Like A Prayer

Katharine Hayhoethe climate scientist and evangelical Christian featured in the 2014 Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously—is one of my “sheroes,” not only for the skill and clarity with which she communicates the threat to humanity posed by unrestricted carbon pollution, but also for her courage in the face of vicious, savagely sexist rhetorical attacks from the denialist right.

On April 8, Hayhoe spoke at Boston College on the topic of “Religion and the Roots of Climate Change Denial.” Her speech was magnificent, and I encourage you to drop whatever you’re doing and watch it now:

Some thoughts on the speech:

* At about the 10-minute mark, Hayhoe discusses recent surveys noting that Hispanic Catholics are strongly concerned about the climate crisis. I would submit that the Republican Party’s voter-suppression efforts—which investigative journalist Brad Friedman has covered aggressively for the past decade—are motivated, at least in part, by a desire to prevent minorities who are concerned about climate change from voting for politicians who are inclined to address climate change.

* At about the 21-minute mark, Hayhoe thoroughly destroys the right-wing “Dominionist” argument against taking action on climate change.

* At about the 24-minute mark, Hayhoe points about that the Bible does not refute climate science, a point that Joe Romm of Climate Progress also emphasized in a November 2010 appearance on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

* At about the 30-minute mark, Hayhoe discusses the media’s role in driving climate-change denial, a point that reaffirms the argument my former radio colleague Betsy Rosenberg has long made about the need to dramatically increase mainstream-media coverage of the climate crisis.

* At about the 35-minute mark, Hayhoe notes the connection between rejection of climate science and epistemic closure in the United States. It’s perhaps the best distillation of the epistemic-closure dynamic I have ever heard.

* Finally, at about the 44-minute mark, Hayhoe states that we have been given a sound mind. Of course, too many people in Congress are of unsound minds when it comes to this issue—and there’s a literally a snowball’s chance in hell of changing those unsound minds.

Hayhoe is one of our best thinkers—and doers—on the most critical issue of our time. To paraphrase an old Deval Patrick commercial, when you hear her speak, you can hear the justice in her voice.

UPDATE: Hayhoe was among the many climate scientists featured in the new More Than Scientists campaign, an inside look at the men and women who awakened the world to the threat of carbon pollution. Please check out the latest videos from this campaign, featuring Marcus Eriksen and Mauri Pelto.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.