increasing (at least, on a geological timescale) average global temperatures caused by these gases; the consequent melting of ice all
over the planet (glaciers, Arctic sea ice, and ice sheets on Greenland
and Antarctica); and oceans becoming more acidic as extra CO2
dissolves, endangering sea life.
Follow up the discussion by asking whether all these changes
have any common variables. Discuss how all these effects stem
from a common cause — mainly, increasing levels of CO2 caused
by the burning of fossil fuels for energy production and transportation. Finally, and most importantly, ask for some ideas on what
people can do to help reduce the production of CO2 and other
greenhouse gases — solutions such as an overall reduction in
energy usage, recycling, and the use of alternative energy sources,
such as solar energy.
It is important to note that these strategies are aimed at get-
What to emphasize
ting your audience involved and letting their ideas guide the direc-
tion of the discussion. This makes the discussion more personal
and interesting to the audience — and not simply what you, the
communicators, think is interesting. Senior ACS scientist Jerry Bell
notes that “ideally, the communicators will be aware of their audi-
ences’ ideologies before beginning the discussion and will take
them into account. Even better, if communicators share those ide-
ologies, there will be a more trusting and productive relationship
from the start.”
In the past, a common strategy was to scare people by talking
about the impending doom that would befall them if something were not done to stop climate change. To some extent,
this approach is still included in one form or another in the
speeches of many advocates, some more openly than others.
However, a more effective means would be to focus on the
benefits of having a heathier climate, with less emphasis on doom.
For example, you could emphasize the benefits to farmers, such
as creating jobs and avoiding the costs of runaway climate
change. This strategy is more productive and shows that by
adopting green solutions, we can not only help our planet but
also have a positive impact on our economy.
Bell adds, “Students are in a position to play the ‘future card’,
since the majority of their lives lie in the future. If present lev-