Environment & Sustainability

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John Sulston

The Royal Society Lecture; The People And The Planet

Hay Festival 2013, 

The Nobel Laureate discusses the links between global population, consumption and the environment, and the implications for sustainable development. How can we all live and flourish on a finite Earth?

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Yuval Noah Harari talks to Anita Anand

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Hay Festival 2015, 

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

This event was recorded for broadcast on the BBC World News programme Talking Books.

Yuval Noah Harari talks to Anita Anand

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Peter Singer talks to Stephen Fry

Things That Matter

Hay Festival 2017, 

The Australian writer and thinker is often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher. He is known especially for his work on the ethics of our treatment of animals, for his controversial critique of the sanctity of life ethics in bioethics, and for his writing on the obligations of the affluent to aid those living in extreme poverty. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Most Good You Can Do, The Life You Can Save, Famine, Affluence and Morality, and most recently Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. He talks to the Festival president.

Peter Singer talks to Stephen Fry

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Noel Fitzpatrick talks to Francine Stock

One Planet, One Medicine, One Love

Hay Festival 2016, 
Pioneering surgeon Professor Fitzpatrick, Channel 4’s The Supervet, founder of Fitzpatrick Referrals and founding partner of Surrey University’s new school of veterinary medicine, has a radical vision: Humans and animals share genetic, physiological, environmental and even emotional bonds. For a sustainable future should they not share medicine, too? What are the practical and moral implications of being a ‘Humanimal’?


Noel Fitzpatrick talks to Francine Stock

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Robert Macfarlane talks to Horatio Clare

Woodland Trust Series 3: Landmarks

Hay Festival 2015, 

Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather. The author of The Old Ways, Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.

Robert Macfarlane talks to Horatio Clare

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Yanis Varoufakis talks to Martha Kearney

And the Weak Suffer What They Must

Hay Festival 2016, 

The former Finance Minister of Greece shows that the origins of the European collapse go far deeper than our leaders are prepared to admit – and that we have done nothing so far to fix it.

Yanis Varoufakis talks to Martha Kearney

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Tim Finch, Julie Meyer and Warren East talk to Guto Harri

The Magic of Diasporas

Hay Festival 2015, 
Diaspora: a scattered population with a common origin. Diaspora engagement is changing the fortunes of nations and exerting huge influence over many aspects of public life and economic development. Moreover it is claimed that 20 non-resident Welsh people could bring wealth and prosperity to Wales. So what is, as The Economist puts it, the ‘Magic of Diasporas’? Finch – former Head of Migration at IPPR, Meyer – entrepreneur, investor and business advisor, and Warren East – newly appointed CEO of Rolls-Royce and former CEO of ARM Holdings, talk to Guto Harri.
Tim Finch, Julie Meyer and Warren East talk to Guto Harri

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Barbara Adam, Chris Groves, Elen Stokes, Catherine Butler

Cardiff University Series 1: Futures In The Making

Hay Festival 2013, 

How do we take care of a future world we decisively shape but may not live to see? A panel discussion on futures in the context of energy, new technologies and law. Adam and Groves from the Social Sciences Dept discuss with psychologist Butler and property lawyer Stokes.

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James Jackson

Cambridge University Series 6: Living With Earthquakes – Know Your Faults

Hay Festival 2013, 

Earthquakes in the last decade have revealed that rich nations have become resilient in terms of loss-of-life, while much smaller earthquakes have killed up to 30% of urban populations in countries that are far less well prepared. What is behind the sombre conclusion that ‘the rich pay and the poor die’?

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Kate Humble, Richard Smith, Marcus du Sautoy and Mark Watson

Powering The Country: Kate, Richard, Marcus And Mark Try To Keep The Lights On

Hay Festival 2013, 

What would you do if you had to power the UK? Kate, Marcus and Mark get to grips with how to generate enough energy to keep the lights on and power their appliances. Dependency on overseas supplies, volatile fossil fuel prices and the need for a low-carbon economy makes this one of the biggest challenges facing the country. Chaired by Mark Lynas and using the 2050 calculator.

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Denise Lievesley, Claire Melamed, Mark Goldring

Measuring the World We Want

Hay Festival 2015, 

In 2000, the member countries of the United Nations set themselves a challenge: achieve the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015, to improve the lives of the world’s citizens. What’s next for our global ambitions, our post-2015 goals? How can we describe the world we want, to achieve sustainable development, track our progress and hold governments everywhere to account? The former head of statistics at UNESCO, an adviser to the United Nations, and the CEO of Oxfam talk to Hetan Shah, the chief executive of the Royal Statistical Society.

Denise Lievesley, Claire Melamed, Mark Goldring

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Christiana Figueres talks to Nick Stern

The British Academy Platform: We’ll Always Have Paris

Hay Festival 2016, 

A conversation with the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who is now charged with delivering the COP21 Agreement, signed in Paris.  If anyone can do it, she can. And she will.

Christiana Figueres talks to Nick Stern

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Rob Yorke, Simon Fairlie, Milly Wastie and Conor Colgan

Farms Fit For The Future

Hay Festival 2013, 

Horsemeat, Schmallenberg disease, fuel costs, drought, floods… From preventing food riots to maintaining the environment, how does our primary industry square up to the challenges ahead? Rural commentator Rob Yorke discusses with Editor of The Land Simon Fairlie, Young Farmers Chair Milly Wastie and the NFU’s Conor Colgan.

