Saving Us by Katharine Hayhoe review – across the climate crisis divide

Saving Us: A Climate Scientists' Case for Hope and Healing In a Divided Earth is a book about climate change that is not exaggerated. While most of the existing literature is useful for readers already interested in the topic, this book by Katharine Hayne, a world-renowned climate scientist, could spark a huge increase in interest.
Hayhoe is an accomplished public speaker. Saving Us is a continuation of her Ted Talk in 2018. Talking about climate change is the most important thing you can to do. This entertaining lecture on science and communication is a masterclass in the art of communication. It discusses the dangers facing humanity as well as the magnitude of the task of avoiding catastrophic consequences.

She has spent a lot of time speaking to audiences around the globe and is now a Texas Tech University professor. A committed Christian, she has earned a reputation for her ability to bridge the most extreme political divides. Her writing is so reasonable that it is hard to believe anyone could disagree with her.

One of the most refreshing aspects of this book, however, is Hayhoe's recounting of her successes as well as her failures to communicate. Through which, she has assembled evidence of what works and what doesn't.

While much of the advice in the book is simple-sense, there are some insights that may seem counterintuitive. These insights are supported not only by Hayhoes' experience, but also by solid research from psychologists and other social scientists.

Hayhoe warns against shameful behavior. Photograph: Ashley Rodgers

It is important to note that exposing more facts about climate change could actually lead to increased polarization among those who refuse the evidence. Hayhoe describes the attempt to shame people into making changes as a zero sum game. This is because we know that when others try to impose their values on us, it is all about making ourselves feel better.

She also points out guilt as an incentive to change, but she adds that it can be shut down, just like fear.

The author warns against engaging with the Dismissives who are angrily opposed to the idea of human-caused global warming as a threat. They are more open to conspiracy theories and misinformation than the rest. In the US, where she is focusing her attention, only 7% of the population falls into this category. Dismissives are also present in the UK. However, they make up a smaller percentage of the population. A recent survey revealed that only 4% of them are not concerned about climate change.

Amusing stories of her interactions with the Dismissives include an engineer who was skeptical about the evidence, and an older man who was not convinced. The book is filled with inspiring accounts of how she won over even the most skeptical crowds. Her motto is "bond, connect, and inspire", which represents her desire to always find common ground.

She also recounts the story of a man who approached them after attending a London event in 2019. After being inspired by her Ted Talk, he began to talk to everyone in his borough of Wandsworth. He gave her details of the 12,000 conversations that had occurred as a result. He claimed that they had helped convince the council to declare climate emergency and switch investments from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

So, even though it might seem difficult to influence Cop26's outcome, which begins today, Hayhoes inspiring book makes the case that everyone can do their part to make Cop26 a success by simply talking about the issue.

Bob Ward is the policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science.