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Letters to the Editor Sept. 27: This week’s Talking Point – shaping Earth’s eco-future – and letters to the editor

This week's UN summit had readers, print and digital, contemplating the planet's eco-future, many of them poles apart on whether the world or Canada can come together on climate change

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The old argument that we can't act on climate change until larger polluters such as China and Russia get on board could not be more wrong (The It Girl Of Climate Change Doesn't Get It – Sept. 23). New evidence arrives almost every day that the clean technology revolution is coming. Even the IMF (hardly a bastion of leftism) has acknowledged this.

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Countries that get out in front of the pack will take home larger shares of this economic pie. Those that instead tie up their human resources and capital in fossil-fuel industries headed for eventual decline will miss out.

There will be enormous demand for clean knowledge and technologies when huge economies like China and Russia start transitioning. Canada should want to invest in these innovations because big emitters aren't on board yet.

Matt Burgess, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Assuming the environment is sensitive to CO2 emissions, I'm pretty sure it doesn't care about the per-capita proportionality of those emissions any more than it cares about whether they come from China, the United States or elsewhere – only the total emissions are relevant to their ultimate effect (Climate: Who Gets It – letters, Sept. 24).

Herb Schultz, Edmonton

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The climate issue is political. The world's leading scientists struggle to explain (among many other problems) why global average temperatures have remained relatively stable for the past 10 to 20 years, despite ever-increasing carbon dioxide emissions, or the record Antarctic sea-ice extent. The science is not settled. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions may be a worthwhile objective, but there is time to develop sensible energy policies.

Christopher Marmont, Oakville, Ont.

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Some 20 years ago, I stood on the continent of Antarctica, surrounded by an ice shelf and hundreds of gentoo penguins. I have seen photos of the exact spot taken by friends who visited last year. The giant icebergs of Paradise Bay have been reduced to mere bumps; the ice shelf is now water. One only has to see the comparison to believe the extent of climate change and what our planet is facing. We have a problem and it needs addressing now.

Andrea Marcus, Toronto

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While it's true that other countries are contributing more to CO2 emissions than Canada, it is also true that many are taking renewable energy much more seriously than Canada, including China.

David Waller, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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Those countries emitting the most carbon should be called out on that fact, irrespective of population. If humanity is going to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas, a good start is to identify where the biggest sources are.

Michael Lauzon, Toronto

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The Climate Change Performance Index last year ranked Canada 55 out of 58 countries in tackling climate change. China ranked 46th. Climate change puts our planet in peril. Rather than blame China, all nations – developed and developing alike – must do their part.

Patrick Imlay, Toronto

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The authors of a recent International Monetary Fund report – How Much Carbon Pricing is in Countries' Own Interests? The Critical Role of Co-Benefits – point out that even if you completely ignore the effect on global climate change, putting a price on CO2 emissions has substantial domestic benefits because of reduced air pollution (in countries which rely heavily on coal) and traffic congestion. For example, they calculate that for China, the optimal price on CO2 emissions would be about $60 a tonne, assuming a revenue-neutral carbon tax like B.C.'s.

If their conclusions hold up, this has huge political implications, because it means that getting countries to put a carbon price in place will be far easier than we thought. It's implausible to think that China would reduce its CO2 emissions to benefit the entire world, but it's not at all implausible to think that China would reduce its CO2 emissions to benefit itself.

Russil Wvong, Vancouver

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Call me a blind optimist, but if 35 per cent of the Canadian population are essentially flat-Earthers, that still leaves 65 per cent of us who accept that the Earth is round (Harper's Base Couldn't Care Less About Pollution – Sept. 24). Imagine what might happen if all of us science-loving round-Earthers show up to vote in 2015?

Gaye Taylor, Ottawa

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Stephen Harper's base cares about the effects of pollution, we just don't like being manipulated by the alarmist social agenda of those propagating the "global warming" campaign.

Rick Chase, Yangon, Burma

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Well done, Stephen Harper, for not getting caught up in all the hype surrounding climate politics. Keep on making prudent choices with a view to a continuation of your positive desire for a successful Canada.

Mark J. McCullough, Calgary

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Bombing isn't enough

Re Vote Would Precede Combat Role (Sept. 26): The West can bomb Islamic State terrorists from here to eternity and they still won't destroy them.

Only a massive ground army can eliminate the threat holed up in bomb-proof caves and scattered among the general population.

The mess in the Mideast can only be solved if enough moderate Muslims, under strong leaders, can find the courage to overlook their differences and declare all-out war on all terrorists. That's not going to happen any time soon.

William Bedford, Toronto

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The pull of Islamic State

We're told young men are joining Islamic State because it provides "jobs, additional stipends and sometimes cars" and that Arab nations must offer "greater economic opportunities" (Islamic State Is A Far Larger Problem For The Muslim World – Sept. 24). These thugs aren't beheading people because of the allure of a pickup truck. Men from the West aren't joining because of a career opportunity. Beliefs actually matter.

It's not hard to see how their behaviour is the direct result of their beliefs about the contents of a particular religious book.

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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Question and Answer

Re Democratic Respect? Resistance Is Futile (editorial, Sept. 26): Who'd have thought we would sink so low in this country when it comes to respect for Parliament that simply promising to actually provide relevant answers to questions in Question Period could be turned into part of an election platform?

Helena Simpson, St. John's

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No to metal detectors

Re Stabbing Victim Tried To Break Up Fight (Sept. 25): I applaud Toronto District School Board director Donna Quan for saying no to metal detectors in schools.

Yes, more diligence in all of society is needed. However, to prevent violence, let's focus on how we want our world to be, rather than on how we don't want it to be.

Let's focus on teaching emotional intelligence and peaceful resolution so kids can see there are other more effective ways of expressing anger than violence.

Susan T. Howson, Toronto

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