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Learn from LGBTQ people, Talk to your friends!

Have our brains been hacked?

Don'tEvenThinkAboutIt_HC_catThere is something so queer about climate change. Ever since I first read George Marshall’s excellent book, Don’t Even Think about It–Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change, I have reminded myself of our need to break the collective silence around climate change.

Even though 1/2 or more of what I read and talk about is climate related, the average person hears little about this–especially from their friends. I just learned about some data that backs this up.

Who is not talking about climate change 

My queer comrade, Zack Ford, sent me a great article that highlights this point.

Joe Romm writes,

The need to have more conversations about an uncomfortable subject is, I believe, one of two crucial messaging lessons the climate movement can learn from the LGBT community. The other is to focus on the immorality of inaction.

Even though “two in three Americans are either moderately or very interested in global warming,” public opinion research finds that 70 percent of Americans “rarely or never discuss global warming with family or friends.”

2016_3_ccam_climatesilence_3The article provides useful charts (if you are into that sort of thing.) As discussed in the latest episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio featuring Katharine Hayhoe, we have an in with people we know. They trust us, and they will listen to us in a way that they don’t listen to political pundits, celebrity advocates, and climate scientists.

A Spiral of Silence–What did LGBTQ people do?

Marching in Midtown

Queers for the Climate Marching in Midtown

I love the phrase, “spiral of silence” that Romm references from a Yale Climate Communications report: even people who care about the issue, shy away from discussing it because they so infrequently hear other people talking about it — reinforcing the spiral

Romm then looks to the LGBTQ communities and the ways we had to work against our own spiral of silence. Although actions like the Day of Silence raises vitally important issues, historically it has been through breaking the silence that LGBTQ people have brought about change. Room sees our success as a model for climate advocates and appeals for a vocalized action.

A central tactic was to get as many people as possible to start talking about LGBT issues. I’m not saying climate change and marriage equality are exact analogies since they aren’t — but turning the issue around did require people to talk about an uncomfortable subject because it mattered to them personally.

So let’s end climate silence now.


Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is

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