There’s a curious paradox at the heart of climate change. Despite scientists asserting the need for urgent action and the widespread acceptance of the reality of climate change by people worldwide, it is a subject that we tend not to talk about with friends, family or colleagues. Just 6% of the British public say they discuss climate change often, whereas approaching half (44%) do so at most rarely. Likewise, two-thirds of Americans rarely or never discuss the subject.
Perhaps we are too fearful of appearing worthy or hectoring to express our concerns, or maybe the issues seem too complex and overwhelming. Or we have grown tired of seeing polar bears floating on melting icebergs. Whatever the reasons for our reticence, however, it is hard to see how a global impetus for public engagement and action can be realised if it remains out of bounds for discussion by all but an interested few.
The Paris summit meant climate change was headline news for a week or two. Perhaps you did find yourself reflecting on the unusual weather or the fate of low-lying Pacific nations. But now that Christmas has come and gone, are you still worrying about these things? The discussion can’t tail off from here – after Paris, we need public conversation about climate change more than ever before. Whether you think the agreement was a resounding success or are troubled by its limitations, it is clear that the hard work still lies ahead.