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World renown scientist speaks to ORU students about climate change

“No, I don’t believe in global warming because faith, or belief, is the substance of what we hope for and the evidence of the things not seen,” said Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a world-renowned climate scientist. She spoke in the Zoppelt Auditorium on April 17 to talk to students about climate change.

“And clearly, science is the substance of things here and now of what we can observe,” said Hayhoe.

Often referred to as a climate communicator, Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist.

Hayhoe was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2014, amongst others like Beyoncé, John Green and Barack Obama, and in 2017, she was one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a world-renowned climate communicator, spoke on campus April 17. | Photo by De’ja Bunyan

For Hayhoe, she doesn’t accept global warming on faith. She looks at data, analyzes models and helps city managers and ecologists quantify the impacts of global warming. The data shows, she said, evidence of the planet warming.

So who is responsible? Hayhoe explained that science clearly points toward humans, and scientists have carefully examined all the other natural suspects such as the sun, the earth’s natural cycles, volcanoes and more.

“Every season has been warming since the 1950s, and our winters have been warming faster than any other season,” said Hayhoe.

Hayhoe addressed those who might argue and say that the scientists are faking the data.

“If scientists have been faking data, they would have had to been faking data since the 1600s,” said Hayhoe. “That’s how long we have been collecting temperature and thermometer data all around the world.”

She further explained that if people are still not convinced by any of the scientific data collected, there is still proof of the earth warming by the evidence of God’s creation that anybody can see with their own eyes.

“Why does it matter to us?” asked Hayhoe. “Because when you think about global warming, what’s the number one image that comes into your head? It’s big, it’s furry and it’s usually sitting on a piece of ice, looking sad. It’s a polar bear.”

She then asked if anybody had ever seen a polar bear out in the wild with their own eyes. No one at the event raised their hand.

“Exactly. No wonder we don’t think this matters if the number one symbol is a polar bear on ice. So why do I care about the changing climate? I care about a changing climate because we humans are metaphorically sitting there on that shrinking piece of ice. We are the ones at risk, and I believe that we are to love others,” said Hayhoe.

How does climate change affect people? Hayhoe explained that climate change affects people because it takes many natural risks that humans may face and intensifies them.

Climate change takes heat waves and makes them more powerful and harmful. It takes heavy rainfalls and “supersizes” them as the air becomes warmer, thus holding more water vapors. So when a storm comes about, the multiplied water vapors are swept and dumped back on the earth. Climate change worsens hunger, intensifies water shortages and  increases diseases.

“I care because I believe God has given us responsibility for the welfare of every living person, which includes plants, animals and people. And I care even more because it disproportionally affects the poorest and most vulnerable among us,” said Hayhoe.