Climate science vs climate silence

December 17, 2021

Climate science has opened our eyes to the urgency of climate action. But climate “silence” may be slowing our progress.

According to Dr. Elke Weber, professor of psychology at Princeton University, and contributor to the U.N.’s latest climate report:

“In psychology, there’s this notion of pluralistic ignorance – that we might be concerned about an issue, but we don’t realize how many other people are also concerned about the issue because oftentimes, when things are polarized and charged, we don’t talk about it. You know, we don’t talk about it at Thanksgiving. If people talked about it more, they would realize that their concern about climate change is actually widely shared. And so therefore, I think there would be more awareness on the part of politicians that many people in their constituencies sort of do want them to take action.”

According to Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, professor at Texas Tech University and author of the book Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World: The number one thing we can do is the exact thing that we’re not doing: talk about it.

“The most important thing to do is, instead of starting up with your head, with all the data and facts in our head, to start from the heart, to start by talking about why it matters to us, to begin with genuinely shared values. Are we both parents? Do we live in the same community? Do we enjoy the same outdoor activities: hiking, biking, fishing, even hunting? Do we care about the economy or national security?”

According to Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: 

Most people say they’d be willing to join a campaign to convince elected officials to take climate change action—22 million people responded they “definitely” would, according to YPCCC surveys. But when asked why people don’t actually get involved, the overwhelming number one reason is, ‘Nobody’s ever asked,’” he says.

People need to be invited to take action and get involved. So this holiday season, we invite you to invite others to talk about climate change, to take climate action, and to sign up for this newsletter to learn about ways to be involved here in Washington state.

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