Dear Partners in Green,

Here in the northeast, winter is fast approaching. The last leaves have been raked, the gardens have been put to bed, and the warm clothes have made their way to the front of the closet. We are preparing for the hunkering down associated with the coming season.

But that does not mean that we let up on our care and concern for our beleaguered planet. Not by a long shot.

For many, this is the season for gathering with family and friends. And as difficult as it may be, we really should take these opportunities to have conversations about Climate Change, Global Warming.

Not easy. Unfortunately, it has become so politicized. And I know many of us go out of our way to avoid controversial topics, especially if we are not experts on the issues.

But simply talking about Climate Change can be an important step toward addressing the problem. Conversations are important. They promote social change, make it socially acceptable to have these conversations, and can be deeply influential to the people involved.

So how can we find the words to begin a conversation on the most important issue of our time, an issue of life and death? How do we start the conversation? Remember, most people are concerned about the future of our planet, and you may be surprised to find more areas of agreement than you expected.

Finding common interests and areas of concern, speaking to shared values, and connecting to what people care about – family, faith, community, jobs, etc. — are good places to begin good climate conversations.

And having a meaningful talk does not require a deep understanding of climate science, though it would be good to mention that 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused Climate Change is happening and that there are indeed benefits to climate action. 

Many constructive conversations will be brief and not terribly deep. I call it “planting seeds.” Small conversations can build momentum for change, breaking the climate silence and, just maybe, moving people closer to a position from which they might become a participant in the global effort to reduce emissions.

Real Talk principles for effective climate conversations:

  • Respect the person you are speaking with, and seek common ground and shared values. Focus on building trust.
    Enjoy the conversation: Avoid trying to fit in every point. Ask questions rather than lecture and seek to understand experiences that led to his or her beliefs. Try to end on a positive note.
  • Ask questions: Find out what Climate Change means to that person and give space for reflection, and verify that you have heard correctly.
  • Tell your story: How you became engaged in the issue, and why you are concerned, are some of the most powerful tools you have.
  • Share your perspectives and experiences, where you are struggling, or what challenges you have faced.
  • Tell the person what you have chosen to do in addressing Climate Change.  And emphasize how your actions are realistic and doable. It may just give them ideas of what they might do. Acknowledge that it can feel overwhelming, and indeed everyone needs to find what works for them.
  • Learn from the conversation: Each one is an opportunity to gain insights, and hopefully, to improve “the climate talk.”  And don’t assume people don’t care — you may be surprised by what they say. Remember the old adage about “assume?”
  • Keep going and stay connected: Every conversation is valuable, and challenges the perception that no one cares. Keep having these conversations and connecting with others who are also engaging in “climate talks,” and just maybe, we will all find just the right words.

And, in the meantime:

  1. Use an electric tea kettle instead of your gas stove.
  2. Use a crock pot rather than your gas oven.
  3. When the oven is hot, cook more than one meal to put in the freezer.
  4. Put your central heating on a timer.
  5. Wrap up in a blanket. (Blankets might be a good gift idea.)
  6. Go meatless 3 days a week.
  7. Fill up that recycling bin.

And now a song from Cold Play: “Talk”


Oh brother, I can’t, I can’t get through
I’ve been trying hard to reach you ’cause I don’ know what to do
Oh brother, I can’t believe it’s true
I’m so scared about the future, and I wanna talk to you
Oh, I wanna talk to you
You can take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or a write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that’s never been done
Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can’t find your missing piece?
Tell me, how do you feel?
Well, I feel like they’re talking in a language I don’t speak
And they’re talking it to me
So you take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that’s never been done
Or do something that’s never been done
So you don’t know where you’re going and you wanna talk
And you feel like you’re going where you’ve been before
You tell anyone who’ll listen, but you feel ignored
Nothing’s really making any sense at all, let’s talk
Let’s talk, let’s talk, let’s talk

Wishing peace and health to you and your loved ones.

Thank you for being on this journey.

Till next time,


The #TalkingClimate Handbook, from by the UK-based organization Climate Outreach, developed the following principles for having effective climate change conversations. These were developed from a citizen science project involving over 550 people from 50 countries.