RTCC: You strike me as someone who isn’t necessarily a polarising character….
Hayhoe: I don’t see myself as being on any one side of this divide, but what people are doing is forcing a decision. I put myself squarely in the middle – my husband is a pastor, a Christian author and I share most conservative values with people.
I’m a Christian myself but at the same time I am a climate scientist, and I study what’s really going on in the world, which I believe the truth has been revealed in God’s creation…so these are terms that people can identify with.
I am a person in the middle, but for some people that is not an acceptable place to be. You’re not allowed to be in the middle, you’re not allowed to bridge the gap – unfortunately that’s one of the risks of what I do.
...Hayhoe: Oh my goodness – that’s not a hyperbole at all. For example, with this freedom of interest request, they were trying to show that I was an activist, because I wrote a book chapter in my field to be published by an academic press.And by that token any professor can be called an activist, and that’s a very dangerous, slippery road to be on.....
I open up my mail in the morning and delete 10, read one, delete 10 more, read one. There are blogs that are devoted to blogging about how I’ve lied about X, Y and Z. Somebody filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission in the UK stating I had lied, by saying that winter temperatures in Texas are getting warmer, which they certainly are.
The abuse, the virulence, the hatred is astonishing. And much of it is coming from people who share much of the same values as I do, and that’s what is so hurtful about it. It’s a wholestyle rejection – you can be right for 99/100, but if you differ on point 100 you deserve anything that people give you.
...But I think it is a little unusual for this to be happening to a woman, and also to someone who is trying to bridge the gap...I feel like what has happened to me is that it is unacceptable for anyone to be moderate, to be sensible, to be logical, to be conservative and in the middle.
It’s unacceptable right now for anyone to be in the middle, so everybody is being pushed to one side or the other, being stereotyped or caricatured really. It’s happening everywhere, in every form.
"A one- or two-degree increase in the world's temperature may not seem like much," [Hayhoe] tells the students in the chilly auditorium, most paying attention rather than sleeping or texting. "But think of your own body when your temperature goes up by one and a half degrees. It means you're getting sick."