniers.
While people from both sides may be passionate about their stance and may even get aggressive to make a point, it’s important to consider that not everyone is an extremist. Even if you don’t have the power to change a climate denier’s stance on the global warming myth, attempting a calm and respectful conversation may be effective in the long run.
If you remain calm during a controversial discussion, like global warming, and allow a climate denier to voice their opinion, you may play a role in helping them change their viewpoints on people who believe in global warming (which may help them understand or believe global warming).
Allow A Denier To Challenge You
Discussions about climate change can be long-winded, frustrating, and get a little heated. If you want to try to talk about climate with someone who doesn’t believe there’s a problem, you need to be more or less ready for anything.
It’s only fair that if you are challenging a denier and asking them questions about why they believe what they believe, you should be prepared to answer the same types of questions. Try to stay calm and articulate under pressure and stand your ground while a denier challenges you (because they most likely will challenge you).
Customize The Discussion To Resonate With The Denier
Maybe you’ve always believed that global warming is real, but think about the time when it finally hit you and you knew it was a real environmental crisis. Was it the footage of a starving polar bear or maybe it was having no snow in December?
It’s important to keep in mind that the things that made you think more about global warming may mean nothing to a climate change denier. They might love having no snow in December and see it as a sign of luck rather than an environmental issue.
Find out what the denier cares about before you start to discuss global warming. Maybe the denier loves to garden or likes to travel to tropical destinations. Perhaps the denier is an older individual who loves spending time with their grandchildren and wants a good future for them.
By “tailoring” the discussion to include a denier’s passions, you may be more effective in helping them understand global warming.
Discuss Facts and Share Your Feelings
Facts and science-based evidence are important in helping others understand global warming, but if you talk to a climate denier who doesn’t support science, you might end up with someone who wants to challenge your facts.
When you talk to a climate change denier, you are likely to either have someone who wants to hear the facts or cannot be persuaded by evidence. While you can certainly share some facts, don’t be afraid to share your personal experiences, concerns, or fears.
You can break down the discussion to become more personal, such as losing a house in a wildfire or hurricane. These natural disasters affect everyone, not just the believers and deniers.
Talk About The Denier’s Values
Similar to tailoring a discussion to resonate with a climate change denier, you may be more effective if you discuss the values of the denier rather than your own (especially if they are different).
If you’re a liberal who believes that climate change is real, your core values may include equality and protection. A conservative, who may be a denier, might have core values that include respect for authority and loyalty.
When discussing values, it’s important not to assume that a denier is a conservative or has certain values. Again, an open discussion can help you find out more about someone and their values rather than making assumptions from the beginning.
Encourage Environmentally Friendly Actions
You can help a climate change denier become more eco-friendly without “making it about global warming.” It’s not that you’re tricking a denier into something they don’t support, but you are helping them see how eco-friendly actions may benefit them personally.
Do you know a climate change denier who is frugal? Help them set up a rain barrel in their backyard to cut the cost of watering or encourage them to change out light bulbs with CFLs to reduce utility bills. You may also encourage eco-friendly actions such as:
Say What You Have To Say and Continue To Encourage Others
Climate change issues can be a hard topic to debate, especially if you’re talking to close family and friends. Once you shared your thoughts on global warming, let the information sink in and leave the denier alone. Consider the times when you were given new information, did you change your mind right away (or at all)?
Constantly pushing someone to accept your viewpoints and completely change their own beliefs will probably not get you very far; it might strain relationships even further. Change doesn’t always happen overnight, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.
It’s best to say what you need (and want) to say and then continue to encourage others to change their thoughts on climate change.
Additional Tips For Talking To Climate Change Deniers
Climate change deniers are everywhere, and even though they believe that global warming is not real, their beliefs and reasons for denying climate change are likely to differ greatly. It’s best to have various types of responses prepared rather than a one-sided defense.
Whether you’re talking about climate change at your church, at work, or at a holiday dinner, you will have to discuss the subject differently depending on the environment. Some places may not be appropriate to discuss a controversial topic like global warming, so always keep the “there’s a time and place” mantra in the mind.
If you decide to discuss climate change with strangers or people in your neighborhood, it’s important to have a plan and stick with it, particularly if you’re the one bringing up the subject of climate change.
If someone is not interested in discussing global warming, don’t push it. If you start to feel threatened during the discussion, or if you’re worried that you might say something you don’t mean, end the conversation and walk away. Being passionate about your beliefs is important, but it’s not worth feeling personally (or even physically) threatened by another person.
Taking the time to learn more things about a climate denier (other than the fact that they think global warming is a myth) may help you establish a respectful relationship and have an effective discussion overall.
Patience is essential, particularly when discussing sensitive topics. If you don’t think you can stay level-headed, reconsider starting a discussion. If you suspect that discussing your stance on global warming may affect your personal or professional relationships, think twice before you decide to strike up a conversation with a climate change denier.
As someone who believes in global warming, it can be frustrating and difficult to know that there are climate change deniers. While you may not be able to change everyone’s mind, learning how to have an effective discussion may make you feel like your making a change one step at a time.