Last week I read an article on Nasa’s Global Climate Change website entitled The struggle to reach out and tell the climate story. The article posed an important question that often crosses my mind: how do we move people and make them care about how their behavior is affecting Earth? How do we get people to feel something?
As a climate and Earth science communicator, the author of the article shared her frustration in achieving this goal. “We get caught up with logical analysis of facts and don’t understand why many people don’t hear our stories. This is incredibly frustrating because, for us, climate change is so important, so dire, such a big deal. We desperately want to reach out and let our stories be told; to find the right way for the meaning to get through.”
Photo Credit: John LeGear
This is an obstacle I think many people in our field struggle with. It’s one thing to get someone to like an article on facebook, to share a video or to virtually stand in solidarity with the cause. But how do we translate that awareness into action and inspire individuals to feel empowered to make a difference? How do we get people to truly care?
After reading her article, I felt compelled to ask our social media community what they thought and to respond to the following question: “What will it take to inspire and move you to care about the planet?” Here are some highlights of the responses we received:
NK: “I really feel overwhelmed at times when I see what we humans do on a daily basis, to destroy our planet. In the name of luxury, convenience and laziness we continue to pollute and destroy. It’s almost as if people won’t care until it’s too late. We can’t afford to wait that long to change.”
SZ: “I am discouraged at times and feel so tiny in the face of global warming… I on a daily basis make a difference as one and passing this on to my children, but it’s so unsettling to think of trying to make a difference for the world… I am here in WA and the fires are burning our forests my heart aches and I cry for the trees…”
LC: “You can’t get me to be any more inspired than I am to save this beautiful planet from destruction. I’m only one person, but I’ll be the best example I can be to others. Save the planet, save the animals, be responsible for your little corner of the globe.”
UNP: “I truly feel I must do something to help make a change. By posting blogs about others in an urban environment who are doing their bit to help our beautiful planet, I hope to inspire and encourage others to do the same rather than preaching at them. Sometimes, people just need a gentle reminder that their everyday actions have an impact on the environment. And I have found that people are willing to learn and change their actions, which I have found to be incredibly positive. The more people connect with nature, the better they feel.”
PW: “It’s not just a question of ‘finding the right way to get the meaning through’, it’s getting people to work together to deal with it in practical, affordable ways; it requires political and personal input and determination or nothing will get done. It has to be dealt with from the top and the bottom together, and that relies on information, consequence, and personal empowerment. People generally do things because they personally benefit from them; they don’t respond to veiled ‘threats especially when they know not what to do.”
TP: “People somehow need to be made to really believe that our planet can’t continue if we don’t change what we are doing to it. The people I speak to just think nothing can or will destroy planet earth. Not sure how this can be achieved, most people just want to bury their heads in the sand & not think about it.”
AG: “Direct people’s attention toward what you do want to achieve, rather than towards everything that’s wrong, that way they’ll start feeling good about what’s possible and get excited about joining in.”
IT: “Humans seem to have a default ‘but it won’t happen to ME’ response unless they can see it actually happening in an environment they can relate to directly. So perhaps more opportunity to ‘see’ what the devastation means to them – a ‘fast forward’ type vision.”
I really appreciate all of the thoughtful responses that everyone shared with us. It’s important to have an open dialogue about this topic as the movement to mitigate climate change is a collective effort. A theme I noticed among the various responses was that people DO care about this issue, but seem overwhelmed by the enormous task of saving the world. I totally get that. Which is why I believe that the Stand For Trees campaign is an incredibly valuable tool. It’s an innovative and easy solution that puts the power of change into your hands!
If you want to learn more about how the Stand For Trees campaign works and how you can get involved, click here.
Although tackling climate change can seem like a pretty daunting task, it’s clear that people really want to do their part, big or small. Which is awesome! That’s what this is all about – shared responsibility and collective action. We can save the planet if we all work together and decide that this matters. There is power in numbers and if every individual commits to taking action, in whichever way they can, we have a real shot at reversing the dangerous effects of climate change and ensuring our future. But the time to act is NOW. This is the tipping point.
I understand that sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around the imminent devastation that faces this place we all call home (I have a hard time with that myself), especially when some of us live in regions that are far removed from visible damage. And I agree, that it’s an intimidating responsibility to take action against the destruction of our planet, but I would argue that it is the most important thing any of us can do. This is our only home.
Header Image by: Gerd Altmann