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December 21, 2018

The Cool Earth Rule Book to Talking Climate Change at Christmas


It is bound to happen. After the polite chatter about the traffic and the overdone sprouts, the conversation turns to the summer's heatwave, and inevitably, climate change.


Instead of avoiding eye contact and reaching for another eggnog, follow the guide below and help change hearts and minds. One mince pie at a time.

What they say:

What they say: "There's no evidence that climate change is happening."

What you want to say: “A snowman’s dog has more common sense than you.”

What to say instead:

Although inconvenient and uncomfortable, climate change is a reality that needs to be faced. In October’s IPCC report, 91 lead authors and 133 contributing authors assessed 30,000 scientific papers and compiled the irrefutable evidence. They clearly showed the rising temperatures since the Industrial Revolution and warned that we have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.

What they say: 

What they say: "I live in the middle of the country, climate change and sea-level rise won't affect me - why should I bother?"

What you want to say: “There’s as much empathy in you as in a lump of coal.”

What to say instead:

Climate change doesn’t have borders. It will affect us all unequally.

The western world is responsible for the vast proportion of climate-altering emissions polluting the planet. Those least responsible for past emissions will feel the consequences of climate change more quickly as they have less capacity to withstand severe weather events and rising sea levels. The global threat is bigger than politics, and the solutions are as well.

What they say:

What they say: "The Earth’s climate changing is natural. It’s not humans fault."

What you want to say: “You’re as miserable as this bowl of sprouts.”

What to say instead:

You’re not entirely wrong there, Earth’s climate has changed many times over periods of millions of years. However, current levels of CO2 and subsequent temperature rises are unprecedented. They cannot be explained by a natural Earth cycle. The sharp rise in CO2 levels begins at the same time as the industrial revolution and continues to rocket. The correlation is impossible to refute.

Staying below 1.5°C temperature rise will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

What they say: 

What they say: "Don’t plants eat carbon? Isn’t more CO2 good for the rainforest?"

What you want to say: “That’s about as funny as a Christmas cracker joke.”

What to say instead:

Although plants photosynthesize by taking in carbon and releasing oxygen, it’s a very delicate balance. Too much carbon in the atmosphere means plant productivity fails and the carbon-storing properties of rainforest are lost. It’s a vicious cycle: forest fires and El Nino weather events are causing the rainforest to dry out, in turn releasing even more CO2.

If we don’t look after rainforest today, it will turn on us: becoming another source of warming carbon dioxide emissions rather than a lifesaving storage facility.

What they say:

What they say: "I like hot weather; bring on global warming."

What you want to say: “I’m going to go talk to this patch of snow instead.”

What to say instead:

Weather and climate are not the same things. Don’t worry, even world leaders apparently get confused.

When we talk about climate, it’s averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind, and other measures of weather that occur over 30 years in a particular place. Here’s a handy guide to the difference.

It’s key to remember that we tend to talk about climate change in terms of averages, at the global level. However, masked in those averages are local extremes: more frequent and intense heat waves, more damaging storms, higher oceans. Future climate change is uncertain and varied. A temperature rise of 4C doesn’t mean hot, sunny, blue-sky days every day.

What they say:

What they say: "It's too late to act. What’s the point in trying to do anything against it?"

What you want to say: “Have you been on the Christmas punch all day?”

What to say instead:

There’s still plenty of room for optimism, and action. But in order to stay below our current 3ºC trajectory, we require urgent, large-scale changes from both governments and individuals. It also recommends investing a lot of money in mitigation methods: around 2.5% of global GDP for two decades.

Helping to protect the carbon sinks that are the world’s rainforest is the most vital act you can do right now.

Several pieces of research continue to point to rainforest being key in the future of carbon mitigation. In fact, rainforest is so effective at storing carbon, you’d have to recycle two million aluminium cans to have the same impact as protecting an acre. We need to make rainforest protection as key a part of our lives every day as recycling has become.

Cool Earth works alongside people who have been living in the forest for generations, offering an alternative to selling out to palm oil companies, cash offers from illegal loggers and pressures from mining gangs.

By developing sustainable livelihoods, Cool Earth’s partners can keep that incredible army of trees standing to fight climate change for all of us.

And if none of that works, you can always say this:

If we work hard to make the world a better place – if we support rainforest communities to stop deforestation, preserve wildlife habitat and stop corals bleaching – and it turns out we were wrong about climate change, then we can live with that.

But none of us can live with the alternative.

Be a rainforest champion

 

It’s a weird time of year: we set fire to puddings and laugh at terrible jokes. Why not sponsor your climate change denying cousin a tree? It might just be the spark of a lifetime of championing the climate.

The Cool Earth Rule Book to Talking Climate Change at Christmas







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