While climate concern grows, and progress on solutions both waxes (increases in clean energy generation) and wanes (dozens of federal policy rollbacks), Americans are left with some confusion on who to trust for climate guidance. Traditional climate messengers, such as scientists, talk most about the concerning trajectories of our changing climate, and this can lead to fatalism and resignation on the issue. Other climate messengers, such as federal policymakers, have turned regressive.
Americans trust most who is closest to them in their daily lives. According to Gallup, Americans trust most their nurses, with doctors also receiving high levels of trust. They look to their health leaders for guidance, as they do other leaders in their lives, such as their pastors and local leaders. Americans trust these leaders for guidance on important issues, for direction on what to think and how to respond.
If we can inspire and empower people of faith, health, higher education, business, and local government on climate, we can reach every city and county in the nation with a new climate message, and new reasons to support solutions. If the leaders in these areas are talking about and leading on climate change, then Americans will see this as a normal and expected part of everyday life.
But, it isn’t very motivating to speak to a doctor, pastor, or even a mayor about climate change using environmental jargon. And, asking them to speak to their constituencies in this way just doesn’t work (ecoAmerica knows this from extensive research testing communications and language). Research aside, it simply isn’t authentic or inspiring for health professionals to talk about GHGs or Market Based Mechanisms, but it is both authentic and motivating for them to talk about air pollution, asthma, and the health benefits of solutions. And, why would a pastor talk about polar ice extent and RPS when he or she can be far more effective preaching about the moral imperative to care for our brothers and sisters, caring for creation, and walking gently on God’s earth? It is too abstract for community leaders to talk about melting ice caps and international climate agreements, but they CAN talk passionately about creating good clean energy right here in our town, and making our community the best place to raise our children and families.
So, in addition to several resources offering guidance on messaging, ecoAmerica has developed talking points that further the discussion on climate change – making them more personally relevant and useful for leaders in faith, health, and local communities.
Let’s all do more to ensure our children, families, and future generations inherit a thriving world where they can live their best lives.
The following talking points provide a starting point. Tailor them to accommodate your audience.