By Winona Bateman, Missoula Current
As a parent concerned about the climate crisis and my child’s future, this has been a frustrating and often disheartening legislative session. As I’ve been reflecting, my biggest takeaway is that we need to be having more conversations about what matters to us and what we hope for our families’ futures — with everyone in our lives, but especially those who seem to disagree with us.
What we value in our communities and state–our common priorities–often seem set in stone. When thinking about making lasting change in the climate action equation, once we’re in a policy battle, we know the stakes are high and we find ourselves wishing we had started earlier to find common ground.
Unfortunately, most people avoid climate conversations altogether. But there’s hope! When we share our concerns, hopes, and visions for the future through personal stories and honest conversations, we have the opportunity to cut through the soundbites and polarizing rhetoric and actually shift policy priorities.
Our recent guest speaker, atmospheric scientist and climate communicator Katharine Hayhoe, is one of the inspirations for our work at Families for a Livable Climate. In her Montana talk, “The First Step to Tackling Climate Change,” she suggests that we can come together on climate and for climate action, by connecting respectfully across differences about why climate matters to us. (And when you dig into the data most people–72% of Montanans in fact–agree climate change is happening.)