Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World – Book Excerpt

Katharine Hayhoe’s 2021 book is aimed at addressing climate change and highlighting the importance of discussing it and becoming educated on the matter. In a multilayered fashion, she touches on how individuals of different backgrounds and beliefs can still come together and fight for the same cause while backing it up with research and personal stories.

Climate solutions are complex and multifaceted. Our response to the challenges climate change poses to our world, our identity, and our way of life are even more so. But the first, crucial step forward is simple. There is one simple thing that we can all do:
Talk about it.

A year or so ago I was reminded just how powerful this can be. I’d just finished a lecture at the London School of Economics and was heading up the aisle of the underground lecture hall when an older man named Glyn approached me. He said that he lived in Wandsworth, a borough of London, and had taken the train in specifically to hear me speak. He’d watched my TED Talk called The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change Is Talk About It, and it had inspired him to have conversations about climate change with people in the borough where he lived.

I was amazed. Hearing that something I’ve done has made a difference—even just to one person—is why I do what I do. I sometimes get discouraged, and his words meant more to me than he knew. But Glyn wasn’t done yet. He’d started keeping a record of all the people who’d joined in with these conversations, he said. “Would you like to see the list?” he asked.

“Of course!” I said, surprised. I’d never heard anything like that before. He reached in his leather satchel and pulled out a stack of papers. I’d been expecting about seventy or eighty names. But his list recorded over ten thousand names. Now it’s upwards of twelve thousand (I checked back in with him before writing this). Twelve thousand conversations about climate change in a single English city borough, all because of one man watching one TED Talk about how important it is that we talk about why climate change matters to us and what we can do about it.

And that wasn’t all. His borough had just voted to declare a climate emergency, he said—because of the conversations they’d had. Now, two years on, they’ve also divested from fossil fuels, invested in renewables, and just before COVID they announced they’d be spending £20 million on their new environment and sustainability strategy. You can do what Glyn did: use your voice to talk about why climate change matters to you, here and now. Use it to share what you are doing, what others are doing, what they can do. Use it to advocate for change at every level—in your family, your school, your organization, your place of work or worship, your city or your town, your state or your province. Use it to vote and to inform decisions your school, your business, your city, and your country can make. Talk about it in every community that you are part of and whose values and interests you share.

Talking may sound simple, almost too simple. But here’s the thing: most of us are not doing it.

About the Author

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on understanding what climate change means for people and the places where we live. She is the Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy and a Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Professor of Public Policy and Public Law in the Dept. of Political Science at Texas Tech University. Her book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” has been released in Sept 2021 and she also hosts the PBS digital series Global Weirding, currently in its fifth season. Katharine has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, the United Nations Champion of the Environment, and the World Evangelical Alliance’s Climate Ambassador. 

About the Book

Excerpted from Saving Us, published by One Signal/Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2021 by Katharine Hayhoe. Pages 215-216 Reprinted with permission.

The book is available from your favorite bookstore or order:

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