“Nature doesn’t do bailouts.”
Last week was my training as a Climate Leader for the Climate Reality Project in San Francisco. I’m one of about a thousand new leaders trained by Al Gore to provide versions of his talk all around the world. This was Mr. Gore’s 21st training program that he’s provided. Fifty eight countries were represented, and Canada had a strong showing with 125 Canucks present.
In fact, the Canadian branch of The Climate Reality Project is a strong group in its own right. Currently, more than 475,000 Canadians have heard a Climate Reality talk, which works out to be about one in sixty five. The training was amazing, and if you followed my brief blogs last week, you got a flavour of what it was all about.
The first day covered broad principles, mostly regarding ways to get the message out. We had sessions covering social media, and how to engage in discussions in both meaningful and respectful ways. Grammy award-winning country singer Kathy Mattea provided a session on how to personalize your message, and she gave a great example by telling us about her family’s own history and, of course, provided some of her message with song. After the formal part was over for the group at large, the Canadians all assembled for a separate meeting so we could learn about how the Climate Reality Canada organization works, including some of the practical aspects about how to use their website and organize the talks we’re going to be giving in the future.
The second day was all about the newest version of the talk that Mr. Gore has created. I wasn’t sure how much time we would get from him but he was there the entire day. First he gave us the entire talk the way anyone might get to hear him give it. The rest of the day he went through the talk in great detail, with opportunities to discuss it in smaller groups at our tables, as well as ask Mr. Gore and Climate Reality staff including scientist Dr. Mike MacCracken some specific details during Q&A sessions. We had Mr. Gore from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The only breaks were for coffee and lunch. It was a long and exhausting day, but everybody learned so much from these sessions. That evening we had a reception, group photos with Mr. Gore in groups of about 90, and a concert with Kathy Mattea along with her husband Jon Vezner and her guitarist Bill Cooley. Then members from both the Canadian and Australian contingents went out for some serious partying (proving once again that I’m a bit too old for such late nights!)
If the second day was all about content, the third and final day was all about process. We learned how to present better, paying particular attention to the type of personality that each of us has, because one presentation style won’t work for everyone. We also had a terrific two-hour session with Andy Goodman who taught us how to become great storytellers. Everyone loved that particular session, and we all left it with a new perspective on just about everything. The last part of the day covered some new and exciting things that Climate Reality is going to be doing in the coming months. (I won’t spoil it for you now, but promise to describe these great programs they’re getting going once they’re up and running.)
Many of you have been asking me to offer some tips about how to get this message out more effectively, now that I’ve experienced this training. Obviously I can’t provide what took me three solid days to learn and summarize it in a few short sentences. But here are some key points that I got out of this experience that I think might be helpful.
- Use all forms of communication available to get your message out. This includes daily conversations, formal talks, and all forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Reaching as many people as possible is key.
- Be a nice person when you communicate. That means being sincere, respectful, positive, open, and appreciative.
- Personalizing the discussion helps to get the point across better, and telling stories is better than simply telling facts. Stories have a much better and lasting impact.
As Mr. Gore pointed out, watching the nightly news nowadays is like reading chapters from the Book of Revelations. But as he also pointed out, there are a lot of deniers out there funded by fossil fuel industries, where “doubt is their product.” It’s important for people to understand the truth, and what more than 97 percent of publishing climatologists are also saying:
Global Warming is real, it is causing climate change now, and most of it is due to human activities. Once we figure that out and start doing something about it, we can truly be on the road to recovery for an entire planet.