CCCR 2022 - Day 2 Blog

04 August 2022
by Lara Mani, SJ Beard, Robin Gorna, Julius Weitzdörfer, Lalitha Sundaram, Jochem Rietveld, Nandini Shiralkar, Ariel Conn, Bryan Walsh

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk 2022

Day 2 - Turned to what we can learn from real catastrophes that have taken place in the future and how we can apply these lessons to the future catastrophes facing us.

The day opened with a talk by one of CSER’s academic programme managers, SJ Beard, on the importance of thinking about real catastrophes in relation to existential risk and how we can explore these through maps and stories. Lara Mani then gave a presentation on CSER’s approach to outreach and communications. Her presentation explored what we can learn from real-time disasters for communicating risk and how we can engage stakeholders and publics with information about GCRs. It also highlighted the importance of evaluation for successful communication.


Throughout the conference, artist Tom McLean created live-drawings based on the talks and panels.

The next session reflected on a variety of historical catastrophes with relevance to the study and mitigation of Global Catastrophic Risk, with a particular focus on how public discourse about these disasters often takes a narrow focus and learns the wrong lessons. It was opened by Robin Gorna, an independent writer and activist working on public health and social justice, who talked about lessons across pandemics, from AIDS to COVID.


The discussion was then continued by a panel who focused on a variety of catastrophes, including Julius Weitzdörfer, from Hargen University, talking about lessons from Fukushima, Lalitha Sundaram, from CSER, talking about AIDS and other chronic diseases as GCRs, and Jochem Rietveld, also from CSER, talking about our emerging Lessons from COVID-19 project.


Before breaking for lunch, Nandini Shiralkar gave a talk about her work to establish the Cambridge Existential Risk Initiative and how researchers could engage with its projects.

The afternoon opened with a series of on-line lightning talks on a wider variety of topics around existential and global catastrophic risk:

Ariel Conn then gave a short talk about her work to establish Technology, Arts and a New Global Objective for the Future (TANGO Future) a project aimed at bringing more diverse conversations into discussions about future technologies and global challenges.

Finally the day closed with an address by Bryan Walsh, editor of Vox’s Future Perfect vertical on “Reporting On the End of the World: The Challenge of Covering Long-Term Risks in a Short-Term Media World”, in which he talked about his future plans and how to make good editorial decisions about the issues that matter most.


Subscribe to our mailing list to get our latest updates