Katherine Hayhoe: Evangelizing Climate Change

November 30, 2011

People of faith are key targets for anti-science disinformation. The formula that “God is in Control” is a powerful one.

I believe we are at our own “Copernican crisis”.  Many people of faith find it blasphemous or even terrifying to believe that human beings have as much impact on the planet as science tells us we do. They want to believe that somehow everything that happens is beyond our control, part of a master plan.
They would not likely take that position on the micro scale,  with their personal finances, or the health of their children, yet they seem to believe that it works on the macro scale.
So it seems that we have a climate denial machine that is ready to lie to achieve its aims, and a vulnerable population who are willing to be lied to. It’s been a sticky problem.

I posted Katherine Hayhoe’s first video, “Can a Christian be a Climate Scientist?”, last week.  Here are further elaborations of what the science is telling a devout evangelical.

Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Andrew Farley, a linguistics professor and lead teaching pastor, is married to Katharine Hayhoe, research professor in geosciences at Texas Tech University. Together they wrote a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.” Questions they hear from their flock are these:

Isn’t God in control?

Won’t it all work out?

How do we know this is not a natural cycle?

Farley reminds them, “You reap what you sow.” God doesn’t preserve us from poor lifestyle choices. Eat junk food, and you get fat. Pour warming gases into the air, and the planet heats up. God calls that free will, and it’s actually a gift.

God doesn’t preserve us from other people’s poor choices, either. Bad things happen to good people. Drunken drivers can kill others, even children. Poor people without cars and electricity will feel the wrath of climate change even though they didn’t pollute.

Hayhoe simply says this: The planet is warming, and it doesn’t look like a natural cycle. Things are getting too hot, too fast. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve been pumping warming gases into the air. You can measure those gases out of the tailpipe of any car or smokestack of any factory. We know how much CO {-2} we’ve created. Half of our exhaust is floating in the air. The ocean has sequestered the other half, which is why the coral reefs are dying.

This couple disagree on the age of the Earth. Farley looks to the Bible. Hayhoe sticks with science. As couples in strong marriages do, they have agreed to disagree. They want to focus on the real issue: using God’s gift of free will to change the way we produce energy and fuel vehicles.

How do we do that?

Step one: Put a price on carbon dioxide to wean us off coal, oil and gas. Send a price signal to inspire massive amounts of investment money in wind, solar and other renewable technologies. The faster we make this transition, the quicker we will reduce our CO {-2} emissions. That’s free will.



9 Responses to “Katherine Hayhoe: Evangelizing Climate Change”

  1. Donald Says:

    Considering that I am a super religious person who believes in both God and his son, Jesus, ( I am a Christian Jew) I can only tell you that I see Climate Warming in its true “light” (pardon the pun)

    God told us this would happen, however, he never said he had anything to do with it. He clearly told us …

    “These are the things that must happen before my son returns to earth” Revelation 1, verse 1

    What does it mean?

    It means that these things “must” and will happen, he never says it is him that makes everything “happen” … only that they must …. it is us who make many of the events in the Bible happen because we unconsciously understand that we must make them happen in order to help Jesus return to us.

    And all these thoughts have been unconsciously brain-washed into us by 2000 years of religious schooling through the speeches, sermons and written thoughts of all those who before us studied the Bible and comprehended it in their very own, unique and individual manner.

    Rather a confusing thought, ain’t it? 🙂

  2. I’m rather astounded that the question, Can a Christian be a Climate Scientist?, needs to be asked. Have things really degenerated that much? How about can a Christian be a juggler, a banker, a business owner, a chemist, or a teacher? It makes as much sense. At least Can a Christian be an Evolutionist?, has a basis for being asked (even if it is a wrong basis)–I just don’t see a basis for the first question though.

    Incidentally, if you read the book of Revelation you’ll note that a great part of the description sounds a lot like what we can expect from global warming. I suspect resistance to global warming for some evangelicals comes more from their political views which they’ve grafted onto their religious views, because you really have to twist and mangle the scriptures to get them to support the view that global warming won’t happen/isn’t happening.

  3. Interesting that they disagree on the age of the earth…now I’m especially curious to read their book. That, to me, has been a big sticking point in the creation/evolution and climate change debates. Some of the creationist’ rationale for things like distant starlight, carbon dating and fossils require some pretty heavy mental gymnastics to fit into their young earth worldview. So how does it fit into understanding climate change, when so many conclusions are based on ice cores and ocean mud fossil records?

  4. Mick Pope Says:

    I worry about people’s ahistorical reading of Revelation as done with Mark 13. Most of it is best understood in an amillenial and partial preterist sense, i.e. most of Revelation is about the cross.

    There have always been wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes etc and since Jesus said he’d come like a thief in the night trying to read what happens in the ‘natural world’ like a timetable is reaching beyond Jesus.

    As for global warming being necessary – sin is still sin. If greed and idolatry lead to excessive emission, regardless of whether or not it plays a key role in the end times, God won’t be thanking those for it any more than he thanked Assyria for its overzealousness in judging Israel.

  5. Donald Says:

    Galen – there are some fools out there who being extremely religious (like me) yet ignorant of science, stick to the point of view that earth is some 6000 years old.

    This is an idea put forth by one single man, who did some calculations and came up with that conclusion, however his calculations only begin with Noah, after the flood, not before.

    So most educated Christians will tell you that it is not only possible but entirely true that before the flood the earth might well have been billions of years old.

    After all, even the Pope admits to the truth of dinosaurs and the fact that there were several floods both before and after Noah.

  6. she’s a cute climatologist

  7. […] A number of viewers were struck by the perfectly-gelled-and-almost-perfectly-tanned “think” tank flack and Fox News misinformer, Chris Horner, from this week’s video.  Mr. Horner, working with the far right wing “American Traditions Institute”, is now seeking to bully climate scientist and evangelical Christian Katherine Hayhoe.  […]

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