OCEAN DRILLING FORUM 1999, Concluding Speech
Environmental Change Unit, University of Oxford
Prof. James C. Briden
This Forum has proved an ideal setting for everyone who has an interest in Ocean Drilling to learn more about current science, future scientific potential and its context in the scientific and wider world. The panel discussion which has concluded the forum has focused on the new OD21 and the riser drillship that will make it a reality. It had demonstrated that the Project must be taken forward in intimate collaboration between the geoscientific community, the designers and the engineers, and those experienced in the management of such a complex enterprise.
The timing of this project is both critical and symbolic.
The approach of the year 2000 has caused many people throughout the world to be conscious of our place in history.
〈 We are living at the end of a momentous century
〈 This has been century of science and technology
〈 It has been a century of unimaginable changes in lifestyle and aids to living
〈 It has been a century of unimaginable advances of health, lifespan and population.
Now it must be faced that these transformations will eventually give rise to their own pressures.
〈 The world has not yet reached the limits of its population capacity
〈 Nor has the world reached limits of natural resources of food and power
〈 But we have reached the realisation that these are not inexhaustible, and that unrestrained growth for another millenium - or even another century - is impossible
The means of self-destruction exist. We have glimpsed them already in the weapons of modern warfare. The potential for downturn if not destruction of civilisation are potentially with us through over-straining the capacity of the land, atmosphere, biosphere and oceans.
〈 We have seen profound change in global political process since 1950
In our lifetimes we have seen remarkable coming together of nations in the quest for peace; and no less remarkable the coming together of nations in the Earth Summit and its follow-up meetings aimed at protecting our future environment.