Climate change evangelist coming to town
by Jack Taylor
“If we can’t fix the climate we can’t fix other things.” Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s presence on a stage captures your imagination immediately. Her conversational style pulls at scientific minds and hearts of faith alike. “We have been driving down the road looking in our rear view mirror and that is fine if things are stable but not if things are changing.”
Hayhoe, Director of The Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, is enhancing the May 12th Sky Gala: Cosmos, Climate & Faith with a profile that has seen her named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders and Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers.
The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation is hosting the informal gala which also features a concert by Janet Danielson (SFU School of Contemporary Arts) and contributions from the Isotone Ensemble (Oakridge, Tennessee).
Hayhoe knows layspeak for conservative Christians and understands the tensions swirling like a hurricane around sincere believers trying to know who to trust in the flotsam of fake news. The powerpoints and charts are convincing. “There are 26,500 indicators of a warming planet.”
The evidence is laid out and presented in a disarming fashion. “Science can tell us why we’re getting warmer – climate changes for natural reasons.” She speaks of El Nino, changes in the earth’s orbit which bring about ice ages, and the energy from the sun. “It’s not the sun making the planet warmer; it’s not El Nino; it’s not the ice age… all those things say we should be cooler.” The culprit is nailed. “Three hundred years ago, with the wide use of coal, the Industrial Revolution resulted in a spike in carbon dioxide. There is a natural blanket around us and we’re adding an extra layer of 43% more to produce an artificial greenhouse effect.”
Hayhoe wants Christians to know that she and her pastor husband are people of faith who believe the planet is God’s greatest gift after His Son. She wants believers to understand that caring for our world is an expression of our care for the poor, the needy, the vulnerable and all others who make up the neighbours we are meant to love.
“Our physical experience informs our brains… we have to look globally and not just where we live.” This is a good word to those of us facing a comfortable Canadian spring. “Climate is about more than weather.” Hayhoe points to a world with stronger hurricanes, warmer oceans, breaking records and increasing deserts as evidence of impact. “We can’t just throw out data we don’t like,” she says. While science can tell us that “our choices in carbon usage matter… it can’t tell us what’s the right thing to do – faith helps make those decisions.” Our choices regarding the climate will impact our crop yields, our health care system and our education. On average our planet is warmer and more humid than we’ve ever been in recent history.
Part of the confusion for Christians is the strength of the opposition to climate change teachings. Hayhoe considers political, psychological, sociological and science in her presentations. She is a voice well worth considering wherever you might fall in the continuum of climate change.
Climate change is about wisdom, discernment and stewardship. It is about learning to trust the eyes and minds of those who invest their time, energy, knowledge and resources towards the vulnerability of our planet. “Assessing the potential impacts of climate change is essential to setting sound targets that minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of both adaptation and mitigation.”
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is trying to bridge the gap between science and faith in one specific area. Her book, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions tries to deal with misconceptions and complexities as we work our way through what is being touted in the media. YouTube and TED talks are also part of her communication channel to reach anyone who will listen.
If you want to listen to “the climate change evangelist” in person there is still time to check out the May 12th Sky Gala event. We do ourselves a favor to stay informed by those who have dedicated their lives to discovering truth in one form or another.