In Memory of Sir John Houghton

Tribute to Sir John Houghton, 1931-2020

It’s with sadness that we have learnt that Sir John Houghton has died on April 15, 2020, at the age of 88, from complications from Covid-19.

Sir John was a climate scientist – an atmospheric physicist – and a lifelong Christian. He was born in Dyserth, North Wales, and after attending Rhyl Grammar School was awarded a place at Jesus College, Oxford, to read physics. After gaining his doctorate he had a distinguished academic career, including becoming Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Oxford University; Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution; chairing the Scientific Assessment Working Group at the IPCC; Chief Executive of the Met Office; Principal Investigator for Space Experiments on NASA Spacecraft, among many other achievements. He won many awards for his scientific work.

Sir John was a profoundly committed Christian; for him science and faith strengthened each other. He was influential in churches across the world, being trusted by conservative churches in America at a time when many were sceptical of the reality of global warming. He spoke at churches and Christian gatherings, such as our own conference in 2002 – see account of his talk here

Sir John was also Chairman of the John Ray Initiative, an organisation which connects environment, science and Christianity.

John was generous with his advice and his moral support in the early days of Operation Noah.  Paul Bodenham, former Chair of Green Christian, recalls: ‘John spent many hours, over many years, touring churches in Britain and the United States, making the case for Christians to act on climate change.  It was a ministry in which he was quietly tenacious, and I was struck by the integrity with which he spoke, fully both a scientist and a disciple.  He was opening speaker at the launch of Operation Noah in 2004, while it was still a project of Green Christian, and featured in the campaign video which followed.  It is no exaggeration to say that John was instrumental in the churches in the UK finding their voice on climate change.’

Sir John will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. He was a man of deep integrity and truth telling, combined with Christian faith and humility, and his total commitment to both Jesus and science. We thank God for his life.



Author: Paul Strickland | Date: 18 April, 2020 | Category: News | Comments: 5

Comments on "In Memory of Sir John Houghton"

Sir John Houghton (1931-2020) – The John Ray Initiative:

February 22, 2021

[…] Green Christian […]

John Twidell:

May 26, 2020

Sir John was Chair of the appeal to buy St Michael's House in Oxford for the North Oxford Overseas Centre. My wife and I worked with him and others for this and we were successful. Following the purchase, Sir John chaired the Management Committee that appointed a Warden and accepted overseas students and their families. NOOC has a Christian basis and relates well to nearby churches. Much time and personal involvement was given by Sir John; he led from the front. Now some 50 years later, NOOC is thriving with committed staff and self funded from rental income.

Paul Strickland:

April 23, 2020

This is a tribute in the Church Times

Stephanie Boucher:

April 19, 2020

I remember him as a humble man. A great loss, but also a life well lived.

Anthony roper:

April 18, 2020

A brilliant man who explained things that even the likes of me could grasp. Sad to hear

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