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Global weirding with Katharine Hayhoe: Episode 1

Posted on 29 September 2016 by Guest Author

Global Weirding is produced by KTTZ Texas Tech Public Media and distributed by PBS Digital Studios. New episodes every other Wednesday at 10am central. Brought to you in part by: Bob and Linda Herscher, Freese and Nichols, Inc, and the Texas Tech Climate Science Center.

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Comments 1 to 17:

  1. Finally the truth about Katherine Hayhoe comes out: I always thought it so unlikely to find a bona fide Texas evangelical atmospheric scientist, and a woman at that. Now I discover that at bottom she's just another sensible Canadian. There goes my little miracle.

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  2. I appreciate Katherine Hayhoe's advocacy among evangelical constituents about the truth of climate change.  However, I can not figure out how she resolves the differences between the Genesis version of creation and the geologic record of creation.  Katherine, if you are reading this blog, could you comment?  

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Katharine Hayhoe

  3. @2 ELIofVA,

    I of course can't answer for Katherine. But I can say that regardless of what you may have been told, the vast majority of Christians, EVEN in Texas, do understand the Earth is not literally 6,000 years old. And anyone coming to that conclusion by reading Genesis is simply not understanding Genesis. There are a very vocal minority of YECs in Texas, that are tolerated by the rest of the Christians there primarily due to the realization that their heart in is the right place, and it is not worth arguing over. Very much like one tolerates a grandmother that doesn't really understand new advancements in science and technology. You love your Grandmother anyway and think no less of her at all.

    Likewise I believe it is irrelevant how Katherine Hayhoe personally resolves the superficial conflict inherent in certain interpretations of Genesis. She apparently understands science enough to understand AGW is real, and she apparently understands Genesis enough to understand the good stewardship and responcibility for one's actions doctrines found there. It is enough.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Katharine Hayhoe

  4. Red Baron,

    According to Gallop polls, 40% of Americans are young earthers.  That includes the UAH scientist Roy Spencer.  Please provide a citation to support your claim that young earthers are uncommon in the USA. 

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  5. @4 Michael sweet,

     As I recall the Gallup poll in question asked whether Man was created in his present form, not the geological age of the Earth. Actually though, it is not my field of expertise. So I will bow to your expertise in polls. Doesn't change a single thing though. I still think it is irrelevant. Katharine Hayhoe understands the science behind manmade climate change; and the teaching of the good steward of the land and responcibility for one's actions doctrines from her religion. There is nothing important for me to argue with regarding her position on AGW. 

    I see Katharine Hayhoe as one more important ally in moving towards reaching an audience about the importance of mitigation. If she can help change that demographic's opinion on AGW, all the better.

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  6. michael sweet @4, RedBaron @5, in the 2014 gallop poll, 42% of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years", with a further 31% thinking "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process", and just 19% thinking "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part i this process"

    The first opinion does not necessarilly imply Young Earth Creationism, as it is consistent with a belief in an old Earth in which there have been successive independent creations (a view that emphasises that the Hebrew can be translated as "the Earth became without form, and void"; or with an old earth in which various animals have been created at different times, so as to approximate to evolution by creation (successive creationism); or with the view that the Earth is old, and that life evolved in a God guided process, but that Humans came into an existence due to a deliberate creative act (which is in fact the official view within the Catholic Church).

    The 2013 Pew Poll indicates that 33% (32%) of American adults believe that "“humans (animals) and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”  Agreement with those questions requires belief in Young Earth Creationism.  The poll had a 3% margin of error.  The figure drops from 33 to 15% among white, mainline protestants, but rises to 64% among white evangelical protestants.  That divergence may explain RedBaron's experience.  Alternatively, I note that the majority of Young Earth Creationists now believe the Earth to be at least 10 thousand, and potentially as much as 20 thousand years old.  That is, they accept only a qualified 'literalism' and reject Usher's chronology.


    In Katharine Hayhoe's case, the more relevant fact may be that among Canadians (2012 poll), 22% agreed that "God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years", while 61% agreed that "Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years".

    I am unsure what this has to do with the topic of this post.

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  7. I just applaud Katharine Hayhoe’s views, and her ability as a Christian to accept climate science. As a very definite atheist I have my views, but as I have got older I have become less strident and why annoy somebody that is basically promoting the science? This woman is providing some leadership and seems thoroughly pleasant.

    She is clearly comfortable with her position and presumably interprets the bible in a way that allows her to do this. Interpretations of the bible vary with a few Christian fundamentalists believing the world was literally created in 6006 BC through to others who simply believe God was a prime mover, and several gradations in between. The message of the New Testament seems to be one of defining greed as a sin, which could be taken to promote environmental conservation.

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  8. Tom,

    i think the prevalence of Young Earthers illustrates the difficulty that Dr. Hayhoe has reaching her audience.  I think it is important to point out this issue to people who read this blog who do not reside in the USA and/or are not aware of how many people have this belief.  It is difficult to convince someone who thinks the Earth is only 10,000 years old (or 20,000) that snow records prove that it is warmer now than it has been in the past 700,000 years and that warmth is a problem.

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  9. Katharine Hayhoe has her work cut for her...

