How Can I Convince Doomers That It’s Not Too Late to Fight Climate Change?

NRDC senior scientist Kim Knowlton explains how to stay in the fight—not throw up your hands.
The Endicott Arm and Dawes glaciers calving in Alaska

Mack Lundy/Flickr

Q: “How do you answer the doomers when it comes to the pace, intensity, and quality of climate change? It’s hard to work on change if people think, ‘What’s the point? It won’t make a difference anyway.’”

—Christopher Holly

A: Some of the loudest voices on climate change exist at the fringes—the deniers on one side, the doomers on the other. Convincing either to take action can feel like a losing battle, but remember that you, fellow climate change warrior, are not alone. There is tremendous progress happening in the middle, where all of us hoping to reduce the worst effects of climate change exist. Many cities, states, businesses, activists, and environmental organizations like NRDC are picking up the ball that our current federal administration has dropped.

Engaging with someone who’s convinced there’s nothing to be done is a laudable goal. How? Start small, with personal actions, and then show past successes, like the recent energy efficiency win in New York or the even broader success of other movements. 

Kim Knowlton, NRDC senior scientist

Rebecca Greenfield

Describe to the doomer the role that each of us can play. NRDC senior scientist Kim Knowlton reminds us, “There is a great deal each of us can do, and little things add up to big things.” Billions of individual decisions are shaping our planet’s future every day. Remind the pessimist that we can collectively make a dent by going car-free, eating less meat, or composting our food. If we’re parents, we can pass on these values to the next generation, who will inherit the world we leave them and will be the future stewards of the planet.

Knowlton also cautions that we shouldn’t turn our back on the hopeless. “Everyone wants to have a sense of belonging to a community who cares about them,” she says. “Let people know that you appreciate their concerns, but that there’s a growing army of individuals worldwide who truly want to protect public health from climate change’s effect. They’re dedicated and they’ve got heart, and they’re continuing to demand that our elected leaders bring us positive changes.”

Finally, remind your doomer that the world’s most powerful movements, like the fights for civil rights or women’s suffrage, achieved lofty goals because groups of determined individuals were willing to climb a nearly insurmountable hill.

That’s the key word, isn’t it? Nearly.

We’ve got this, Christopher. And with your help, we hope the doomers begin to believe that too.

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