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.

FFF Team / 

“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?”

More people are asking this question in their own lives than you might realize. 7 in 10 Americans are worried about global warming and say addressing it is important to them

But when it comes to our own actions, it’s difficult to know where to start. Pollution is a big problem with big impacts. There are a lot of things we can do individually to cut down on pollution in our own lives and homes, but at the end of the day, each of us is just one person. We want to know how we can be part of a push for bigger, systematic solutions. 

Today, many people don’t know what to do, and don’t feel connected to fellow concerned people, because they aren’t talking about it or hearing others talk about it! 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.

This creates a self reinforcing cycle called the “spiral of silence” — and it’s exactly what the polluters want to happen. When you don’t talk about it, others can’t hear you talk about it, so they won’t think it’s important to you, and they are less likely to talk about it themselves. 

When we don’t talk about it (above) people don’t think it’s important to others (right/below).

But it’s not only our fellow parents who need to hear us talking about pollution – it’s our elected leaders, too. Our lawmakers have the most power to act and make progress. But if they don’t hear an engaged conversation by the public, they don’t think it’s important to us.

This is why 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!

Tips to talk and make your conversation meaningful

  • YOU are the best person to talk about this. People listen to their friends and family 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.) That’s 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 only way lawmakers will stand up to polluters is if we make them do it. And all of us can help build the pressure that we need. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it.

The more we talk about it, the more people will see pollution is an urgent but solvable problem, and demand action from lawmakers to protect our kids.

More Resources:

The Basics: FAQ on Pollution and Solutions

Families For A Future Printable Conversation Guide

Science Moms: How to Talk To Your Kids About Climate Change

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