How to talk to a climate denier (Medium)


Do you know somebody who doesn’t believe that climate change is happening? Most scientists say it is. Rob and Sam get some tips on how to make people think about climate, and teach you new vocabulary along the way.

This week’s question

What percent of the world’s scientific community agree that climate change is real?

a)    79 percent

b)    89 percent

c)    99 percent

Listen to the programme to find out the answer. 


climate denier
person who does not believe that climate change is happening, or does not accept that it is caused by human activity such as burning fossil fuels 

knowing less than you should about a particular topic

completely developed or committed 

take a long, hard look (at something)
examine something very carefully in order to improve it for the future

throw insults
say offensive, hurtful things directly to someone

have the opposite effect from the one you intended

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Cloze Test



Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. Im Sam.


And Im Rob. When Sarah was growing up in Florida in the 1990s, she loved playing in nature. She picked up litter in the and took it home to recycle. But later, in college, Sarah became surrounded by people in her community who share her love of the environment  � people who didnt believe that climate change was real. And slowly, Sarah to doubt it as well.


Climate deniers - people who dont believe that climate change is happening, that it isnt caused by humans - make up around nine percent of the American population, according to some . Now, Sarah works as a climate campaigner at the US National Centre for Science Education, teaching children the science climate change, but her journey there was a difficult one, and she lost many friends on the way.

In this programme, well be discussing climate deniers, and finding out how to talk with people who doubt the of global warming. And as usual, well be learning some new vocabulary as well.


But before , I have a question for you, Rob. Whatever climate deniers think, there is strong agreement on the issue among on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. So, what percentage of the worlds scientific community agree that change is real? Is it:

a) 79 percent?

b) 89 percent?

c) 99 percent?


Ill have a guess and Ill say its 99 percent.


OK. I will reveal the answer later in the programme, Rob. Marco Silva is a climate disinformation for the BBC. He told BBC World Service programme, The Climate Question, what hes learned about reporting on the from around the world.

Marco Silva

Its quite important to make here a very clear distinction between being , ill-informed about climate change and being a full-blown climate denier. A lot of people may not be very well with the science, the facts of climate change… to be honest, they can at times be quite complex, quite . Some people may have genuine questions about the subject. So, with information, with facts, those people can be convinced. deniers, though, people who reject the basic facts of climate change, are likely to be more difficult to persuade.


Marco distinguishes a full-blown climate denier - someone who is completely committed to the idea, from someone who simply ill-informed-, meaning someone who knows less than they should about a particular topic.


Marco thinks its persuade an ill-informed person that climate change is a fact, for example by sharing personal stories of how of weather has changed in recent years, or by asking them why they doubt the scientific evidence.


Full-blown deniers, on the other hand, are much harder to persuade. Heres Marco Silva again, sharing some advice on how to talk to people about the climate with BBC World Service programme, The Climate Question.

Marco Silva

A of researchers and academics have looked into exactly this topic before. Professor Sander van der Linden, professor of social at the University of Cambridge, is one of them. He's been looking into this long and hard, and when spoke to him, he gave me a couple of tips. For instance, don't challenge a climate denier directly. Don't them telling them that theyre this or that, throwing insults at them, that their beliefs are wrong - that of attitude or strategy is only likely to backfire. If you do that, the chances are people are just to hold on to their views even more firmly.


Marco mentions Professor van der Linden, a psychologist has taken a long, hard look at the issue of climate denial. If you take a long, hard look something, you examine it very carefully in order to improve it for the future.


Professor van Linden advises us not to challenge climate deniers directly, and never to throw insults  � to say offensive, hurtful directly to someone. This approach is unlikely to work and will probably backfire, or have the opposite effect from intended, such as making that persons opinion even stronger.


Instead, whats needed is understanding and empathy  � that climate deniers cannot control the life events that led them to mistrust science; and the patience to try show them difference between fact and fiction.


OK, its time to reveal the answer to your now, Sam - what percentage of the global scientific community agree that human-caused climate change is real? And I it was 99 percent.


And that was the correct answer, Rob! The scientific evidence for a climate is overwhelming, leaving just the question of what we do about it. OK, lets recap the vocabulary weve learned this programme on climate deniers  � people who do not accept that climate change is real.


Someone is ill-informed knows less than they should about a particular topic.


The adjective full-blown means completely committed developed.


The idiom to take a long, hard look at something means to examine something very carefully order to improve it for the future.


If you throw insults, you say offensive, hurtful things directly someone.


And finally, if your actions backfire, they have opposite effect from the one you intended. Once , our six minutes are up! Bye for now!


Bye bye!



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