When you talk about climate change, should you focus on the future? Sometimes, it’s what motivates people. Other times, it’s what makes them depressed and zoned out, or intent on getting as far away from you as possible.

A couple of years ago, I went to an EPA listening session in downtown Philadelphia. There, for hours upon hours, people walked up to the microphone and spent their two minutes of allotted time telling EPA representatives that they should either (a) tighten power plant emissions standards so that their children could breathe, and also have a more-likely-to-be-habitable planet to pass on to future generations, or (b) keep power plant emissions exactly where they are, so that their children could have a dad — I almost wrote “parent” there, but they really were all men — who was still gainfully employed in Pennsylvania coal country.

Think of the children? Everybody’s doing it! It’s a common narrative trope in talk about climate change. Another is self-interest — urging people to take action on climate change because it will make their lives better, personally, now.