Why Aren’t More of Us Talking About the Climate Crisis?

Two women talking over coffee

Despite the megadrought, the forest fires, the floods, and the horrific heat waves, President Biden has not seen fit to declare the Climate Emergency we are experiencing. As the IRA makes blindingly clear, oil and gas companies still hold enormous influence over public energy policy. To push the president and defeat Big Oil, broad consensus favoring the transition to renewables is critically important.

Locally and nationally, there’s a big disconnect between the severity of the crisis and its share of the public discourse. Why aren’t more of us talking about climate change—and what to do about it?

According to a recent study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a large majority of adults in Contra Costa County perceive climate change as a serious threat and support climate-forward policies. Most of us are worried and want something done. But most of us are not even talking about climate change with our family and friends. Nationally, only about 35 percent of adults say they talk about it occasionally.

The July 19 New York Times’ Climate Forward newsletter offers an explanation for this disconnect. First, many of us see climate change as a controversial topic and want to avoid conflict. And we don’t realize we’re in the majority. As a result, there’s a silo effect—neighbors each believing the other isn’t open to discussing climate issues, while in reality they both are.

What we all can do

Grandfather and grandson sitting in woods with tin cups and chatting with smiles

When enough ordinary folks in every community speak up for bold, fair climate solutions, they will happen. Each of us can reach out to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, listen to their concerns, and help them overcome their reluctance to engage with the issues. Break out of that silo!

This article first appeared in our August 2022 newsletter.

Top photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels
Bottom photo by Ron Lach at Pexels

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