The archbishop of Canterbury told an unprecedented gathering of world religious leaders and politicians Monday that the "whole earth is in some evident peril."

More than 200 people met at Oxford University for the opening of the five-day "Global Survival Conference.""This forum is clearly one of those occasions when leaders in different areas of life can come together to reflect upon the urgency of their own historical predicament," Dr. Robert Runcie said in the keynote address. "It takes place at a time when, in secular terms, it is not just human survival but the whole earth which is in some evident peril."

Among other speakers scheduled for the week were American astronomer Carl Sagan; the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, the dalai lama; and Soviet scientist Evguenij Velikhov.

Runcie said man is tempted to "usurp God's place as creator and exercise a tyrannical dominion over creation," nature and the environment.