One Simple Trick To Get Our Leaders To Protect Our Kids From Pollution
Why talking about it might be the most important thing you can do.
“There is one thing that everybody can do, and we’re not doing it. Talk about it! Only 14% of us are actually talking about it. And if you don’t talk, why would you care? And if you don’t care, why would you do anything about it?”– Dr Katharine Hayhoe
The most common question we hear from parents when it comes to pollution and global warming is “what can I DO to help?” In fact, most people are asking this question. 7 in 10 Americans are worried about global warming and say addressing it is important to them.
But you might not realize that so many of us are thinking about it, because most of us still aren’t talking about it.
This is exactly what polluters want, because it creates a reinforcing cycle of inaction. Breaking this “spiral of silence” is something all of us can help do, and it’s one of the most important things to do. Here’s why talking is so important.
Pollution and climate change is a big problem, with scary impacts and consequences. When it comes to what we can do about it, it can feel difficult to know where to start, what will make a difference, or if we can make a difference. On top of that, polluters have worked to make us feel guilty for using the products they have worked to make us dependent on.
No wonder 61% of Americans say they rarely or never discuss global warming with friends and family. Only about 1 in 4 say they hear people they know talk about global warming once a month or more.
If we don’t talk about something, other people don’t know it’s important to us — and we don’t see that it’s important to them. As a result, all of us are less likely to talk or act in ways that can help bring about real solutions, including our elected leaders, who have the most power for action – but still aren’t acting.
But avoiding the topic doesn’t mean the topic will avoid you. Polluters are working very hard to keep polluting, and to avoid paying the cost of the damage they do.
When our elected leaders don’t see and hear us saying that we want action on pollution, it makes it that much easier for them to get away with putting polluters above the health of our families.
So even though we have the tools we need to stop pollution, and those tools carry huge benefits and are supported by most Americans, we’re still lacking the political will of enough leaders.
This is how a majority of Senators are blocking action in congress even though 7 in 10 Americans are worried, and also why Dr. Katharine Heyhoe calls talking about it “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change.”
What does it mean to talk about it? Just mention pollution. Mention climate change. Mention you’re worried. Mention you want to do something! More people than you think will be happy for the opportunity to talk about it, and eager to hear what they can do, too.
Talking about it with others is better than being worried and feeling helpless alone. And when enough of us are doing it, it will be impossible for our leaders to continue allowing pollution at the expense of our future.
Tips to talk and make your conversation meaningful
- YOU are the best person to talk about this. People trust their friends and family (that’s you!) more than voices in science, politics or the media. (Science tells us this, but if it’s more helpful, just pretend your friend told you.)
- You don’t have to convince anyone. Many people have questions. But most people understand that humans are making pollution, that it is heating up the earth, and that it’s a problem!
- Just start mentioning it! Pollution and global warming touches almost everything in our lives, so there are lots of opportunities to connect it to conversations you are probably having anyway: The weather, food, health, cars, home improvement, community safety, dreams for your kids, and lots more.
- You don’t have to be an expert – just a person. Your feelings and experiences are more compelling than scientific facts and figures. This is about shared values, experiences, and concerns we all have — for our lives, safety, future, health, and kids!
- Talking doesn’t just mean talking. Share on social media, in your text threads, or your community facebook groups. Share your thoughts, articles, memes. Just let people know that you are thinking about the problem of pollution, and what we can do about it.
- Talk, ask, and listen. Share how this is affecting your life. Ask others to share their thoughts and experience of climate impacts.
- Share our actionable path to progress. We have the solutions. They carry huge benefits. Most Americans (70%!) already support them. Now we need elected officials to act. If millions of us speak out together we can push them to.
- Ask people to join you in action. Each of us can be part of speaking out and getting more people involved. We need pressure nationally, and in local communities. Everyone can help build it. Anyone can sign up and get connected at afuture.org
The Basics: FAQ on Pollution and Solutions
Families For A Future Printable Conversation Guide