Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Professor John Urry



I am so sorry to belatedly hear the sad news of Prof John Urry's passage today.

I had the great pleasure of meeting John at a workshop on emergent risk held at Princeton University in 2012, and we got on so well we chose to sit together at dinner each night we were there. John's topic was "Complex Systems and Crises of Energy" (mine was called "Understanding Cyclic Vulnerability to Reduce the Risk of Global Collapse"). 

John  was the first sociologist I ever met to share my deep concerns over the fragility of the whole of civilisation. I hope we are both wrong (only today, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has called for demonstrations against the Russian tactics in Syria - a sign of British impotence and even desperation). 

Academia needs more such people who can speak the truth. Hubris, such as in the Sustainable Development Goals, does not help at all.

I had always hoped our paths would cross again. Perhaps in the next life.

My condolences to John’s family and colleagues.