May 7, 2014

Evangelical arguments for climate change

Katherine Hayhoe, a climate change scientist and an evangelical Christian in West Texas, says knows lots of religious believers don't embrace the science of climate change. There's a perception among evangelicals, she says, that the science "challenges things that we hold dear and near to our hearts."

Claiming the facts isn't going to convince most people, she said. It's not an issue of the facts. It's a problem of miscommunication, of misunderstanding evangelical Christian commitments, and how to speak to them.

Hayhoe's strategy: start from shared values and the identities people already have:

On the Inquiring Minds podcast, Hayhoe talked about how concern about the environment can be grounded in evangelical Christian faith.

"If you believe that God created the world," she said, "and basically gave it to humans as this incredible gift to live on, then why would you treat it like garbage? Treating the world like garbage says a lot about how you think about the person who you believe created the Earth."

About 44 percent of white evangelicals believe in climate change. That's 20 percent behind the American public as a whole. The majority of evangelicals do agree, however, that environmental laws and regulations are worth the costs, economically.

Hayhoe was recently named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people.