environmental justice

LISTEN: Unconventional pathways to science, part 2 with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

"We need to provide tangible solutions so people understand that yes it's bad — but we can act."

Former Agents of Change fellows Azmal Hossan and Cielo Sharkus speak with Hossan's mentor Dr. Katharine Hayhoe about climate change science and communication.

Hayhoe is the Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Public Law in the Public Administration program of the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University, and also the Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy. She is one of the world's foremost thinkers and speakers on climate change.

She discusses her career path, what role faith plays in her research and advocacy, and offers tips for future scientists who want to spark change.

This is part 2 of "Unconventional pathways to science" — listen to part 1 with Dr. Johanna vanderSpek here.

The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows, as well as others in the field. You can see all of the past episodes here.

Listen below to our discussion with Hayhoe, and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

And check out Hayhoe's new book,Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.


Brian Bienkowski

Today is part two of “Unconventional Pathways to Science,” a two-part conversation by fellows Azmal Hossan and Cielo Sharkus, where they talk to their mentors. In this episode Azmal Hossan, a PhD student in sociology and national research trainee, in interdisciplinary training, education and research in food, energy, water systems at Colorado State University. That is a mouthful, Azmal. And Cielo Sharkus is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst talked to Azmal’s mentor, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, with whom he studied at Texas Tech University. That's right, the Katharine Hayhoe. I'm actually going to step back and let Azmal fill you in on her long list of titles and some notable accomplishments.

Azmal Hossan

Dr. Hayhoe is one of the leading climate scientists working as chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy. She is also the Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law, and Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor at Texas Tech University. She has been named a United Nations Champion of the Earth and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and serves as the climate ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. Dr. Hayhoe is one of the lead authors for the United States National Climate Assessment Reports, plus the PBS Digital series “Global Weirding.” Her TED talk, “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change, talk about it” has been viewed over five million times. Her recently published book “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” has received public acclaim for providing a roadmap for addressing the climate crisis and eco-anxiety. She has a BSc in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto, and an MS and a PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Brian Bienkowski

How about that, eh? Hayhoe is a force in climate science and communication. She is a rockstar in this field, and we are super thrilled to have her, I think you will all enjoy this. I'm going to turn it back to Azmal and Cielo again, enjoy.

Azmal Hossan

So our first question is, we know that your undergraduate was in physics and astronomy. And also you are an evangelical Christian. So do you please tell us your story? How did you come in the field of atmospheric science and climate change given your educational and religious background?

Katharine Hayhoe

So my undergraduate degree is in astronomy and physics. And I was actually planning to be an astrophysicist. That was my plan. Because I love the fact that there's always something new to discover when you're studying the universe. There's always something out there that nobody has seen before, nobody has discovered and using, it's amazing that using nothing more than our brains and the tools we can build on this planet, that we can actually observe the far reaches of the universe. So that was what I was planning on doing. And before I finished my undergraduate degree, I was already doing research. And I was already looking at potential graduate schools. I needed an extra class to finish my undergraduate degree. And I looked around and there was a brand new class on climate science over in the Geography Department. I thought, well, that looks interesting, why not take it. And I knew that climate change is real. I had learned about it along with other environmental issues, like biodiversity loss, deforestation, air pollution and climate change. So I thought of climate change as one of many environmental issues that environmentalists work on, and the rest of us wish them well. I took that class, and I was completely shocked to find out, first of all, that climate change is very urgent, and it is a threat multiplier. So climate change takes all those other issues and makes them worse. It's not an equivalent issue to air pollution or biodiversity loss or deforestation. It is an exacerbating factor that makes all of those worse. But what completely changed the trajectory of my career and my life is when I found out that climate change is not only an environmental issue. Climate change is a health issue. Climate change is an economic issue. Climate change is a national security issue. And most of all, climate change is a humanitarian and a justice issue. It disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable and most marginalized people right here in the United States, as well as on the other side of the world, the very people who have done the least to contribute to the problem. It takes very basic goals, like the Sustainable Development Goals, at the United Nations: no poverty, no hunger, access to clean water, it takes these very basic goals, and we have no way of actually achieving these goals if we don't fix climate change. So that's when I decided: here we have this huge global problem that's incredibly urgent that affects the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. It is completely unfair. How can I not do everything I can to help fix it? Because it's so urgent, so important, surely, we'll fix it soon. And then I can go back to astrophysics. And that was a long time ago.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, I understood that, because you did your undergrad, I think, a long time ago.

