Award-winning British environmental journalist, author to deliver Discovery Lecture Series keynote

February 20, 2014  

Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Award-winning author and journalist Fred Pearce, who has reported on environment, science and development issues from 67 countries the past 20 years, will be the keynote speaker next week for Purdue University's Discovery Lecture Series.

Pearce, a London-based journalist who has served as an environmental consultant for New Scientist magazine since 1992 and writes regularly for the Guardian newspaper and Yale University's e360 website, will deliver the talk titled "Panic or Peak?" at 7 p.m. Feb. 27.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Copies of Pearce's books, including his latest, "The Climate Files," will be available for signing following the lecture.

"As world population soars, we are running short of even our most basic needs, like water and land to grow food. Will we perish or will 'peak population' save us?" Pearce said.

The Purdue Water Community, Energy Center, Purdue Climate Change Research Center and the Purdue Global Sustainability Institute are joining the Lilly Endowment as primary sponsors. Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the Discovery Lecture Series in 2006 to bring prominent speakers to campus.

"As a self-described eco-sinner, Fred Pearce pieces together how humans are affecting the environment. More importantly, he puts himself into the mix. Using this approach, he shows us all how our choices and actions are impacting the world," said agronomy professor Ron Turco, director of the Purdue Water Community and the Indiana Water Resources Research Center.    

"As a water scientist I am particularly impressed with his book, 'When the Rivers Run Dry,' which points out pathways and consequences of our actions related to critical water resources. The Purdue community is really looking forward to his talk and interacting with him."

In addition to writing for the Yale e360 website, the Guardian and other newspapers in the United Kingdom, his recent commissions include the Washington Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and Times Higher Education. His co-authored report for National Geographic titled, "Water Grabbers: A Global Rush on Freshwater," won honorable mention from the Society for Environmental Journalists in 2013. 

Pearce won a lifetime achievement award for his journalism from the Association of British Science Writers in 2011 and was voted UK Environment Journalist of the Year in 2001. His other recent books include "The Land Grabbers," "With Speed and Violence" and "Confessions of an Eco Sinner." They have been translated into 22 languages.

"When the Rivers Run Dry" was listed among the all-time Top 50 Sustainability Books by the University of Cambridge's Programme for Sustainable Leadership. A frequent lecturer, he has delivered speeches on all six continents in the past four years. 

Pearce also has written extensively about the email hack at the University of East Anglia and subsequent controversy, "Climategate." His 2010 book, "The Climate Files" examines the saga in which a selection of emails sent over 13 years by scientists at the Climatic Research Centre at the University of East Anglia were stolen and published.

The book makes extensive use of the emails to discuss claims by climate change skeptics that the scientists had conspired to falsify or manipulate data, block Freedom of Information Act requests and exclude critical papers from peer review journals.

The Purdue Water Community, located in in Discovery Park as part of Purdue's Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), facilitates water-related research, teaching, and engagement to improve and sustain human and ecosystem health.

GSI was launched to coordinate research efforts in sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy, food security, the environment and water. In addition to the Purdue Water Community, it includes the Energy Center, Center for the Environment, Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Purdue Center for Global Food Security and the U.S.-China Ecopartnership for Environmental Sustainability. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Source: Ron Turco, 765-494-1610,

Pearce Video Interview:

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