With Valentine’s Day approaching, two such national efforts with strong Texas connections have been putting a major emphasis on hearts.
Valentine’s tie-ins are nothing new in the worlds of public education and policy advocacy. Perhaps the most prominent and unsurprising synchronization with the holiday of love is the American Heart Association’s designation of February as American Heart Month.
In the climate arena, a coalition with a religious orientation, the San Francisco-based Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), organized its third annual National Preach-In on Global Warming to take place this past Friday through today, Feb. 10-12. The project over Valentine’s Day weekend is one way the group seeks to “protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all.”
Meanwhile, the new Climate Nexus organization, a communications-focused New York-based initiative of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has been promoting its Valentine’s-themed “I Heart Climate Scientists” campaign via social media to counter “hate mail and threats” that some of those researchers have been receiving.
Congregations of various denominations were planning to participate in the preach-in in 10 Texas cities – Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler, El Paso, Sherman, Lubbock, and College Station, Amanda Yaira Robinson, coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light, the Austin-based affiliate of the group, told Texas Climate News.
The Texas affiliate, one of 39 IPL groups in that many states, says it “helps congregations of all faiths in Texas take action to reduce global warming and air pollution through energy conservation and renewable energy strategies.” It is a project of Texas Impact, an interfaith grassroots network that works to advance public policies in various areas “within the broadly held social concerns of mainstream religious traditions.”
IPL provided clergy participating in this year’s preach-in with materials including “denomination-specific liturgical and thematic notes to help in the preparation of sermons, reflections, devotionals, Bible studies, and youth activities,” “ready-to-go sample sermons on global warming” and “printable Valentine’s Day postcards for policy makers”
Robinson, a member of an Austin Jewish congregation, said she collaborated with a Texas rabbi on the resources provided to Jewish participants in the preach-in.
The “I Heart Climate Scientists” effort encourages social-media messages of support and appreciation for several scientists who have recently been recipients of hateful and sometimes threatening emails.
One is Katharine Hayhoe of the Texas Tech University faculty, who has received a flood of often-venomous messages after being targeted by conservative commentators who attack the conclusion of the vast majority of mainstream climate scientists that human activities emitting greenhouse gases are harmfully changing the earth’s climate.
In addition to her scientific work, Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, has gained prominence for her activities aimed at persuading fellow evangelicals and other Christians to embrace the idea that fighting global warming is consistent with their faith.
One message on the “I Heart Climate Scientists” Facebook page encourages her to keep up her efforts in spite of the negative attention she has received, sometimes including angry messages from correspondents asserting that their climate-change skepticism reflects a true reading of Christian scripture and teaching:
“Dear Katherine Hayhoe, it is amazing how ignorant and hateful people can be (while still claiming God as their ally). Never mind the idiots, just keep on doing what you are doing!!!”
Hayhoe posted a response to such good wishes on Twitter:
“This just makes me feel all warm & fuzzy–early valentine’s day wishes from the “I heart #climate scientists” fb page.”
A separate Facebook page, titled “We Support Katharine Hayhoe,” has been established, with this description by its founders:
“Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist who has been receiving hate mail because she states that climate change really is happening and that human activity is the most significant factor in this change. We want to support her and encourage her to continue to educate people about climate change so that wise and responsible decisions can be made for our future. We encourage her to continue her work in love for God, people and all creation.”
– Bill Dawson