Op-EdS / LetterS to Editor

WRITING POINTS AND TIPS

Opinion pages are among the best-read pages of any publication—often on par with the front page itself. Some of the most attentive readers are decision makers and thought leaders. Op-eds and letters to the editor are among the best ways to place an issue in the public eye, and to share one’s perspective.

WRITING POINTS

Citizens must understand that:

  • We are in a climate emergency—temperatures and impacts are increasing far more than anticipated.
  • We need an all-out mobilization to phase out fossil fuels, replacing them with clean energy.
  • Most of the needed technology already exists for a major deployment and we have considerable results to draw upon.
  • We can do this—it is just a question of will.
  • The cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action by orders of magnitude.
  • Humanity’s very survival is at stake. 

Call for actions to increase public understanding and involvement:

  • A Declaration of Global Warming State of Emergency.
  • A Climate Summit within the first 100 days of the next presidential administration to validate the scope, scale, and urgency of the climate emergency.
  • Major philanthropic support for an awakening campaign to promulgate the results of that Summit.

To combat climate change, we must:

  • Transition from fossil fuels to low carbon energy within a decade in the US, and within fifteen years globally.
  • Begin reductions now in industrialized nations, and within a few years in developing nations.
  • The US must lead the global low carbon mobilization.

Call for real breakthrough policies:

  • Price greenhouse gas pollution. We must account for the true societal costs of fossil fuels.
  • Remove fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Create strong incentives for renewables.

OP-ED WRITING TIPS

Timeliness is important. Tie your op-ed in to current events.

Editors look for pieces that are well written, hard-hitting, and provocative. Focus on one idea. Create an opening “hook” and convey your viewpoint immediately. Back up your viewpoint with key facts in the following paragraphs. Near the end, clearly restate your position and issue a call to action.

Be concise. Many op-eds are in the 500-800 word range. Check your paper’s guidelines.

Keep sentences short. Make verbs active. A well written piece can include a strong voice, emotion, humor, personalization, and opinion. Metaphors or anecdotes can provide emotional impact and strengthen the piece. Don’t rant or sound dogmatic. The goal is to persuade a reasonable reader that your position is the intelligent, logical choice.

Avoid scientific or technical jargon—write in plain language.

Include a catchy title, however, the publication will often write its own headline. The editors may edit your piece.

Always submit op-eds or letters via email. Most papers refuse to open attachments, so paste the op-ed into the body of the email. Include a brief bio, phone number, email address and mailing address. If you know the opinion editor, or have a friend who knows that editor—that can help.

Most papers will respond within a few days. If one paper rejects the piece, try another paper. Other possibilities include online publications and blogs.

When you submit your op-ed, please bcc: info [at] tree-of-life.works . If you get published, please let us know! Include title of piece, publication, date published, and its link if online. We will create a gallery of published pieces.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR TIPS

  • Letters to the editor are another option, but are far briefer, usually at 50-150 words.
  • Make a single point, and leave it at that. Think of it as the beginning or end of an op-ed.
  • As with an op-ed, include a good title.

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