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 School of Geography and the Environment

Linacre Lectures 2011

Pacific Typhoons. NASA Visible Earth

Riding the Perfect Storm

The theme for the 2011 Linacre Lectures is based upon Professor Sir John Beddington's "Perfect Storm" idea, first presented in early 2009 that the world is at significant risk of facing multiple interacting environmental and natural resource challenges by "2030". Professor Beddington is the Chief Science Advisor to the UK Government. His Perfect Storm scenario is based on the interaction and cross-amplification of emerging food, water and energy shortages, which, on reaching a critical threshold, could lead to public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration.

The Linacre Lectures 2011 'Riding the Perfect Storm' will be held in the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Laboratory, Dept. of Physics (opposite Keble College), at 5:30pm on a Thursday afternoon during Hilary Term in Weeks 2 to 8 (27 January - 10 March 2011) inclusive. Supported by Tetra Laval and organised by Linacre College and ECI.


  • Week 1: 20 January 2011
    Cancun COP16: A beacon of hope re-ignited?
    Panel Discussion with: Mark Lynas, Author; Dr Constance McDermott, ECI; Dr Mark New, SoGE; James Painter, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, BBC World Service; and Dr Heike Schroeder, ECI
Lester Brown
  • Week 2: 27 January 2011
    World on the edge: when will the Big Bubble burst?
    Listen again [MP3: 20.3MB / 49:37 mins] | No slides used
    Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute, Washington DC
David Grey
  • Week 3: 3 February 2011
    Sink or swim? Chasing water security in changing climates
    Professor David Grey, Visiting Professor in Water Policy, Oxford University, former World Bank Senior Water Advisor
    Listen again [MP3: 19.8MB / 48:16 mins] | View slides
  • Week 4: 10 February 2011
    Scratch 'n' sniff: Emerging infections, why so many?
    Professor Angela McLean, Co-Director, Institute for Emerging Infections, University of Oxford
    Listen again [MP3: 22.6MB / 55.06 mins] | View slides
Simon Stuart
  • Week 5: 17 February 2011
    The Biodiversity Crisis Will we turn the corner or go over the precipice?
    Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of the Species Survival Commission, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Visiting Professor, University of Bath
    Listen again [MP3: 15.4MB / 37:36 mins] | View slides
Tim Lang
  • Week 6: 24 February 2011
    The food security challenge: will current institutions provide adequate shelter from the gathering storm?
    Professor Tim Lang, City University London
    View slides
Paul Ekins
  • Week 7: 3 March 2011
    A globally sustainable energy system: the economics and politics of the transition
    Professor Paul Ekins, Energy Institute, University College London
  • Week 8:10 March 2011
    Final Session: Perfect Storm "Question Time Panel"
    • Professor Myles Allen, Professor-elect of Geosystem Science, SoGE, University of Oxford
    • Professor Jim Hall, Director ECI, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, University of Oxford
    • Dr Steve Jennings, Head of Programme Policy Team, Oxfam
    • Professor Chris Leaver CBE, Emeritus Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
    • Mr Colin Tudge, Author and co-Founder, Campaign for Real Farming

500 Essay Prize

An essay competition sponsored by npower (500 1st prize, 250 2nd prize) is associated with the Linacre Lectures and the preceeding Climate Panel Discussion. The competition is open to all undergraduates in the University. The essay title is 'How important will Sustainable Energy be in helping us to ride the "Perfect Storm"?'. The essay should be no more than 2,000 words long, excluding references and figures. Please hand your essay in by Wednesday of Week 1 of Trinity Term 2011 to the Physics Teaching Faculty in the Clarendon Laboratory. (Please include your name and college.) Please also provide an electronic copy of your essay which can be sent to

Further Information