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Katharine Hayhoe
 on July 25, 2017

Christians and Climate Science: Moving Beyond Fear to Action

If we believe we’re called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God,” then caring about a changing climate, and those already suffering its impacts, is part of our calling.


I believe in God. I believe he created this amazing planet we live in, and gave us responsibility, stewardship, and dominion over it. I believe God delights in his creation and wants us to delight in it as well. And I believe we are to love others, especially the poor, the vulnerable, and those most in need—just as Christ loved us.

I’m a Christian – but I’m also a scientist. I spend my days studying how climate change is affecting us, in the places where we live. Rainfall patterns are shifting, sea level is rising, and weather is getting weirder: when we add them all up, there’s more than 26,500 separate lines of evidence that the planet is warming.

Nearly two hundred years of meticulous scientific studies has established that global warming is not a natural cycle this time: it’s because of us. And my own research demonstrates the severity of the consequences for all of us, particularly those less fortunate than us who are already suffering. We care about a changing climate because it exacerbates the risks we face today: hunger, poverty, disease, and injustice.

Yet when we hear Christians discussing climate change, often the predominant responses are negative: hostility, anger, or simply just apathy, a stew of toxic emotions underlain by fear. Fear of losing an ideological or political identity ; fear of rejection by our family, our community, or even our church; or fear of losing our comfortable lifestyle in search of what’s right and just.

As Christians, we have a litmus test for these emotions. Because, as the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). So when we see Christians responding in fear, we know that’s not who we’re meant to be.

What gifts does God give us? Power, to effect meaningful, long-term change. Love, to share God’s heart for our brothers and sisters who are hurting and in need. And a sound mind to look at the reality of what is happening in our world and acknowledge that yes, climate change is real, it’s serious, and we need to fix it.

As Christians, if we believe we’re called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God,” then caring about a changing climate, and those already suffering its impacts, is something we’ve been created to do. It’s who we are.

If you have questions about the science of climate change, chances are that has an answer for you.

For more on why climate change matters, check out the rest of my “Global Weirding” series here.

About the author

Katharine Hayhoe's Headshot

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change, one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. But Katharine may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and Christians—work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself. She has recently been named Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy. She’s been named by Christianity Today as one of their 50 Women to Watch and currently hosts the PBS digital series, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion. Katharine is currently a professor and directs the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois.

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