It's Thanksgiving dinner, and you're talking to your Uncle Jeff who is skeptical about climate change. Here's a better approach.

 

 

YOU

Hey, Uncle Jeff. I'm a little worried about Grandma. Hot weather like we saw this summer can put her in danger. Older Americans are especially vulnerable to heat during heat waves.

 

UNCLE JEFF

That's true.

 

YOU

The thing is, climate change is just making this problem worse. If things keep going they way they're going, we are going to see more heat waves in the years ahead.

 

UNCLE JEFF

So, you believe in climate change?

 

YOU

Well, it makes sense. The ten hottest years on record all came in the last 16 years. We've got some of the brightest minds at NASA looking at this problem, and they're saying we're the cause. We're burning oil and coal, dumping loads of carbon into the atmosphere. That carbon acts like a blanket, trapping heat. 

 

UNCLE JEFF

Okay, but if the Earth is really getting warmer, then how do you explain all this cold weather?

 

YOU

Climate change doesn't mean it's going to stop snowing in January. Think of it this way. The Tennessee Titans went 2-14 this year. When they beat the Jaguars in week 6, no one said, "Hey, this is a team that could go to the Super Bowl." You don't just look at one game. You look at the whole season. It's the same way with our climate. You can't just look at one day or one place. You have to look at the whole planet over many years.

 

UNCLE JEFF

Okay, so it gets a little warmer. That's not so bad.

 

YOU

You would think, but a little warming can have huge effects. The climate is like a finely tuned car. You loosen a few nuts and bolts and it can throw the whole thing out of whack. Even a few degrees of warming can provoke intense drought, severe heat waves and deadly storms.

 

UNCLE JEFF

So what does this mean? I have to drive a Prius now?

 

YOU

Probably. I think the first step will be to submit to our new socialist overlords at the UN.

 

UNCLE JEFF

What?

 

YOU

Kidding! Seriously though, we have to start burning a lot less oil and gas and start moving towards clean source of energy like wind, solar and nuclear power. And yeah, it wouldn't be such a bad thing if your car got a few more miles per gallon.

 

UNCLE JEFF

Okay. I'm not convinced, but you've definitely given me some things to think about.

 

 




 

NOTES

 

  • Make it personal. How does climate change threaten Uncle Jeff and his friends and family?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

  • Cite the research of a widely trusted source like NASA.
     
  • Use plain language to explain the science.

 

 

 

 




 

  • Use analogies to explain the science.

 

 

 



 





 

  • You want your audience to feel like they own science, like they could explain it to someone else. Climate change is common sense, and it should feel like it.








 

  • A little humor never hurts. 








 

  • Be specific with your call to action. Highlight solutions that would appeal to Uncle Jeff, like nuclear power.
     
  • If Uncle Jeff is still on the fence about climate change, you're not going to convince him to sell his pickup and buy a smart car or switch to an all-vegan diet. But, you can get your foot in the door with a small request like driving a more fuel efficient truck.