Energy, Environment & Climate Change – Irreconcilable Conflict or Global Opportunity?

Posted by pt91 at Oct 25, 2011 10:55 AM |
Recent events at Fukushima nuclear power plant examined in University of Leicester lecture
Energy, Environment & Climate Change – Irreconcilable Conflict or Global Opportunity?

Sir Peter Williams, former Chancellor of the University of Leicester.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 25 October 2011

Jpeg image of Sir Peter Williams available via

Sir Peter Williams, former Chancellor of the University of Leicester, is to be the speaker at the next meeting of the Haldane Society on Friday 11th November 2011 in Lecture Theatre 1 (Ken Edwards Building/Level One) on the University’s main campus.

In his talk, ‘Energy, Environment & Climate Change – Irreconcilable Conflict or Global Opportunity?’ Sir Peter will look at the tragic events earlier this year in Japan.

The consequences of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami underlined the precarious balance between the needs of a growing global population for energy and the possibility of adverse consequences for the environment and humanity when this balance is disturbed, in this case by a natural disaster leading to technological failure.

The aftermath of events at Fukushima led, predictably, to calls for a curb on nuclear power generation, but this stance is at odds with the simultaneous drive for low carbon energy sources to combat the potential threats due to global warming.

Sir Peter will consider what we know with certainty about such threats and whether we can reconcile all these apparently conflicting pressures without a naïve appeal to technologies which today do not even exist.

His talk will draw on recent Royal Society reports on topics as diverse as bio-fuels and geo-engineering and will also emphasise not only the scale of the challenge facing us, but the tremendous economic opportunities which could result from successful attempts to mitigate climate change.

Sir Peter Michael Williams, CBE, FREng, FRS (born 1945) is a British physicist. He completed his first degree and PhD at the University of Cambridge and began an academic career at Selwyn College. He then moved to industry and worked first at VG Instruments and later Oxford Instruments. He was chairman of Oxford Instruments from 1991 until his retirement in 1999.

Sir Peter is currently Chairman of the National Physical Laboratory and Vice President and Treasurer of the Royal Society. He was previously Master of St Catherine's College, Oxford (2000–2002), President of the Institute of Physics (2000–2002), President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (2002–2003) and Chairman of the UK's Engineering and Technology Board (2001–2006). He has been a member of the Interacademy Council's Committee to Review the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that reported in August 2010.

He received the CBE in 1992 and was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list of 1998. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in May 1999. In 2005 Williams became the fifth Chancellor of the University of Leicester. He was also appointed patron for research at Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The Haldane Society has provided a meeting place for “town and gown” where distinguished speakers such as Sir Peter Williams can address a wide range of topical issues, exploring the boundary between academic study and practical, everyday concerns.

Meetings take place three times a year, in November, February and May, involving a speaker, followed by a wine reception and dinner. More information is on the website:

Membership of the Haldane Society is open to everyone and non-members are welcome at meetings by tickets obtained in advance from Vicky Orson Wright, tel: (0116) 252 2142, email:

The Haldane Society is named in memory of the First Viscount Haldane, who chaired a Royal Commission on University Education, and who was instrumental in the establishment of provincial universities and in the creation of the University Grants Committee.

He was the first Official Visitor to the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College, which subsequently became the University of Leicester.

Notes to Editors: Further details about the event are available from Vicky Orson-Wright, Secretary of the Haldane Society, Department of Chemistry,  tel 0116 252 2142, e-mail:

See also the Haldane Society Web Site at:

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