Five Ways to Talk to a Climate Change Denier by Blue Sandford
You may be doing an action in the street or talking to your auntie but chances are that you’re going to come across someone who says that climate change is a load of rubbish. In that kind of situation, your mind can just go blank but here are some things that may help, all expertly outlined by the ‘British Greta Thunberg’ (Sunday Times) and coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, Blue Sandford.
STAY CALM, RESPECTFUL AND KIND
You will not persuade someone by rubbishing their opinion or making them feel stupid. If they respect the way you handle yourself and your approach towards them, your own conviction may sow the seed of doubt in their mind over time. People are unlikely to want to lose face by admitting that they have had their opinion completely changed on the spot. They are much more likely to think about your comments and information and may even repeat it to others in the future if you take this approach rather than being confrontational or preachy.
TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND
There are things that you are both worried about – for instance floods, forest fires, health concerns. If you can explain how climate change leads to something directly affecting the person you’re talking to, they may be more ready to listen and understand.
GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
It is a fact that the overwhelming majority – probably 97% – of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and humans are causing it. So even if there is the odd scientist (very odd) who claims that’s not true, who are you going to go with? The ninety-seven doctors who say you should treat a deadly disease, or the three who say ‘go ahead, you’ll be fine’?
FIND THINGS YOU AGREE ON
However, facts and figures rarely change people’s minds – they usually have their own to fire back at you and it just turns into fact tennis. You could both agree that no one can say for certain what will happen in the future and then discuss the hypothetical possibilities. Examine the best and worst possible scenarios that may play out if climate change is real and if it isn’t.
Let’s say we do act against climate change and it turns out it isn’t real after all – we spend a large amount of money and waste it, possibly causing a worldwide economic downturn. But if we do act against climate change and it turns out it IS real, we did the right thing.
Let’s look at the alternative. If we don’t act against climate change and it isn’t real after all, we do fine. If we don’t act against it and it IS real, we face not only massive economic worldwide depression but also an entirely different world. A world with constant ‘natural’ disasters (caused by humans) where floods, droughts, hurricanes and tidal waves become the norm rather than an exception. A world where our food sources from agriculture, farming and fishing are compromised leading to famine, global health pandemics and the breakdown of societies, leaving us with no way to get back to what we had before.
Hmmmm. If we look at these possibilities, it seems to make sense to take precautions against the possibility of the biggest risk. In the same way that a doctor cannot guarantee that bad things will happen if you continue to smoke or you don’t get that dodgy mole checked out, you still probably know you shouldn’t risk it. So why take that risk with the planet?
THE LAST RESORT.
Lastly, you can always point out that climate scientists are humans too and no human would want this to be true. There is no motivation for them to lie about predicting the end of life as we all know it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Act Now. Change the World.
Blue Sandford’s Challenge Everything will show you how.
This is the only official handbook from Extinction Rebellion Youth and will help you to change your life and change the world for the better.
Written by a founder member of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, this is no greenwashing book – it’s an important call to action. A manifesto for how young people can help to save the planet by questioning everything about modern life and acting upon their conclusions.
This book will ask you to challenge everything – challenge government (protest and take peaceful action where necessary), challenge business (decide who you want to support, decide who you want to boycott), and above all to challenge yourself – how can you change your life to make a difference.
Filled with stories, essays, slogans and inspiring illustrations, this book will cover consuming, actioning, boycotting, campaigning, striking, questioning, rewilding and reconnecting with our planet.
Blue Sandford was named by The Times as one of “Britain’s Greta Thunbergs” (Dec 2019).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blue Sandford was born in 2002. She lives in London with her family and six cats. A Hebridean childhood without cars, electricity or hot water has inspired an ambition to reconnect with nature and campaign for a better world. She is a founder member of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, where she has played a crucial part in organising and participating in actions. Challenge Everything is her first book.