Talking about climate change will help fix it

By Erin Liebeck

Climate change is a threat multiplier, said an atmospheric scientist who believes that climate change will continue to affect the planet if something isn’t done about it soon.

“The number one thing we need to do is talk about it (climate change),” said Katharine Hayhoe. “Talking about it is really important.”

On Wednesday evening, Hayhoe spoke in front of a crowd of 250 people at Schofield Auditorium on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. She spoke as part of the university’s 76th Forum Series. Here, she focused on what individuals can do to stop the vicious cycle of the changing climate.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist, spoke about climate change as part of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Forum Series. © 2019 Erin Liebeck

In addition to being an atmospheric scientist, Hayhoe is a professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, according to Hayhoe’s website.

Hayhoe’s work in climate science has earned her numerous honors. She was named one of Fortune magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders in 2017. As well as earning the 2018 YWCA Woman of Excellence in Science award and the eighth Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication.

During her speech, Hayhoe said that she believes that nearly everyone cares about the changing climate, they just don’t realize it. Hayhoe stresses that individuals need to connect the dots about why climate change matters.

“Many people believe that in order to fix climate change, we need to go back to the stone age,” said Hayhoe. “This is absolutely not true.”

Hayhoe said that many individuals believe that the solutions to climate change pose a threat to society. She added that they think the solutions are too pricey and will destroy the economy.

However, Hayhoe said affordable solutions, such as reducing food waste, can help fight against climate change.

During her speech, Hayhoe also stressed the importance of the conversation of climate change. She said that nearly 59 percent of people in Eau Claire believe that climate change is caused by human activity, yet a majority of individuals say they never talk about it.

Fear is not going to motivate individuals, Hayhoe said while talking about how to get individuals to make a change for a better climate. The world needs to have hope and a vision of a better future.

“Without hope, our self-fulfilling prophecy is doom,” said Hayhoe.

 She explained how climate change not only affects individuals currently living, but how it will affect future children, animals, plants and nature.

Across the globe efforts have been made to stop climate change. China has been investing in clean energy and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide they are emitting into the atmosphere. Hayhoe added that China has also shut down all their coal plants around Beijing.

Hayhoe also said that in Texas, the Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport became North America’s first carbon neutral airport.

Organizations, such as Apple Inc. are now powered by 100 percent renewable energy and Walmart plans to be powered by 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, Hayhoe said while talking about organizations that are taking a stand against climate change.

Audience member Carin Keyes said the forum helped her realize that solutions for global warming can be positive and affordable.

To Keyes, Hayhoe’s work is astounding.

“She is influential on all levels of her work,” Keyes said.

Hayhoe’s work in climate change has helped individuals and organizations evaluate the potential impacts of climate change, according to Hayhoe’s website.

She explains that change is happening, it is just not happening fast enough.

“We often picture this problem as a boulder on the bottom of a hill,” Hayhoe said. “But in reality, that boulder is already at the top of the hill. And it has millions of hands on it, pushing it down. It just isn’t going fast enough.”

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