aside How To Convince Evangelicals That Climate Change Science Is For Real

In the aftermath of the recent devastating August/ September 2017 hurricanes of Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, it is extremely frustrating to hear many evangelicals and others within the republican party who refuse to give credence to climate change as being a major factor in the intensity and duration of extreme weather events.

The question, is there a way to have these naysayers and “climate change” deniers rethink their intransigent attitudes  on this subject? Enter stage, an Evangelical scientist Katherine Hayboe among other conservatives who are trying to do just that….

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Here’s the rest of the story…

On August 28, 2017,  the Guardian published the following report, “Study: “Katharine Hayboe is successfully convincing doubtful evangelicals about climate change.” (“A new study finds that a lecture from evangelical climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe successfully educates evangelical college students, validating the “trusted sources” approach.”

“Approximately one-quarter of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and that group also tends to be more resistant to the reality of human-caused global warming. As a new paper by Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe notes:”

“a 2008 study found that just 44% of evangelicals believed global warming to be caused mostly by human activities, compared to 64% of nonevangelicals (Smith and Leiserowitz, 2013) while, a 2011 survey found that only 27% of white evangelicals believed there to be a scientific consensus on climate change, compared to 40% of the American public (Public Religion Research Institute, 2011).”

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“These findings appear to stem from two primary factors. First, evangelicals tend to be socially and politically conservative, and climate change is among the many issues that have become politically polarized in America. Second, there is sometimes a perceived conflict between science and religion, as Christians distrust what they perceive as scientists’ “moral agenda” on issues like evolution, stem cell research, and climate change. As Webb and Hayhoe describe it:”

“theological conservatism, scientific skepticism, political affiliation, and sociocultural influences have reinforced one another to instill climate skepticism into the evangelical tribe mentality, thus creating a formidable barrier to climate education efforts.”

Evangelical climate leaders

“There are also evangelicals who have tried to convince their peer group about the reality of human-caused climate change and our moral obligation to address it. These include the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Evangelical Climate Initiative, the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and evangelical climate scientists like Sir John Houghton and Doug Hayhoe’s daughter Katharine Hayhoe(one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people). However, a majority of evangelicals continue to reject the reality of human-caused climate change, and there hasn’t been research quantifying the effectiveness of these evangelical climate leadership efforts.”

Image result for photos of katharine hayhoe

“Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe’s study did just that by testing the effectiveness of a climate lecture delivered by Katharine Hayhoe to undergraduate students at the predominantly evangelical Houghton College in New York. Approximately half of the participants self-identified as conservatives and Republicans, 28% as liberals and Democrats, and the remainder as neither liberal nor conservative. 63% of the participants identified as evangelicals (most of the rest were of other Christian denominations).”

“Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture presented climate science information through the lens of an evangelical tradition. In addition to presenting scientific evidence, it included an introduction about the difference between faith and science (faith is based on things that are spiritually discerned, whereas science is based on observation). About six minutes of the 33- to 53-minute lectures were devoted to theology-based ethics.”

Image result for photos of katharine hayhoe

Hayhoe lecture’s effectiveness

“The participants filled out a survey before and after the lecture, detailing their acceptance that global warming is happening, its cause, whether there’s a scientific consensus, how high of a priority they consider it, how worried they are about it, and how much it will harm various groups. The results showed an increase in pro-climate beliefs for every single question after listening to Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture.”

“Acceptance that global warming is happening increased for 48% of participants, and that humans are causing it for 39%. Awareness of the expert scientific consensus increased among 27% of participants. 52% were more worried about climate change after watching the lecture, and 67% increased their responses about how much harm climate change will do. 55% of participants viewed addressing climate change a higher priority after attending Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture. For most of the remaining participants, there was no change in responses to these questions.”

“By testing three different lecture approaches, Webb and Hayhoe also concluded that the lecture was equally effective when presented in person or as a recorded video, and that adding material about common climate misconceptions didn’t make the lecture any more effective.”

7 comments

  1. Two thumbs-up to Katharine Hayhoe!!! It is good to know that with the right approach, people CAN be educated in the effects of the human effects on climate change! Great news … thanks for sharing! Hugs!!!

  2. This is very encouraging Ms. Hayhoe takes a most reasoned and intelligent approach.
    Within Christianity there are many groups who see responsibility for the care of planet as a fundamental duty to God.
    (After all if you want to take a literal interpretation of Genesis, God left Adam in charge of the blessed garden in the first place!)

    • Dear Roger,

      I have never understood the resistance by some who claim to be Christian, for science. But this is a conflict that goes back for centuries.

      Caring for the planet and others is one out of many ways for the right to value the gift of life. T

      Ms. Hayboe is doing good work.

      Hugs, Gronda

  3. Gronda, well done for Dr. Hayhoe! I have written before about two interfaith conferences I attended which spoke of what God tells us about taking care of environment. The first one was attended by a Priest, Rabbi and Imam. The second one had a Nun, Baptist deacon, Rabbi and Imam. Each spoke of climate change and doing things to protect the world God gave us.

    But, here are two more thoughts. First, the Pope, who is a former scientist, knows more about climate change than many leaders in Congress. That is scary. Second, the global water crisis, which is being made worse by climate change, has caused a significant action in Saudi Arabia, who is oil rich, but water poor. The Islamic leaders have allowed followers to pray with sand instead of water. This old religion is addressing an environmental issue.

    Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      Some of these White Evangelicals seem to be resistant to science. These folks appear to act almost cult-like in their belief systems. This is where Dr. Hayboe is a tremendous help.

      Most people of faith do not suffer this conflict between their faith based beliefs and science.

      It is the republican legislators who can no longer put their heads in the sand because they have to cater to their Evangelical base.

      Hugs, Gronda

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