More Americans than ever are alarmed about climate change, but those of us who are worrying about the problem tend to do so quietly. In fact, two in three Americans say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with friends and family, according to a nationally representative survey conducted in March 2021. Talking about climate change is an important step in taking climate action, and we should all be talking to our friends and neighbors. But, how can we keep the conversation productive and prevent it from getting divisive? Try these tips from the Climate Reality Project:

  1. Introduce the topic casually – and ask lots of questions. Instead of starting off strong, mention climate change in a casual conversation about an entirely different topic or by talking about current events, like extreme weather or an upcoming election. This makes it easier to transition into a conversation about a serious topic and gauge your family member’s interest in the topic.
  2. Find points of connection and similarity. By asking questions and learning what their concerns are, it can help you find points of middle ground where you may agree, such as wanting a better planet for your kids, safe drinking water, and concerns about extreme weather.
  3. Come prepared with evidence – but know when to back off.  Coming prepared with evidence and fact-checked news articles puts you in a good position to refute misinformation respectfully, but getting someone to move past the talking points they’ve heard time and time again can be tough. Know when things are getting tense and shift the conversation to something else can allow tensions to cool down.
  4. Make it personal and share your story. Share your climate story, why you care about the climate crisis, how it impact you and your loved ones, and what your concerns for the future are. We all want the best for our loved ones, and simply agreeing on that is a start towards a larger climate conversation.
  5. Continue the conversation. Don’t look at this as a one-time conversation and an argument you have to win. This could be a long process of educating and challenging your family and friends about climate change.

Here’s also a short video on talking about climate change from Our Climate Our Future.