"Theological Responsibility" for Climate Change

Apr 17, 2015

Evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to be climate change skeptics, according to a November 2014 report from the Public Religion Research Institute. But one Evangelical Christian disagrees. 

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She says it's frustrating that people see religion and climate science as mutually exclusive.

"God gave responsibility of this planet and every living thing on this planet, including plants, animals and humans, to us. Theologically speaking, Christians should really be at the forefront of this issue, not dragging their heels at the back."

She says that if you control for age and political conservatism, the religious bias drops out.

"It isn't that Evangelicals and conservative Christians are predisposed to doubt climate change, it's that very conservative and, by and large, older as opposed to younger people, doubt it. And they tend to be more conservative Christians."

Hayhoe believes in order for real action to take place, the focus has to shift to the values we already care about, "not some new treehugging' values."

"The reason why we care about climate change isn't about polar bears, it's because what it's doing to us, right here in the places where we live, how it's affecting our economy, our national security, our health, and our livelihoods."

On this News Buzz segment of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Hayhoe about how climate science affects Iowa in particular. She will be presenting her lecture, “Climate Urgency and How Iowa Farmers and Businesses Can Take the Lead,”at Iowa State University at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, April 22nd.