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How a two-degree increase would hit home in Canada

Bad for skiing, good for golf. Hard on the St. Lawrence seaway, a boon for the cod fishery.

Rather than just worrying about the effects of global warming, a new study projects the actual impact on Canada's environment and economy, if the planet experiences an increase of two degrees this century.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society have projected 60 different ways the rise will reshape the Canadian landscape. Keeping the increase in planetary temperatures due to human activity to within two degrees over pre-industrial levels is the goal Canada and other nations have set for themselves.

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A rise of two degrees would halve the amount of summer Arctic sea ice, greatly reduce the runoff in the South Saskatchewan River basin and impede shipping through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, the report concludes.

But it could also expand the size of the northern forest and grow cod stocks north of the 60th parallel.

"Climate change is not just a theory. It's taking place now," NRTEE chairman Robert Page said in a statement. "That means we must go beyond cutting carbon emissions. We must start adapting our behaviour, our communities, and our economic activity to the emerging reality of climate change."

David Johnston, the new Governor-General, will speak at a reception this evening to mark the release of the report. He is the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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