Since Trump won, climate activists are rethinking their strategies. Organizations like 350.org are conducting national call-ins for this very purpose.
I understand this sentiment: “The climate movement needs to connect with other conversations like the ones on trade, on gender, on economic rights, because we realize that people are disenfranchised for a reason.” (Trump won: It’s time for climate NGOs to stop preaching to the choir (November 11, 2016) Climate Home)
But I’m not so sure that trying to fit the urgency of Climate Change solely into other people’s concerns is the way to go.
Though it is important to focus on the relationships between what folks are concerned about (like clean water and justice), it is also imperative that we prioritize how the physics of Climate Change will affect not only the present but the future.
We must get folks to understand that their concerns are linked to Climate Change. For the sake of our future, addressing and mitigating Climate Change must come first—no matter where the public puts Climate Change on their list of concerns.
The planet is burning up, and if that doesn’t get addressed quickly, all other concerns won’t matter.
I oftentimes think that climate messaging is thought of as an advertisement for a great product that everyone should buy because it has something for everyone. There is an attempt to sound so positive and hopeful about addressing Climate Change by activists that sometimes the message becomes downright cheery. Not so. There are some solutions that include desirable changes we need to make, but it’s not all peaches and cream.
While advertisement experts have learned a lot about selling products to folks who probably don’t even need them, it doesn’t mean consumer psychology has anything to do with Climate Change. Climate Change is not like a product the people might buy or an issue they might chip into to if they have an inclination.
Climate Change is a clear and present threat to our existence. The public must understand the full implications of this—regardless of how remote it seems to their lives or how horrible it is to contemplate.
We shouldn’t have to re-package climate messaging to connect the dots between what the public is concerned about at the present moment and climate science just because a climate denier got installed into the head of our government.
Somehow we have to get the public to appreciate the absolute priority of science so they can understand how our planet is being affected by our suddenly warming it up. We don’t do that by pandering to their interests.
Climate activist didn’t do anything wrong because Trump got elected. Trump got elected because our media failed to amplify our crucial message and deliver climate science to the masses.