I would like to talk with you about how it is more effective to communicate about climate change from a solutions-based perspective than it is to communicate about climate change from a problem-based perspective. So much of what we are currently hearing about climate change talks about the problems – polar ice caps melting, the rainforest in South America is on fire, the challenges that we’re having with reducing CO2 emissions below the acceptable level, the fact that we may only have twelve years left before climate change runs a devastating impact over the planet runs devastating impacts over the planet, and more dominate the talks about climate change. Yet with all of this information, why are we not taking any action. Is the information incorrect? Do people just not care? Or is something else going on here?
All this information is true and it’s valid. And so much of the focus with climate change has been on you. You are the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem and I’m the problem too. Let’s think about this from a different perspective So if we are talking about everybody is the problem, she’s the problem, he’s the problem. Yes it is accurate that climate change is a man-made problem and at some level we are all contributing to climate change in our own way. Here’s the thing though. There’s no one person that’s responsible for climate change and there is no one company that’s responsible for climate change.
A lot of climate change has come as a result of CO2 emissions, methane emissions, and greenhouse gas emissions and for so long we didn’t know how harmful all these things were. The U.S. built its economy around the principle that we have all the resources and because we have all the resources we can just keep on wasting them. This has been the model of economics since Adam Smith wrote his book, “The Wealth of Nations.” in the late 1800’s. With this said, this model doesn’t work anymore and it’s clear that that doesn’t work anymore. Global warming is showing us that there no question that the extraction/use/burn/slash/destroy/blow up model of our economic principles doesn’t work anymore.
Business are definitely equally or possibly more responsible for climate change and coming at climate change from a blame someone else model that is solely focused on the problems that are happening starts to create a situation where we don’t know what to focus on. There are so many problems happening! There are so many issues happening! What do I do? Aaaagggghhhhhhh!!!!!
There are so many things happening all of which are catastrophic potentially. I get that. And yes it’s very very easy to run around run around and feel like you need to go crazy because of all of the problems that are happening in the world. Yes they’re all happening. Yes they’re all catastrophic. But one when the focus is on a new problem every day it becomes very tough for you to focus your energy on anything. And here’s the thing – in my opinion, to be able to solve climate change we need each human being out there in the world focusing their energy on one or two solutions to climate change that they can implement easily, quickly, and effectively and engage another 10 people to join them on this on their work of reducing the environmental impacts that they are committed to reducing in the world.
So if your passion is solar, then pursue solar solutions. If you are passionate about reducing the amount of food waste that gets sent to landfill,then go work on that. If you are passionate about reducing agriculture’s impact on climate change, then go work on that.
Find another 10 people who are passionate about what you are passionate about and start a community-based project. Let’s look at agriculture as an example. Agriculture is the largest emitter of methane and carbon dioxide emissions and also one of the largest emitters of nitrous oxide which happens when nitrogen interacts with the soil and produces a harmful chemical called nitrous oxide that is 300 times more dangerous than methane emissions and carbon dioxide emissions for the environment. What if you could collectively work with farmers in your area to use organic practices and biofuels that can significantly reduce their methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions?
We all need to be taking focused clear action to reverse climate change and global warming. The action that one person takes may be completely different than that actions that another person takes and that’s fine, as long as we are all taking some action on a daily basis to reverse and eliminate the impacts of climate change from being as catastrophic and devastating as they can be. If everybody is focusing on one or two areas that they can put their time, energy, and effort into then that is a huge win for the planet.
When it comes down to the finger pointing the blaming the etc etc. Think about it like this. I’d imagine that a lot of us have worked in companies and/or departments that weren’t perfect. Actually, I’d imagine that every single one of ushas worked in a company or department where things weren’t perfect and I can imagine that every single one of us has been blamed for causing a problem at work. And when we are the problem, when we are the cause, we frequently get mentally paralyzed
Think about if this was happening every day in your work environment, “John what did you do wrong. Sarah what did you do wrong. Courtney what did you do wrong. Michael what did you do wrong. Caitlin what did you do wrong.” And your day to day job becomes a finger pointing process. Wouldn’t you get paralyzed and start to not take action because we feel so badly about ourselves being the problem, being the reason why this didn’t work, and being the reason why this failedMentally it’s very common for us to get paralyzed mentally when we feel we are the problem. So it’s the same thing when it comes to climate change. When you’re the problem and you’re the problem and I’m the problem and she’s the problem then we get paralyzed and we decide not to take action because by doing nothing we don’t have to deal with the guilt of being the problem and we hope that we can scathe by unnoticed to live another day.
