November 2022: Talking to Decision-Makers About the Environment

Hello, hello!!! Happy November! 🍁 If you spoke with your friends and family about the environment last month, we commend you for it! 🎉 We hope you had a potato of a time, and that you’ll continue to do so as we move into part two of our theme, which is talking about the environment in more formal contexts and general activism — writing letters, starting petitions, giving public comment, attending protests, and contributing to sustainability initiatives.

Firstly, find reliable sources and think through your reasons. There’s a lot to talk about here, but here are some tips! When citing statistics or specific facts, make sure you’re getting them from an accurate source. If it’s a well-established organization or a peer-reviewed paper, or cited by one, it’s likely trustworthy; make sure also to cross-check your sources and use current, relevant information. Remember, science is the best guess given all the information available. So it CAN change, but that is because given more time and research, more possibilities are ruled out or proven correct! This article has a list of good sources of information about the environment at the end.

At some point, you will likely talk to someone who doesn’t believe climate change is happening, doesn’t believe we’re causing it, doesn’t believe it’s a big problem, or otherwise doesn’t want to do anything about it. These conversations are not easy, but when it comes to talking to climate-change deniers and inactivists, look back at our tips for respectfully disagreeing in the last email! As a recap:

  • Assume good intentions
  • Actively listen
  • Respond directly to what they say
  • Give specific, fact-checked information
  • Hear the other person out, and be open to learning and changing your mind
  • Be kind, respectful, and civil
  • Don’t let your emotions control you, even if the other person gets upset
  • And, if you can manage it, be fun and pleasant to talk to, because that will make people more willing to hear you out 🥔

Sometimes, people haven’t heard these important facts and will be grateful to learn them. Unfortunately, though, some people are determined to deny the existence of climate change, and there’s no way to force them to see the truth. Even though there’s no way to solve everything or get everyone to understand, by talking about it, you’re still keeping the environment in people’s consciousness and doing your part to raise awareness.

Once you’ve done your research and addressed counterarguments, it’s time to pass that knowledge along! Here are a few ways we encourage you to speak up for the environment this month. 📣

Election Day is on November 8th — please vote!!! Midterms are just as important as general elections! Not as many people vote (unfortunately!) so each vote counts for more — but beyond that, choosing your local decision makers is just as important for climate policy, because a lot more can get done on a small scale. Federal climate policy is SUPER important, but it takes time and many, many people, and there’s a lot that can still happen on a smaller scale. So please please vote!!!!!!!!!! And if you can’t vote, you can still encourage others to do so!

Write to your legislators. Their job is to represent us, so your input matters!! The more messages they get on a certain subject, the more of an impression it’ll make. You can generally find their contact information online.

Writing to smaller-scale decision makers, like administrators at your school or workplace or at companies you buy from, is also important!

Here are some tips for your message:

  • Be polite but clear about what you’re asking and why
  • If you are a legislator’s constituent, have a specific connection to the issue, or have expertise in the area, say so, since it gives your message more weight
  • Say why the issue is important, and ideally why you personally care
  • If you have one, give them a reason to care — if it’s a legislator, say you won’t vote for them if they don’t do what you ask; if it’s a company, say you’ll boycott until they change their practices
  • Have a clear request (for example, “Please support [bill]”), state it toward the beginning, and restate it toward the end so it doesn’t get lost in the message

You can often also find and create email campaigns for which people can just enter their name and email address and have a message automatically sent. This has the advantage of much larger numbers of messages, since it’s much faster and easier for someone to sign, but personal, unique messages are the most effective. Petitions work similarly — it can be helpful to gather a lot of signatures in one place, but a personal message can sometimes be more convincing. Also, be sure to pass petitions and email campaigns along to other people as well as signing them!

Give public comment at meetings about environmental policies where people in charge will be present. It might sound scary, but we potatoes are doing this together!! (It’s not as bad as it sounds — lots of people do this, and if yours is not the most scintillating, eloquent diction ever to grace the world, that’s okay. No one is going to notice.) Meetings are a good time to bring up environmental concerns, because the people in charge can’t ignore you and are hopefully specifically looking for feedback. Here are some tips:

  • Write down/think through your most convincing talking points and how to articulate them concisely
  • Gather information beforehand
  • If you struggle with speaking in front of others, practice in front of friends and family
  • Don’t overthink it! Focus on what you want to convey

Attend (and/or host) protests and climate strikes. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a clear demand or list of demands
  • Be loud and noticeable, but still respectful
  • Get the attention of the media (and here are tips for talking to the media!)
  • Have information available for passersby
  • Know your rights as a protestor (and be aware that even though you have these rights, protestors’ rights aren’t always respected, so know your personal limits and assess the situation)

Finally, join sustainability initiatives where you can! This could be joining a sustainability club or committee at your school or workplace, advocating for sustainable choices when coordinating groups and events, volunteering for environmental organizations, and more!

Have a wonderful November and happy advocating!! 🍁🌿🍂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *