I remember asking my astrophysicist uncle what he thought about “Global Warming” (the old name for “Climate Change”) somewhere around 1990; he replied, “It’s an interesting theory.” I think that’s kind of where a lot of [non-ecologist] scientists were at the time.
Even though “Climate Change” as caused or exacerbated by human activity seems to have gained something of a scientific consensus, I think it is ultimately a catchy, but virtually useless phrase. Yes, of course the climate changes over time – this has been happening since before humans walked the earth and is, to some degree, a natural occurrence. Ultimately, this is what weakens the environmentalist stance vis-à-vis this oblique terminology.
Actual climate change is but a part of the problem, or more accurately, a consequence arising from the problems of human technology and terra-forming. I say trash (& do not recycle) the phrase, “Climate Change,” – let’s talk about the real issue, which is Destruction of Natural Resources or Non-sustainability.
The Destruction of Natural Resources, unlike Climate Change (by human hands) is undeniable – landfills exist, pollution is real, human development displacing ecosystems and habitats is measurable. Educated guesswork about the long-term temperature effects of human destruction of natural resources may be compelling to some, but is far less irrefutable than the “happening now” Destruction of Natural Resources.
Some rivers are filled with toxic foam, some households have poison tap-water, some cities have unbreathable air and so on… These are real “now” problems that can and should be addressed. Human industry should not be allowed to continue (non-sustainably) destroying natural resources and for those companies which make no effort to evolve, we should withdraw capital (by switching our money to purchase and invest in alternatives which do better) and improve laws/enforcement as much as we can.
One thing anyone can do is to go vegan, as plant products are less resource intensive and far better for undomesticated animals & ecosystems (who can better retain their habitats which are otherwise destroyed by grazing or for livestock feed). The common refrain of environmentalists is to reduce, re-use and recycle, which I think has some merit, but in a world of capitalism, I think spending money on alternatives (so non-sustainable companies lose advantage to more sustainable companies) is sometimes more effective, especially if you can afford to buy big-ticket items like alternative vehicles or solar panels (for your home or business).
In any case, try to re-frame the conversation as one about Destruction of Natural Resources (or Non-sustainability) which should appeal to more people and is more easily proved.