Can Canada Take Climate Change Lead from Iceland? Canadian/Icelandic Perspective..

Dr. Thor Edward Jakobsson

Dr. Thor Edward Jakobsson

Many see Iceland as a template for a green, sustainable future for our cities, our countries, and our world.

With almost unlimited geothermal energy sizzling beneath its surface, Iceland has an official goal of making the country oil-free by shifting cars, buses, trucks and ships over to hydrogen by about 2050. By then, in theory, the only oil used on the volcanic North Atlantic island will be in planes visiting Reykjavik airport. Car manufacturers from around the world have visited Iceland’s hydrogen projects to discuss fuel cell design. In April 2003, Shell opened the world’s first hydrogen filling station in Reykjavik.

Join Dr. Thor Edward Jakobsson, of the Icelandic Meteorological Office in Reykjavik, Iceland, he brings his unique Canadian/Icelandic perspective to free* and public University of Winnipeg OmniTRAX/Broe QUEST: North conference.

QUEST: North
The Circumpolar Reality -Global Citizens Respond
March 4 & 5, 2005 on The University of Winnipeg Campus

Born in Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Jakobsson received his high school education in Reykjavik. His post-secondary education in geophysics and meteorology took place at the Universities of Oslo and Bergen, Norway. He returned to Canada for his PhD in meteorology at McGill University. A research scientist at the Atmospheric Environment Service in Toronto from 1973 to 1979, Jakobsson went back to Iceland in 1979 to take on the role of Division Chief and Project Manager, Sea Ice Unit, Icelandic Meteorological Office in Reykjavik—a position he holds to this day. And from 1980 to 2003, he was an Adjunct Professor at the Physics Department of the University of Iceland.

Author of a number of scientific and educational books and articles, Jakobsson is a contributing author to the November 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report (ACIA)—a major focus of QUEST: North. The ACIA was prepared by more than 250 scientists from around the world and provides the strongest evidence yet that “the big melt has begun” and will have an enormous impact on life in all countries with territory extending into the Arctic. Jackobsson will bring a unique Canadian/Icelandic perspective on climate change.

Participants can join the quest by taking part in round table discussions, plenary sessions, and workshops with people making a difference here and abroad; viewing a unique documentary film festival featuring stories of the North and the impact of climate change on our world; discussing Canada’s response to Kyoto; finding out how global warming puts human rights and sovereignty at risk; and, developing actions plans to mitigate the impact of green house gas emissions.

Presented in partnership with CBC in Manitoba, QUEST: North features an impressive roster of invited lecturers, bringing together educators, policy makers, scientists, youth, people of Canada’s North, and activists. QUEST: North will feature high profile guestSheila Watt-Cloutier, whose organization represents the interests internationally of Inuit residents in Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Chukotka in the Far East of the Federation of Russia. Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On: the climate crisis, the cover-up, the prescription and The Boiling Point, will also be a keynote speaker at QUEST: North. Gelbspan is a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and reporter with The Philadelphia BulletinThe Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.

The Circumpolar Reality – Global Citizens Respond features a number of other award-winning journalists, activists, policy makers, and researchers, including:

  • Jack Anawack (Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, Foreign Affairs Canada)
  • Lloyd Axworthy (President, University of Winnipeg & Chair of the MB Climate Change Task Force)
  • Michael Byers (International Law Professor & Academic Director, Liu Institute)
  • Dennis Cunningham (International Institute of Sustainable Development, recently designated the “most effective sustainable development research group in the world”)
  • Kim Hickes (Climate Change Community Challenge Coordinator, North Central Community Futures Corporation)
  • Rob Huebert (Assistant Professor, Political Science & Associate Director for the Centre for Military & Strategic Studies, University of Calgary)
  • Gordon McBean (Professor & Research Chair, The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction & Departments of Geography & Political Science, University of Western Ontario)
  • Mike Ogborn (Managing Director, OmniTRAX)
  • Merrell-Ann Phare (Executive Director/Legal Counsel Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER))
  • Barry E. Prentice (Director of the Transport Institute, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences, University of Manitoba)
  • Luke Suluk (Implementation Coordinator, Nunavut Planning Commission)
  • Stephen C. Wright (Associate Professor Psychology, Simon Fraser University & Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology)

… and many more.

Terry MacLeod, host of Information Radio on CBC Radio One 990, will host the conference kick-off on Friday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. with an evening of music with Winnipeg’s own KIVA and throat singers, and dialogue with veteran journalist Ross Gelbspan. The all-day QUEST: North conference on Saturday, March 5, 2005 takes place on The University of Winnipeg campus in downtown Winnipeg.

On Saturday, March 5 at noon, participants will hear a report from students who returned from a trip to Churchill February 16. South Meets North & Back Again: Student Report on Churchill features students from the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba and the University College of the North. John Webb, CBC TV Producer/Mentor accompanied the students along with Danny Blair, University of Winnipeg PARC-MB Hydro Climate Change Research Professor; Bill Buhay, UWinnipeg Assistant Professor of Geography; and,Chuck Mrena, UWinnipeg’s Centre for Forest Interdisciplinary Research, Climate Change Research Coordinator. In Churchill, the students met people of the North, learned of their customs and traditions, and studied climate and how changes will impact the way of life in the North.

The two-day conference will conclude with a strategy-oriented plenary entitled Climate Change: Our Responsibility to Act as Global Citizens moderated by CBC Radio One 990 host Terry MacLeod, and featuring Watt-Cloutier, Gelbspan, UWinnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy, and Gordon McBean, Professor and Research Chair, The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and Departments of Geography & Political Science, University of Western Ontario.

QUEST: North is free* and open to all; however, The University of Winnipeg encourages all conference participants to bring along a canned good for donation to the UWSA FoodBank.

Visit for a complete schedule of events and to register.

The University of Winnipeg OmniTRAX/Broe Quest series is made possible through a $100,000 donation from the Broe Companies of Denver, Colorado, owners of the Port of Churchill. Under the leadership of CEO Patrick Broe, OmniTRAX has become the largest private operator of short-line railroads in North America, including the line that connects Churchill with Winnipeg. The University of Winnipeg OmniTRAX/Broe Quest series brings together faculty, staff, students, academics, activists, journalists, business people, and interested engaged citizens to dialogue—and take action—on today’s pressing issues.

*The only charge, should participants wish to eat lunch at the conference on March 5, is $2 for lunch.

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