A simple, effective way to help to influence the debate over climate change is to write a letter-to-the-editor to your local, regional or national newspapers or magazines. Letters can influence members of Congress, other decision-makers and elections.
Here are some tips for effective letters that can maximize your chance of getting published:
- Respond to breaking news or an article or commentary on climate change, published in the previous two days for dailies, or the previous issue of a weekly paper or magazine.
- Check and follow the word count and other guidelines of your target publication. Word count is usually up to 250 words, but sometimes less.
- Check your facts with original sources. Emphasize any expertise you may have, but don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
- You are encouraged to address a politician’s or public servant’s record, position or statements on climate change. You should use their name, but don’t resort to personal attacks or insults.
- Email your letter in the body of an email, not as an attachment. Make sure the subject line is short and clear: “Letter Regarding: Topic. “ Email each publication separately.
- Include your address and daytime phone number for follow-up and verification.
- You can follow-up by phone with local papers (not recommended for larger publications) to verify receipt if it is not published within 5 days. Be polite.
- Even if your letter is not published, it’s worth writing and sending since it can influence the editors of the publication in ways that may not be immediately obvious.
- If applicable, direct people to Vote Climate U.S. PAC for more information or to get involved. You can also reference our mission or work in your letter.
- Send a copy of your letter to Vote Climate U.S. PAC.
Make your letter clear, simple and compelling. Use other published letters you find compelling, as a sample. Topics can include among others:
- Weather extremes, their impact, increasing frequency and relation to climate change.
- Issues related to fossil fuels: coal, oil or gas and their impact and connection to climate change.
- Proposed climate legislation or regulation and the need to get off fossil fuels and pass a federal carbon fee.
- The need to change the make-up or Congress in order to pass critical climate legislation.
- Point out differences between candidates on the issue.
- Personal experiences with issues related to climate change.
[Click here to find your local newspaper to contact them about climate change!][Click here to find climate change myths and what science says.]
Use the following sample letters as guides or inspiration to write your own letter-to-the-editor of your local, regional or national newspapers or magazines:
Letter: Carbon tax and dividend, Tri-City Herald, WA
Congratulations on running the recent Kansas City Star article on climate change. Yes, it is real, and we have to deal with it or suffer dire consequences. The good news is that it can be dealt with — if we act now.
As the authors said, dissenters claim we “don’t know for certain what might happen if climate change exists.” But so what? Do they really want to find out the hard way? Measures to reverse global warming are things we should be doing anyway for other reasons — to reduce pollution, to end dependence on outside energy sources, to save money, to improve our economy, to increase employment. There is no downside to acting to reverse global warming.
The fastest, cheapest, most effective method available is a carbon tax and dividend — taxing carbon dioxide production at or near the source and returning the proceeds to our citizens. Tax pollution, not income! Germany made this transition between 1999 and 2003 and now has the most prosperous, stable economy in Europe — much more prosperous and stable than our own.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings heads the congressional Natural Resources Committee. Let’s ask him to introduce a measure for a revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend and ask other legislators to support it.
PATRICIA FINCHER, Kennewick
Letters to the editor: Climate change is a real problem Tampa Tribune
Published: March 18, 2014
Prepare for warming
Climate change is a real problem that has already caused devastation in many communities due to rising sea levels and fiercer storms. We must act to reduce carbon pollution and increase clean-energy production. Only then do we have a chance to lessen our future negative impact on the environment and therefore avoid even fiercer storms and flooding. If we don’t act now, these will likely destroy many cities in the United States and hurt our economy. This must be a global effort, with the United States at the forefront. We also need to be better prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change that have already occurred.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Climate change risks are real
CHL 12:11 a.m. EST February 21, 2014
Remember that, as Superstorm Sandy approached, NJ Transit left hundreds of its rail cars in low-lying yards in Kearny and Hoboken, damaging a third of its rail fleet at an estimated $120 million cost, while New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority moved the vast majority of its equipment to higher ground, losing only 11 rail cars to flood damage.
One recognized risks as real, prepared a detailed plan and followed it; the other didn’t. Remember when Rep. Scott Garrett (whose 5th District includes parts of Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties) was asked on Sept. 7, 2010, “Do you believe human activity is contributing to global warming?”
He said: “I’ve heard a number of experts on both sides of the equation on this issue and, to me, the evidence, the question is still out there. … Congress should not be moving too quickly, as we have in the area of stimulus and other spending bills and that sort of thing to impose regulations on this segment of the economy until these questions are answered.”
That is what he said more than three years ago and that is how he votes on energy-related matters. How much loss of life and property and economic harm must occur before Garrett stops denying that human activity contributes to climate change? We need to act now to protect our Jersey communities from a real threat.
Letter to the editor: Climate change is real
BUR 12:17 a.m. EST January 26, 2014, USA TODAY
Climate change is real
Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, and most recently Typhoon Haiyan, have demonstrated that we must act quickly to tackle climate change. Vermont has a responsibility to be a leader in this fight. A key element in our battle to address climate change is building a diverse energy portfolio that utilizes clean, local renewable energy like wind and solar.
We have a duty to take responsibility for our own energy production. Wind power must be a part of the solution. Wind power is one of the cleanest, most environmentally responsible forms of electricity out there today and should play a part in Vermont’s commitment to address climate change.