skip to content
Group shot of the 1969 Physical Chemistry Department members

The Physical Chemistry Department in 1969: Dick is standing in the second row at the extreme left and Professor Brian Thrush is seated on the front row, 5th from the left. Other members of the Thrush group are Michael Golde (next to Dick), Adrian Tuck (third row extreme left),  Tony Wild (fourth row, fourth from the right), Paul Davies (next to Tony Wild) and George Mack (third row second from the right).

Richard DerwentRichard (Dick) Derwent, who completed his MA and PhD here between 1965 and 1971, has written a book called Air Pollution and Climate Change:The Basics, with colleague John K. Pearson.

Dick is very proud to have completed his PhD in physical chemistry in the Lensfield Road labs under Professor Brian Thrush. “I still use my training in chemistry and research techniques every day, and it is every bit as useful now as it was fifty or so years ago,” he says.

After completing his PhD, Dick was involved in modelling photochemical ozone formation, acid rain and global atmospheric chemistry, first at Harwell and then at the Met Office.  He took early retirement in 1993 and became an independent scientist working on air pollution and global climate change. He has spent much of his scientific career studying air pollution and atmospheric chemistry, and has co-authored over 550 peer-reviewed scientific papers, reports and book chapters.  

Dick Derwent in his office, courtesy of his co-author John Pearson, just before the Met Office relocated to Exeter in 1993.

Dick’s summary of Air Pollution and Climate Change: The Basics

Our book identifies four key forms of air pollution: indoor, urban, regional and global. We discuss how these four types of pollution are manifest in today’s society and examine the scientific and policy challenges that stand in the way of progress.

Writing in a style that balances scientific underpinnings with accessible language, we examine the sources and historical context of air pollutants, before dedicating a chapter to each of the key forms. Armed with these basics, we address how to improve indoor, urban and regional air quality, while reducing global warming in the years ahead.

We hope this book leads to a greater understanding of the challenges of global climate change, and we offer new proposals for reducing global warming. However, we conclude that it is only when we have a scenario of reforestation combined with reductions in emissions of all greenhouse gases that real progress will be made in the fight against climate change. When this happens, air pollution will also be consigned to history.

With a foreword written by Professor James Lovelock of GAIA fame, this book will be of great interest to Cambridge Chemistry alumni, students and scholars of climate change and environmental policy, as well as air quality professionals working in this important field.

Dick is the joint author of two previous books: Atmospheric Pollution and Environment Change and Mechanisms of Atmospheric Oxidation of the Alkanes. He is an independent scientist studying air pollution and atmospheric chemistry and a visiting professor in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

Book cover and graph (below) reprinted by kind permission of Routledge.