'Climate Change Is Not A Hoax': Christian Scientist Pens Open Letter To Donald Trump

Climate scientist Dr Katharine Hayhoe with outgoing President Barack Obama and actor Leonardo di Caprio at the White House last month.Reuters

A prominent Christian climate change scientist has called on the President-elect to work with other countries in support of the Paris agreement.

In an open letter to Donald Trump, atmospheric scientist Dr Katharine Hayhoe pleads with him to accept that climate change is "real" and not a hoax.

Hayhoe, associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center, writes: "You've given a voice to the fear and anger, the anxiety and frustration of millions of US citizens. That surprises us, shocks us, and even scares us too.

"But to heal a suppurating boil, we can't just slap some cover-up on it. It has to be lanced. And my hope, from the bottom of my heart, is that by doing so, you will start the healing process.

"I'm a climate scientist. Thanks to decades and even centuries of careful research, we know climate is changing, we're responsible, and the impacts are serious.

"I've helped write US national climate assessments that document how climate change is affecting the country's water, its energy, ecosystems, infrastructure, and even people's health.

"This thing is not a hoax; it's real."

The issue of climate change has divided evangelicals among themselves and also from the rest of the population in the United States. Overall, seven in ten US adults believe global warming is man-made, but among evangelicals, four-fifths do not think humans have caused it.

Donald Trump is a climate change denier. His advisers during his campaign included Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a prominent oil and gas man and a climate change sceptic. 

Reuters reported this week that Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax and is looking for a fast way to exit the accord so he does not have to implement the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Hayhoe, who is from Toronto and is married to Church Without Religion pastor Andrew Farley of Texas, describes herself as an evangelical Christian. Seven years ago, Hayhoe wrote a chapter of a book by Trump advisor Newt Gingrich about climate change. The chapter was first accepted, and subsequently dropped on the request of Gingrich himself.

Hayhoe writes in her letter to Trump: "I think I speak for many in the US, in Canada, and around the world, when I say that you've surprised us, you've shocked us, and you've even scared us. Why? Because your words and your actions will affect us all."

She says climate change isn't fair, and disproportionately affects the poor and the weak, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

These are the very people who contributed least to the problem but bear the brunt of its impacts, she writes.

She urges Trump to "work together instead of tearing each other apart".

In her latest Global Weirding video, posted the day after the election, she says research shows that a person's view on climate change can be predicted by which party they belong to. The physics used to determine global warming is the same physics as that used to design Boeing aircraft, yet no-one accuses aircraft designers of perpetrating a hoax. "The science isn't political. We get the same results, whether we're Republican or Democrat."

Earlier this month, Hayhoe told The Observer that she would be "alarmed" if Donald Trump won the election.