Foreword by Sir John Houghton
Climate Change is now generally recognized as perhaps the biggest and most challenging issue facing our planet. I am writing this on the day after the Committee of the Nobel Peace Prize announced their 2007 award jointly to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their work in raising awareness of the issue and its implications for the future of our world. The Fourth Science Assessment Report of the IPCC was published in February of this year and spelt out even more strongly than before that climate change due to human activities is really happening and will have dire consequences for the environment and especially for the world’s poorest people.
To mark the publication of this latest IPCC Report, BBC Radio 4 arranged for their Sunday morning worship service on the 11th February 2007 to come from Jesus College, Oxford where Margot Hodson is Chaplain. It was a privilege and pleasure to join with her in organising the service in which many students took part – the occasion is mentioned at the end of Chapter 10 in their book. In it we worshipped God for the wonder of creation, talked about our scientific understanding of climate change, repented for the devastation that we humans are causing within many parts of creation and committed ourselves to prayer and the challenging action necessary to prevent further damage beyond that to which we are already committed. What was particularly moving about the occasion was the bringing together within an overall atmosphere of worship the wonder, the science, the theology and the practical action.
Our modern lives tend to be so compartmentalized – science, technology, religion, economics, environment and ethics all treated and thought about separately. What Margot the theologian and Martin the scientist have done in this book is to weave together many different aspects of the contemporary environmental crisis. They explain in a readable and inspiring way, how this integration has been realized in the context of their own personal journey of learning and faith. Their journey began some years ago with a strong conviction of environmental concern but increasingly they have become aware of the enormity of the problems that we now face – problems that demand the application of spiritual as well as material resources for their solution. They finish the book, as we did the Jesus College service with a strong message of hope. I urge you to join them in this journey as you read their book.
President, John Ray Initiative
13 October 2007
Sir John Houghton is President of the John Ray Initiative. He has held positions as chairman or co-chairman of Scientific Assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 1988-2002, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Oxford, 1976-1983, Director General and Chief Executive of the UK Meteorological Office, 1983-1991, Chairman of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 1992-1998, member of the UK Government Panel on Sustainable Development, 1994-2000. He has received numerous awards including the Japan Prize, Fellowship of the Royal Society of London and the International Meteorological Organisation Prize. His publications include The Physics of Atmospheres (3rd edn. CUP, 2002), Global Warming: the Complete Briefing (3rd edn. CUP 2004) and The search for God. Can science help? (2nd edn. JRI 2007).
In December 2007, Sir John was amongst the IPCC delegation in Oslo that received the Nobel prize that they shared with former Vice-President Al Gore.