Katharine Hayhoe

Long time ago!

Azmal Hossan

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much. I think it's a great insight that taking a class in in your undergrad program, how it changes your whole thinking? And how change how did it change your career, future career paths. And today, I think it was one of the greatest decisions you took in your life.

Katharine Hayhoe

It was!

Azmal Hossan

Yes, and I think you are enjoying this life right now.

Katharine Hayhoe

I am. But there was another decision to that came a little bit later. So that decision led me to study atmospheric science, and to start doing policy relevant research. So I wanted to do research that was not only going to be published in scientific journals, but that would be used to make real world decisions. Because we don't have time. We need this, the latest information to be informing our real life decisions today. So that was where I was, I was doing, doing research, it was being used by decision makers to make decisions about, about national targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and also about planning for adaptation and resilience with ecosystems and Human Services, and human systems. But then what happened was, my husband was a professor at the University of Notre Dame. And it's actually quite a small university and they don't have a program in atmospheric science or earth sciences or geosciences. So I was doing consulting, I was principal investigator at a center at the University of Chicago, which was two hours away, I was doing a few different things. And we're thinking, well, it'd be really nice if we both had positions at the same university. And that's always hard to get an academia. So then, my husband was being recruited by Texas Tech University. And we looked and it turned out that Texas Tech University had a department of geosciences, and it had an atmospheric science program within that department. So my husband said, well, I would consider the position if, you know, you also have something for my spouse. And we thought, oh, no chance of that, right, because there was no advertised position or anything. And they said, okay, we could give her a research professor position. And so I thought, well, I guess that's what we should do. So it wasn't my plan to move to Texas, I was the plus one that they had to put up with to get him. But it turned out that moving to Texas was honestly the best thing for, for me and for what I do, because now here I live in the state that is most vulnerable to climate impacts of any other state. We get more weather and climate disasters naturally than any state, and one of the biggest ways climate change is affecting us by making these naturally occurring disasters worse. I also live in the state that's home to the oil and gas industry. And of course, 75% of climate change is caused by digging up and burning coal and oil and gas. The other 25% is land use deforestation and agriculture. And Texas is also the state that has the greatest wind and solar potential of any state—23% of the electricity in Texas now comes from wind and solar energy. And Texas is also, especially Lubbock, is also one of the places where people most question and doubt whether climate change is even real. So I serendipitously ended up in the exact place to study the impacts, the solutions, and people's opinions about climate change. And I'm not gonna say it's easy, because it's not easy to live in a place where people think that, a lot of people think that what you do is two, two steps less credible than astrology. I don't mean astronomy, I mean astrology. But living here has given me tremendous insight into how vulnerable people are, into how to talk to people about climate change, how to engage with people who might not ordinarily want to do anything about climate change, and really how we can make progress. And I feel like if we can if we can make a difference in Texas, we can make a difference anywhere.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, that's a great insight. Yeah. Cielo, go ahead.

Cielo Sharkus

I also think it's interesting how you're interested in the opinions of the people here. Which brings us into our second question. So we know that as a climate scientist, science communication is very important, especially effective science communication. And so can you describe how important science communication has been for you so far, and how you employ it in your career right now.

