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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Michael Byers: Stephen Harper should make like a Viking (in The Toronto Star)

"Climate change poses enormous challenges for Iceland, a country of 320,000 people located just south of the Arctic Circle. Melting permafrost is destabilizing buildings, roads and precious farmland. Rising sea temperatures and acidity levels, caused by heat and carbon dioxide being absorbed into the ocean, are threatening the fishing industry, the cornerstone of Iceland’s economy.

"Icelanders are doing their part to mitigate the damage. By harnessing the volcanic power of the earth and the gravitational power of glacier-fed rivers, they already produce the most renewable energy, per capita, of any country in the world. Now, their focus is on helping other countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions — and on making money in the process....

"Canada, with a land mass 100 times larger than Iceland’s, is endowed with large rivers, strong tides, persistent winds, sunny regions and promising geothermal sources. It too has massive potential for renewable energy production and an almost insatiable market next door.

"But with the exception of hydroelectricity, renewables have never been given a chance in Canada. Instead, governments subsidize the production and export of oil, gas and coal, either directly, or indirectly through royalty rates significantly lower than those charged elsewhere in the world. It is these subsidies that could soon attract trade sanctions from other countries."

Stephen Harper should make like a Viking (in The Toronto Star)

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of International Law and the Arctic, recently published by Cambridge University Press.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Global warming study pinpoints dates when cities will be off-the-charts hot (in The Toronto Star)

"A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.

"And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away. ...

"[Study author Camilo] Mora [a biological geographer at the University of Hawaii] forecasts that the unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwa, Indonesia. Then Kingston, Jamaica. Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate, including Singapore, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.

"By 2043, 147 cities — more than half of those studied — will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records."

Global warming study pinpoints dates when cities will be off-the-charts hot.