Climate Talk

Nā Alex Johnston, Oxfam New Zealand campaigns coordinator and PSA EcoNetwork member

Tried talking to your Dad about the bushfires in Australia only to discover he’s a climate change denier?

Or does your friend or workmate despair that rising sea levels in the Pacific and drought in the North are signs of an apocalyptic future?

How do we talk to people about climate change when it can provoke such extreme reactions?

That is the question that Oxfam New Zealand commissioned the think-tank, The Workshop to find out.

They’ve put together a great resource kit on talking about climate change and encouraging collective action.

Collective is an important word here, because while shifting our own behaviours – such as driving less or eating less meat - are important steps, we need to inspire large-scale systemic action to make everyone’s good intentions really count.

The toolkit suggests the way we typically talk about climate breakdown is not working:

“Mainstream climate communication has…, focussed heavily on fear, economic impacts, and facts. And while climate change is alarming,…inspiring action at the right level requires more than communicating the facts and the dangers.”

What the research suggests will motivate the widest audience (though it may not change those who still deny there is a problem) is to lead with a vision of the type of world that we want to see.

Instead of saying “the world is burning, this is such a catastrophe!” we can try something like “everyone deserves clean air, secure homes, and a stable environment to build their lives in.”

Then identify the human impacts of climate change on that vision at a local level. For example, “right now, climate breakdown is disrupting the ability of people to grow food in Northland, fuelling bushfires that have destroyed livelihoods in Australia, and is forcing coastal communities in Fiji to relocate to higher land.”

Next name the agents that cause the problem: “people in government are holding back the changes we need to cut our pollution and play our part in building a secure future for everyone.”

Finally focus on the ability of people to solve this crisis and the need to accelerate action: “If we use our voices in this election, we can make sure we elect people who are committed to cutting our pollution faster and will support communities to make the changes we need.”

Words matter. They shape how we think and feel, which in turn guide our actions.

Talking about climate breakdown in ways that inspire us to act collectively is crucial.

Our overheating planet is under threat but we have the tools to act.

Also in this issue:


‘We thank you for your brave stand’

PSA members and local communities joined forces in February to protest restructuring that threatened hundreds of jobs and quality client care.

While the restructuring by HealthCare NZ is now set to go ahead the protests have thrown a spotlight on issues besetting the home care and support sector.

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“Remember the loss but also remember the hope”

As we mark the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks the PSA has added its voice to a call for peace from the city’s Muslim community.

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Leading the charge on contractor rights

Our union is leading the charge to strengthen rights for contractors and labour hire workers in public and community services.

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Make it Real

Thousands of admin workers in the Public Service are asking to be paid what they’re worth with the launch of their pay equity claim.

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Mana Wahine Claim goes to Waitangi

The Mana Wahine team was up before dawn on Waitangi Day erecting our stall at the famous Treaty Grounds.

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Opportunities and issues with new bill

We’ve been making our voices heard on the new Public Service Legislation Bill with submissions from the PSA, Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina, network and delegate committees and individual members.

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"We have come too far to not go further"

‘Tawhiti rawa i tō tatou haerenga atu te kore haere tonu’ - Sir James Henare

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We Count

The results of a survey of rainbow public servants suggest a significant proportion still don’t feel comfortable being out in their workplaces.

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The PSA’s greatest victory?

Former PSA staffer Noel O’Hare explains why he wrote Tooth & Veil, a history of school dental nurses and the day they stormed the corridors of power.

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Maranga Mai

A groundbreaking course is empowering Māori delegates and contributing to a surge in Māori membership across the PSA.

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Pacific organisers speak of challenges and triumphs

Union organisers from the Pacific have spoken about the challenges some face while trying to improve conditions for workers in their countries.

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Holiday Home Snaps

Thanks to all our members who entered our PSA Holiday Home Photo Competition over the summer.

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The Marlene Pitman Award

Nominations are now being sought for the Marlene Pitman award.

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Radio NZ

In early February, RNZ announced its new music strategy which included a proposal to axe over 18 of our members’ jobs and move the station to AM radio.

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New CTU Secretary Looks to the Future

The new CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges was drawn to the union movement when a job as industrial officer and organiser at Equity New Zealand caught her attention.

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Leading the Way

PSA member Pam Maha had never been fully aware of family violence before she joined the Ministry of Justice twenty years ago.

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On the Job

As the first Pasefika person to become a mental health nurse practitioner, Makoni Havea is determined to make a difference for her community.

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Te Reo o te Tari

Why not try out some of these simple phrases in the workplace?

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President's Message March 2020

He waka eke noa – We are all in this together

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