Katharine Hayhoe

Science communication is incredibly important when we're dealing with an issue like climate change that affects every single person on the planet. In some ways, I almost feel like a physician, I feel like we climate scientists are the physicians of the planet. And we've discovered something that every single person on the planet has, but a lot of people don't realize they have it, or do they don't think it matters to them. And some people are even in denial about it. So it's absolutely essential to communicate to people not only that this is real, but how it affects them, and what they can do about it. That's a very sort of medical perspective on it. But often, we as physical scientists, we don't take that perspective, we say, well, you know, we're just doing our research, we’re publishing in scientific journals. But the problem is, is that climate change is not future anymore, it's here. It's now. And we have to make decisions today, if we want to avoid the worst of the impacts. So communication is absolutely key. And I've seen how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports that started in 1990, and the sixth one just came out this past year, in 2021, in August. I've seen how their communication efforts have improved significantly, with high level messages in plain English that everybody can understand, with figures that show people how the choices that we make will make a difference. Science communication is more important now than ever. And, as scientists, we have to realize the first step is to realize not everybody thinks the way we do. We often believe that if we just throw enough facts at people, they'll change their minds. But history, and social science has both shown that that is not what changes people's minds on issues that are divisive and politicized, what changes people's minds are realizing that climate change affects something they already care about, not trying to make them care about something that they don't care about, but rather showing them that whatever it is they already care about, is being affected by climate change. And showing them there are positive constructive solutions that they can get on board with that don't involve destroying the economy or giving up their personal values. So science communication is really important. And let me just give you one brief example. The Yale program on climate communication does all these great studies on messaging and framing and communication and how people think. They just came out with a new study, yesterday, on natural gas. They said if you say the words natural gas to people, people say, oh, it's natural, it's good, it's healthy. But natural gas, of course, is a fossil fuel. And when you burn it, you produce a lot of carbon pollution. And that's what's contributing to climate change. So they tested different ways, different ways to talk about natural gas. They said, well, what if we call it “fossil gas,” that's what a lot of scientists are saying we should call it because it is fossil gas? That's very accurate. Well, it turns out that Democrats think fossil gas is a bad thing. But Republicans think fossil gas is a good thing. So that doesn't really fix the problem. So then they said, well, what if we call it “methane gas?” Because natural gas is anywhere from 70 to 90% methane, methane is the number one component of natural gas. What if we call it methane gas? Well, then when you actually call it methane gas, everybody realizes that that's pollution when you burn it. So I posted that on Twitter today, and a scientist replied, saying no, no, no, you can't call it methane gas, because it's not 100% methane gas. You have to call it fossil gas. And I said, Well, I understand. Because as a scientist, we always like to be very precise, right? We would say it is between 70 to 90%, methane gas, and then it is between 20 to whatever percent blah, blah, blah. And that's what we like to say, as scientists. But the point is not the precise chemical composition of the gas. The point is, when you burn it, it produces carbon. That's the point. Right? And so I had an interesting discussion with a fellow scientist over how what we scientists might prefer to call something is not the most effective thing, we have to put ourselves in somebody else's shoes. And often for scientists, it's very hard to do that. As humans, actually, I would say, it's very hard to do that.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, exactly. I really like the issue you reference to the Yale program on climate change when they ask people about whether it is natural gas or fossil fuel. This is the same issue when you talk about climate change. Like people who deny climate change, they say that, they try to say that it is a natural phenomenon, not that it is caused by human, human activities. So in reference to your science communication issues. In your new book, you mentioned that fear of change is the main obstacle for which people don't take any initiative to tackle climate change. Why are people afraid about climate change and how you, how can you suggest them to overcome this fear?

