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Photo of Ashley Rodgers
Photo by Ashley Rodgers

World Changer

Katharine Hayhoe is one of the world’s top voices for climate action

In April, Katharine Hayhoe (BSc 1994 Victoria) was named to the 2014 Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people. Currently a professor and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, Hayhoe conducts research to assess the impact of climate change and to help develop more informed policies. “We quantify the impacts human activities have on our world,” she says, “and communicate those impacts to everyone who will be affected – from the inhabitants of low-lying islands on the other side of the planet to the kids at the school right down the street.”

A Christian and a scientist, Hayhoe was chosen for the Time list because of her role as an “environmental evangelist,” reaching out to conservative and Christian audiences with the message of Christians’ responsibility to care for people and the planet.

Hayhoe had been on track for a career in astrophysics until she took a U of T geography class from Prof. Danny Harvey. “That marked the turning point in my education and my career,” she says. “Climate science is, at its core, nothing more than applied physics. I still remember my complete shock when I realized that my physics and astronomy classes gave me the perfect foundation to study climate change. I was also surprised to find out how big the problem of climate change was, and how urgent.”

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