I'm very conscious that there's a tapestry around me that I get used to.
Like, you're driving along and you remember when you were nine that the windshield was covered with bugs and if you were going in high summer along a highway that there was though you're to use the windshield wipers to scrape off that sea of bugs on the window.
And now you drive along you drive along and there's sort of a bug, a bug, no bug.
And while no one wants a cluttered view or a dangerously cluttered window there's something a little alarming about not having in place what had always been in place.
Is something that has been perennial over?
And that would have been a silly question twenty-five years ago but now it's a kind of regular question.
At least my neighbors my cousins and my friends feel that we're on the edge of something from which we may not return.
So, as you may have noticed - I talk about the climate kinda a lot.
But today, I want to talk about talking about climate change.
It's very meta.
I recently went to ThinkerCon.
I caught up with some of my favorite creators .
I wanted to hear how and why different people think, or talk, or even a lot of times don’t talk about climate change.
We already heard from Robert Krulwich.
I’m not sure anyone has actually counted the summer bugs up in the northeastern United States and directly linked those numbers to climate change, but that story serves a purpose, it reminds many of us that what we consider ‘normal’ is constantly changing.
We all think about these effects of climate change from time to time.
But not many of us feel and fear that reality as much as Henry Reich.
I do feel that recently with the fact that we've kind of moved in the narrative about climate change - kind of past the, like, we need to prevent climate change stage and we're now at the climate change is happening stage, that I personally have felt this weird shift in my, like, drive to think or care about it.
I think that just saying the words it's already happening I feel a huge amount of deflation.
I know I often find myself feeling like Henry does.
If you think about climate change a lot, there’s a good chance you’ve also felt like Henry at some point too.
I mean, climate change is pretty overwhelming.
But how do we stop ourselves feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of all that?
It can help to get involved in collective action.
Now that can be community projects or national projects - it’s a way to act, and have real impact, while also reminding you that you’re not alone.
But what if you still care deeply, but you find it hard to talk about?
I am surrounded by other science students and academics and for some reason - I mean we all know that we all agree that climate change is a human problem and that it is a big problem that we're going to have to solve but for some reason it just doesn't come up into conversation.
So I personally think that climate change is the biggest problem facing humanity and our species as a whole but often it feels like such an abstract problem.
And there are so many more immediate problems that we talk about.
Be those, like, personal relationships, or struggles in work-life.
They seem to be more pressing Climate change can seem like it’s happening really far away - in some other part of the world.
But climate change is here, now, affecting our everyday lives; What you eat?
Climate is all over that.
All the way up to big scary things like heat waves, and hurricanes.
I find myself personally talking about all these topics anyway.
Every once in a while I just make it a point to bring climate change into those conversations.
But anyone who talks about climate change can tell you, conversations like these don’t always end up being constructive.
I think the thing that a lot of people don't realize is that when pushed about something that's difficult or hard or stressful, if we come at it head-on we are essentially forcing people into fight, flight or freeze.
I think climate change causes the freeze response.
I think that's why a lot of people are, like, apathetic to it in a way.
We might have the knowledge but because it could harm us or those we love, it could shorten our life span, or things are happening that we maybe don't fully understand.
We don't know how to fight it because we're not always armed with the tools.
And we can't necessarily leave it because we live on the planet Earth, so therefore people feel frozen in fear or frozen and scared of doing the wrong thing so we just kind of sit there and like hope it goes away.
We need to talk about it, but we need to talk about it carefully.
Even for a climate nerd like me - if someone just starts lecturing me, or telling me how wrong I am or how bad what I’m doing is, this is gonna stop me from opening up.
We have to start slow when we're talking about it - we have to find out where people are at, and go from there.
This is especially important when we’re chatting with people who don’t accept that we’re changing the climate.
It's so often that if anything people become more entrenched in their views and if people feel that their viewpoint is being threatened they actually become more solid in their views.
I grew up in West Virginia.
And West Virginia is unique in that it is number one in the entire country when it comes to the fewest constituents that believe that global warming is happening.
And so being from West Virginia has fundamentally shaped the way that I talk about climate change and about science to different people.
Pride is a huge thing that I now consider because in West Virginia coal is so ingrained in our culture and who we are as West Virginians and we see these environmentally friendly policies to not be friendly to us.
And so I understand where that comes from - where the denial comes from it's not that they don't understand the science is that they feel like they are protecting their identity.
We don't need to agitate them.
We don't need to fight them.
We need to ask questions.
We need to seek to understand.
Because if we come at them then they're gonna fight they're gonna fight or if we keep doing it they might get into freeze.
Emily and Katie’s perspectives are awesome advice for whenever we’re talking about climate change - connecting it to the things that people already care about, and not expecting to completely change someone’s perspective in a single conversation.
My goal is not to move them from like 0 to 100 of like not believing in climate change to like being like a Greenpeace advocate.
You know, I'm not trying to make that big of a change I'm just trying to move the needle a little bit.
Listening is a very important part of talking to people.
Knowing what they care about and not trying to push your interests upon them.
Because that's not going to change anything.
The reality is - and this is something I have to keep reminding myself of all the time - we’re not helpless in the face of climate change.
Every bit of carbon we put into the atmosphere matters, so any emissions we avoid matter just as much… sure it’s a small bit, but it is a bit of global warming we avoid.
Climate change of a certain amount is already happening but it's - we're not locked into an even worse amount yet and so I think the narrative really needs to be about like what we still can't change and not about what we have already done.
After you've been beaten down you need someone to pick you up and say you know what we can see it's terrible so let's do something about it.
In the words of David Attenborough, you've got to make people care about it before they're going to do anything about it.
We're the first species to do this kind of explosion in population where we're also the first species with, I don't know this may be presuming, I think we may be the first species with foresight the first species with morals the first species that can choose and can do the right thing.
Talking about climate change just a little bit more - with our friends, with our families, with our audiences, or just someone we sat next to in a coffee shop - it's a way we can all start to make a difference.
And, I don't know, you may as well share a Hot Mess video with them while you're at it.