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5 Reactions when Talking to A Climate Change Denier

5 Reactions when Talking to A Climate Change Denier

Due to a new podcast that we’ll drop soon, I found myself at the Podcast Movement conference networking party a few weeks ago. I was sampling the typical food (i.e., Beiler’s donuts) at Reading Terminal as I was trying to mingle and hear people over a blaring DJ.

These two friendly young men stopped me to chat and talk about podcasting. As they asked about our upcoming podcast, Brad told me about how his counterpart had his own theories about climate change.

Suddenly, I was faced with a climate change denier. It was as if time has stopped as I tried to process his theories on how climate change was happening, but not for reasons discussed. You know, like the temperature of the sun. (Note: This short video with info from NOAA explains how the sun’s temperature does not affect climate change.)

The kicker? These men were from South Africa, which was recently on the verge of running out of water, partially due to climate change.

What happens when you face a climate denier? Here are a few of the common phases, told with GIFs.

5 Phases of Talking to A Climate Change Denier



  1. Disbelief. Am I being ‘punk’ed? Is someone trying to rile me up?



2. Denial. They can’t actually be talking about how climate change is a myth in 2018, right? Are South Africans climate change deniers?



3. Shock. OMG, he’s actually serious? What the f*** is this?



4. Conflict. How do I respond? Is there a way to convince him that this is a ludicrous idea in the next 60 seconds?



5. Decision. OK, I gotta figure out how to proceed. Am I in a feisty mood? Do I ignore this statement and move on?

OK, so you’ve gone through the 5 stages. How do you have a rational convo at this point?

Here are 3 quick tips.

What to do when you’re talking to a climate change denier

Keep your emotions (and ego) in check. At the moment, this can be quite difficult. However, removing your feelings and getting to the root of someone’s beliefs (and how they react: facts or story-driven narratives) will help you connect with someone.

Find common ground. Ask about something the person is interested in to find common ground. Do they like being outdoors? Gardening? Have children? Find a way to address climate change in their terms without directly addressing the “CC” word.

Point out shared benefits. Even if someone doesn’t believe in the cause of climate change, there are ways to talk about the benefits of fighting climate change. Think: Less litter due to reducing plastic, conserving wildlife, or cleaner air.


Readers, what advice do you have for talking about climate change?


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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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