Katharine Hayhoe

So in my new book, which is called “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” in my new book, I talk a lot about the science, obviously. But I also talk even more about how we think and feel about the science. When it comes to climate change, one of the biggest emotions that climate change invokes is fear. But in two different ways. First of all, there's many people today who are really, really afraid of the consequences of climate change. And I understand that, I'm a scientist, and I know it is bad. We are talking about potentially the end of human civilization as we know it. The planet will still be orbiting the sun, but the question is, what are our lives going to look like, on that planet? So many people are getting really afraid, getting anxious, getting panicked about the impacts of climate change? What happens if we don't do anything? So what's holding us back, fear on the other side, and I would venture to guess that more people have this fear: fear of loss. We humans are much more averse to losing something than we are to gaining something. And we feel in rich countries that we might lose our comfortable lives. We feel like we're being told to stop driving, stop taking vacations, stop eating meat, stop having children, stop plugging things in, stop using electricity, stop. We are we feel like all the messaging is stop, stop, stop, stop. And everything we're being asked to stop is what we feel like makes our lives enjoyable, comfortable, good. So there's significant fear over climate solutions, because we feel like everybody's just trying to take away everything that we have. And that's why talking about solutions is so important. Because it's not about taking things away. It's about replacing them with better things. When the new iPhone comes out, you don't have a lot of people, you know, saying, you have to update your iPhone, you must get a new iPhone, it's better for the planet. If you get a new iPhone. No, you have hundreds of people lining up to get the new iPhone just because it's cooler, and it works better. And oh, maybe it does use less electricity. But the whole point is, is you like it because it's better. So in the same way, there's a lot of climate solutions that are better. Like what? Well, people don't know that burning fossil fuels, produces air pollution, as well as heat trapping gases that cause climate change. And the air pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for an average of 9 million premature deaths per year. Now, we are already up at about four and a half million deaths from COVID worldwide. And don't get me wrong. Every premature death is a tragedy, every single one. But COVID deaths have been tracking the headlines now for months and even years. Where are the headlines on the 9 million, the double the number, the 9 million people who are dying prematurely from air pollution every year. And not only that, but who are those people, many of those people are people who live in lower income neighborhoods who can't afford to live somewhere better where the air is cleaner, who live in urban centers in low-income countries with air pollution is even worse. Those are the people who are dying from our air pollution. We know that clean energy creates jobs, it cleans up our air, it cleans up our water, we know that investing in nature-based solutions provide protection from storm surge along the coast, provide habitat, obviously, for animals and plants. They also provide water filtration. And it's good for us to be in nature, both in our cities as well as outside. So there's all kinds of benefits to solutions that we need to talk about. So people see that they're actually gaining by solutions. They're not losing. And that psychology helps us with how we talk about climate change. Because if all we talk about is how bad it is, that will activate people. But once they're activated, if they don't know what they're supposed to do about it, they'll just shut off again, we need to provide tangible solutions that people understand that yes, it's bad. But we can act. And that, and that shows exactly what my book is about. Because it's about how every single one of us can do something, we don't have to be a CEO or a celebrity or president. Every single one of us as individuals has a voice that we can use. We can use our voice talking to people, we can use it on social media, we can use it in whatever sphere we're in, whether it's a university, a place of work, a business, a neighborhood, organization or club, whatever we're part of, we are part of more people than just us. And we can have these conversations about why climate change matters to us, and what we can do working together to fix it.

Cielo Sharkus

Wow, that is so powerful. I really love the way that you put that. In addition to fear of change. I wanted to ask you as a female scientist, were you ever scared of anything? What kind of obstacles or challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? How did you overcome this fear of being in a field that was mostly dominated by people in power?

