How to communicate climate change?

By Carlos Roa

There is no doubt that, to be most effective in climate change action, we must involve as many people as possible. The question is: how do we communicate our message in an effective way to change behaviors?

“When you reach people’s hearts, what you create is change from within,” journalist Vanessa Hauc told Andrea Garcia, host of VoLo Foundation’s Corrección Climática Spanish podcast. And maybe that’s the answer.

The Emmy Award winner and host of “Planet Earth” on Telemundo News has become a powerful communicator for the cause of the planet and the environment.

Vanessa is also co-founder of Sachamama or “Mother Jungle,” a non-profit organization that works to inspire, empower and educate the Latino community on climate issues.

She recommends human voices because that’s what people connect with. “At the end of the day it’s a human story,” she adds. Her advice is to include testimonials, edited videos, and graphics, “Make it easy to understand, we must try to do the best job so that it reaches people.”

Perhaps some of the most successful campaigns to raise awareness about climate change have followed Vanessa’s recommendations.

In the United Kingdom, they used a love poem by William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18, entitled “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” which deals with love, mortality, and the changing of the seasons in nature, and put it in the mouths of several well-known personalities for a video.

This idea from the Climate Coalition, made up of more than 100 organizations including Greenpeace, Oxfam, and UNICEF, asked the public to “show their love” for the planet on Valentine’s Day by sharing the film, wearing green hearts, and discussing what could be lost to climate change.

However, an idea that powerfully, humanely, and emotionally communicates the climate change message does not have to be part of a large-scale campaign.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) demonstrated this with an idea as simple as drawing on a wall the shadow of a tree that was once there but had been cut down.

Journalist Julie Mollins said: “I like this ad because it shows the importance of trees in the urban landscape. It reminds me of places I’ve lived where trees are dying or disappearing.”

But perhaps the most audacious, creative, and humorous campaign took place in Brazil in the wake of Earth Hour, the global event held at the end of March each year, which encourages households and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour.

Seeking to invite people to join in, Next Condom Store distributed free glow-in-the-dark condoms. The point was to show that a lot can be done in an hour without electrical power and that the experience doesn’t have to be boring.

In closing, Vanessa Hauc left an optimistic message through her interview for the Corrección Climática podcast: “In the end, it does resonate, it does have an impact. Everyone is more receptive to seeing this information.”

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