Ordinary conversations

Guest article by Caroline Eddy

Over the course of the last year the news about climate change seemed to get exponentially worse. Despite years of international agreements designed to limit our greenhouse gas emissions, they had in fact continued to rise, as had the frequency of dire reports being issued by the UN and others. It seemed like high time to pay more attention.

As I started to become better informed, one of the first things that occurred to me was that strangely few people around me were talking about this enormous and urgent problem.  

Of course, once I started reading the right publications I found there were many, many scientists, journalists, activists and others discussing the problems facing the planet.

But it still felt as if the ordinary, everyday conversations were missing. I sometimes found it hard to bring up the subject, almost as if I was trying to discuss politics or religion with a new acquaintance. Why was this important subject not a more common or mainstream topic of conversation?

Since this thought occurred to me several months ago however, things have changed, and the conversation topics are coming at us thick and fast, with school strikes, declarations of climate emergencies and new legislation. But as Carbon News editor Adelia Hallett pointed out recently on Radio New Zealand’s Media Watch programme, climate change often continues to be treated in the media as a separate, specialist topic, reflecting the fact it still isn’t integrated into the decisions we make.

That’s why I was excited to come across Common Climate, with the goal of telling positive stories about climate action. Hopefully this kind of forum can make the topic more accessible. If those who are already taking action can share their stories more widely, it can inspire the rest of us to incorporate climate change into the conversations we have and the decisions we make.

The problem can seem insurmountable when we look at the global picture. But if we look at it as a multitude of smaller problems, there are many which can be tackled at a local level. A lot of the time solutions are available, but some momentum is required to help with the challenge of getting the know-how, the funding and the technology to the right places. For example, the Bloomberg/Pope book Climate of Hope goes through many solutions which could be implemented at a city or regional level.

If, like me, you are not used to talking much about climate action, I think a good place to start is to get in the habit of asking questions.  We can ask about the carbon footprint of the companies we buy products from and those we invest our money in, or the environmental credentials and views of our local and central government representatives. And we can refer to the ideas in previous Common Climate posts to spur us into action!

Let’s make climate action part of our ordinary conversations, and ask that those in positions of influence or power do the same.

Caroline Eddy is a communications professional living in Auckland.

Author: Catherine Jeffcoat

Wellington-based communications manager.

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