Suppose that you are sitting next to your second cousin at a family function or you bump into your neighbor from down the street in a coffee line, and they ask, “What’s up?” How do you convey (in two minutes or less!) all the passion and concern you are feeling about Earthcare, without causing them to run screaming from the room? What is your elevator pitch?
When Katharine Hahoe, a self-described “climate change evangelist” received the American Geophysical Union’s 2014 award for climate communication, she responded in her acceptance speech, “climate change is now the most politically polarizing issue in the United States. Credible sources—scientists who understand the problem and can connect climate change to our values and the things we care about—present a real and dangerous threat to those who would maintain the status quo and deny the reality of climate change.”
She was asked about her elevator pitch (http://www.realsceptic.com/2015/02/07/climate-change-elevator-pitch/) and her response is to start with values and identify concerns that you share with your audience. From there, you describe something specific that you both care about. Then, follow-up with examples of what is being done about this concern. She and her husband, an evangelical pastor, have co-written a book called A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-based Decisions. (You can watch her engaging description here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1eGJLqxxKQ.)
Another key piece of advice for your elevator speech is to know your audience. In a group of deniers, you are not likely to get anywhere in a two-minute pitch if you use the words “climate change.” It might be better to talk about clean energy, local energy, jobs, national security, or independence from Middle East turmoil.
So, given that one size does not fit all, I still want to hear what you say in these situations. What have you found effective? Here is my first try:
I care about the kind of world the children of today will inherit. Everyone should have healthy air to breathe and clean water to drink, a decent place to live and enough food. We know that continuing to burn fossil fuels will jeopardize the ability of our planet to sustain ourselves and other species, so I am working to use less energy and to use energy from renewable sources. For instance, did you know that Texas is rapidly increasing its use of windpower, and last year (2014) over 10 percent of their electricity came from wind (or choose any number of good examples such as: the price of solar power is dropping dramatically, and there are many ways to install solar without upfront costs; the city of Portland OR is now generating extra electricity every time someone pours a glass of water from the tap or flushes their toilet).
What canst thou say, Friends? Send me your elevator pitch (email them to firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll post the best ones on our website.