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Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

"[Saving Us] is best read in faithful community – wherever two or more are gathered – whether a community of climate action enthusiasts, the quietly curious, the global warming skeptics or those without an opinion simply seeking to follow Jesus."

Katharine Hayhoe
Atria/One Signal, 320 pages
Published September 21, 2021

What was the most hopeful thing you read this week? This year? Good news seems in short supply and hope is rarely the default setting. Yet, Katharine Hayhoe’s Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World is a gospel-filled anthem for one of the greatest challenges of our era: a changing climate in the hands of a deeply divided world.

It’s rare to find a book with the potential to reach just about anyone, but Saving Us does. It is best read in faithful community – wherever two or more are gathered – whether a community of climate action enthusiasts, the quietly curious, the global warming skeptics or those without an opinion simply seeking to follow Jesus. There is even room for the entirely dismissive. Better yet, bring together representatives from all of the above who are committed to active and compassionate conversation, across generations.

Hayhoe opens the conversation with questions like: Who are you? What and who do you love? Who are your neighbors and what do they love? She observes that “when you find out what people care about, and connect climate impacts directly to the values people have, they can see that caring about climate change is already integral to who they are.” Hayhoe is a climate scientist, after all, and scientists generally have an affinity for facts and the stories they tell. She shares the facts but explains that they are not enough; fear, guilt and other human emotions that make us who we are cannot be dismissed. However, Hayhoe is clear that we ignore our changing climate at our peril. She leads us into the abyss, because we cannot face what we do not first know, but she does not leave us there.

The good news is that there are countless ways out, none of which suggest we “go it alone.” Solutions require “collective action, and that means changing the system.” Change requires widespread cooperation, creative and innovative solutions, and a willingness to embrace unity in diversity. Individuals making personal choices to bike to work, drive a hybrid, recycle and compost, and turn off lights will not change a broken system. Those may be ethical and faithful choices, but global action is required. The miracle of Hayhoe’s book is that she makes systemic change seem not only tangibly possible, but even easy. She will inspire you to confidently incorporate fancy words and solutions like “cap-and-trade,” “carbon pricing” and “net-zero carbon emissions” into your everyday, newly climate-active life. Fossil fuel alternatives are just so cool, you will want them all for Christmas!

Hayhoe offers a taste of what the future could be if we act together to steward this world God gave us. But you will need to find your people, your way forward. No book can do that for you. What emerges instead is a hope that begins “by recognizing the risk and understanding what’s at stake.” It is a hope that emerges from an empty tomb, rises from ashes and births a love that casts out fear. That is a hope worth working, praying and living for.

Presbyterian Outlook supports local bookstores. Join us! Click on the link below to purchase Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World from BookShop, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. As an affiliate, Outlook will also earn a commission from your purchase. 

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