Lessons in communicating climate change, from a scientist and Evangelical Christian

Katharine Hayhoe hails from Toronto. Growing up in Canada, she never doubted the reality of climate change. When she entered graduate school to study atmospheric science, she could never have guessed that she would eventually land in Texas—where, by this count, just over half the population accepts that humans are causing global warming. (Nationally, that number stands at 68 percent, according to a March 2017 Gallup poll, up from 49 percent in 2011.) Nor could she have known just how much of her time she would spend talking with climate change skeptics.

I profiled Hayhoe, who is now a professor at Texas Tech, for the May 2016 issue of Texas Monthly. I reported the story the previous fall, during which time I shadowed Hayhoe for a week and a half. Spending so much time with her gave me a sense of her range as a scientist and as a communicator. Hayhoe conveys scientific information in an accessible way. She reads individual people and the mood of a room quickly, then uses what she gleans to describe how climate change will impact something that person or group cares about.

“The message that I’m trying to get across is, ‘To care about climate change, all you have to be, pretty much, is a human living on planet Earth,’” Hayhoe said to me. “You can be exactly who you are with exactly the values you have, and I can show you how those values connect to climate change.”

Read the full article by Sonia Smith, here.