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John Browne

Seven Elements

Hay Festival 2013, 

The former BP chief examines the current and future use of the Earth’s natural resources in his fascinating survey, Seven Elements That Have Changed The World: Iron, Carbon, Gold, Silver, Uranium, Titanium, Silicon. Chaired by The Telegraph’s business editor Kamal Ahmed.

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Satish Kumar, Roger Thurow, Esther Mweso and Sally Copley

Can We Really Be The Generation To End World Hunger?

Hay Festival 2013, 

One in eight people in the world still go to bed hungry despite our planet providing enough food for everyone. With the UK hosting the G8 Summit in June, what will they deliver to tackle this scandal? Resurgence & Ecologist editor, Satish Kumar; author and journalist Roger Thurow; Concern Universal's Esther Mweso; and Oxfam’s Head of UK Campaigns (and chair of IF’s Organising Committee) Sally Copley suggest ways forward.

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Nicholas Stern

The British Academy Lecture

Hay Festival 2013, 

Six years on from his landmark Climate Change Report, Lord Stern thinks he underestimated the predictions of global temperature rise and that we may now be looking not at 2/3° but at 4/5°. On the up side, he sees potential for economic growth in green industries. Chaired by Nik Gowing.

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Rob Yorke, Tim Lang and George Freeman

Hay on Earth 2015 Forum

Hay Festival 2015, 

Can we keep food affordable while paying more for it to conserve the environment? George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences (including responsibility for the Governments Agri-tech Strategy), discusses with Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London.

Rob Yorke, Tim Lang and George Freeman

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Alun Davies and Janez Potocnik

Environment Or Economy: Can We Have Both?

Hay Festival 2013, 

Protecting the environment is often cited as an unaffordable luxury in these times of economic crisis. Where are the red lines and what are the compromises that are made to ensure we can restore degraded environments and degraded economies? The Welsh Government’s Natural Resources and Food Minister Alun Davies discusses with EU Environment Commissioner Potocnik. Chaired by The Telegraph’s Environment Editor, Geoffrey Lean.

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Molly Scott Cato and Polly Higgins

Creating A Resilient World

Hay Festival 2013, 

Is it possible to manage resources fairly and equitably? A strong local economy is important to sustainability, but how large is a local economy and how self-reliant can it be? What part does the law play in ensuring a resilient environment for all and preventing exploitation by the few? The Telegraph’s Geoffrey Lean chairs.

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Helen Browning, David Speller and Jake Freestone talk to Rob Yorke

Green-tech tinted glasses: how smarter agriculture can reduce farming’s footprint

Hay Festival 2017, 

Crop drones, precision pesticides, earthworm management, poultry software and GPS- directed tractors are just some of the new technologies that are revolutionising agriculture. The panel discusses agri-tech innovation helping farmers to become more efficient by using fewer resources. Browning is CEO of the Soil Association, Speller is an award-winning poultry farmer, Freestone a Linking Environment and Farming accredited farm manager.

Helen Browning, David Speller and Jake Freestone talk to Rob Yorke

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Lewis Pugh

21 Yaks and a Speedo

Hay Festival 2014, 
What does it feel like to stand on the edge of the sea ice at the North Pole in nothing more than a Speedo swimming costume? What kind of man dives into that freezing ocean and swims a full kilometre? And why? The intrepid environmentalist, endurance swimmer and inspirational UN Patron of the Oceans has swum as far north and as far south as a body can get, as well as on the earth's highest mountain. He's learned a few things about the extremes of human nature, and our fragile blue planet, along the way. Chaired by Paul Blezard.
Lewis Pugh

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Ruth Brooks

A Slow Passion

Hay Festival 2013, 

When BBC Radio 4’s Material World announced a search for the UK’s top amateur scientist, the winning experiment involved one of our humblest garden pests. Ruth Brooks asked the question: Do snails have a homing instinct? The Telegraph’s Louise Gray chairs.

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Katharine Hamnett and Dilys Williams

Just Fashion

Hay Festival 2014, 

Iconic British designer and ‘Queen of Green’ Katharine Hamnett CBE is joined by Dilys Williams, Director of London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion to discuss the future of sustainability in fashion as well as offer their insights on final garments created by students during the week-long ‘Just Workshop’. Led by designers Alis Smith and Jessica Mor, the Just Workshop is held in collaboration with the Environmental Justice Foundation and Levi Strauss & Co. to provide a unique opportunity for 12 students to create ethical and sustainable garments during this five-day workshop at Hay Festival.

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George Monbiot

How Did We Get Into This Mess?

Hay Festival 2016, 

Monbiot is one of the most vocal and eloquent critics of the current consensus; a vital, countervailing voice. He assesses the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do. He asks: how do we stand up to the powerful when they seem to have all the weapons? And: what can we do to prepare our children for an uncertain future?

George Monbiot

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Sandy Black

The Sustainable Fashion Handbook

Hay Festival 2013, 

Can the fashion industry ever be truly sustainable? With a wasteful, fast-moving fashion cycle and the social impact on the 40 million people employed worldwide in manufacturing and agriculture, it’s going to be an interesting journey. One of the world’s pioneering authorities in this field in conversation with Hay-on-Earth Director Andy Fryers.