While working on our Voters Guide for the Alberta election this month, we've found the province's political parties have been worrisomely quiet about climate change, even in the midst of unprecedented wildfires. That left us wondering: why's it so dang hard to talk about climate change? So for this episode, we invited Amber Bennett, a Calgary-based communications strategist, to reflect on her experience discussing climate change with Albertans. She offers some surprising insights and guidance for all Canadians wanting to have more meaningful, productive conversations about complex, controversial problems like climate change (and generational unfairness). These conversations can sometimes be painfully hard to have, but simply talking about climate is a critical way to tackle the climate crisis.
Has talking about climate change ever made you run screaming for the hills? Or maybe you've found your own ways to cross conversational divides? We'd love to hear about it! Share your experiences and tactics with us. And as we start our second season of Hard Truths, we'd also welcome any feedback you have about our show.
- Re.Climate: the centre Amber leads, which provides evidence-based reports, guides, and training to support Canadian climate communicators
- Alberta Narratives Project: the engagement project Amber led that produced a guide to having more respectful and constructive conversations about climate
- Climate Stewardship analysis from our Alberta Voters Guide
- Canada's National Observer: Election ignores greatest threat to Alberta’s kids and grandkids
- Katharine Hayhoe's TEDTalk: The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it
Anything we care about can become a climate conversation
"Climate's super polarized here still. There are very well-funded groups who have worked very hard to make it toxic. But that's not to say that climate doesn't connect to everything we care about. So we can have a conversation about anything really and it can be a climate change conversation. So whether that's about affordability, or if that's about future job opportunities or health or inflation or protection of nature. There's lots of different kind of entry points into those conversations." -- Amber Bennett
Restoring trust through stories
"I believe that if we can tell stories where things worked and where they are working and then draw connections to people's lives, that that helps to address the kind of defensiveness that we are all collectively holding around, 'We are going to hell in a hand basket. Governments are not stepping up and acting quickly enough to protect us and have our best interests in mind.' So that's where you kind of get apathy. If it doesn't feel like it's gonna make a difference, then why bother? But if we can tell stories where it has made a difference, this has been effective. I think that those nuggets help to break through the defensiveness that we have and help us open up with a sense of trust." -- Amber Bennett
Get real about climate and connect it to what we love
"I think as moms and grandmothers and as parents, we need to get real about the fact that we are never, ever going back. Not in our generation or our children or their children. We are locked in for centuries of this. And so I think that that will help when we're faced with decisions -- be it on costs or investment or priorities -- that will help us make choices that are more reflective of where we're really at. And I believe that women and parents and mothers have a very big capacity to have that kind of conversation... We need to get real, and connect it to the things that we love. And that kind of love is what is gonna pull us through the hard conversation and into the motivation to do things differently." -- Amber Bennett