GSB: As a climate change communicator myself—I give the Climate Reality Project slide shows, basically an updated version of Al Gore’s slide show from “An Inconvenient Truth”—to community groups of all types, this “what to do about it” piece is the hardest, especially with skeptical audiences… So how did you handle it?
KH:I found that sharing the possible solutions in a way that got at the audience’s concerns by emphasizing our common values, was by far the best way to go. If you are an evangelical Christian, protecting God’s creation, the green earth, is paramount. Concerned about the more intense floods, droughts and other weird weather that climate change is and will continue to bring? Well let’s talk about resilience! The importance of our kids having a clean, healthy, safe environment. Climate change impacts that! Let’s talk about clean energy and energy efficiency. Using less energy has to be a good thing, right? Concern about mass migrations of people? Climate change impacts that! Concerned about jobs for your generation and your kids’? Well, clean energy development means jobs, and good ones, here in Texas and elsewhere in the US. Then I tell people that Texas is a leader in renewable energy! In fact, wind was 10% of Texas’ energy mix in 2015. By the end of this year, it’ll be 15%!
GSB: WOW! That’s incredible. Emphasizing the community-religious-economy-boosting-ness of climate change solutions makes total sense. It’s something I see you emphasize in your must-watch web series, Global Weirding.
KH: Thanks! Science is the foundation but what connects with people, what binds them together—the shared values—turns out to be bigger than the science! And the pathways in our brains that are used to solve issues respond more to the shared values approach than the scientific. And community and shared values, that’s what sports is all about. Sports is part of our collective, shared identity. It builds community. And this goes back millenia to Roman times and chariot races.
GSB: So how do you think sports can play an important role in building awareness and action among fans? Many times, when I ask why more athletes don’t get involved, I hear that “climate change is too complex!” But if what you’re saying is right—and I think it is—athletes don’t need to worry so much about the science. They need to emphasize the importance of the solutions to the communities where they play!
KH: Exactly. Now some sports are effected more directly and more in the present than others. Hey, I’m Canadian, so I get that hockey and other snow sports are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on their sports in the here and now. That’s why it’s great that Protect Our Winters and the National Hockey League are leading the climate change fight. Hey, we’re a skiing family so we see a shorter ski season. I’m a sailor and so the effects of increased ocean acidification are powerful as they are obvious…
GSB: Yes, and we’ve written quite a bit about Land Rover BAR, Britain’s entry into the 2017 America’s Cup, and how they, through their sustainability partnership with 11th Hour Racing, are bringing the climate change fight to sailing fans.
Read the full interview on the Green Sports Blog.