Katharine Hayhoe

Mm hmm. That's a very good question. And, the answer is yes. I absolutely have. When I was younger, it was more have a sense of, and this is a very female thing to do, but it's not exclusively female, to feel insecure about how much you know. So if somebody said something disagreeing with me, or that I didn't agree with, my immediate assumption was that I must be wrong. That was my assumption. And I would go and I would research to find out, you know, I would read all kinds of papers just to find out, you know, what the truth was. And you know, sometimes I was wrong, of course, we all are on occasion. But a lot of times, I was actually right, but I just didn't have the confidence in my knowledge and the confidence in my understanding, and I still fight that today. I've been in this field now for 25 years almost, not quite 25 years, but almost. And so I've read so many papers, and so many studies, listened to so many talks and so many conferences, but even still, when someone disagrees with me, my first reaction is to think, what if I'm wrong. And so I still look a little bit and check myself, but I don't do it as much as I used to. And that's something called imposter syndrome, we feel like, we're sort of like an imposter, like everybody else knows more than we do. And they're more of an expert than we are. And so just gaining the confidence to say, no, I am an expert. And in graduate school, that's what we do, right, we become an expert in our field, that's the whole point of graduate school. And so believing in yourself and having confidence in yourself, especially in a field where everybody else seems to believe in themselves, and you feel like you're the only person who's doubting yourself. It’s really, really important so that you can be effective, and you're not constantly sort of paralyzed by self-doubt. But once I started to speak out about climate change, sort of in the public sphere, that's where it took a very different turn. Even today, I would say that well over 99%, well, over 99% of the attacks that I receive, are from men. And I get attacked every single day. Sometimes, it's once or twice, like today, sometimes it's maybe 20 times like yesterday. And a lot of these attacks are very gendered. People, I often get called a whore, I often, you know, get called stupid or an idiot, or really terrible things. And a lot of them have, you know, often have female comment connotations to them. And so that type of gendered abuse is really common. And it's kind of scary when people get your home address and start sending you hate mail at your home address. So I've actually, and I continue to do this, I go through the internet to try to make sure that my home address is not online. I've, I haven't listed my office publicly or put my name on the door, just because I've had random people show up at the door, that I did not feel safe. Especially because that corridor where my office is, is not very inhabited, there might not be somebody around. So yes, there definitely have been times when I feel really worried about what's happening and have taken steps to try to protect myself. But I keep on going because what's at stake is worth it. What's at stake, again, is the future of civilization and the future of us and every other living thing on this planet. And because of that, I have to keep going.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, thank you. I think it's a great point. And for the young, early career researcher or scientist, your life story is a great example of how a scientist’s life can be struggled for and can be challenging. And at the same time, you are your true inspiration for the young researcher or a young activist also, like us. Yeah.

Katharine Hayhoe

Good. Yeah, we need everybody, everybody.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, exactly. And I want to jump in into our next question. Like, I watched a lot of talks presented by you. And one important thing I repeatedly heard from your talk that as a climate scientist, you don't believe in climate change. Because the word “believe” is related with faith, not science. Would you please explain it more?

Katharine Hayhoe

Yes, in fact, it's so funny because I was talking about this with my son in the car on the way to school this morning. He said, you should just ask people if they believe in climate change, and I said, no, I don't want to ask them that, because that's makes it sound like it's a religion. And he said, oh, nobody thinks that. I said, well, yes, actually, people do think that, like who? Our state senator in Texas, that's who. So I was literally having this conversation this morning. Why is it important? It's important because opponents of climate action, especially in the United States, but I've seen it in Canada and the UK, too. And Australia. Opponents of climate action, paint climate science as if it were a Earth worshipping religion. Why is that so successful? Because most people in the world already have a faith tradition or religion. And so if you can paint climate change as an alternate or a new one, everybody says, well, I, I'm not gonna worship a false religion. I am a Christian or I'm a Jew, or I'm a Muslim, or I'm a Hindu. I don't want that false religion. So it's very, very clever communication to paint it as something that you have to believe in, because it implies that your current belief system is inadequate or incorrect. And getting people to switch their belief system, getting them to convert, is very challenging, you're not going to get a lot of people converting. But if you show people that who they already are, if they are a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or Buddhist or whatever, whoever they are, they already believe that we are to care for or protect or be good stewards of nature or creation, they already believe they might not practice it, but they believe that we are to care for those who are less fortunate than us, and have mercy on those who are suffering. Those are already in almost every major world religion that we have. And so if we show people that climate action is entirely consistent with who they already are, it reinforces their identity rather than attacking it. And so that's, it may seem like a very small nuance, but it's a really important one for communication and messaging. Because asking somebody to fundamentally alter who they are, versus showing them that caring about something is consistent with who they fundamentally are. Those are very, very, very different asks. That make sense?

Cielo Sharkus

Yeah, that absolutely makes sense for me. I love how you described before that you keep on going, because what's at stake is worth it. And that's why you have to keep going. This implies you going against what your head is telling you to stay safe and do the comfortable. And rather, just go after what you think is right. In your book, and in a lot of your talks, you say this a lot, getting out of your head and into your heart to start this conversation about climate change. And that's so different than what they tell us as scientists and engineers. So I just want to ask why our hearts and not our heads? Why shouldn't we listen to our heads all the time scientists and engineers?

