Climate change doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

That was the title of the talk Dr. Katharine Hayhoe gave at the Steamboat Weather Summit, a gathering of meteorologists from around the country. The conference is a forum to discuss the latest industry issues and trends across the weather and climate enterprise.

Hayhoe is a leading climate expert, serving as the chief climate scientist at The Nature Conservancy and Professor at Texas Tech University, among other prestigious titles.

We had an exclusive opportunity to catch up with her after her talk.

What You Need To Know

  • Talking about climate change is a way to take action

  • Simple things you do locally can become contagious

  • Conversations can start in your home, neighborhood, school or workplace

  • Climate solutions are available if we act now

"When it comes to climate change, there is a lot of very real doom. We are conducting an unprecedented experiment with the only home that we have. It is bad, and it's getting worse."

Dr. Hayhoe counteracts the negative with her positivity and enthusiasm towards communicating climate change. Her popular TED Talk has over four million views; it’s the messaging she champions and spreads around the world.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe presents to a group of meteorologists in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Spectrum News/Maureen McCann)
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe presents to a group of meteorologists in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Spectrum News/Maureen McCann)

Hayhoe offered a simple solution to help take action: The most important thing you can do to fight climate change is to talk about it.

"People often say, 'well, what can I do about climate change? I'm just one person.' And the answer is, the only way the world changed is when people decided it could," says Dr. Hayhoe.

Dr. Hayhoe continues, "let's talk about why it matters, and what we are doing together to fix it. And that begins with a conversation." By talking about it, our actions become contagious.

One of those contagious practices that Dr. Hayhoe elaborated on was her family's recent transition to plastic-free laundry and dishwasher detergent. She shared this tangible action with her network of family and friends, and among her large social media audience.

"I talked about it. I also started a newsletter where I talked about it. I decided I would get on TikTok, with the help of my cat, and talk about it. We signed up for green power this year. And I'm talking about it, to people. Whatever we do, whether it's eating a veggie meal, cutting our food waste, getting rid of plastic in our house, looking at a plug-in car or solar panels and clean energy."

As for clean energy, she says that's contagious, too.

Solar panels
Solar panels are more likely when there are others installed in the neighborhood, according to Katharine Hayhoe. (AP Photo)

"The number one predictor of whether someone has solar panels on their roof is whether a neighbor has them within one mile of where you live," says Dr. Hayhoe.

That's a way to make a change at home and in your neighborhood, which has bigger reach if you then talk about it.

"When we talk about climate change, we have to acknowledge that it is bad, it is us, but there are solutions if we act now. The future really and truly is in our hands." 

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