Sir David King, head of the UK government's Office of Science and Technology, called for an international accord on climate change while in South Africa to discuss the seriousness of global warming with cabinet ministers, businessmen, academics and students.
Africa is expected to be hardest hit by global warming even though it has emitted less greenhouse gases than other regions because many African countries depend on natural resources, such as agriculture, which are very sensitive to changes in climate.
In Western Cape, which is predicted to get hotter and drier, apple farmers are already struggling with the drier summers the region has begun to experience.
King says a more considered use of the planet's finite resources and economic growth can go hand in hand,  but we need to adapt our thinking toward well-being rather than conspicuous consumption.
"This is a crisis we can manage if we get our heads together -- but even one large country could wreck it," he says.