FAQ

Why Families and Friends?

Focusing on families and friends is highly effective and time efficient in these conversations.  First, unlike the traditional campaign caller, people have knowledge of their friends’ and family’s unique circumstances as well as shared rapport and trust, which enable them to personalize each outreach conversation.  Second, families and friends who immediately share this guide with other families and friends rapidly reach many more potential voters.  They can also use social media to expand Save Our Climate’s outreach and growing impact.

 

In a nutshell, if there ever was an existential issue that most profoundly affects families and friends, and all future generations, Save Our Climate is it!

Who are the Best People to Contact?

Try to contact family and friends who are uncertain or need more information in these 6 states.

How do I ask for a conversation?

Email your family member or friend in advance to set up a good time--especially if you want to engage multiple family members or friends.  If possible, choose to use Zoom, Skype, or another online video conferencing service as it personalizes the conversation and enables you to gauge their reactions.  Your email—and this can vary depending on circumstances—might read: “I/ [name each if multiple callers] would enjoy catching up, including your thoughts about the weather pattern changes you may be experiencing [or specifics such as wildfires, etc.]".  How does that sound?” 


When possible, we encourage parents and their children to talk with other family members, if feasible, as well as grandparents, young people and other extended family.  By involving older children and young people, we will be able to hear the voices of those who will be most impacted by our climate emergency.

How important is it to talk about the impacts of climate change?

We suggest, whenever you can, not referring generally to climate change, but instead seeking to identify and talk about climate impacts that the family or person are experiencing, or are concerned about.  These bring the conversation alive and often expand it to capture important details and even hopes for change.  Talking about what is specifically impacting their lives also demonstrates you are focused on what is important to them.  Climate change, while fine to use generally, is a general description which can be vague, and sometimes politically-charged.  It usually does not lead to as strong an emotive response as climate wildfires and hurricanes, as just two examples.  A representative list of important impacts appears in the next FAQ about having your most effective conversation.

In addition to the guide’s Helpful Hints, how can I have the most effective conversation?

Before your conversation

  • Take a few minutes in advance to think about your family member or friend’s  current situation.
     

    1. ​Might they be proud of children/family, a project, community service, faith, etc.?  If so, at the beginning of your conversation, ask them about that and how it is going. If nothing comes to mind, to open the conversation, you can always plan to ask, “What’s happening now that’s most positive in your life?”  This warms up your conversation.
       

    2. Are they potentially affected by, or concerned about, a climate impact?  This focus helps you discover, and then have a conversation about, the real world challenges of the impact on a person’s or family’s life, and how they see their future.  It is something they can immediately relate to, which often results in them sharing stories and concerns.  As your impacts conversation develops, you may all agree that the words climate crisis or climate emergency are more fitting descriptions.  Research shows that climate change is now intimately interwoven with everything we do: economy, jobs, health and pandemics, the future of our children, safety and prevention, fires, floods, sea rise, drought, changes in weather patterns, loss of nature and wildlife, community and world security, etc.  You can use this representative list as a starting point to help you think of questions both in advance of, and during, your conversations.​

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During your conversation

  • During your conversation, people will appreciate you asking them questions.  As discussed above, before you even mention climate change, first inquire about them.  This demonstrates that this is not about you and that you care about what is going on in their life.  Then, if they have not already mentioned climate change, you can transition to that topic by asking something like, “Have you experienced or been concerned about severe weather pattern changes, such as wildfires or hurricanes?”

  • Harvard’s research shows that the more questions you ask, the more people like you; they feel you listen, understand and care about what they say, warming your conversation. This process also creates empathy and builds trust.  We suggest focusing on specific climate impacts, when possible, as these are what people experience or are concerned about. When possible, in addition to asking questions that can be answered “yes” or “no,” try using open-ended questions.  These start with such words as who, what, where, when, how, describe, imagine, etc.  Don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions to capture more information and feelings.  If you ask a question that they can’t or don’t want to answer, no problem! Just ask another.  They will appreciate that you are focusing on what’s important to them. 

  • ​After your questions, there are two key follow-up questions to consider.  If they describe something that you feel might be important to them, you can ask, “What is important to you about what you’ve just shared?”  People are very rarely asked this but greatly value this question.  If you get a positive answer, you might next ask what it would mean to them.  For instance, “What would it mean to you and your children that you want to elect representatives  who support climate change action?”  This helps them reinforce their voting commitment to you, and gives you another opportunity to thank and congratulate them!

  • After your questions, there are two key follow-up questions to consider.  If they describe something that you feel might be important to them, you can ask, “What is important to you about what you’ve just shared?”  People are very rarely asked this but greatly value this question.  If you get a positive answer, you might next ask what it would mean to them.  For instance, “What would it mean to you and your children that you want to elect representatives  who support climate change action?”  This helps them reinforce their voting commitment to you, and gives you another opportunity to thank and congratulate them!

Wrapping up your conversation

  • Based on their responses, ask them the appropriate questions in your guide’s Helpful Tips steps in 3-5.  And, whatever the outcome, thank them for sharing what was important to them!

Majority of American Voters Support Climate Action—Crucial to share for Conversations!

The Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University just released a vital poll about how Americans connect their voting with our climate crisis.  Its results show the importance of your conversations to get out the vote in these 6 crucial states. 

 

Many Americans incorrectly assume that only a minority of registered voters favor climate action, when, in fact, it is a significant majority.   We suggest sharing in your conversation those pertinent findings below which you feel would be most relevant to each person you engage.

 

About three-quarters (74%) of registered voters say they want climate questions asked during the three presidential debates.

 

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports 100% clean electricity by 2035, and seven out of 10 (70%) support the United States’ participation in the Paris Agreement. Almost two-thirds (65%) of voters say comprehensive climate legislation should be a priority for the next Congress and the president in 2021, including about a third (34%) who say it should be a top priority.

 

A majority (72%) of American voters across the political spectrum support climate action, including majorities of Democrats (85%), Independents (71%), and Republicans (56%).

 

The full release is found here.  We greatly appreciate the Center’s outstanding polling and analysis.

2020 Is Our Last, Best Chance to Save the Planet

This is the title of Time magazine’s July 6, 2020 article, describing what we face now:

 

“For the past three years, the world outside the U.S. has largely tried to ignore Trump’s retrograde position on climate, hoping 2020 would usher in a new President with a new position, re-enabling the cooperation between nations needed to prevent the worst ravages of climate change. But there’s no more time to wait… This year, or perhaps this year and next, is likely to be the most pivotal yet in the fight against climate change. “We’ve run out of time to build new things in old ways,” says Rob Jackson, an earth system science professor at Stanford University and the chair of the Global Carbon Project. What we do now will define the fate of the planet–and human life on it–for decades.”

 

Click here to read the full article.