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Feb
15
2010

Is God trying to tell us something?

Sir John Houghton thinks so. Former director of the Met Office, former chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and former co-chair of the International Commission on Climate Change he is an influential voice in the global warming debate. He is currently demanding, in a letter to the Observer, an apology from Benny Peiser, a man-made global warming agnostic who, he claims, has put words in his mouth that he has never spoken:

“I demand from Dr Peiser an apology that he failed to check his sources and a public retraction of the use he made of the fabricated quotation.” The particular words complained of are “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen”.

I have no evidence that he has ever spoken, or written, this specific sentence. But on the subject of disasters he has in the past made similar, divinely inspired, comments about disasters and global warming:

·      “God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same.”

·      “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

These quotations are from an interview entitled “Me and my God” in the Sunday Telegraph on 10 September 1995.

Sir John, in this interview, is also quoted as saying: “God does show anger. When he appeared to Elijah there was earthquake wind and fire. Our model is Jesus. He was a man as well as being divine and he certainly showed anger.”

Clearly missing from the  IPCC’s impressive body of expertise is that of theology.

See Is God Green? for an earlier commentary on this subject. For those with online access to Nature, the published version can be found here.

14 comments

9 pings

  1. doobie says:

    Very interested indeed. As an aside, would be asking too much of you to reproduce the whole text of Sir John’s “Me and my God” piece?

    It’s really quite something, is it not.

  2. Drew says:

    Doobie
    you can see a scan of the original article at Prof Stott’s blog here:
    http://web.me.com/sinfonia1/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Entries/2010/2/16_Quote_Unquote.html

  3. doobie says:

    Thanks Drew, but there doesn’t appear to be any more of the “Me and my God” text at that link than our host has linked to above.

  4. bigcitylib says:

    Yes, is there a version that shows the whole article somewhere?

  5. Timo van Druten says:

    I would not be surpised if the quote “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen” has never been stated by Houghton, but the combination of the different quotes in this article is telling.

    Also the quote “The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident” I find quite remarkeble. Most humans are risk avoiding unless they know the risk is inevitable, unavoidable and has a natural cause (e.g. Climate Change).

    Thanks prof. Adams

  6. AusieDan says:

    Apparently Sir John did say:

    “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

    Now what did he meant by that?

    I take it that he meant that if there is no disaster in the future attributable to AWG, then we won’t have a “good” environment policy, at anytime in the future.

    If there is no future disaster, then he seems to be saying that not enough people will believe there is a need for a “good” environmental policy.

    He also seems to be saying that as there has not as yet been any such disaster, then not enough people see the need for a “good” envirentmental policy at present.

    Have I go that right?

  7. JMurphy says:

    Yes, why is the scan of the article in question so incomplete ? Either you have the article and have cocked-up the scanning or…what ?

    Could you provide a scan of the whole article, please ?
    **************************************************************

    Sorry. This is a PowerPoint slide that I made for a lecture about 14 years ago discussing the beliefs, convictions, prejudices and superstitions that participants in the global warming debate bring to the table. Long since lost the original. Not much appears to have changed over the last 14 years. JA

  8. Sebaneau says:

    And yet the whole envirofascism movement is based on the premise that this is a closed, self-contained universe, that nothing can be added to it –the progress of human knowledge notwithstanding.

    That is why they believe that whatever we consume now we “steal” from the future generations –which almost the same people think nothing of enslaving through deficit spending and “pay-as-you-go” pension schemes.

    Whereas Malthus, the initiator of this fallacy in the science of wealth, was a Pastor, the idea that we are all going to die as “natural resources” disappear, is besed on a fundamental rejection of the fact that all wealth is, um, er, well, say… CREATED by the human mind.

  9. JMurphy says:

    Thanks for the reply but I have to tell you that you are being reported as actually having the original cutting – and you know how these things can be used to suggest something which isn’t true…as John Houghton can tell you !

    “Professor Adams has unearthed, from his vast store of newspaper records, The Sunday Telegraph of September 10, 1995,(*)…”

    “*John now informs me that he even made an annotated Power Point slide of the article, which he has found again through his Mac search facilities.”

    http://web.me.com/sinfonia1/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Entries/2010/2/16_Quote_Unquote.html

    Perhaps you should inform that blogger that you have only (not ‘even’) the ‘annotated Power Point slide of the article’, and not the article itself.

    I am still wary of any partially-copied originals, though, even if there is nothing more to see that is of interest. I’m just suspicious that way…

  10. Gerry says:

    Apart from anything else, Sir John’s comments are pretty unscriptural – in Luke 13:4, Jesus rejects the idea that disasters and accidents are the vengeful acts of an angry God. Too many Christians forget that when it suits them to use God as their personal hitman.

  11. Clamour of the Times says:

    To John and to JMurphy: I have now corrected the blog re the Power Point slide, and provided download links to it. I was only being academically-humorous re the archives, but as everybody now takes this debate so very seriously and so very ponderously, and trusts nothing, I thought I should amend as suggested by JMurphy. Thanks.

    I suppose (despairing hope!) that sanity may return at some time to our discussions of climate change.

    Philip

  12. JMurphy says:

    Philip wrote : “I suppose (despairing hope!) that sanity may return at some time to our discussions of climate change.”

    Very unlikely in the short term, which is why everyone now needs to be precise and accurate in everything they say and write.
    I have found that those who are most sceptical of AGW itself (not just its implications) are always finely scanning statements, even single words, for slip-ups, hidden intent, conspiracy, etc., so everyone should do the same to everyone else and everything to do with climate change.

    Good of you to make the changes, anyway.

  13. Harry Eagar says:

    Does this mean the alarmists will stop equating climate skeptics with fundamentalist Christians?

    We can only hope (the closest I can get to a Christian outlook).

  14. Cliff Maurer says:

    I recall reading a Rolling Stone article- before 2006- in which John Houghton was quoted. He emphatically stated that some recent weather events were climate change disasters.
    Does he now deny that he ever indulged in that kind of hyperbole?

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