Rich uses the latest chemical techniques to analyse organic matter in natural materials. This allows him to examine how climate, chemical processes and life interact today and throughout Earth history. He is also Director of the Cabot Institute, which explores fundamental, applied and multidisciplinary approaches to understanding, adapting to and governing with environmental uncertainty. In his talk and discussion, Rich will merge these two strands of work to explore how we can use lessons learned from the past to better understand the Uncertain World of our future. How will climate and environmental change impact storms, rainfall and drought? And how might that affect food production and global security? These are difficult questions to unravel but we can begin to probe them by examining how the earth system has responded to climatic perturbations in the past.