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Fourth William Pitt Seminar: "A Blueprint for survival"

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Jane Moorman.

Invite only - please contact organiser if you are interested in coming.

Chair: Lord Broers, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, plays a prominent role on Science and Technology in the House of Lords


  • Energy – Professor Dave Mackay, University of Cambridge
  • Water – Professor Peter Rogers, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering and Professor of City and Regional Planning at Harvard
  • Universal Health – Flu/pandemic/contagion – Professor Derek Smith, Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics, Cambridge
  • Food sustainability – Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser

The 2009 seminar, A Blueprint for Survival, will be a follow-on from the previous two Pitt Seminars, Climate Change: Approaches to its consequences and challenges, in 2007, and Narratives of Risk, in 2008. It is hoped that the approach for this seminar will be positive, interesting and fresh. We are aiming to look at what can already be achieved and what further needs to be done to ensure human survival focussing on the areas of energy, water, health, sustainable food production, and geopolitics and security. The intention is for this seminar to offer intellectual leadership which will provide viable, possibly controversial, answers to these challenges.

We aim to present a positive attitude – hence the choice of the title – and to highlight potential solutions using the technologies that are available now, where these exist, and, if not, to critical assess the potential of new approaches so that resources can be focussed only on genuine solutions. Some of the issues we hope address include: Are we looking at the problems in the right way, that is, are problems created because we don’t do things in the right way?

As occurred in the 2008 Pitt seminar, speakers will be asked to provide a narrative, this time looking at aspects of humanity, quantifying limits of existence and identifying what will be needed to ensure continuation of societies across the globe. It will include some discussion of our ability to provide for the needs of the entire human population if everyone were to exist at subsistence, pre-industrial or post-industrial levels of quality of life.

Following the presentations, we will open the floor to questions from the audience, which our panel of speakers will hopefully be able to answer.

This talk is part of the Pembroke College Corporate Partnership Talks series.

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