How to talk about climate change to deniers

This article discusses how to talk about climate change, in ways that don’t lead to fear, sadness, guilt, confusion … and more.

We need to talk more about climate change. We all know this, even if we don’t do it. And a small spate of recent pieces (including one here) provide us some useful and encouraging how-to tips.

Still, for many, such conversations aren’t much fun to think about. Indeed, the topic of climate change is quite likely to upset us, to make us feel scared, sad, guilty, confused, overwhelmed, helpless, anxious. These feelings push us into the many paralyzing maneuvers psychologists associate with self-protective denial.

Which is why psychologist Rosemary Randall’s essay “The Id and the Eco” (Aeon, 2012) is still well worth reading. This short, insightful piece offers a clear view of why and how our emotions lead us to avoid facing this subject. And it suggests that we begin to move on by recognizing and naming our emotions, then talking about them with compassion and without judgment.

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