Rather than focusing on the problem or problems, let’s focus on the solution and talking with others about the solutions to climate change. This is something that I’ve been experimenting with lately when I have been talking to people about climate change. I used to focus on the polar ice caps are melting. I used to focus on greenhouse gas emissions are at this level. I used to focus on food waste having such a huge impact on climate change and now I am looking at it from a solutions-based perspective. People know these things. People are well aware that carbon emissions are at a level that is not safe anymore for human beings and at a level we’ve never seen it that before. People are well aware that we are wasting too much food. People are well aware that there are too many cars, buses, and trucks on the roads submitting methane gas into the environment.
Look, we know this. Knowledge is valuable and without clear solutions that people can take action on, not much is going to happen. I also know that a lot of people are going to want to participate in something and not everybody is going to take that initiative. Not everybody is going to lead a project in your community and a lot of people want a path they can follow. If you approach somebody and you say “Hi Rita, I am really concerned right now about the amount of food waste that we’re producing in our city and here’s a solution that I have to it” you have just opened up an opportunity for Rita to step into it rather than another problem for her to deal with. Rita may start to see that she can participate in something that can help her solve a problem. If you say to Rita, “I have a solution and here’s my solution. I’d like to start a community composting program. Would that be something you’d be interested in?” You have now offered Rita an opportunity to participate by focusing on a solution.
Rita may yes, Rita may say no, Rita might come back and say, “Hey Michael you know I’d love to get a proposal from you. I think this is something we’d be interested in” or Rita might come back and say, “Hey you know I don’t think we can start a community composting program as it is going to be too expensive this year and we have been talking about some ideas to bring in more sustainable practices. Can you help us with that by providing a different solution?”
And if you said to Rita, “You know, I’m really concerned about our environmental impact as a company and as you’ve seen manufacturing companies have one of the highest environmental impacts because we use a lot of electricity and we are we have an assembly line which uses power 24 hours a day. You know we’re causing a lot of problems here?” You may get a defensive response from Rita or shut Rita dow
There are a lot of people out there who want to do something about climate change. There’s actually been a very interesting study done showing that shows where everybody stands on climate change. And it showed that about 15 percent of people are 100 percent yes, I want to do something about climate change. I am passionate about this. I love this. Tell me more. I want get to work!
About 30 percent of people believe in climate change. They think that it’s a problem but aren’t really going to be taking a lot of action. They might sign a petition, they might go out and rally some support to at least engage people, and they may talk to a few people, but they might not take action on their own. There’s another 30 percent of people that are kind of iffy about climate change. They think it’s real but they’re not sure how it’s going to impact their lives. They’re not sure they can do anything about it. They’re really not taking action, but could be moved to action if an opportunity arises. And then there’s another 15 percent of people that are going to deny climate change and global warming and will fight with everything they’ve got to deny climate change. It’s ok, truly as denying climate change is part of their identity and you shouldn’t spend your time trying to convince them that climate change is real.
It’s much better to focus on the 30 percent of people that believe that climate change is real and will take small action and the 30 percent of people that won’t may take action if you can provide a solution that they can jump in to. These are the people that may go from being somebody who’s on the fence or somebody who’s taking small actions to somebody who’s taking big actions because you have something for them to do.
So let’s start focusing on solutions and if you are unsure about how to solve the issues that you are concerned about reach out to me as I would love to help you, or your company get into action to reduce your impact on climate change and global warming.
Michael Forman is the founder of Pure Love Sustainability Inc, a sustainability company that is focused on reversing and eliminating climate change.. Our website is www.purelovesustainabilityinc.com and our Facebook page is also Pure Love Sustainability Inc. I am also always available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to having more in-depth conversations with you about climate change and how we can have effective conversations with people about how we can start taking action and moving forward and getting getting work done here.