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Looking After Creation

Acclaimed physicist Sir John Houghton discusses his motives and passion for a cooler world climate.
2006This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Mark Twain may or may not have said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Sir John Houghton is trying to do something about it. As a result, the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan has awarded him the prestigious Japan Prize for 2006.

The 74-year-old physicist is recently retired from a long career in researching the physics of climate and weather. During that time, he has been a physics professor at Oxford University, the chief executive of the U.K.'s Meteorological ("Met") Office, and chair of the scientific assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He began to work on the effects of carbon dioxide emissions purely as an interesting physics problem. Eventually, he came to see it as his Christian duty to study the potential results of significant climate change. He has played a key role in gathering international groups of scientists, government representatives, and businesspeople to study the signs of global warming and to advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert the worst effects of climate change.

How has your Christian faith energized your work?

I gave my first lecture on carbon dioxide increase in about 1967, because I happened to be interested in the physics of the problem. It wasn't until the '80s that it became clear that it was a potential problem for humankind. And it wasn't really until I began to work with the IPCC [formed in 1988] that I began to realize the importance of this from a Christian point of view.

We have a strong Christian responsibility to care for the earth and every part of creation. We also have a very strong Christian responsibility to care for each other in the world, our neighbors in other countries, especially ...

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