The Royal Academy of Engineering hosted a lecture by Dr Richard Spinrad, a senior official in the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on work to reduce the risks posed by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis as well as by the potential impact of global warming. The lecture was held at the Royal Society on Tuesday 29 April 2008.

The NOAA is a federal agency with a $500 million research budget and has developed a sophisticated risk assessment approach as a means to shape research and guide its funding decisions. Dr Spinrad, who is the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, has a distinguished scientific record and is closely involved in what he calls the NOAA’s “activist strategy” to focus research on what will provide the best value to society.

In his lecture which is supported by the Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust, Dr Spinrad discussed the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami as well as the threat of climate change. “Over the last ten years, the world has suffered an increasing number of natural disasters affecting more than 2.5 billion people, killing 478,100 people, and causing economic losses of about US$690 billion,“. Dr Spinrad argued that understanding the environment and our growing vulnerability to natural hazards is essential and that science and engineering must provide high quality, relevant research findings to inform decision-making in this field.

Michael Franklin, Director of the Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust comments, “We support advances in reducing risks in many areas. Natural disasters can have a dramatic impact on society. Dr Spinrad's informed lecture on the changes in the nature of the world’s oceans and atmosphere highlighted the need for research programmes to better understand the risks posed by these disasters and to develop solutions using the expertise of scientists and engineers."

Philip Greenish, Chief Executive of The Royal Academy of Engineering commented: “Tackling the threat of climate change and natural disasters will require the world’s scientists and engineers to work closely together and bring all their talent and ingenuity to bear. We appreciated Dr Spinrad’s thoughts on the global risks we face and the contributions we can make, individually and collectively, first to understand and then work to minimise those risks.”

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.
  2. The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust, an independent charity wholly funded by the Lloyd’s Register Group, was established in October 2004. Its principal purpose is to support advances in transportation, science, engineering and technology education, training and research worldwide for the benefit of all. It also funds work that enhances the safety of life and property at sea, on land and in the air.

For more information please contact

Tonia Page, PR Consultant, The Royal Academy of Engineering on 07770 845984