On April 22, 2019 we encouraged everyone to email EVERYONE in their address book with a personal message about climate change. It didn’t explode and transform the world, but we had about twenty participants — each of whom emailed hundreds of people. I know for a fact that I got back about half a dozen heartfelt replies that included conscious commitments to do something about climate change. One of those replies blossomed into a Climate Picnic in Ottawa — which inspired hundreds of other people to think about climate change for a few hours and hopefully make changes in their lives.
Below are the video and text we used to promote the project — something we will definitely do again next year. And something you can easily do, on your own, at any time of year.
While one email is easy enough to ignore, imagine getting 3 or 4 honest and heartfelt emails from people you know and trust all raising the issue of climate change, all on the same day.
Too often, we worry silently about climate change, not wanting to disrupt the pleasantries of dinner out, kid’s birthday parties or workplace lunches. Unfortunately, climate change is the elephant in the room and we need to start talking about it before it kills us.
We don’t want to provide an email template or subject line because we want these emails to be honest and raw. If you don’t understand all the science behind this crisis — that’s okay, in fact, it’s probably better because other people may be in the same boat. It’s enough to say “I saw this U.N. Report and it got me really worried. Have you read it? What do you think about it?”
We do have a few suggestions for your emails though — and we will also be doing a follow up post with some interesting resources on climate communications.
SHOW EMOTION: I have noticed that simple images of a human face with a comment about that person’s worries about the future are often the most persuasive and effective climate messages — much more powerful than charts or weather models because they invoke immediate sympathy. So yes, it’s okay to tell the people you know that you are frightened or grieving or confused. Or you can even just say you feel a little guilty because you haven’t been following climate news as closely as you should.
BE HONEST: As we said above, you don’t have to pretend to be an expert, just bring up a particular fact or new story that got your attention in the last few months and ask your friends to take a look at it. Maybe it was the fires in California or the IPCC report or the more recent U.N. Report suggesting catastrophic sea level rise is already locked-in. If you are an expert that’s great, share your knowledge in an accessible way!
CLOSE WITH A SPECIFIC ASK: The last thing we want to do is bombard people with frightening emails and leave them paralyzed — so introduce a simple next step, maybe it’s offer to listen to their thoughts by phone or go for coffee, perhaps there is a charity or organization that you like which needs funds or volunteers. You could also ask recipients to make one call to one of their representatives or fill out our online pledge. If you are emailing people in Toronto, you can invite them to come out to our Climate Picnic eventto learn more — or declare your own Climate Picnic in your home town and invite everyone to come. As Greta says, We don’t need hope, we need action. Because when there is action, hope is everywhere. You might even suggest people watch a Greta Thunberg speech as a simple next step.
DOOWUTCHALIKE Like all Climate Pledge Collective projects, how you participate is up to you. Maybe you would rather email only politicians or just your ten best friends. Or maybe you think it would be more effective to write different emails for co-workers and friends and older acquaintances. You’re probably right — go ahead and do it!