Communicating on climate change—don’t forget the heart


or watch on YouTube
Martin Palmer talks on working with world’s religions, and the importance of stories people understand.

Religions can do a lot: some 8% of land is owned by religions, and 15% of forests are considered sacred—in southeast Asia, trees were designated monks, to protect them. Taoists ruled to protect biodiversity from those who were using any of 28 endangered species for medicine: “You can’t be healed if in seeking materials to heal you, you disturb the balance of the universe.” Much more effective than passing laws.

People change with the story their religion tells, not from the values it supposedly promulgates. A good portion of the world’s people get their values from the stories they hear through their religions. (The idea that there is a conflict between science and religion is peculiarly American.)

You are converted by stories, something which touches your heart and mind. Never use a word unless you can show us a poem in which it has been used, because if people don’t love it enough to include it in a poem, it probably means it means nothing to them.


or watch on YouTube
Randy Olson talks on what works in reaching people on climate change, and the changes that have occurred in environmentalism, from the days when the organizations worked together, to today’s unwillingness to do anything without their brand.

Today, we hear the name of environmental groups a lot, but not much is accomplished. Eg, see Losing Ground: American environmentalism at the close of the twentieth century by Mark Dowie.

Olson shares several stories on the importance of telling a good story—a fact wrapped inside of an emotion.

Thanks to Nuclear Australia which got the talks from NY Times Dot Earth.

One Response to “Communicating on climate change—don’t forget the heart”

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    Among Friends around 1740 were two antislavery advocates, John Woolman and Anthony Benezet. Both wanted to move Friends’ hearts.

    Benezet used to stand outside meetinghouses on First Day and, as people came out, he had a bladder of pigs blood up his sleeve. He’d dump the bladder onto his hands and talk about the blood being on Friends’ hands.

    Woolman had bad dreams about slavery, and he eventually found that he couldn’t write a bill of sale for a slave. He could have stopped there and he would have been a storekeeper for all of his life, but he changed his trade so that he could spend the rest of his life traveling and worshiping with Friends with a concern for shunning slavery. The Truth is true for everyone equally, and Truth is spread through love and through patient suffering. In this way, hearers become equally passionate advocates for the same Truth.

    In the end, Woolman and his prayerful mission was recognized as succeeding. The few last American Friends who wouldn’t get out of the slavery business were disowned. Then people of other denominations started to take up the cry. Numbers of Friends were moved to assist in the Underground Railroad. In 1865 slavery was made unconstitutional.

    Numbers of Friends are already abhorred of catastrophic climate change. The early train on this movement has already left the station and the second train is boarding now. At this point we’re looking for more effective tactical positions toward the rapid spread of climate change abolitionism. You’re right to note the importance of moving hearts.

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