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How to Talk About Climate Change Across the Political Divide


In 2005, Katharine Hayhoe, a Canadian climate scientist and evangelical Christian, moved from South Bend, Indiana, to Lubbock, Texas, a flat expanse of arid grassland that sits at the edge of the Permian Basin, and is one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world. Her husband had been offered a position as a linguistics professor at Texas Tech and a job as a pastor at a small local church. The opportunity was too enticing to decline, so Hayhoe tagged along as the academic plus-one, securing a position as a research professor of geosciences at Texas Tech. One day, a colleague asked Hayhoe to give a guest lecture in his geology class on the carbon cycle—the way carbon travels between water, Earth, and the atmosphere. Soon after, she stood in the dark pit of a windowless lecture hall, before some hundred students, and described how volcanoes, erosion, and the shifting of tectonic plates affect carbon. In the last few minutes, Hayhoe addressed the fact that, since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Out of the darkness, a student rose to his feet. “Are you a Democrat?” he asked, in […]

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