I contacted Scott after reading a profile of his work in The Guardian, ‘Within minutes I was weeping’: the US pastor using scripture to mobilize climate action. The story spoke of someone leading by creating meaning and purpose:
He’s not alone: across the US, there is a growing movement of religious leaders who are trying to deploy faith as a vehicle for climate action. And Hardin-Nieri’s own journey toward climate activism began when he lived in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and witnessed how different faith communities – from Catholics to Quakers – came together to fight climate change.
“It wasn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” he says. “It was a life issue.”
Longtime readers know I’m increasingly working with evangelicals, conservatives, and Trump supporters. Go far enough back and the impetus comes from reading former guest Jonathan Haidt‘s The Righteous Mind. I recommend it for understanding and collaborating with people with different values.
Most environmentalists seem to view them as the enemy. I don’t. We all vote. We all buy stuff and pollute. Believing you’re right and they’re wrong undermines your ability to influence them.
I’m no Dalai Lama, but I’ve learned that the more I disagree with someone, the more I can learn from them. Over the years, I’ve learned they care about the environment as much as anyone. I’ve also learned liberals and many environmentalists don’t pollute less than conservatives. They insist on passing laws against what they do in personal behavior.
So I wanted to learn from a guy acting and practicing. I imagine he’s succeeded. And quotes like this one suggest he’s faced challenges.
Hardin-Nieri says he is “still learning” about how to best talk to conservatives about climate change, but he remains hopeful.
“Climate change is a symptom of a larger moral problem of greed,” he says. “Faith communities, at their best, can address those things in a way that a solar panel industry cannot.”
You’ll hear that we learned from each other. I think you’ll learn from the conversation too.