Geography professor Barry Smit represented Canada at the 2010 Federation Dialogue in Canberra, Australia, which was hosted by the Canadian High Commission earlier this month. The Federation Dialogue Series was created in 2001 to celebrate Australia’s Centenary of Federation; it brings together eminent Canadians and Australians to discuss issues of mutual interest to the two countries.
The 2010 dialogue was between Smit, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, and Prof. Stephen Dovers of the Australian National University. The two discussed “Polar Bears and Bush Fires: Federal Management of Resources and Climate Change in Canada and Australia.”
Past Federation Dialogue participants have included Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour, Federal Court of Australia Justice Marcus Einfeld, former Nunavut premier Paul Okalik, and Canadian writers Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood.
Smit is also the 2010 visiting scholar for the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand. He recently toured both countries, giving public presentations in seven cities, meeting with numerous research groups and government agencies, and appearing on Australian national radio and television.
Among his presentations was a lecture at the Australian University of Wollongong in New South Wales on April 9. His topic was “Fact and Fantasy in the Fractured Science and Politics of Climate Change.” Smit discussed the physical and human forces underlying climate change and its implications for the environment and development. He also compared Canada and Australia in terms of the role science and politics play in national and international policy responses.
Smit recently served as a member of the Ontario Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and was a contributing author in the report “Adaptating to Climate Change in Ontario'” from the Ministry of the Environment. He has also served on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1998 and was lead author of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report issued in 2007. The IPCC team, including Smit, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with environmental activist and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.