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A top New Zealand researcher is using a prestigious award ceremony in Christchurch to warn that humans face extinction by the end of the century.
Professor Peter Barrett will be presented with the Marsden Medal tonight for his 40-year contribution to Antarctic research, latterly focusing on climate change.
The director of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre expects to use his acceptance speech to warn climate change was a major threat to the planet.
"After 40 years, I'm part of a huge community of scientists who have become alarmed with our discovery, that we know from our knowledge of the ancient past, that if we continue our present growth path, we are facing extinction," Barrett said. "Not in millions of years, or even millennia, but by the end of this century."
Barrett won the award – designed to mark lifetime achievement in the sciences – for his research into Antarctica, which began with helping prove New Zealand was once part of the Gondwanaland supercontinent.
He then changed disciplines, to predicting the impact of climate change. The result was a body of research on Antarctic ice sheets "which to our surprise is becoming increasingly relevant to the world as a consequence of global warming".