Katharine Hayhoe

Well, you're totally right. That's what we're taught. And as scientists doing science, we definitely need to be doing it with our heads. It was Plato who originally proposed the idea of the ideal man, someone who functions completely rationally, only based on logic and facts. And it would be great if we all functioned like that. But you know what we don't, not even scientists. When it comes to issues that are near and dear to our hearts, to our identity, to our values to who we see ourselves to be, we act from our hearts just as much as anybody else. And so when we're talking about climate change, we've spent 150 years, 150 years we scientists have spent telling people that climate change is real, that it's human caused, and that the risks are serious. Did these facts change people's minds? Did they spur them to action? Not much, not enough. Why not? Because it was all head, not heart. The way that we think, and there's a really good book on this called “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt, the way we think moral philosophers and psychologists have found is, we actually make up our mind about things first, based on what people we respect and identify with tell us. And then we engage in what's called motivated reasoning to find the reasons that explain why we're right. And today on YouTube, you can find the reasons to explain why anything is right. So when we understand that, when we understand that people form their opinions based on what their groups believe, and then look for the reasons to justify it, we realize that providing more reasons why they're wrong, it just makes people dig in further. Whereas if we can talk to their heart, if we can say, you are a parent, you're a good parent, you care about your child more than anything. Well, did you know that climate change affects your child's health? So as a good parent, clearly this matters to you? Then the person's like, oh, I didn't know that. Yes, of course, I'm a good parent. And yes, if this affects my child, of course, I do care about it. But if you just went and said to them, without any respect to who they are, what they care about, if you just said, you should care about climate change, if you don't care about climate change, you should. What you're doing is you're subtly communicating, you are a bad person with incorrect values, and you need to change who you are in order to be acceptable. And that is a completely different message than saying, you're a good person, you have great values, and the only reason you probably didn't care about climate, you don't think you care about climate change, just because you haven't connected the dots. And I'm sure that once you do connect the dots you understand and this will be part of who you are. That's again, a completely different message, isn't it?

Azmal Hossan

Like I'm privileged to be your mentee, to be a student in your class, and to learn about climate change from you. So what is your experience in your career, working with your mentees? And how has this impacted your work or your perspective?

Katharine Hayhoe

So the class, the first class that you took with me is one that I still teach today. But since COVID, I moved it online and now many more students can take it. I think I have 40 students taking it now as opposed to, yeah, as opposed to maybe 10 or 12, when it was offered in person and that class on the science, the impacts, the policies, and the communication of climate change. I deliberately created that class so that it would be accessible to students in any field at the university. So as you know, you took it when you were a sociology student, right? And I have students who take it who are in education, or English or engineering or natural resources, or law or business, I make that class for anybody in any discipline to be able to take because I'm absolutely convinced that we need everybody to help fix climate change. Students often ask me, I want to do something to make a difference, what should I study? And my answer is, study whatever you're good at, whatever you enjoy, whatever you're passionate about, because we need everybody's skills to help fix this thing. We need good lawyers to help change the laws that keep us dependent on fossil fuels, and keep us from accurately assessing climate risks. We need people who are really good at communication, because communication is a huge part of what we're doing. We need people who can assess the economics of clean energy policies and of climate risks. We need people, engineers who can design smart solutions for our water and our infrastructure. We need people in every field who can contribute to understanding this problem in the medical field as well, because climate change is a health crisis. So the good news is that whoever you are, whatever you are interested in whatever you're good at whatever you care about. First of all, whatever you care about is being affected by climate change, whether you know it or not, and our health is at the very top of that list. And second of all, whatever skills and abilities and interests and talents and passions you have, you have something unique to contribute to helping to solve climate change.

Azmal Hossan

I love that you highlight that everyone can contribute to the problem, no matter your skills or interests. My next question is what advice or suggestions would you give to young students, particularly young women, or marginalized students to tackle this problem of climate change? How can we start now?

