On April 5, 300 people gathered at First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville for a presentation by climate scientist and evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe.
Katharine was uniquely able to make the clear connection between science and faith on the subject of climate change. She explained climate change in simple language and well-understood metaphors and made a strong case for why Christians should care about and act on climate change.
Katharine argued that faith and science are not in direct competition and are not two alternate systems of beliefs. Climate change is an observable scientific fact, and “whether you believe in climate change or not, or whether you believe in gravity or not, if you step off the cliff, you’re going down.” In her speech, she reviewed the substantial evidence and scientific observations that show that climate change is real and happening now.
A charge often levelled against climate scientists is that they are “alarmist”. Refuting that characterization, Hayhoe showed that when you compare the past 20 years of climate projections against the past 20 years of climate data, that the projections have been too low. Rather than being alarmist, scientists have been too cautious, too conservative. Scientist “suffer from ESLD, we error on the side of least drama,” she explained to chuckles from the crowd.
Despite this, polling has shown that the public opinion is turning against the scientific consensus, and that opinion is divided less by religion but by political and cultural/social identification. These divisions must be bridged because “climate change doesn’t just affect all of us, it takes all of us to fix it.”
Katharine reinforced Pope Francis’ understanding that slowing climate change is about loving our global and local neighbors more fully. Those who attended left the event with a better understanding of the science, a sense of renewed hope, and tips on how to talk to others about the challenges ahead.
This event was organized by the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina, a program of MountainTrue. We’d like to thank our generous sponsor, Krull & Company (now Earth Equity Advisors), socially and environmentally responsible investment management and financial planning – and our other partners: Green Sage Cafe, Climate Listening Project, Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Asheville Chapter, and the Wild Goose Festival.
If we’re going to act in time to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to bridge political and ideological divides. This event is an example of the role that the Creation Care Alliance can play in our community as a convener of people of faith and a facilitator of that necessary dialogue.
Skeptical Science – This site was recommended by Katharine as a great summary of responses to frequently asked questions about climate change and climate science
“Why Evangelicals are Rallying for Climate Change Action in North Carolina” – Article in Urban Christian News
The Asheville Citizen Times published this editorial piece by Scott Hardin-Nieri reflecting on the importance of the Pope’s address to the U.S. Congress in light of his recently published encyclical on the environment. In the editorial, Scott describes some of Western North Carolina’s faith communities’ response to the Pope’s urgent call to care for creation. Read the full piece on the Asheville Citizen Times site here.
Longtime member and one of the original founders of the Creation Care Alliance, Richard Fireman, recently wrote this opinion piece published in the Asheville Citizen-Times stressing the economic urgency of responding to the threat of climate change.