|Houghton began to reach out to Evangelical leaders to talk to them about the coming ecological crisis. He was influential in convincing Richard Cizik, John Stott, and Rick Warren to make climate change a priority and talk about it as a spiritual problem.
After the third and fourth IPCC reports, many advocates for dramatic cuts to carbon emissions began to despair. Change wasn’t happening quickly enough to make a difference. But Houghton, drawing from his faith, spoke frequently about the importance of Christian hope. “He believed the goodness of the Lord will be seen in the land of living, and that sustained him,” Malcolm said. He prayed regularly that God’s kingdom would come – “Fast!” – and set things right.
‘May God’s Kingdom come fast and set things right’
In retirement, Houghton returned to Wales, where he served as an elder at a Presbyterian Church and taught his grandchildren to love the Welsh mountains and windswept beaches. According to Malcolm, who is now preparing for ministry in the Church of England and writing a doctoral dissertation on theology and climate grief, Houghton thought it was impossible to convince people to protect something they didn’t love. He wanted Christians to learn to love their environment and let climate change science move them to repentance.
“Our desire to be gods drives a great deal of the destruction around us,” she said. “There is something in the work of climate science that reveals the consequence of our sin, troubles those in power, and calls for us to sit with that, but also be aware that an alternative is possible – an alternative to our sin.”
Houghton didn’t live to see the release of the sixth IPCC report or to promote it to Evangelical Christians. But the scientific assessment dedicated to his memory echoes a core theme of Houghton’s life’s work: Now is the time, it says, to turn from the path of destruction.
Source: Hannah Malcolm, Daniel Silliman, CT