Support Provided ByLearn More

The Way I Think Of It

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as featured reporting about current events through a science lens.

Click here for Katharine’s profile.

You know the routine. Split screen. Two so-called experts from opposing sides of an issue wildly screaming to be heard over each other. Neither one listening at all. Finally, the host comes in and wraps it up nice and clean and tidy. And cut to a commercial. Buy a car…a six-pack…or a Bump-It.

Support Provided ByLearn More

One of the things we love about Katharine Hayhoe is that she embodies both sides of one of those split-screen scenarios—she is a climate scientist encouraging folks to take better care of the Earth (that is, if we want it to remain inhabitable)… and she’s a devout evangelical Christian.

Now based on what I usually see on the teevee machine, Katharine should clearly be at war with herself.

But she isn’t, not even a little bit. She explains:

The Way I Think Of It-kath_and_telescope-7.jpg
Young Katharine with birthday cake and telescope

“As far back as I can remember, my father was teaching me about the world around us—whether it was memorizing all of the birds that we would see in our backyard, or keeping an eye out for all of the rare wild flowers that there are in Ontario, or the giant telescope that we dragged with us on most of our family vacations. But at the same time, from the very beginning, as he taught me about the world, he also taught me that it was the result of a God who created it. And the more I study the world, the more it seems to me that that is the case.

“I love figuring out how things work. It just gives me enormous satisfaction to figure out what makes something happen in a certain way, or what different pieces go into making something happen…. And so that is what I love about science, putting those pieces together and really figuring out—at least, the way I think of it—what God was thinking when he put all those pieces together for the first time.”

As a scientist who has spent long hours learning how those pieces fit together, Katharine wants you to understand these facts about climate change—it’s happening, we’re responsible for a substantial amount of it, and we’d better change our ways NOW. Her religious beliefs obviously help fuel Katharine’s scientific inquiry and her work as a “climate change evangelist.” You may or may not share those beliefs, but Katharine isn’t asking you to share them anyway. What she is asking is that you share her compassion, for the current and future residents of the planet we call home.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.