CBC: ‘Connecting with people’: The quest for common ground on climate change

CBC Radio · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 4

How do we talk about climate change with people who think we’re wrong? Atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe suggests a focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. (Ashley Rodgers/Texas Tech University)

It’s the question that’s been hanging over the climate change debate since the beginning: how do you talk about the problem with people who think you’re wrong?

Start by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, said atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

“That is a lot easier said than done, because it seems like our entire public discourse these days is built on what divides us, on the tiny fraction of what we disagree on,” Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, told The House in an interview recorded in mid-December.

“Whereas most of us, if we actually sat down and had a genuine conversation, we would agree that we want to help other people, we want to do what’s right. We’re just disagreeing over how to get that done.

“Connecting with people on what we share — whether it is our faith, the sense of the place where we live, the things that we value, the activities that we participate in — is key to having positive conversations that are constructive, that actually end up in a place where we can agree on solutions, rather than ending up with both of our heads exploding.”

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