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Just under 700 people turned out to hear "climate change guru'' Prof Tim Flannery at the Regent Theatre last night.
Prof Flannery's talk, labelled "Atmosphere of Hope'', outlined how quickly the planet was warming and suggested possible remedies.
The Australian commissioner for climate change and former Australian of the year was reluctant to say climate change could be stopped completely.
"We're dealing here with an extremely large problem.
"Some of the things [weather events] we've had have been very, very ugly,'' he said.
"When we enjoy a lovely evening like this ... we need to think about putting this in context.
"Sure, some conditions in some areas will improve but in other places in the world they will be negative.''
Prof Flannery touched on last June's flooding in South Dunedin as an example and warned if people did not act to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one-in-100-year events could become monthly events in 50 to 80 years.
Kelp farms were one possible way of reducing the 50 gigatonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as advancing technology in energy production.
"Emissions have actually stalled over the last two years,'' he said.
"We've seen that we can limit emissions growth.
"We need to start investing in these opportunities right now.''
Prof Flannery will be a speaker at Aspiring Conversations in Wanaka today.