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A Christian Challenge & Opportunity
A presentation by
Sir John Houghton
to the
National Association of Evangelicals
Washington DC
March 2005
Stewardship of the Earth
“We have a full repairing lease on the Earth.
With the work of the IPCC, we can say we have the
surveyor’s report; and it shows … the repair work needs
to start without delay.”
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the opening of the Hadley Centre 1990
What is Global Warming?
The Greenhouse Effect
Solar radiation
Past and future CO2 atmospheric concentrations
The Impacts of
Global Warming
Sea-level transgression scenarios for Bangladesh
Adapted from Milliman et al. (1989).
Exceptional European Heat Wave: Summer 2003
Temperature Anomaly ºC, June-August 2003
Deviation from
1961-1990 mean
Based on ECMWF
and ERA-40
by standard
(Schär et al. 2004, Nature, 427, 332-336)
Irrigated cropland appears red
in this satellite photograph,
made over the Nile where it
flows through the Sudan. In the
past 70 years, a variety of
irrigation projects have
increased the agricultural
productivity of this dry region.
More than half of the increase in
the world’s agricultural
productivity during the past few
decades has come from
From PR Crosson and NJ Rosenberg, 1989
Major floods in 1990s
• 1991, 1994-5, 1998 - China,
average disaster cost 1989-96, 4% of GDP
• 1993 - Mississipi & Missouri,
flooding area equal to one of great lakes
• 1997 - Europe, 162,000 evacuated and > 5bn $ loss
• 1998 - Hurricane Mitch, 9000 deaths, economic loss
in Honduras &Nicaragua 70% & 45% of GDP
• 1999 - Venezuela, led to landslide, 30,000 deaths
• 2000-1 - two in Mozambique, >1/2 million homeless
Global Warming & Climate Change
• The earth is warming
• Sea level will rise
• More floods and more droughts
• Poor nations worst affected
• Many environmental refugees
IPCC Synthesis Report
What can we do about
Global Warming?
signed at Earth Summit at Rio by 160 nations in 1992
The FCCC OBJECTIVE is to achieve, .…
stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations
in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent
dangerous anthropogenic interference
with the climate system.
Global carbon emissions from fossil fuel
(in billions of tonnes Carbon)
Global carbon emissions from fossil fuel use, 1850 to 1990, and for scenarios to 2100, in GtC.
For each scenario, the range shows the difference between gross and net emissions.
From IIASA/WEC Global Energy Perspectives 1998.
green curve would lead to CO2 stabilisation at ~450 ppm
Carbon dioxide emissions in 2000,
per capita versus population
(after M Grubb 2003).
Estimated Cost to UK economy
of 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050
On assumption of average economic growth at historic annual rate of
estimated loss of 0.02% from the growth rate
equivalent to loss of 6 months’ GDP growth over 50 yrs
UK govt Policy Innovation Unit Energy Review 2002 para 7.115
A view from industry
• “A sober strategy would ensure any
increase in the world’s temperature is
limited to 2-3deg C….. in the long run.
Focused on that goal, …..policy should aim
to stabilize CO2 concentrations in the
range 500-550 ppm over the next century.”
Lord John Browne, CEO, BP, July 2004
What Action?
• Stop Deforestation; more Aforestation
• More efficient energy generation & use
• Move to non-fossil fuel sources of energy
Reasons for optimism
- Commitment of scientific community
- Necessary technology available
- God’s commitment to his creation
Climate Change linked with other
Global Sustainability Issues
Water - 1 bn - no clean water
Energy -2 bn - no commercial energy
Poverty and growing rich/poor divide
The Christian Steward
For unto whomsoever much is given,
of him shall be much required
Luke 12 v 48
What Can I Do?
• choose fuel efficient vehicles & appliances
• ensure your home is energy efficient
• travel sensibly
• support renewable energy sources
• support leaders in government or industry in
advocacy of the necessary solutions.
“Noone made a greater mistake
than he who did nothing
because he could do so little”
Edmund Burke
Celtic cross
-the cross of
by the world