The following is a presentation to Prince Edward Council by Don Chisholm, in the Climate Emergency debate.
In times of climate emergency
Without the Wind in our sails
Thank you for the opportunity to address council in these times of general acceptance that ‘civilization’ has a serious problem. Roots of the problem, as I see it, are:
Root One: Governments of nations, of provinces/states and counties pursue the goal of infinite ‘growth’. But what is ‘growth’?
Those who govern the various jurisdictions want to have ‘more humans doing more things’, collectively referred to has human-activity.
Root Two: We use monetary flow rates to measure all of this human-activity. Today’s money is created, not by our government, but by banks using high leverage fractional reserves. The supply of money is limitless but the physical goods that money can access are finite.
Root Three: The laws of physics explain that whenever anything physical happens, energy is expended. In our complex civilization ships, cars, trucks and airplanes enable a lot of things to happen. Each human-activity requires an energy expenditure.
Globally, about 70 % of civilization’s energy is based on fossil fuel – oil, gas and coal. And there is also a fossil fuel component within the other 30%. The concentrated energy of fossil fuel was created over billions of year by life-cycles and burial of plants. Energy for this plant growth came from sunshine mixed with wind and rain.
According to NASA scientist James Lovelock, in his book, ‘The Ages of Gaia’, our planet started out 4.5 billion years ago as a satellite of the sun. It had a high level of carbon dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere. The Co2 concentration caused a high surface temperature. Early lifeforms that thrived in a warm Co2 Climate emerged and multiplied. Ironically these early critters (cyanobacteria) expelled oxygen as their pollutant. After billions of years their oxygen output polluted the planet’s atmosphere to a degree that they began to die-off. As that was happening oxygen breathing critters evolved. Charles Darwin explained in ‘the origin of species, how billions of years of evolutionary cycles eventually produced us humans.
Unfortunately, we humans seem to be reversing this historic natural process as the pollutant Co2 from our fossil fuel based civilization is now putting nature’s historic carbon back into the atmosphere. There have been many warnings about the dire consequences of our fossil fuel addiction, including the 1972 ‘Limits To Growth Report’.
Today’s adults have grown up in the era of inventions and growth and finding new ways to spend energy. Leaders have refused to collectively acknowledge the gravity of our situation, even in the past couple decades as we simply say, we have, ‘A new norm’.
It has taken the message of a teenage girl Swedish girl called Greta Thunberg to finally get adults to listen as she points out that, “We are running out of time”.
Fortunately, many national and other levels of government had declared that, yes! We are in a climate emergency!
PEC leadership could show that we have understood and we will take whatever action is available to us. Energy is central to our problem, energy it is central to its resolution. We are in one of the best areas of Ontario to capture the free flowing wind energy. Surely it’s time for PEC leaders could reverse unfortunate decisions of the past and to state:
1: We acknowledge the climate emergency;
2: We are now willing hosts for wind energy development;
3: We petition our province to re-engage the intent of the Green Energy Act.
After all, our children of grandchildren are in the same predicament as Greta and all others who inherit the Earth when we are gone.