Katharine Hayhoe

Well, the first thing we can do, and this is exactly what my book talks about, the first thing that we can do is using our voices, to talk about why it matters, and to talk about solutions. Solutions that we can do ourselves solutions that our other universities might be doing. Remember, in the class that I taught, you're supposed to pick an organization that you're part of, a city, or somebody I think once pick their yoga studio or their gym, and I think you pick the university, Azmal, I can't quite remember, and then compare what they're doing to other ones, and then get ideas and then say, hey, go to your university, or go to your school, or go to whatever you're part of and say, hey, did you know that there's this other organization over here this like us, and here's what they're doing? Maybe we could do that too. The power of working together collectively is so enormous. And how do we activate that power? By using our voices. It's also really, really helpful to look for and find an organization one or more organizations that share our interests and our values. So we can connect with them, we can plug in with them, we can get to know like-minded people, when we're feeling down, we have people to help build us up and encourage us. When they're feeling down, we can give them an extra hand too. But together, we can make a difference in whatever we're interested in. So there's organizations like the US Green Building Council that architects can join. Those organizations like Protect Our Winters that winter athletes can join. There's organizations for parents, I am part of an organization called Science Moms, and there's the Moms Clean Air Force as well. There's organizations for young people like the Sunrise Movement. There's organizations for Christians, like the Young Evangelical Climate Actions, or Young Evangelicals For Climate Action, or Catholic groups, or green Muslims. There's groups for all different people. And I would encourage people to seek one of those out, find them, connect with like-minded people, and help add your voice to the chorus that's calling for change.

Azmal Hossan

Yeah, thank you. And I think this is quite similar question we have, the last question. Like, if we look at the history of environmental justice movement in the United States or in the Western world, we will find that this movement was heavily like, leaded by white, male person. So there are a lack of women, there is a lack of people of color, in the participation of environmental justice movement. How important, according to you, is diversity and inclusion, for climate science and science communication.

Katharine Hayhoe

It's, it's very important for multiple reasons. First of all, very practically speaking, social science has shown that the more diverse set of voices you have at the table when you're talking about solutions, especially solutions to wicked, big problems like climate change, the the more robust and creative solutions you come up with. I mean, it just makes sense. If everybody's coming from the same perspective the same background, the same culture, the same education, then you're not going to get the full range of ideas, you're only going to get a narrow set of ideas. So just in terms of practicality, we need voices that represent different experiences, different cultures, different life values and priorities. We need those all at the table together. First of all, but second of all, when we're talking about justice, who is it who disproportionately suffers from the impacts of climate change and pollution? It is women and children, especially in low-income countries, it is people who live below the poverty line, it is people who, especially in in North America, brown and Black neighborhoods, it is Indigenous people, Native Americans, First Nations and more. It's the people whose rights have been taken away, who often don't have access to, you know, basic health care and even clean water, even here in North America, whose right to vote is often suppressed or made more difficult. It's like this is just one more thing pushing them down. And so, don't their voices need to be involved in the solutions? It's a colonialistic attitude, for you know, the white person to come in and save the world. That's the way people thought in the 1800s. It's not the way we need to be thinking 2021, today. People who are personally experiencing the impacts today, their experience has much more value because they actually live it, than anything else theoretical study that we're doing of what's happening to them. But of course, as a scientist, I'm a little biased here. But of course, studying something is important because it brings in the big picture. Our lived experience is one version of it. But looking at the big picture, we can compare across cities, we can compare across countries, we can look for solutions. But those solutions to be effective have to be co-developed with the people who need them. If you just develop a solution and come in and give it to them. It's like developing a solution for somebody who is disabled without their collaboration, and then just handing it to them. And they're like, well, this doesn't really exactly work for my situation. Why didn't you ask me when you were developing this and I could have helped you. That's really what we need to be doing. Because we don't have time to be wasting our time on things that don't work, we need the most practical, most valuable, most viable solutions. And for that we need every single voice at the table.

Cielo Sharkus

Thank you so much. This was extremely powerful and inspiring. I'm sure that it will be very inspiring as well for all of the fellows and students who will be listening to our podcast later. Thank you so much for taking the time to come with us. I think that was our last question. Azmal, do you have anything else to add?

Azmal Hossan

No, I think we are done with our questions. And I feel so privileged to have Katharine in the conversation and I definitely feel that it is one of the memorable case in my in my career. Yeah. Thank you so much.

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