The Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment has announced that Katharine Hayhoe will be the keynote speaker for the 2018 Colloquium on the Environment. Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist studying climate change and its impacts on human systems and the natural environment. The event will take place on Nov. 15 and is free and open to the public. The location will be announced at a later date.
Hayhoe has appeared at high-profile events such as the White House’s “South by South Lawn” event in 2016, where she discussed climate change with President Barack Obama and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. She also was named one of Fortune’s world’s greatest leaders in 2017.
Tom Richard, director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, said Hayhoe has played a crucial role in both advancing the science of climate change and in communicating that understanding to sometimes skeptical audiences.
“Professor Hayhoe is a climate scientist with an extraordinary ability to meet people where they are,” Richard said. “We often talk about the global climate, but climate is local, too. Hayhoe is one of the premier experts in downscaling climate models and generating high-resolution predictions for a state or region. She uses that knowledge to remind us of the climate change we have already experienced, and to inform us what further climate change will mean to our children’s children. Her practical, fact-based, and personal approach opens hearts, and in turn, opens minds.”
Hayhoe was at the forefront of spreading awareness in her home state of Texas to a resistant local audience. She is now considered by many in her field to be one of the most effective advocates for climate change awareness and its threat to humanity.
Paul Shrivastava, Penn State’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Penn State Sustainability Institute, said Hayhoe is skilled at getting her message across to the general public.
“Hayhoe stands out in her field when it comes to communicating about climate change,” Shrivastava said. “She is a gifted communicator who offers lucid evidence-based scientific explanations in a language that can be understood by all.”
Hayhoe is perhaps most famous for her positive, nonjudgmental attitude when educating the world on climate change. As an Evangelical Christian, Hayhoe believes that acceptance of the facts of global warming can go hand-in-hand with faith. She and her husband wrote a book on the subject called “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions,” published in 2009. The second edition of the book will be available in August 2018.
More recently, Hayhoe has been involved in a number of projects that will spread the word to a broader audience. She writes and produces a PBS Digital Studio short series titled “Global Weirding: Climate, Politics, and Religion.” She also has contributed to recent documentaries, such as “Years of Living Dangerously” for the National Geographic Channel.
Hayhoe is a professor at Texas Tech University, which includes teaching graduate courses and research. She is the director of Texas Tech's Climate Science Center and the founder and CEO of her own company, ATMOS Research, which works to provide information on the future of climate change to businesses.
Her work has appeared in publications such as the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s “Second National Climate Assessment;” the U.S. National Academy of Science report, “Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia;” and the 2014 “Third National Climate Assessment.”
The Colloquium on the Environment is supported by the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, the Sustainability Institute, and the Office of Physical Plant. This is the 13th Colloquium on the Environment. Past colloquia featured speakers such as Paul Hawken, Naomi Oreskes, Majora Carter, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.