Facing the Reality of a Changing Climate with Katharine Hayhoe

On November 19th 2017, more than 200 people gathered in Edinburgh to hear climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, human ecologist Alastair McIntosh and leading mediator John Sturrock QC discuss the importance of finding hope in the climate crisis.

Why’s that even important? Because, as Katharine Hayhoe says, “the only reason I care about a changing climate is because it affects everything on my list of the things I care about… Figuring out how we can work together to fix this problem… because there is no hope in the science, there is no good news in the science. Where there’s hope is looking at what others are doing… the enormous strides already being made, the hope that there is for a better future for all of us… We need to understand what we can do and how we can help and how we can participate because that is what gives us hope. And we cannot move forwards without it…”

She goes on to talk about how, if we don’t have hope, then we’re paralysed by fear… and the very things we fear the most will then come about.

(For me, the stat that most triggers me is the UN predicted 30-50% mass extinction of species by the end of the century if things continue as they are… I fear for my daughter and any grandchildren in the future, let alone the reality of how many people are already being affected today. Read the summary 2017 National Climate Assessment.)

In the recording below you can hear Katharine delving into the issues further and talking about two myths – “I’m not that kind of person” (i.e. a climate activist).. and “it won’t really affect me as it’s a distant issue”. These two false myths make people think that the climate crisis is not important enough, is not urgent enough…. it becomes a barrier to people engaging.

Alastair talks about the Isle of Lewis as the birthplace of Donald Trump’s mother, who emigrated to America and was torn away from her community and the sense of connection to the land and the soul… Alastair posed the question, when this happened to so many, is this why so much of American conservative evangelicalism (as almost the only sector of the worldwide community of faith) is disengaged when it comes to climate change? Has their attitude affected evangelicals here in the UK? A fascinating discussion followed.

Katharine has been named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people. Her peer-reviewed work is included in UN climate reports, has been featured in the Emmy-award winning documentary, Years of Living Dangerously. She introduced Leonardo Di Caprio’s documentary film, Before the Flood, at the Whitehouse with Obama.









Until 26 November you can download this recording:


You can also listen to it here:


Thanks to Tearfund, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Core Solutions for sponsoring the event. Thanks too to the Edinburgh Network of Eco-Congregation Scotland, Inke Milligan, Joanne Baker and Pete Entwistle for their help.

Finally a special thanks to James Rae and Andrea Burke, the two climate scientists we found ourselves sitting beside on a train to London in January, as I worked on a climate talk for St James! They praised Katharine Hayhoe’s work as a scientist and for bridging the wide, deep gap between science and many Christians in the US. Our subsequent Twitter conversation about her work started the ball rolling.

By Liz Holt