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Believing in climate change makes you an expert, and here’s why
Are you a climate change expert? If you agree that climate change is occurring, the answer to this question is 100% yes – especially if you are a scientist or work in environmental policy. Whether or not we feel we are experts, we are seen as climate change experts by many people. And whether or not we feel we are experts, we have a role as communicators of science.
This reality has been front and center in my life outside the office. In the last three weeks, in nearly every conversation about my work, and in every conceivable place (restaurants, bus stops, my home), I have been asked by strangers, friends, and family members to talk about climate change. Sometimes I am challenged with a statement like “Climate change is not real.” Sometimes I am asked to explain climate change. And in every interaction, I am asked to represent all scientists as an expert on climate change.
Fortunately, Miles Grant (National Wildlife Federation online communications manager) recently visited our office. He provided some great pointers for talking about climate change in daily life. They allow us to learn about our audience – their concerns, their opinions, and their experience with climate change:
- Figure out what your audience does for a living and what their hobbies are.
- Then ask about a specific impact due to climate change they may have observed in their life.
- Point out that this is climate change.
By discussing the impacts of climate change as they pertain to a person’s daily life, we are doing more than speaking concretely and effectively about climate change: we are actively connecting people with the effects of climate change in their own backyard. This connection is the first step to making a difference at home, at school, and at work.