    Four Fifths Of Evangelical Christians Do Not Believe Humans Cause Climate Change by Harry Farley, Christian World, Sep 23, 2016

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  10. Fascinating. I would surmise that much of this young earth belief is very thin. It reminds me of youTube videos where they ask Americans at 4th of July parties from whom Independance was declared, etc., and getting no decent answers, not even people teaching at college, until they run into a 70 year old black grandpa from the south who probably never got beyond grade school, and knows the exact story and all the relevant facts. We cannot conclude that all these people do not believe in Independance. Chronology of biblical events is a subject on which no two theologians agree and hardly belongs to some shared core of beliefs. Certainly the murderer on the cross to who Jesus said that he would be in Paradise today was not grilled about any of his mental representations of time lines.

    So here's my thesis: I bet there are a lot of these people that can be convinced about atmospheric physics (if you can get them to pay attention) without first having to address "core" beliefs about why paleontology is all about things that do not exist. Their resistance will be more about political and group loyalties than about values they cannot surrender.

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  11. JWRebel,

    In my experience many young earth believers make religion their first priority in any decision.  They sometimes will not listen to any argument that they feel conflicts with what they think the Bible says.  If you say it is the hottest it has been in 100,000 years you lose them immediately.

    Tom, don't you have experience discussing evolution with this crowd?  What do you think?

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  12. Many decades ago, my son played football on his HS team, which brought him into contact with people he would/could never meet in the Chess Club, etc. He was amazed to hear from them that virtually none of them "believed" in Evolution; they "believed" in "what the Bible said."

         A week or two later, he heard from them enough to convince him that they knew virtually nothing about Evolution. About as much as what they knew about "what the Bible said."

         Many years later, with a brand-new PhD in ChE (Yale), he lived in his old area for a few months. His old team mates (and veterans from rival teams) loved to bend elbows, talk old times, and celebrate a Local Boy Who Made Good. In short order they all believed not only in Evolution but also in Climate Trouble.

         There are lessons aplenty there.

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  13. JW Rebel @10, I agree that politics and group identity play a big part in climate change denialism, and that this apples to everyone, religious or otherwise.

    I would add the costs of a transition to fossil fuels worries everyone, possibly some people more than others depending on world views and priorities and fears about government impositions. This leads them to attack the science.

    However religious conviction is an issue with young earthers and Christian fundamentalists. They see climate change as a threat to some very basic religious convictions as follows. It’s not that they look at the age of the earth as such. Instead, they have a strong conviction that god created the world largely as it is quite recently and that god wouldn’t allow us to substantially change the world. This would make us as powerful as god, which doesn’t fit with the bible as a whole. There are gradations of belief in this, but it sums up a large viewpoint. This is all foreign to me as an atheist who believes in evolution and I don’t understand how they think that way, but they do very deeply.

    The best approach may be to argue that humanity has clearly altered the atmosphere with particulate emissions from coal etc, so carbon dioxide is a similar issue, and steer clear of suggesting we have irrevocably altered the climate permanently or interfered with gods plan.

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  14. Katharine Hayhoe is one busy scientist...

    Dr. Katharine Hayhoe to Discuss Climate Change with President and Leonardo DiCaprio on Monday by Leslie Adami, KLBK Lubbock, Sep 30, 2016

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  15. "They sometimes will not listen to any argument that they feel conflicts with what they think the Bible says."

    Most people fundamentally dislike and oppose science, though they'll quickly grab any benefits it provides without crediting the process, much less the people which provided them.   

    Hmm. Electricity is not is the Bible, It's "only a theory" and therefore does not exist.  Perhaps the anti-science crowd should be prohibited from using any substance, object or device which is dependent on or was made with electricity. 

    Unless they're Amish, they'd be both hungry and thirsty real soon. 

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  16. Katherine Hayhoe is a great communicator and very easy to warm to. She needs to be put out there and given as much public exposure as possible, or at least as much as she is comfortable with, in my opinion.

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  17. @15 DrivingBy,

    Exactly true. This is why athiests, especially atheists that like to wear their atheism on their shirt sleeve, probably would do more harm than good entering into an AGW debate with a religious right holding a deeply held devout religious belief in God. Not all, but a pretty fair % who would listen to someone like Katharine Hayhoe, would instantly become diehard climate change deniers, if they thought believing in AGW requires them to renounce God. You have literally no chance to convince them.

    On the other hand, there are literal fire and brimstone consequences for ignoring the "land sabbath". Literally drought famine floods collapse of civilization etc... if that should be ignored. Now an atheist might claim this is a natural result of AGW, and a religious person might claim it is the hand of God dealing out punishment for not being the good steward of the land, but does it really matter? What matters is cooperation between all so this doesn't happen. So an atheist that even hints he might believe AGW is real and that belief is even slightly associated with his belief there is no God, then they would be driving a wedge between instead of cooperating.

    On the other hand if the ministers wife tells them 

    Chronicles 7:14

    if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

    You might be amazed how much more effective that is to get support for any mitigation policies. Rather than fighting against every policy designed to remedy the problem, you would have an army fighting on your side to stop global warming. A very very comitted army that will not stop fighting AGW even until the bitter end.

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