- Hard News Cafe - http://hardnewscafe.usu.edu -

Climate scientist speaks at USU about faith

By Kayla Watanabe
Sustainable Efforts at Utah State

Faith and science don’t have to be in competition with one another.

That was the message delivered by Katharine Hayhoe, a devout evangelical Christian and climate scientist from Texas Tech University, who addressed a standing-room-only audience on what science says about climate change and why faith matters.

The lecture was held in the Utah State University engineering building Tuesday afternoon.

“For me it’s so important that my faith and my science are not in competition with each other,” Hayhoe said. “Rather I think we need both of them to understand and respond to the challenges facing us today.”

In 2014 Hayhoe was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and was recognized in 2012 as one of Christianity Today’s 50 women to watch.

“There’s obviously a strong religious population here,” said Jacqueline Lowry, the president of Cache Valley’s Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter. 

Alongside the Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, the First Presbyterian Church, USU’s Sustainability Council and other community organizations, Lowry saw the need to address the tension between science and religion.

“There’s such an enormous conflict between our faith and how we feel about climate change,” Lowry said. “That doesn’t need to be the case.”

Tuesday’s event at USU was followed by a short reception and another event at the Logan Tabernacle where Hayhoe addressed the role of politics in today’s climate conversation.

“You’ll make your choices based on the values you have,” said Nat Frazer, a professor of environment and society at USU and a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “The scientists can’t tell you what to choose.”

To engage students in the climate change discussion, Frazer invited his Introduction to Environmental Science class to hear Hayhoe speak. “There was a good turnout,” Frazer said. “I was pleased.”

Hayhoe’s book “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions” highlights her research on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the impact of climate change on human systems and the natural environment.

More information about Hayhoe and her work can be found on her website. A copy of her book can be found online or at USU’s Merrill Cazier Library.