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News about Britain’s wildlife and ecosystems tends to be grim. The Oxford economist and Natural Capital Committee chair Dieter Helm shares his radical but tangible plan for positive change. This pragmatic approach to environmentalism includes a summary of Britain’s green assets, a look towards possible futures and an achievable 25-year plan for a green and prosperous country.
Shuckburgh is a climate scientist and mathematician, and is co-author of the Ladybird book on Climate Change. She will speak about her research on modelling localised effects of climate change – from Arctic warming to flooding in Tewkesbury, from severe drought in Malawi to record-breaking temperatures in Thailand, and from the acidification of the Barrier Reef to the hurricanes battering the Caribbean.
Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people – people battling for food, water and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate. As the UN’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Robinson’s mission led all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. Robinson met with ordinary people whose resilience and ingenuity had already unlocked extraordinary change. Robinson is the former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is now a member of The Elders. This year she was awarded the prestigious Kew International Medal for her work on climate justice.
Seventy years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, and thirty years on from the Tiananmen Square massacre, the editor of Index on Censorship hosts a debate about China’s contemporary society and the leadership’s attitude to freedom of expression. Xinran is author of the global bestseller The Good Women of China, based on her groundbreaking radio show. Her latest book is The Promise. Karoline Kan is a former New York Times reporter who writes about millennial life and politics in China. She’s currently an editor at China Dialogue. Her new book is called Under Red Skies: The Life and Times of a Chinese Millennial.
A conversation between two writers renowned for their explorations of nature and landscape. Robert Macfarlane's Underland, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated non-fiction book of 2019, takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland's glaciers to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet's past and future, and into darkness and its meanings. Global in its geography, gripping in its voice and haunting in its implications, it is both an ancient and an urgent work.
Macfarlane, a winner of the Hay Festival Prose Medal, is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks and (with Jackie Morris) The Lost Words. Horatio Clare’s latest books are The Light in the Dark and Something of his Art: Walking to Lübeck with JS Bach – Hay Festival’s Book of the Month for December 2018.
See also event  on 29 May – Spell Songs, a musical performance of The Lost Words – Macfarlane's multi-award-winning collaboration with the artist Jackie Morris.
The two geologists from the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University follow the footprints of fearsome beasts from Britain’s deep past. Throughout its ancient history, the UK has been home to many amazing creatures that are now long extinct. From dinosaurs to giant millipedes, discover how these animals shaped the land around them and what secrets are held within their prehistoric footprints.
Martin Jones is Emeritus Professor of Archaeological Science at Cambridge University and a member of its Global Food Security research centre. An expert in archaeobotany and archaeogenetics, he will discuss how our prehistoric ancestors built resilience into their food supply and what we can learn from them.
The emergence of low fertility rates in most high income countries has begun to concern governments. Some countries fear that their populations will start to decline in number, with negative consequences. Yet with world population currently over 7 billion and set to reach over 12 billion by the end of the century, low child bearing rates are good. They are leading to lower population growth and are thus good for the environment, good for addressing the climate emergency, and good for reducing pressure on the other species who inhabit the planet. This session will consider why there is now renewed pressure on women to have babies, and will argue the case for maintaining low fertility.
Harper is Professor of Gerontology at Oxford University and Director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing.
Following the Silk Roads eastwards from Europe through to China, by way of Russia and the Middle East, The New Silk Roads provides a timely reminder that we live in a world that is profoundly interconnected. In this prescient contemporary history, Peter Frankopan assesses the global reverberations of these continual shifts in the centre of power – all too often absent from headlines in the West. Chaired by Elif Shafak.
In 1187, Saladin marched triumphantly into Jerusalem, ending decades of struggle against the Christians and reclaiming the holy city for Islam. Four years later he fought off the armies of the Third Crusade, which were commanded by Richard the Lionheart. A fierce warrior and savvy diplomat, Saladin’s unparalleled courtesy, justice, generosity and mercy were revered by both his fellow Muslims and his Christian rivals. Phillips offers a fresh and captivating look at the triumphs, failures and contradictions of one of the medieval world’s most influential figures. The Crusade historian looks at Saladin’s complicated legacy, examining the ways he has been invoked in the modern age by Arab and Muslim leaders ranging from Nasser in Egypt and al-Assad in Syria to Osama bin Laden.
The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? How do we stay human in a technological world? How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.
Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the past, especially the very distant past: mammoth bones, two-million-year-old shells, a flint shaped as a weapon long ago. Time Song brings many such stories together as it tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland, a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5,000 BC.