Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oakville Climate Change Forum

Tonight, I attended an interesting event. The main speaker was Dr. Richard Peltier, a U of T scientist, and one of the lead authors of a chapter in the IPCC's fourth report (AR4). Dr. Peltier gave the same presentation that he gave to the Bill C-30 committee, which is basically an overview of the evidence that humans are causing global warming. His most salient points were:

* Warming will be amplified at high north latitudes. This means that much of Canada would be greatly affected by unchecked warming.

* A "business as usual" scenario means that the global average temperature would rise by around 3.5 degrees. However, the temperature on the continents will increase by around 5 degress, and around 7 degrees for high-north latitudes.

He then showed this graph, which depicts the likely temperature change under different scenarios (A2 being "business as usual"):

He noted that out to 2040, there is very little variation between the scenarios. But the choices we make in the next 20 years will determine the global average temperature in 2100. He said:

"You might say that you don't care about that - that you won't be around then. But, I know that you really do care."

As for what we should do: We must reduce emissions. In Canada, we produce 3-4% of the world's emissions. However on a per-capita basis we are very similar to the US. The oil sands projects are a major cause of us not meeting our Kyoto targets. We need cap and trade - with hard caps. We must provide a legislative environment that encourages creativity in the business sector in reducing emissions.

Chairing the forum was Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. Bonnie Brown, our local MP, and Jack Santa Barbara also spoke. I'll write about what they had to say in another post.

You can read more about Dr. Peltier's work in this Toronto Star article, and in this interview.

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