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Are scientists evolving into climate crusaders?

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The language in the report will be a carefully chosen. You won't see words like catastrophic or chaotic, said Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the U.K. Researchers should stay away from apocalyptic terms when they talk about global warming, he said, and not ignore the uncertainties over what kind of changes global warming will bring, and when they will occur.

Dr. McBean tries not to use the word catastrophe, even though he chairs the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at the University of Western Ontario, which is partly funded by the insurance industry.

"I don't think the Earth is going to be unlivable in 100 years."

But he does believe some of the impacts of global warming will be irreversible, and that Canada, a greenhouse laggard, must start reducing emissions.

The Liberals, under former prime minister Jean Chrétien, agreed to ratify Kyoto, but did nothing to meet Canada's ambitious commitment to cut emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels. Instead, the country has increased its greenhouse-gas output by about 30 per cent.

The Conservatives announced a plan that would require no absolute reductions until after 2020, but earlier this year Mr. Harper said he would do "a lot more" about climate change.

Dr. McBean said we need aggressive targets for 2050, well beyond 50 per cent, and legislation on emission reductions that can't be revoked by a change of government.

He says it feels good to speak his mind.

"It feels like the right thing to do."

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