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Climate evangelist preaches faith-based solutions to climate change

By Candice Madsen | Posted - May 26, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe didn't realize there were people who didn't believe in climate change until she moved to the United States.

"I'm originally from Canada and growing up in Canada we learn about climate change and it isn't really a big political issue," said Hayhoe, who is a professor at Texas Tech University and director of the Climate Science Center.

That's why she didn't think to ask her husband what he thought about the issue before they got married.

"It was about six months after we got married that we realized that we are not on the same wave length here," she recalled. Lengthy debates ensued between Hayhoe the scientist and her husband, evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Farley.

"So it was the most tremendous learning experience to talk with someone who I know shared my faith and my beliefs, who I knew was really smart and really educated to talk through why is it that we do or we don't think this thing is real," said Hayhoe.

Farley eventually changed his views on climate change and together they wrote the book "A Climate for Change, Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions."

"We wrote that book together because he was getting so many questions from his congregation about climate change," explained Hayhoe.

Hayhoe said most scientists agree, climate is changing and humans are the main reason.

"We know there are natural cycles. We know that the energy from the sun goes up and down over time. But today our climate would be cooling if it wasn't for all of these heat trapping gasses we are putting into the atmosphere."

I'm originally from Canada and growing up in Canada we learn about climate change and it isn't really a big political issue.

–Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist

She says the good news there is a lot we can do about climate change. The easiest place to start: step on a carbon calculator with your family.

"Figure out how much carbon, how big this giant bubble is that our family produces every year," she suggested.

According to national data, a third of the earth's carbon emissions come from transportation, a third comes from heating and cooling homes and businesses, and a third comes from industry.

"When we are using coal-based energy we are actually paying a big price for it," said Hayhoe. "We are paying that price when we buy asthma meds for our kids or when we know there is not going to be enough water to take us through the summer."

Science can explain what could happen if people don't transition to cleaner ways of getting energy but Hayhoe says science can't offer all the solutions and that is where people's hearts and faith come into play.

"It's caring for people, caring for ourselves, caring for our families, caring for our communities and caring for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world being affected by the actions we take today," she said.

Contributing: Dave McCann


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Candice Madsen


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