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Talking About Climate Change

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ClimateAccess the preparation frameClimate change is an awkward subject to talk about. In some circles, bringing up the topic can lead to an acute case of silence (cue crickets). But we need to be talking about it in all circles and especially in decision-making capacities. One of the leading organizations on climate change communication is Climate Access.

We recently listened in on a Climate Access webinar on how to talk about climate change during extreme cold and snow events. They suggested communicating the links between climate change and changes in the jet stream or polar vortex destabilization to show how larger storms are one of the many outcomes of accelerating climate change.


Climate Access has also released a new report that provides guidance for local leaders in how to move people to action with solutions-based messaging. In preparing the report, they investigated American attitudes, experiences, and terminology preferences. Some important findings:

  • “Preparedness” and “readiness” are preferred terms over “adaptation” and “resilience”
  • 74% of survey respondents support taking precautionary actions now rather than waiting to respond to worsening climate change impacts
  • Extreme events present an opportunity for communication and outreach to help build awareness that climate change is affecting us now
  • Effective communications focus on local and current climate impacts and what can be done to prepare for additional impacts instead of waiting until it is too costly or too late to act
  • Conversations about the science create polarization while conversations about the solutions bridge the political divide
  • It is important to link to core American values like preparedness, ingenuity, and leadership to action on climate change
  • Storytelling is a powerful technique for framing the issue
  • Mitigation can be framed as a “preparedness” strategy – the most important way to reduce risk.

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