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Posted on on October 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

This week – Iceland’s leader, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, talks about Climate Change – First in Reykjavik and thenn in Senator Harkins’ Des Moines, Iowa

Sorry to say – we found no internet postings yet of content from the Reykjavik meeting but interesting material comes out from DesMoines.  Mainly by  Joel Aschbrenner of the DesMoines Register.
October 16, 2013
The Bacon Board meets the president of Iceland
The Bacon Board meets the president of Iceland: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival organizers met with President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson during his visit to Des Moines

Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson envisions a day when his island nation will be a net exporter of tomatoes.

Making the inaugural address at Drake University’s Harkin Institute, Grímsson made a case for combating climate change with clean energy. His country now gets more than 85 percent of its power from renewable sources, like geothermal energy used to heat homes, drive power plants and even warm the greenhouses’ tomatoes.

“You could do the same thing in Alaska,” Grímsson joked. “And you could sell those Alaskan tomatoes at Whole Foods. It’s a great marketing idea.”

Produce aside, Grímsson focused on the importance of slowing the melt of glaciers around the globe. Melting glaciers are poised to raise sea levels, shift global weather patterns and alter rivers that provide water for crops that feed nearly a third of the world’s population, scientists say.

The challenge, Grímmson said, is erasing the perception that climate change affects only those who live near glaciers or ice caps, in places like Iceland.

“We live in an ice-dependent world,” he said. “In every country in every continent, our weather, our climate, our cities are dependent in way or another on what happens to the ice.”

Grimsson and Sen. Tom Harkin have been friends for decades. Harkin spoke last week at the inaugural Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city.

The event drew participants from dozens of countries to discuss climate change, economic development and shipping lanes in the Arctic.

In the 1980s, the two worked together in Moscow with Parliamentarians for Global Action, an international network of legislators, to advocate for nuclear treaties.

Iceland, a country with fewer residents than the Des Moines area, has positioned itself as a leader in green energy. The nation is working with giants China and India, helping them develop strategies for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

The addition of China, which has long been lamented as a major polluter, to the conversation about climate change represents a crossroads in global policy, Grímsson said.

“China has been used as an excuse for non-action,” the president said. “But now we are witness to what I believe is an undeniable shift.”




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