GLOBAL warming could bring more visitors to Dorset, but also threaten coastal attractions and historic National Trust properties, experts warned an audience in Bournemouth.

The Climate Change Conference at Bournemouth University heard that without drastic action, global warming could reach tipping point. The polar ice caps would melt, huge amounts of methane gas would be released from the Siberian permafrost, and the Gulf Stream - which keeps Britain's climate mild - could collapse.

"Scientists are saying there is still a narrow window, but we have to act within 10 to 15 years to make sure emissions peak and decline," said Friends of the Earth campaigner Germana Canzi. "It's going to be very challenging for us, but for children born now, it will be the big issue in their lifetime."

Sarah Hendel-Blackford, manager and co-ordinator of the Southwest Climate Change Impact Partnership, warned that even if harmful emissions were stopped overnight, climate change was inevitable because of the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

She added that the warmer climate would also increase the risk of food poisoning, skin cancer, ticks, water-borne diseases and even malaria.

Phil Neale from the Poole-based Dorset Energy Advice Centre outlined ways everyone could do their bit by making minor changes to their homes and lifestyle.

For advice on saving energy, ring 0800 512 012 or click here. Other useful websites include Friends of the Earth , Stop Climate Chaos , and South West Climate Change Impacts Partnership

First published: May 2, 2006