Health Professionals: Tell Your Story About Climate Change

By path2positive

Patients put a tremendous amount of trust into their health care providers. Some patients blindly follow a provider's advice, while others want to remain more involved in the decision-making process. In the majority of cases, however, doctors and nurses take the lead in making health decisions for millions of patients across the country from diagnosis to treatment. This is precisely why the conversation about climate and health carries considerable weight when raised by health professionals. Professionals need to make these climate stories personal ones, and speak about the subject in ways that patients can relate. In other words, health professionals need to get better at telling their stories.

As Heather Smith from Grist reports below, the build up to the climate march showed the progression of *the story* that gave people that "ah ha" moment in regards to climate change.  The shift was from discussions of polar bears and scientific reports to a focus on people and health. "People love big furry polar bears. But for the most part, they weren't’t stories people could see themselves in," Heather said.

How are you going to tell your climate change story so that your patients can relate to it?

How to Make People Care about Climate Change? Tell It One Story at a Time


By Heather Smith I August 19, 2015

I first met Christine Cordero at a conference several years ago. She was leading a workshop for the Center for Story-Based Strategy, the organization where she is now the executive director. The conference, like so many, was stuck in a self-congratulatory groove — until Cordero got people to think about the stories that lie beneath the work of the environmental movement.

If we were going to apply the dramatic triangle to an environmental campaign, what would that look like? Who was the hero? The victim? The villain? “A target has a face, a name, and an address,” Cordero said. “You need to get it down to specific people. Your audience is who has influence over your target.”

Was there a way to flip the story around, so that either the victim or the villain could become the hero? Why did we need a hero, anyway? “I’m so tired of cult-of-personality organizations,” one seasoned campaigner said, wearily. “But people like that. They want to say, ‘I like you. I will follow you.'”

In the years since, I’ve seen ideas that we talked about then percolate through the culture. Black Lives Matter emerged as a movement that deliberately avoided anointing a leader and found a common story behind many, many isolated ones. The September 2014 People’s Climate March happened, and I noticed that climate change stories became much more of a mainstream topic of conversation.

Read more




Stay connected and get updates from Climate for Health.


You May Also Like

December 1, 2020

ecoAmerica’s most recent contribution to the National Environmental Health Association’s Journal of Environmental Health was published in the December 2020 issue, “Ambition, Restoration, and Justice:...

Read More

November 25, 2020

In a recent opinion piece in Scientific American, Drs. Howard Frumkin and Richard J. Jackson make the case for creating a National Institute of Climate Change...

Read More

November 23, 2020

Since moving away from California eight years ago, I’ve longed to come back home. I spent the first 18 years of my life in the...

Read More


Climate for Health is a program of ecoAmerica


© ecoAmerica 2006 – 2020 The contents of this website may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License.