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Getting to know 2017 Scientist in Residence Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

She’s made a name for herself spreading the gospel of climate change, being named to TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Barack Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio along the way. Now, she’s coming to CMU – sort of.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a professor at Texas Tech University and the director of its Climate Science Center, is CMU's 2017 Scientist in Residence from January 30 to February 1. To minimize carbon emissions, Hayhoe will appear on campus via two-way video conference technology.

Hayhoe will share her insights, observations, experience, and personal reflections at a number of speaking events that are open to the public and that will also be livestreamed at cmu.ca/sir.

In advance of her time at CMU, Hayhoe recently answered a few questions via email.

Why did you accept CMU's invitation to serve as Scientist in Residence?

Science can tell us that climate is changing, that – for the first time – humans are responsible, and that the impacts are serious. But science can’t tell us what’s the right thing to do about it. That’s where our hearts come in. And as Christians, we believe our hearts are made to reflect God’s love – for His creation, and also for His people. I care about climate change because it affects real people, today – especially the poor and the vulnerable who already don’t have enough food to eat, or clean water to drink, or safe places to live. As Christians, to care about climate change, we just need to connect our hearts to our heads.

What are you looking forward to about your time as Scientist in Residence?

The opportunity to talk about both science and faith – in the same breath. So often the two are completely separated in our society and even in our Christian communities. The reality, though, is that if we truly believe that God created this amazing universe that we live in, then what is science, other than trying to figure out what He was thinking when He created it?

Why should people of faith be concerned about climate change?

When it comes to climate change, our biggest issue is that we just don’t think it’s that important. Someone else will fix it, we think, or we have plenty of time to deal with it after we’ve taken care of more urgent issues.

What we don’t realise, though, is that we won’t be able to fix many of these more urgent issues if we leave climate change out of the picture. Poverty and hunger, water shortages and natural disasters, even war and disease: many of these are exacerbated by warmer temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and rising sea level. Trying to fix them while leaving climate change out of the picture is like pouring all our money and effort, time, and prayer into a bucket with a hole in the bottom. That hole is climate change, and it’s getting bigger and bigger over time.

What do you hope that people who attend these events will get out of them?

My hope is that we will realize that if we really do care about people, especially those less fortunate than us, then we have to take climate change seriously.

Further reading/watching:

“Katharine Hayhoe, a climate explainer who stays above the storm”New York Times profile, October 2016

“Fear, not facts, behind climate change scepticism”Christian Courier interview, May 2016

“The truth about climate change” – 100 Huntley Street video interview, May 2016

Visit katharinehayhoe.com.