Global Warming – is it real and what should we do?

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Sir John Houghton.

The expert who dubbed global warming a “weapon of mass destruction” will present the scientific evidence for global warming and outline the actions required to halt climate change at a public event in St Andrews this week.

Meteorologist Sir John Houghton predicts that disaster awaits if action is not taken to combat man-made global warming. He will explore the moral and theological obligations that he believes we should all address.

Former chairman of the Scientific Assessment Working Group for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for 14 years and a former director of the Meteorological Office, Sir John will present the fifth lecture in the James Gregory public lecture series on Science and Religion.

Sir John will explain why he believes the situation is on “red alert”, highlighting the urgency of the problem of climate change, and emphasising the need for the issue to become recognised both by the public and by politicians.

Talking in advance of the lecture, Sir John explained, “One cabinet minister 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.”

According to Sir John, a long term strategy would pose challenges for scientists, policy makers and Christians.

He will also describe the social obligations of individuals, claiming that we can all become better informed about the issue, changing our attitudes and sharing responsibility.

Sir John said, “There are some actions that all of us can take.  For instance, we can ensure our homes and the appliances or car we purchase are as energy efficient as possible.

“We can buy ‘green’ electricity, shop responsibly, use public transportation, car-share more frequently, recycle our waste and create as little waste as possible.”

Sir John 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. During the 1970’s Sir John was Principal Investigator for Space Experiments on NASA Spacecraft.

The lecture will take place at 5.15 pm on Thursday 19th February, 2009, followed by a Reception until 7 pm in the Younger Hall, North Street, St Andrews. The lecture is free of charge and open to all.



Sir John Houghton is available for interview via the press office – contacts below.

Professor Eric Priest is available for interview on 01334 474 975 (home), 01334 463 709 (work) or 0771 772 1821 (mobile).

Co-organised by Professors Eric Priest (Mathematics) and Alan Torrance (Theology), the James Gregory lecture series provides an ambitious Scottish forum for scientists, theologians and members of the public from different faiths to address major issues of joint concern. It has tapped a vein of public interest, attracting record audiences (estimated 600 people per lecture).

Described as a ‘vision for a better world’, the ambitious series of twelve lectures over a four year period brings some of the world’s top experts to St Andrews to explore the natural tensions between the two subjects. Launched last year the series is supported by funding from the John Templeton Foundation and is named after James Gregory, one of the University’s most famous sons who invented the Gregorian telescope and was one of the founders of calculus.

For further information on the lecture series, visit




Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 467227, Mobile: 07730 415 015 or Email: [email protected]
Ref:  Global warming 180209
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