How to Make Your Parents Care about Climate Change

Samantha Lynn
5 min readOct 26, 2020

Having difficult but necessary conversations

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Climate change is a critical issue on the ballot for the 2020 presidential election. It is perhaps the most important issue (as living on Mars isn’t a thing yet) and it isn’t getting the attention it deserves amongst older voters. If you’re like most informed millennials, you’re probably aware of the ignorance of our current administration, and you’re planning to vote for a candidate who believes in science and will take action to give future generations a better shot.

Also like many millennials, your parents may be on a different page than you politically. Most of the time, these differences are tolerable and expected. However, when it comes to climate change and the current denial of scientific evidence, differences can be harder to ignore.

Why aren’t older voters as concerned with our changing climate as younger generations? Well, simply because they’ll be dead. They won’t have to suffer the effects of climate change like our children will. In their mind, making eco-friendly choices at this point in life won’t make a difference, it will only cost them more money.

Having difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, especially for those of us with parents who are stubborn. We feel these conversations are necessary, but we know we have to approach them delicately. After all, they are still our parents and we love them (most of the time). Plus, the holidays are just around the corner and we don’t want any awkward family dinners. So, how do we get our baby boomer parents to care about climate change? Or, how do we at least get them to respect our level of concern?

Start with the facts

Before you talk to your parents, or any older adult in your life that may differ from you politically, do your research. Find a reputable source that you can use to show them that climate change is a real threat and must be taken seriously. Also, keep it simple. Climate change is an intricate and complicated process with many contributing factors. Here are a few facts that I found on NASA’s website:

· The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit (1.14 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years.

· Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2.

So, the earth gets a little warmer and there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What’s the big deal? Here are a few consequences of changes in our atmosphere:

· Warmer conditions will probably lead to more evaporation and precipitation overall, but individual regions will vary, some becoming wetter and others dryer.

· A stronger greenhouse effect will warm the ocean and partially melt glaciers and ice sheets, increasing sea level. Ocean water also will expand if it warms, contributing further to sea level rise which contributes to flooding.

· Climate extremes, such as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures, can lead to crop losses and threaten the livelihoods of agricultural producers and the food security of communities worldwide.

· Climate change can cause new patterns of pests and diseases to emerge, affecting plants, animals and humans, and posing new risks for food security, food safety and human health.

· If we continue living as we do now, and climate change is not addressed, there will be increased precipitation in some areas, which can lead to flooding, and droughts and heat waves in other areas, which can cause massive and devastating forest fires. Also, hurricanes will become larger and more intense.

Of course, we are already seeing some of these consequences with the increase in wildfires and hurricanes. Talk to your parents about those events and the devastation that they cause. It’s visible present evidence of climate change and the consequences. Be clear that it will only get worse if nothing is done.

Be calm and civil

If you’re passionate about this topic, it might be difficult to keep your cool if you’re met with disagreement, but keep in mind you also want to gain respect and understanding. Go into the conversation with the right mindset. You’re just two adults talking about an important issue.

If your blood starts to boil, take a few deep breaths. Parents or older adults don’t want to feel like they’re being reprimanded by their own children, or that they’re being talked down to. Just be honest and sincere and let them know how important climate change action is, or at least how important it is to you.

If all else fails, use the grandkids

Don’t have kids? Hypothetical grandchildren, or any children that are important to them will do. Unfortunately, children that are born today, or children born within the last few years, will bear the brunt of climate change and its consequences when it comes to their health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 5 million children die annually from diseases linked to air pollution. Poor air quality affects children at a higher rate due to their underdeveloped bodies, the fact that children breathe more rapidly, and because they are more likely to play outside than adults.

If air quality continues to decrease, our children will literally be struggling to breathe. We are guaranteed to see increases in childhood asthma and other life-threatening respiratory conditions. If they truly want to dote on their grandkids, or want to become grandparents as badly as they say, they will take climate change seriously for the sake of future generations.

In the end, remember that you’re only human, and so are they. Changing a mind that is already made up is extremely difficult. Even if you don’t get them completely on board, it’s still important to have these difficult conversations. The goal of every generation is to leave the earth in better shape for the next generation. By at least talking about it, you’re spreading awareness. Who knows, maybe something you say may make them stop and think when Nov. 3rd arrives.