Green Junction: Katharine Hayhoe educates us by Julie Peller Ph.D.

Katharine Hayhoe continues to be an educated, spiritual and effective communicator of climate change information. She is an atmospheric scientist and is currently the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy. For many years, she has produced a series of videos under the title “Global Weirding,” available on YouTube. The videos help to explain different climate change topics; many are geared to educate children on this critically important global change taking place. Video titles include: “So, why is 2 degrees the magic number?” “Climate vs Weather.” “I’m only a kid, I can’t do anything about climate change…. right?”

In a recent interview, Dr. Hayhoe was asked about “the importance of trying to communicate with people outside of our respective bubbles.” She responded that more than 70% of Americans recognize the reality of climate change and about 35% are very worried about it, yet do not know what to do.  She suggests “Just start by doing something, anything, and then talk about it! Talk about how it matters to your family, your home, your city, the activity that you love. Connect the dots to your heart so you don’t see climate change as a separate bucket but rather as a hole in the bucket of every other thing that you already care about in your life. Talk about what positive, constructive actions look like that you can engage in individually, as a family, as an organization, a school, a place of work.”

She added “I get discouraged and depressed reading about inactions and effects of climate change. That’s why we need to make people aware that, yes, our personal actions do matter but they matter because they can also change others. When we take that extra step of saying: “Hey, I tried a Beyond Meat burger, and it was delicious. Let’s go to this place for lunch and give it a try together.” Or: “I reduced my food waste. Have we thought about composting in our cafeteria?” If you take those kinds of actions, all of a sudden, you’ve got 30, 50, 100 more people whose hands are on the boulder beside you, and you realize, hey, we might have a shot at fixing this.”  

Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.

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