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Summer's hot air

Summer if off to its usual eventful start. There have been soaring and dipping temperatures in the Midwest and East, A tropical downpour that has flooded Florida and the Gulf coast, while out in the West, raging wildfires have caused devastation in several states, most notably Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Meanwhile, a new study points to sea levels along the eastern seaboard rising at a rate that is even faster than long predicted. Extremes, certainly if you pay close attention to the news, would appear to be the new normal.

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Against this uncomfortable backdrop, the future of the planet came up for yet another discussion at the latest Earth Summit in Rio last week where the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - dubbed Rio+20 - turned into a sadly predictable affair that produced far more hot air than cool, calculated action.

If global warming is indeed occurring at the rate that some say it is, we are destined to become mere spectators to the sort of profound changes that will affect the lives of current and future generations to a degree that is not yet even imagined.