The way we communicate about climate change and global warming makes a difference. When I first became a climate advocate, it felt quite normal to bombard skeptics with facts and evidence about the problem. Surely if you give people climate facts they will see it my way, I thought. All I needed to do was speak the truth about climate.
But this is precisely the wrong approach according to Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian. She is a professor at Texas Tech and the director of its Climate Science Centre.
Dr. Hayhoe is not a climate pioneer like Al Gore or a street-marching activist like Bill McKibben or a geek icon like Bill Nye. But she has emerged as one of the nation’s most effective communicators on the threat of climate change and the need for action. ~ New York Times
Katharine Hayhoe has been called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on the threat of climate change and the need for action” by The New York Times. Also named to TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list (2014), Dr. Hayhoe considers climate change one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today.
Climate Facts Are Not Enough
One of Dr. Hayhoe’s latest projects is the production of a new PBS Digital Studios short series, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion. The following video highlights why climate facts alone don’t work.
Published on Jan 18, 2017
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Global Weirding produced by KTTZ Texas Tech Public Media
Connecting Our Hearts to Our Heads
Most certainly there is compelling scientific evidence that climate change is real. There is overwhelming consensus among scientists. The debate is over! And we have the technologies and the solutions to tackle the climate issue.
We know we’re facing a global climate crisis but our actions fall far short of what is required to save ourselves. “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” once said Winston Churchill, albeit about a different matter. But the riddle is quite relevant to describe humanity’s lukewarm reaction to a global threat.
Surprisingly the determination and the drive to solve global warming is coming from new advances in the social sciences. In her talks, Dr. Hayhoe “explores the importance of connecting our hearts to our heads when it comes to caring about the impacts of a changing climate on this planet and the people who live on it.”
It turns out that the type of knowledge about climate, matters. More information about the physical science – why climate is changing, temperature data, etc. – is not that helpful. But information about how it affects us personally and the things we love matters a lot.
Katharine’s advice to climate advocates (like myself) involved in climate conversations is straightforward. “Don’t start with the science. Instead, start by connecting over a value that you genuinely share with whoever it is you’re talking to,” she suggests.
Climate Facts – The Lecture
The following video is a lecture given by Katharine Hayhoe about “talking climate” and why facts are not enough. Join Katharine as she explores the pathways to constructive dialogue about the climate.
Published May 9, 2017
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As I write this piece, Donald Trump is poised to announce the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. His decision will jeopardize the accord signed by almost 200 countries. The importance of Dr. Hayhoe’s steps on how to have productive conversations on the climate cannot be overstated.