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Hot enough for ya?

We’re all talking about the weather at the moment. Apparently summer is set to stay until April this year, with many areas around the country seeing long-standing records broken. Australia’s Top End experienced the hottest February on record, while at the time of writing, Melbournians had woken to the news that the nights minimum temperature was more like a balmy Summer maximum of 32.7 degrees at sunrise.

There is no doubt that we are experiencing longer, warmer stretches. It’s great for the outdoor festival season, but the long-term implications are less favourable if we fail to acknowledge and adapt.

Of course, this is not the direct message our communities really want to hear. It’s all a bit too ‘doom and gloom’, even when coming from the award-winning actor Leonardo diCaprio.

Climate change is a big issue. A global issue.  But talking at this global level is not for the average community member. So how can we bring this conversation home?

It seems that human stories and local solutions are the forerunners in helping communities adopt climate-friendly practices.

Educology looked at some of the current research into climate change communications  and discovered the following key themes:

5 ways to have better climate change conversations

  1. Tell human stories
  2. Bring the impacts home
  3. Communicate solutions and benefits
  4. Talk about what you DO know (the when rather than if, and risks rather than uncertainties)
  5. Use images to help communicate the science

Communicating science clearly is a science in itself, but by focussing on what matters to your audience you can help make climate science more meaningful and easy. Skepticism must always be handled carefully, and some groups are going to be more receptive that others. But clear communication about the positives of uncertainty and the ability of individuals to have an impact will help you to have a conversation, rather than an argument.

The recent heatwaves are an immediate example of how policy and communications can be brought together at a local level. The the intensity and frequency of heatwaves is increasing due to climate change – and a new report indicates we’re in for more ‘once in a generation’ heatwaves. Early warning signs for a warming planet.

It seems that human stories and local solutions are the forerunners in helping communities adopt climate-friendly practices.

But how are we talking about this issue outside of reports, policy and planning? The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) has put together a discussion document on how to manage heatwave impacts – including some examples at the individual and community level – but most discussion externally has been centred on the national temperatures or how you can keep cool on a hot day.

Many levels of government are quietly opening the outward discussion through incorporation of green building ratings, increased permeability requirements for new housing, support for green walls, and even heat-proof bus shelters.

These changes will impact people personally – be they public transport users or home builders, or living in shared properties with limited space for a garden.

Personal stories. With local solutions.

They offer opportunities to discuss climate change and, more broadly, provide opportunities for action – through gardening projects, promotion of a local amenity, or getting likeminded groups together online.  Taking the issue at hand, making it relevant within the context of climate change, and then providing an opportunity to act – no matter how small.

This is the next step in the conversation.

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