How can we engage suburban women to act on climate change?

How a group of climate scientists who are also moms reframed the climate conversation to be about a duty to our children.

The Challenge

Keeping climate change at the top of parents’ worry list

Potential Energy’s climate analytical studies consistently show that moderate moms are some of the most persuadable people on climate change. But even though the majority of moms are worried about the issue, it’s still not a priority for them. Here’s why:

  • It feels complicated and unsolvable: Most of the stories that do break through are all doom and gloom, leaving no room for notoriously good problem solvers (moms) to help. We needed moms to understand the issue and feel agency in solving it.
  • The timeline seems long: Climate change is usually discussed as some far off problem that will vaguely affect future generations. We needed moms to understand that climate change is affecting kids right now and that later is too late to deal with this issue.
  • There are bigger fish to fry: Being a mom is like juggling 1,000 burning bowling pins. Between Covid, school shootings, mental health issues and just general kid stuff, moms have a lot on their minds. We need to convince them to make climate change a priority.
  • The messengers are too political: Many parents largely hear about climate change in the context of an election or casually mentioned on cable news which turns everything into a political battle. We needed parents to understand this is a nonpartisan, universal problem.
Dr Joellen Russel
The Insight

Moms need a messenger who gets them

Few people are talking to parents on their level about the urgency of climate change and what it means for their kids. So we partnered to build an organization that would.

The Idea

Meet the Science Moms

Science Moms is a nonpartisan group of climate scientists who are also mothers. Their goal is to educate other moms about climate change and empower them to take action together.

Connecting climate solutions to a love for our kids

Being a climate scientist and a parent means knowing exactly what will happen to your children’s world as a result of climate change. That burden is what keeps the Science Moms motivated to keep working on the problem and what makes their motivation contagious. We knew telling their stories would connect other moms to the issue in a deeper, more powerful way.

For Our Daughters

For Our Daughters is centered around Dr. Melissa Burt and Dr. Emily Fischer, two atmospheric scientists in Colorado who both have young daughters. They both see their responsibility to tackle climate change as central to their role as parents.

Later is Too Late

Narrated by a scientist, Later Is Too Late answers one of moms’ most frequent questions: “Will my kids be affected by climate change?” This film lays out the timeline for what’s at stake by using the personal milestones of a child’s life, and gives us a rallying cry to act now.

Mom Letters

A Climate Scientist’s Letter To Her Kids is an intimate note from Dr. Joellen Russell to her two children about the weight she feels knowing that climate change will impact their lives and the superhero role she’s taken on to protect  them.

99% of Experts

Today, 99% of climate scientists agree on the basic facts about climate change (it’s here, it’s man made, etc), yet only 25% of people know this. In this fun, animated video, we point out how reckless it would be to ignore a majority of experts in other facets of our lives.

Striking a chord with parents nationwide

With their mix of love, empathy, and scientific credentials, the Science Moms are connecting with parents on a much deeper level than any of the climate change messaging they’ve seen before.

The messengers are the message

Our biggest learning from launching this group is that who delivers a message and how they say it is equally, if not more important, than what they say. In-group messengers who share an identity with their audiences can be huge assets in moving the needle forward on climate action.

Emotions are stronger than facts

Even though some of the Science Moms are literal MacArthur geniuses, what makes them effective as messengers is their ability to connect with moms on a human level. In an era of polarization, where everyone has their own facts, love and emotion can cut through.

Moms like to laugh, too

This isn’t so much a learning as an affirmation. Humor is a great way to talk about climate change, because it deflates the political fervor and taps into a different part of people’s brains. And with everything else they have going on, moms want an excuse to have some fun.