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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Global Weirding

By Phil Plait

It’s impossible not to see that this election has become hyperpartisan; a split so wide the gulf seems unbridgeable. How can someone like me—a socially progressive nontheist—ever even hope to be able to communicate the most important issues to someone who is far, far to the right of me?

One way, I’d wager, is when I’m actually talking with someone like that is to not be a dick, and to treat them with respect.

But that assumes I even have a foot in the door, that they’d listen to me in the first place. If that door is closed in the first place, it can be very tough to open.

That’s one of the reasons I am such a big fan of Katharine Hayhoe. She, like me, is a vocal advocate about the reality of global warming, and the actions we must take to slow and stop it. But unlike me, she's devoted her life to this: She’s an atmospheric scientist. As a group they overwhelmingly understand what’s going on, but more importantly than that, on this topic, she has a huge, huge advantage over me: She’s an evangelical Christian.

For her, that door is open. She can go to churches, to religious schools, and to other venues generally considered to be conservative and perhaps not as willing to hear me out.

And so she does. I support her enthusiastically in this, and I’m happy to point you to her new web series, “Global Weirding,” where she talks about this. Here’s the first episode:

Like it? The second episode talks about the history of our understanding of global warming, why it’s not natural, and why it’s so critical we take action now. More to my point, the third episode is about how Texas can lead the way on climate change. Yes, Texas.

As she says, “Climate change isn’t just an economic challenge; it represents a great economic opportunity to wean ourselves off our old and dirty ways of getting energy, and replace those with clean renewable energy sources that we can grow here at home.”

As dire as our situation is, I have hope, and it’s in part because of her, her message, and her ability to deliver it. In the U.S. election coming so soon, there is a clear choice between Donald Trump, who says global warming is a hoax, and Hillary Clinton, who acknowledges its reality and wants to do something about it. Trump must be defeated, for a list of reasons so long it beggars belief. But his defiance of the reality on this topic is very high on that list.

I don’t know where Dr. Hayhoe stands on a lot of issues that are important to me, to be honest. And also to be honest, in many ways it doesn’t matter. The most important issue to me is global warming, and on that we stand arm in arm.

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