‘I thought climate change was a hoax. Now I’ve changed my mind’

Sarah Ott once believed climate change was a hoax, but now she is passionate about the environment

Sarah Ott, a former climate change skeptic, shares her journey from disbelief to becoming an advocate for clean energy and educating students about the science of climate change. Influenced by friends and right-wing media, Ott’s perspective shifted when she encountered alternative sources of information and realized the importance of the truth. Her story serves as a reminder that changing one’s beliefs requires courage and an open mind.

A Childhood Love for Nature

Growing up in Pennsylvania with a family background in coal mining, Ott had a deep connection with nature from a young age. Her Polish Catholic upbringing and exposure to science through her parents’ professions fostered a curiosity about the natural world. Ott’s early experiences with community service, such as picking up litter, further solidified her love for the environment.

The Influence of Conservative Media

After moving to Georgia with her husband, Ott found herself spending hours alone at home, listening to conservative radio shows like Rush Limbaugh. These shows often propagated the idea that climate change was a hoax, leading Ott to doubt the scientific consensus. The lack of critical thinking skills in this particular area left her vulnerable to misinformation.

The Turning Point

Ott’s perspective began to shift when she tuned into NPR, a non-profit broadcaster known for its objective reporting. The alternative perspective presented by NPR resonated with her, causing her to question the narratives she had been exposed to previously. As she consumed more diverse media, Ott realized the importance of intellectual stimulation and sought to broaden her social circle beyond her church group.

Leaving Behind a Community

In the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential elections, Ott made the difficult decision to distance herself from her church group, which held views she strongly disagreed with. This separation marked a turning point in her journey towards accepting the reality of climate change. Returning to her career as a science teacher and making new friends allowed her to embrace her newfound beliefs and find a sense of community aligned with her values.

Embracing Advocacy and Education

Ott’s transformation led her to join the non-partisan group Citizens’ Climate Lobby, where she advocated for climate solutions as the leader of their North Georgia chapter. Additionally, she became involved with the National Center for Science Education, using physical science concepts to teach climate change to her teenage students. Ott’s personal experience of changing her beliefs has made her passionate about engaging in conversations with others who still deny climate change, emphasizing the importance of understanding and connection.


Sarah Ott’s journey from climate skeptic to environmental advocate serves as a powerful reminder that changing one’s beliefs requires humility, open-mindedness, and the willingness to seek out diverse perspectives. Her story highlights the influence of media, the significance of community, and the transformative power of education. Ott’s experience encourages us to approach conversations about climate change with empathy and understanding, recognizing that change is possible for anyone willing to challenge their preconceived notions.






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