Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe Shares Hope for the Holidays

For Immediate Release

Sophia Chapin, Communications Specialist
The Piedmont Environmental Council, 540-347-2334 x7022

Delaplane, VA. (Dec. 22, 2021) – Over 70 people, from Fairfax to Winchester, gathered at the Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery in Delaplane on Saturday, Dec. 18 to hear from Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, renowned climate scientist and author of the recently published book Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. The Texas-based author read aloud from her book, detailing Yale’s Six Americas and its implications for climate change communication. In conversations on climate change with those of differing opinions, she said “the key is what we have in common, not what divides us.” Further, it’s important to “always talk about positive, constructive solutions,” she said, “because the number one thing we need these days is hope.”

The event was hosted by the Blue Valley Ladies Book Club and co-sponsored by The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), Old Town Open Book and Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery. Open Book sold 87 copies of Saving Us to those in attendance; more are available for purchase at the independent bookshop on Warrenton’s Main Street. “I was thrilled to represent the Open Book at this event and learned a lot from Dr. Hayhoe,” said bookseller Alison Zak. “In addition to being a book nerd, I am also passionate about nature, very concerned about climate change, and an advocate for the role of beavers in climate change mitigation.”

During her talk Hayhoe emphasized the importance of joining together with others to take collective action on climate change, like starting a local group that addresses food waste, petitioning institutions to divest from fossil fuels or participating in community science projects. “A great message on finding common ground and common cause,” said Piedmont Environmental Council President Chris Miller. “Climate action is not in conflict with better quality of life, our health or economy. When we add native plants along our streams and rivers in an effort to improve drinking water, we also restore habitat, reduce the heat island effect and take carbon out of the atmosphere,” Miller said.

a man wearing a mask stands next to a smiling woman
Hayhoe posed for a photo with PEC’s President Chris Miller. “They’re a great example of using your voice,” she said of the community-based organization. Photo by Sophia Chapin/PEC

Audience member Dr. Samantha Adhoot, founder of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, gifted Hayhoe a mask with Virginia’s warming stripes, a visual representation of annual temperature change from the 1800s to today. “That’s a great way to start a conversation,” said Hayhoe, “and I love that it’s Virginia.” Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a non-partisan grassroots organization, and The Nature Conservancy, for which Hayhoe is the Chief Scientist, were also present.

A Q&A session with Hayhoe inspired questions, big and small, such as “When are we going to reach a tipping point with our political leaders?” and “How do I talk with my family about climate change over the holidays?”. With each answer, Hayhoe offered not only good advice but an affirmation that everyone can make a difference in addressing climate change.

“Katharine’s genuine enthusiasm and patience for finding common ground with our neighbors brought forth so much authentic conversation from the audience,” said one attendee, “I was blown away.”

When challenged on how she addresses arguments on the climate impact of raising cattle or international travel, Hayhoe noted that climate solutions will create more choice, rather than less. “I hear people [from both sides of the political spectrum] say the only solution to climate change is to stop doing everything,” she said, “and my point is, we need to do everything smarter and better.” For example, airlines can switch to plant-based, net-zero emissions fuel, and consumers can buy local, sustainably-sourced food from farmers that manage their pastures for carbon sequestration. These solutions cut the emissions from extracting crude oil and raising beef internationally, which is tied to tropical rainforest deforestation. By avoiding all-or-nothing framing of action and encouraging self-determination, Hayhoe argues that all of us can get on board with climate solutions, no matter who we are. “[These solutions] help us be a more genuine version of who we want to be [as individuals and as a society],” she explained.

Later on, with books and wine in hand, audience members lined up to meet Hayhoe and have their copies signed. Many briefly chatted with her about who the copies were for, intended as holiday gifts for friends and family, and their experience reading the book.

“After listening to Katharine, I’m convinced that she can connect with anyone on the planet about climate change. […] Her book, Saving Us, has the power to be as influential on human-environmental awareness and action as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,” said Warrenton resident Kim Bridges.

close-up of Katharine Hayhoe signing a book
The Open Book, based in Warrenton, sold 87 copies of Saving Us at the event—stop by their independent bookshop on Main Street to get a copy and support local businesses during the holiday season.