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How to Disagree About Climate Change

Incline Village, Nov. 29
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INFO: Nov. 29, 6 p.m.; $5 donation; no-host bar available;

“What rhetoric really does is it looks at the community effects of arguments that people make [and] the effects those arguments are making on communities…” says professor Lynda Walsh, from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her impressive body of work — including two books — has focused on using rhetoric to lead discussions on the environment.

Rhetoric matters because, to Walsh, it’s the most useful tool to discuss sensitive issues in society, and the issue that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately is climate change. That’s the basis behind Walsh’s upcoming UC Davis Research Center talk: How to Disagree with People about Climate Change.

The interactive presentation is designed to give audience members the tools to listen, respectfully disagree, and engage with others to come up with creative solutions to this challenging issue.

“So much of discussing climate change is really about forming coalitions either to resist policy or try to advocate for policy or try to make people aware of certain climate issues or problems, so that’s why rhetoric is particularly appropriate,” Walsh explains. “Also, climate science is largely about uncertainty, about trying to understand it, manage it, and reduce it, and rhetoric is the art of making decisions in the face of rampant uncertainty.”

To Walsh, who lives in Nevada, it’s no secret that climate change is real. And, to us in the Basin, discussion about how to keep Tahoe blue circulates daily. The conversation is no longer about whether the current environmental situation is real, but now about how to propose solutions as we face the major global impacts of humans inhabiting Earth.

“… many of the things that we can do are going to necessitate big changes in our lifestyle. What are we willing to give up in terms of our comfort, convenience, and economics? Nevada has a proposition on the ballot to increase our reliance on green energy … if that passes it’s going to require people to make changes to their lifestyle,” Walsh said.

The professor will teach techniques based in “argument theory” starting with a foundation of really listening.

“I think what’s so important is … being able to hear and validate people’s beliefs and values in order to find common ground to form coalitions and take action,” said Walsh. “I’m going to be teaching artful listening in order to identify underlying values … the first step is being able to hear and validate those values for people we disagree with so that we can then build on any of those values that we also hold, and identify that as common ground and build our arguments on that common ground.”

From there, Walsh says, we can begin to propose solutions.

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March 14, 2019