Talking About Climate Change: Why & How

Individuals, communities, and societies come to understand, care, and act on climate change through their communication with other people.

This statement is both the observation and organizing purpose of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. And many experts agree. But how do you begin a conversation on such a loaded topic with people whose views might be really different from yours? The resources on this page introduce some proven approaches.

A Climate Scientist Makes the Case for Talking

Watch this 17-minute video to hear what climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe suggests.

The Science of Climate Change Communications

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Artwork by Michael Sloan

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication is perhaps best known for its publication Global Warming’s Six Americas. The six Americas study has been repeated regularly since the original publication in 2009. It now serves as a powerful marker of the changing attitudes of Americans. The study also offers insights into the best strategies for communicating with each of the six groups. 

If videos are more your speed, watch a short introduction here.

A cartoon about the challenges of communication

This cartoon from The Oatmeal presents the challenges of communication among humans about beliefs, and the common pitfalls that get in our way - whether we are trying to help Uncle Joe understand the real story of what happened that night with the bear, or trying to shift our own ideas about a challenging topic. References are provided at the end for additional exploration of the science of communicating with humans.

Classroom-friendly version is available at the link.

Maine Organizations Supporting Climate Communication

Many organizations exist in Maine to help people develop their communication skills and address climate change. These are two: 

All of Belfast: Climate Dialogues began in 2020 as a grant-funded project to facilitate conversations among a broad cross-section of the Belfast community about climate change. The ABCD project became a presence in the community, establishing the Library as a source for information and a gathering place for conversation about the climate crisis and community response. From 2020-2023, ABCD held over 35 educational programs & community conversations engaging well over 1,000 people. The Library will continue to offer educational programming on topics around the climate crisis; and will continue supporting citizens to take action.

This project of the Belfast Free Library was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS grant number: APP-246100-OLS-20). Contact: [email protected].