John T. Houghton
|John T. Houghton|
Sir John Houghton speaking at a climate change conference in 2005
|Born||30 December 1931
|Institutions||University of Oxford|
Sir John Theodore Houghton CBE FLSW FRS (born 1931) is a Welsh scientist who was the co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) scientific assessment working group. He was the lead editor of first three IPCC reports. He was professor in atmospheric physics at the University of Oxford, former Chief Executive at the Met Office and founder of the Hadley Centre.
He is the chairman of the John Ray Initiative, an organisation "connecting Environment, Science and Christianity", where he has compared the stewardship of the Earth, to the stewardship of the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. He is a founder member of the International Society for Science and Religion. He is also the current president of the Victoria Institute.
Born in Dyserth he moved to Rhyl at the age of two and attended Rhyl Grammar School where he discovered his interest in science which he pursued by attending Jesus College, Oxford. He was brought up, in Wales, as an evangelical Christian by devout Christian parents and has remained a strong Christian throughout his life and sees science and Christianity as strengthening each other and believes strongly in the connection between Christianity and environmentalism. Houghton's evangelical Christianity combined with his scientific background has made him a significant voice in evangelical Christian circles. Winning the support of Richard Cizik one of the most prominent Evangelical lobbyists in the United States is a notable example of how Houghton has had a significant effect. He is currently an elder at Aberdovey Presbyterian Church.
Houghton is currently Honorary Scientist of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research at the Meteorological Office; Honorary Scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory; a Trustee of the Shell Foundation; and Chairman of the John Ray Initiative.
Previously Sir John was
- a Member of the UK Government Panel on Sustainable Development (1994–2000)
- Chairman, Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1992–98)
- Chairman or Co-Chairman, Scientific Assessment Working Group, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1988–2002)
- Director General (later Chief Executive), UK Meteorological Office (1983–91)
- Director Appleton, Science and Engineering Research Council (also Deputy Director, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)(1979–83);
- Professor of Atmospheric Physics, Oxford University (1976–83).
During the 1970s he was also Principal Investigator for Space Experiments on NASA Spacecraft.
Awards and honors 
- Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2009)
- Japan Prize (2006)
- International Meteorological Organization Prize (1999)
- American Meteorological Society, Honorary Member (1998)
- Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal (1995)
- Global 500 Award, under the United Nations Environmental Programme (1994)
- Climate Institute Annual Award (1992)
- Bakerian Prize Lecture of the Royal Society, (1991);
- Symons Memorial Medal, Royal Meteorological Society (1991)
- Glazebrook Medal Institute of Physics, (1990);
- President of the Royal Meteorological Society (1976–1978)
He has received Honorary Doctorates of Science from the Universities of Wales (1991), Stirling (1992), East Anglia (1993), Leeds (1995), Heriot-Watt (1996), Greenwich (1997), Glamorgan (1998), Reading (1999), Birmingham (2000), Gloucestershire (2001), Hull (2002) and Dalhousie (2010). He is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and of University of Wales, Lampeter and is also a Founding Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.
His publications include
- Does God Play Dice? 1988, Intervarsity Press
- Global Warming, the Complete Briefing, 1994, Lion Publishing (2nd edition 1997, Cambridge University Press; 3rd edition 2004, Cambridge University Press
- The search for God; can science help? 1995, Lion Publishing
- Physics of Atmospheres, 1977. 2nd edition 1986, 3rd edition 2002, Cambridge University Press.
- Climate Change, the IPCC Scientific Assessment, eds J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums, 1990, Cambridge University Press
- Climate Change 1992, the Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment, eds J.T. Houghton, B.A. Callander and S.K. Varney, 1992, Cambridge University Press
- Climate Change 1994, Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and an Evaluaion of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios, eds J.T.Houghton, L.G.Meira Filho, J.Bruce, Hoesung Lee, B.A.Callander, E.Haites, N.Harris and K.Maskell, 1994, Cambridge University Press
- Climate Change 1995, the Science of Climate Change, eds J.T.Houghton, L.G.Meira Filho, B.A.Callander, N.Harris, A Kattenberg and K.Maskell, 1995, Cambridge University Press
- Climate Change 2001, The Scientific Basis, eds J.T.Houghton, Y. Ding, D.J.Griggs, M.Noguer, P.J.van der Linden, X.Dai, K.Maskell, C.A.Johnson, 2001 Cambridge University Press
||This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (May 2010)|
In 2003 he wrote:
|“||As a climate scientist who has worked on this issue for several decades, first as head of the Met Office, and then as co-chair of scientific assessment for the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a "weapon of mass destruction".||”|
As co-chair of the IPCC, he defends the IPCC process, in particular against charges of failure to consider non-CO2 explanations of climate change. In evidence to, the Select Committee on Science and Technology in 2000 he said:
|“||We do try, in the IPCC, to look very hard at alternative explanations, and spend, actually, probably more time than we should on some of them, because they get so much publicity. We actually spend more time, for instance, on the solar variations, about which we have very little real scientific evidence but which some people have exploited in the media a great deal...||”|
He has accused countries such as Saudi Arabia, fed information by American coal and oil lobbyists, of attempting to subvert the IPCC process:
|“||The IPCC tries to ignore those political differences and tries to make sure that, in IPCC meetings, those political differences do not influence the debate. Now that, of course, is quite difficult, because, not so much with the USA but with the oil countries, in particular Saudi Arabia and some of the oil-producing countries, who are strongly fed with information by the American lobby, actually, the American coal and oil lobbyists, they can be very difficult, in some of these meetings, because they try very hard to weaken, or to change, or to alter, scientific conclusions. But, so far, we have been able to, I think, successfully resist those influences, because we stick very firmly to a presentation of the science, not the political interpretation of that science.||”|
