Keeping the Faith in Climate Action

Posted by Liz Schlegel
on July 28, 2015
Katherine Hayhoe

This month, there have been some powerful stories about climate despair. Esquire Magazine tracked down Jason Box, a climatologist in Copenhagen who was outspoken about possible climate impacts on social media – and got some real pushback for talking about what he fears. Climate scientists around the world struggle with doubt, fear, despair.


And there is no question that despair and fear are often present for so many people working on climate issues. We need faster action, more comprehensive action, cooperation and collaboration at the national, regional and local levels. How do we overcome those moments of fear and despair?


Slate had a thoughtful follow-up. They talked to Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist who was an advisor on Years of Living Dangerously, the Showtime documentary series that aired last year (ISC did some advising on this project). You can watch a conversation between Don Cheadle and Dr. Hayhoe from the series here. She’s not just an experienced and influential climate scientist – she’s an evangelical Christian who has directly linked her work to her faith.


Katherine Hayhoe is a messenger. She is a trusted voice who speaks to her fellow Christians about what’s happening in science, and integrating that scientific knowledge with their faith. She says, “Faith and science are completely different – but they are complementary. And we need both our science and our faith to tackle climate change.”


Dr. Hayhoe makes the point that science can tell us what’s happening, and what might happen with a particular course of action. But, she notes – as does Pope Francis – that faith can be a framework for values – and values drive decisions. Integrating the science with our values will drive the decisions and actions we take to respond to climate change.


Our values do drive our decisions. Here at ISC, we genuinely believe that every conversation and connection around what we value brings a possibility for positive action for individuals and for communities. And when we connect around values, we can find shared and lasting solutions.


There is no question that the facts of climate change are overwhelming to those of us who research, read and write about them every day. But the faith and commitment of those who are making the connections between values and action – all across the world – gives us the inspiration we need to keep going.