The Art of: Climate Activism Nate Abercrombie ’20, conservative outreach coordinater at Citizens Climate Lobby, works toward finding common ground.
Nate Abercrombie ’20 doesn’t know how anyone who spends four years in the Shenandoah Valley can walk away not caring about the environment — no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.
Abercrombie, who majored in business administration, is the conservative outreach coordinator at Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonprofit that advocates for federal regulations to stop climate change through nonpartisan efforts. The group focuses on the Carbon Dividend Act — a policy which would put a price on carbon for large corporations and reallocate those collected funds into the pockets of Americans.
Note the word choice of “price” versus “tax.” A key part of persuading Republican or right-leaning congressional representatives to join the climate change conversation, Abercrombie said, is appealing to their values through choice of language. This is not an act of deception; rather, it’s an opportunity to show them that the policy is a solution that aligns with their political interests. Case in point: without change, the U.S. economy, agricultural system and health of American citizens, among other things, are at risk.
Abercrombie said he had a narrow view of climate change before coming to a liberal arts university, which granted the business administration major the opportunity to take environmental studies and geology courses. But his experiences inside and outside the classroom — literally in the outdoors, such as Appalachian Adventure — helped him see how critical, and complicated, the issueof climate change is.
“CCL understands that we need lots of people pushing for something climate related if we ever actually want to see legislation on it pass and be long-standing. We’re reaching out to absolutely anybody whowill hear us out, whether they already believe in it or still need to be convinced,” Abercrombie said.
And for change to happen, his job is to guide conservatives on that same journey. That’s not always an easy task.
“I think it’s definitely helped me improve my communication abilities having to talk to people who not only disagree with me, but maybe think that what I’m doing is wrong, bad or objectionable,” he said. “It’s really interesting trying to work with them and come to an understanding when it seems like there’s just so much distance between the two of you.”
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