In further evidence, he agreed with the statement that most of the scientific objection to the consensus is actually from vested interests within the oil/coal lobby, rather than from scientists. When asked his view of green groups such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, as to whether they have they been generally responsible, or have they exaggerated the argument for their own purposes, he replied that
|“||They vary from one green group to another, but some of the green groups are really very responsible. They do tend to emphasise, of course, the larger effects. On the other hand, some green groups have produced documents which are really exaggerations...||”|
John Houghton also applies a Christian perspective to his views, to emphasise the need for long term thinking. In 25 May 2001, in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge, he said:
|“||...why we should be concerned about climate change. It is a problem that is well downstream; many of us will not be much affected ourselves but it is going to affect our children and our grandchildren... It is our children and our grandchildren who will experience the impacts of climate change. I remember in 1990 when the first IPCC report came out, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher showed a lot of interest... one of the cabinet ministers asked me, "When's all this going to happen?" I replied that in 20 or 30 years we can expect to see some large effects. "Oh" he said, "that's OK, it'll see me out". But it won't see his children or grandchildren out. Christians and other religious people believe that we've been put on the earth to look after it. Creation is not just important to us, we believe also it is important to God and that the rest of creation has an importance of its own... we are destroying forests, important forests. When I say "we" I mean "we" the human race of which we are part. We are party to the destruction, we allow it to happen, in fact it helps to make us richer. We really need to take our responsibility as ‘gardeners' more seriously.||”|
|“||Creationism is an incredible pain in the neck, neither honest nor useful, and the people who advocate it have no idea how much damage they are doing to the credibility of belief.||”|
|“||If we want good environmental policy in future, we'll have to have a disaster. It's like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there's been an accident.||”|
He also said in that interview
|“||God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same.||”|
Falsely attributed 
In a November 2006 article in Australia's The Daily Telegraph, journalist Piers Akerman quoted Houghton as saying "Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen", attributing the quotation to his 1994 book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing. This has since been quoted by many sceptics, including Benny Peiser and Christopher Monckton, and is listed at the top of the front page of Christopher Booker's The Real Global Warming Disaster. However, the quotation does not appear in any edition of Houghton's book. Houghton has never said any such thing and believes the opposite. The publishers of The Real Global Warming Disaster, The Continuum International Publishing Group, have apologised for the reference to that quotation, confirmed (in addition to Booker's confirmation) that it will not be repeated, and have agreed to place a corrigendum in any further copies of the book. In an article which appeared in The Sunday Telegraph on 20 February 2010, Christopher Booker purported to correct the misquotation contained in The Real Global Warming Disaster but this article contained yet further inaccuracies. As a result, Houghton referred the matter to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC Reference 101959). Following the PCC's involvement, The Sunday Telegraph published on 15 August 2010 a letter of correction by Houghton stating his true position. An article supportive of Houghton also appears in the 21 May 2010 edition of New Scientist.
It is possible Piers Akerman was misquoting the comment from the 1995 Sunday Telegraph interview above and thus gave the wrong source, too.
- "DSc for JRI Chairman" at The John Ray Initiative website
- "The Christian Challenge of Caring for the Earth" at The John Ray Initiative website
- Bio details heavily drawn from bio at the Faraday Institute
- John Houghton (2003-07-28). "Global warming is now a weapon of mass destruction". London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- "House of Commons - Science and Technology - Minutes of Evidence (Questions 20-39)". H.M. Government. 2000-03-15. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- "House of Commons - Science and Technology - Minutes of Evidence (Questions 40-59)". H.M. Government. 2000-03-15. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- "St. Edmunds College Lecture Series: International Action about Global Warming". Christians in Science. 2001-05-25. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Science 15 August 1997: Vol. 277. no. 5328, pp. 890 - 893; "SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY: Science and God: A Warming Trend?" Gregg Easterbrook, p.891 lower page, center column
- by johnadams. "Is God trying to tell us something?". John Adams. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
- "Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist", The Independent, Wednesday, 10 February 2010, retrieved 2010-02-10
- "Article by Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph, "What the weatherman never said"", The Daily Telegraph, Friday, 20 February 2010, retrieved 2010-02-10
- "Letter by Sir John Houghton in The Sunday Telegraph, 15 August 2010", The Sunday Telegraph, Sunday, 15 August 2010, retrieved 2010-01-09
- ""Living in denial: Unleashing a lie", Jim Giles, New Scientist, 21 May 2010", New Scientist, May 2010, retrieved 2010-01-09
- "Global warming is getting worse - but the message is getting through" (August, 2004) and "Global warming is now a weapon of mass destruction" (July, 2003) from The Guardian
- Overview of Climate Change, 2002
- Global warming - science, impacts and politics, lecture 2001
- Evidence to Select Committee on Science and Technology, 2000
- Biography; publications list