Renowned Welsh physicist whose work helped to forge Britain’s reputation as a global leader in climate science
The late 1980s marked a key moment for environmental science, matching triumph with looming disaster. Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had been observed since the late 1950s, at the remote Pacific observatory of Mauna Loa, but it was only after three decades of further research that concern over what this rapid accumulation of greenhouse gases might mean reached the desks of the world’s leaders.
At the time, politicians appeared receptive to scientific warnings in a way they rarely have been since. In 1987, world governments concluded the Montreal protocol, which still stands today as probably the most successful environmental intervention, phasing out the use of the ozone-depleting chemicals that had threatened to destroy the planet’s protective atmospheric layer.