NEHA October 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

October 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 37 waves with climate change and 50–60% associate severe storms, drought, wildfires, and floods with climate change (Hill, 2022b). Less understood impacts of climate change include air pollution, seasonal allergies, and disease-carrying insects. Of those surveyed, only 21% noted the association of climate change with disease-carrying insects (Hill, 2022b). As trusted professionals, talking about climate change in terms of real, tangible, and local impacts helps build support for climate action. So, when you talk about climate change, keep these factors in mind: • Start with people. Consider the concerns and values—such as family, community, health, and fairness—of those you are speaking to and honor them. Then, move from people to climate. • Make it real. Focus on local realities everyone can see with their own eyes and bring forward your own climate journey to personalize the issue. • Focus on solutions and personal benefit. Avoid speaking about climate solutions as a matter of sacrifice. Solutions invest today in the future we want tomorrow. Emphasize local, tangible, and eŒective solutions. • Inspire and empower. People are often told that we cannot make a diŒerence on climate change but that is not true. Provide hope and optimism by sharing solutions and letting your audience know that we can make a diŒerence. • Be thoughtful. Be considerate to your audience and ask them to get involved in action today. Additionally, you can bring climate change forward in all aspects of your life. A total of 88% of surveyed people in the U.S. are either very, somewhat, or a little concerned about climate change, which means there is an opportunity to help initiate climate conversations in your neighborhood, workplace, and community (Hill, 2022c). For environmental health professionals in community health departments, state agencies, or the federal government, consider the following about people in the U.S. who we surveyed in 2021: • 70% say it is the responsibility of local communities to address climate change, • 69% say it is the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address climate change, and • 64% say it is the responsibility of states to address climate change (Hill, 2021b). Notably, more than any other group, people in the U.S. said that it was their personal responsibility to address climate change (Hill, 2021b). Your colleagues, friends, and family want to be part of the solution. Reach out to everyone, every day. Follow these steps and contact your local elected and appointed o›- cials to get started on advocacy: 1. Know who represents you. It takes only a moment to find out who your local representatives are. Learn about their priorities to see how and why climate change ties into their interests. 2. Look for local connections and leverage points. Focus on solutions that can take place in your local community first, then engage with them and help local government make the connections. 3. Do not limit yourself. There is no onesize-fits-all approach to climate change at the local level. See where you can make the greatest impact and engage with elected o›cials on those issues. 4. Be persistent and clear. Use several means of communication. Especially when voting is around the corner, use all forms of communication to let elected o›cials know you expect ambitious climate action. Phone calls, email messages, and all forms of social media can help get your priorities across. 5. When you send an email, put your “ask” in the subject line. Make your request clear so elected o›cials can count you as a constituent that cares about climate solutions. 6. Tell a personal story that brings the issue home. Focus on issues that are important to you to help make your message stick. 7. Say thank you. When elected o›cials follow through with climate action, show gratitude. 8. Join a local organization that focuses on climate issues. If there is not one in your local community, work with your family and neighbors on climate advocacy. The latest IPCC report shows that climate change already has—and continues to have— adverse impacts on our health, ecosystems, and communities. The findings, however, remind us how critical it is to take action. Join us in these steps toward solutions and invite people in your local environmental health community to join you. Corresponding author: Nicole Hill, Research and Marketing Manager, ecoAmerica, 1730 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036. Email: References ecoAmerica. (2022, April 4). Day 2: Local action, national purpose spotlight; Personal family + friends 2.4. [Video]. YouTube. Hill, N. (2021a, August 4). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2021, vol. IV: Severe weather drives climate concerns. ecoAmerica. -perspectives-survey-2021-vol-iv/ Hill, N. (2021b, May 26). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2021, vol. III: The rural– urban divide on climate change. Where’s the polarization? ecoAmerica. https://ecoamer vey-2021-vol-iii/ Hill, N. (2022a, May 30). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2022, vol. II: Climate change sparks emotional responses. ecoAmerica. -ii-blog/ Hill, N. (2022b, May 23). American Climate Perspectives Survey 2022, vol. II: Are Americans making the health and climate connection? ecoAmerica. “Climate change is here today. It’s impacting our health today. And there’s something we can do about it. It’s all in our hands.” Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association (ecoAmerica, 2022, 6:13)