Protecting the earth from catastrophes

Wednesday 3 October 2001

What can be done to protect the earth from the consequences of environmental catastrophes? And how can we protect ourselves and future generations from them?

Such questions will be addressed at a talk later this month by leading environmentalist, academic and diplomat, Sir Crispin Tickell. The St Andrews Prize Inaugural Lecture entitled ‘Catastrophes’ will take place at the Royal Institution, London on the 22nd October, 2001.

In his lecture, Sir Crispin will look at the countless catastrophes which have occurred on the skin of our planet over the last four billion years, as well as the process of evolution.

Sir Crispin said: “The history of the earth is dotted with impacts from extra-terrestrial objects, some big (such as that which precipitated the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago), and some relatively small (such as that which devastated parts of Siberia in 1908).

“There are catastrophes from within the earth system: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, critical changes affecting land, sea and atmosphere, and of course, variations in life forms, ranging from pathogens to predators.

“One such is our own animal species, which is now causing extinction of others and changing the planetary environment in ways comparable to the results of an extra-terrestrial impact.”

‘Catastrophes’ is the first lecture given in association with the St Andrews Prize – an annual environmental initiative aimed at finding practical solutions to environmental problems, of which Sir Crispin is Chair.

The talk is part of the Royal Institution’s series of special events this autumn.

‘Catastrophes’, the St Andrews Prize Inaugural Lecture, will take place at the Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London on 22nd October, 2001 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £7 adults/£5 concessions. To book by credit card, call the 24 hour booking line on 0207 670 2985 or email [email protected]. For further information and ticket availability, contact the Royal Institution on 0207 409 2992, or look at the website at Interested parties are advised to book early.



The St Andrews Prize is an international initiative between the University of St Andrews and the energy company Conoco, aimed at finding practical solutions to environmental problems. It is awarded annually with a prize of $25,000 and a medal for the winner, and $5,000 for each of the runners-up. An important aim of the prize is to provide seed funding to help promote good environmental ideas. The Prize network is also available to provide contacts and support.

The Prize has been running for three years, and each year it has received entries from over 40 countries.

Submissions are still invited for the 2002 Prize. Further information is available at, or by contacting Gayle Cook or Claire Grainger on 01334 462529, 07900 050103 or 07730 415015.

Sir Crispin Tickell is Chancellor of the University of Kent at Canterbury; a Trustee of the Natural History Museum; and Chairman of the Climate Institute of Washington DC. Most of his career was in the Diplomatic Service. He was Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on the Darwin Initiative (1992 – 1999); President of the National Society for Clean Air (1997 – 1999), and Convenor of the Government Panel on Sustainable Development (1994 -2000). He is author of Climate change and world affairs (1977 and 1986), and Mary Anning of Lyme Regis (1996). He has also contributed to many books on environmental issues. Recently, he was a member of two Government Task Forces: one on urban regeneration, and the other on near Earth objects.

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