"Vulnerable Earth Climate Change: Prospects and Hazards"
Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO
Thursday, 31 May 2007
2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm We are delighted to welcome again Sir Crispin Tickell, the world's most distinguished environmentalist, to speak on Vulnerable Earth Climate Change: Prospects and Hazards. In this lecture, the most vocal environmentalist for over the last 25 years discusses, in layman's terms, the prosects and hazards for our vulnerable planet. Mankind's perspectives are too limited for most to understand the vulnerability of the Earth: there are hits from space, the changing relationship between the Earth and the Sun, the movement of tectonic plates, earthquakes, changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere and not least variations in the global ecosystem of living organisms of which mankind is a tiny part. The world is on the cusp of oceanic change, and hence of climate change more generally. Since the recent publication of the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are all better aware not only of the hazards which now face us, but also of the tipping points between one set of climatic circumstances and another. As the reports make clear, current warming is unequivocal, and most of this is due to an increase in humandriven greenhouse gas concentrations. We now face not just climate change but climate destabilisation. Scientists also know more about the social and economic impacts of such change through the analysis in the Stern report on the Economics of Climate Change published last year. We and our successors face a future different from either past or present. Sir Crispin has been arguing for more than 25 years that the sooner we can mitigate the effects, and adapt ourselves to the likely consequences, the less disruptive they will be. Climate change is only one of the factors affecting life on the surface of the Earth. Mankind has also to reckon with human multiplication, degradation of land, accumulation of wastes, water pollution and shortages, energy production and use, destruction of biodiversity, and changes in the chemistry of ocean and atmosphere. In all of these, the distinction between natural and humandriven change is difficult to distinguish. For natural change, the delicacy of the system, the slowness of feedbacks and tipping points between one climatic regime and another make analysis difficult. For human driven change, there has been a vertiginous increase in greenhouse gases, leading to global warming, changes in weather everywhere, including more extreme events, melting of ice caps, sea level rise, changes in ecosystems, and undermining of current social, and in particular urban, infrastructure worldwide. The most difficult issue to assess is the interrelationship of these natural and human changes. In his lecture, Sir Crispin also looks at the remedies, which include reduction of carbon emissions, protection of top soils, reforestation, protection of biodiversity, and new configurations of towns, business, industry and population generally. Sir Crispin is the Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at Oxford University. He holds positions and lectures at numerous other British and United States universities. Most of his career has been spent in the Diplomatic Service. He was Cabinet Secretary to the President of the European Union (197780), British Ambassador to Mexico (198183), Permanent Secretary of the Overseas Development Administration (198487), and British Permanent Representative to the United Nations (198790). He achieved fame in this role for his extraordinary diplomacy during the first, successful, Gulf War. He then became Warden of Green College, Oxford (199097) and Chancellor of the University of Kent (19962006). His positions are too numerous to list, but include President of the Royal Geographical Society (199093), Chairman of the Board of the Climate Institute of Washington DC (19902002), Convenor of the Government Panel on Sustainable Development (19942000) and Inaugural Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment (20023). Since 1992 he has been a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. He is author of Climate Change and World Affairs (1977 and 1986). He has also contributed to many books on environmental issues, including human population problems, and conservation of biodiversity. He has received many honours and distinctions including the highest honour for foreign service as a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. While the title's letters of "GCMG" are frequently held in jest to stand for "God Calls Me God", its motto, Auspicium melioris aevi, or "Token of a Better Age", for most sum up Sir Crispin's 25 year worldwide fight for the environment. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$50 for Members, HK$100 for Members' guests and HK$150 for others.