Katharine Hayhoe's labour of love inspires a torrent of hate

Katharine Hayhoe is a Texan-based climate scientist and in my opinion, one of the clearest, most engaging and effective climate communicators kicking around. She also happens to be an evangelical Christian. A great introduction to climate science, her faith and Katharine herself is found in this short 10 question piece which was part of Nova's The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers series:

Further insight into what drives Katharine can be found in the following video where she discusses the Christian response to climate change. A core Christian value is a heart for the poor and vulnerable. Katharine provides one of the more concise and compelling summaries of why climate change is an important issue for Christians. Here's an excerpt (but do watch the full video):

As a Christian, we're told that God is not the author of fear. God is love. When we're acting out of fear, we're thinking about ourselves. When we act about love, we're not thinking about ourselves. We're thinking about others. Our global neighbours, the poor and disadvantaged, the people who don't have the resources to adapt. So I believe we're called first of all to love each other and second of all, to act.

Katharine's climate communication stems from of a love of science, a love for her fellow human beings and underpinning it all, her love for God. However, she has recently been bombarded with a wave of hate. The catalyst for the recent hate-fest was the breaking news that she had written a chapter about climate science for an upcoming book by Newt Gingrich, currently involved in the Republican Presidential primaries. When pressured, Gingrich dropped Katharine's chapter. What followed was a torrent of hate mail directed at Katharine, sometimes receiving hundreds of abusive emails in a single day. Some people's aversion to science has become so acute that the prospect of a climate scientist writing a chapter about climate science in a book published by the academic press is cause for sending abusive and threatening hate mail.

Meanwhile, the science tells us that the countries that contribute least to climate change are affected the most and are the least able to adapt. The people most affected are women and children, the most vulnerable in society. The human impacts will be more dire if good people such as Katharine did nothing. Therefore, I'm deeply thankful for passionate, positive communicators such as Katharine Hayhoe, tirelessly and fearlessly striving to communicate the realities of climate change.

Note: there is a We Support Katharine Hayhoe Facebook page. If you believe in supporting scientists who face of intimidation and persecution, I encourage you to make a public display by liking the page.

Posted by John Cook on Sunday, 15 January, 2012

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