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Nobel Prize Winner to give Public Lecture

There is no more pressing and controversial a subject than “Global Warming” and one of Wales’ most eminent scientists has been invited to deliver the Annual Chaplaincy Lecture on “God, Science and Global Warming".

Sir John Houghton, CBE FLSW FRS, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007, will deliver the lecture which takes place on Wednesday November 24th, at 7:00pm in Bangor University’s Main Arts Lecture Theatre. The lecture is free and open to all.  Sir John Houghton at the University recentlySir John Houghton at the University recently

This invigorating lecture opens a new Annual Chaplaincy Lecture series, which will invite prominent academics to explore the interface between religion and current hot topics. 

Sir John Houghton, has been a massive figure in scientific circles for many decades now.  Educated originally at Rhyl Grammar School he went on to Oxford where he eventually became Professor of Atmospheric Physics. He was Chief Executive of the Met Office from 1983 until 1991 but it is as Chair of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ) that he has been most prominently in the news. It is probably the most important scientific working group of recent years and, of course, has proved controversial.

He is uncompromisingly outspoken in his warnings, having famously been quoted as saying, “the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a "weapon of mass destruction"”. His concern is for the next generations. “It is our children and our grandchildren who will experience the impacts of climate change,” he says. “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.”

Sir John has retired to Aberdyfi, where he is an elder of his local Presbyterian Church. His religious faith figures strongly in his opinions and writings, and he is comfortable debating such questions as the origins of the universe or the significance of human consciousness.

Baptist Chaplain to Bangor University, Revd. Peter Cousins, is delighted that such a prominent figure is to deliver the inaugural Annual Chaplaincy Lecture. “There’s no more pressing debate than Global Warming,” he says, “and no British scientist is better placed to talk about it. He will bring to the lecture not only his insights and experience as an Atmospheric Physicist, but also his warmth and spirituality as a practicing Christian.”

Publication date: 12 November 2010