Home of golf 'could disappear by 2050'

The world's most famous golf course could sink into the sea by 2050, a climate change expert warned today.

Professor Jan Bebbington raised the possibility that the Old Course at St Andrews - known as the home of golf - could be lost through coastal erosion by then.

The St Andrews University academic was asked to prepare a report visualising the effects of climate change on Scotland's future society.

She decided to write a speech, to be delivered at an imaginary carbon forum in 2050, aimed at encouraging countries to meet their emissions targets.

It describes how Scotland adapted to more severe winter storms, flooding and rising sea levels by coordinating a "managed retreat from vulnerable coastal locations".

But it also refers to the "sorrow at the last British Open played in St Andrews" before the course was claimed by coastal erosion.

The speech, which assumes Scotland has achieved an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, also talks of the rise in car-sharing and vegetarianism.

It describes the "Scottish Carbon Enlightenment", involving a "huge array of social experiments" which leads to "unleashed creativity on a grand scale".

It talks of "low carbon living" being achieved through technology, individual and collective behaviour change, and changes in culture, values and expectations.

Prof Bebbington describes the Scotland of 2050 as a "happier place than it once was", but adds it is "a time of profound change".

She said she hoped the speech would encourage people to think about the potential effects of climate change.

The director of the St Andrews Sustainability Institute said: "I am trying to say don't assume the way we live now and the things we take for granted will always be there.

"The Old Course is one example. It could be safe and I suspect it will attract a lot of investment to try to keep it safe.

"But it is on low lying ground and people should be asking themselves what if it - and other places we take for granted - was not there any more.

"In 2050 we will still work and have friends and do what we do now, but the world will be a very different place."

Prof Bebbington's work was commissioned by the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh and will be launched at an event in the city's Dynamic Earth tomorrow.