CSG Letters from the County Sustainability Group:
Canada faces hard decisions on climate change
Prince Edward County is one of the best sites in Canada for wind energy
Wind energy is now the lowest cost, emissions-free, energy available. Ignoring this, the Conservative government, backed by a very successful campaign by fossil fuel interests and supported by local resisters, have cancelled the County’s White Pines Wind Project with four of the nine turbines up and ready to capture wind energy. The previous Liberal government had also bowed to misguided political pressure and arbitrarily cancelled the offshore Trillium Wind Power project.
Together, Trillium Power’s 4 projects will generate approximately 3.5 GW (3,500 MW) of clean, reliable and affordable energy for all Ontarians. The White Pines Wind Project consists of 9 wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of 18.45 megawatts (MW).
Trillium is suing the Province for $500 million. The White Pines says the cost of the cancellation of their project is $100 million.
Times change. As Jennifer Ackerman says in the County Sustainability movie, Up in the Air, “This is huge!”
The development of blockchain technology and the availability of lowest-cost, carbon-free wind energy now offers an unique opportunity to Prince Edward. By developing a County microgrid system based on blockchain technology the County could now customize local energy demands, and grid disturbances like power outages can also be minimized. They can make a power grid greener, more cost efficient and more reliable. By taking full advantage of our wind resources, farmers deploying wind energy would receive a reliable, consistent source of funds so that they could concentrate on sustainable farming practices. Local residents would see a low-cost, stable energy price. Electrification of transportation would now be available. Heating homes with electricity would enjoy a renaissance. Homeowners with solar and/or e-cars, and those with solar contracts about to expire before 2030, would be able to sell their energy back to the microgrid. Prince Edward would be extremely attractive to businesses seeking to relocate or start up because of reliable, low-cost energy available in a progressive, sustainable community.
The deployment of wind power and solar power combined with blockchain technology would make a carbon-free energy target by 2030 possible.
The stories we tell ourselves are important
The stories we tell ourselves are important. They often subtly influence our behavior: our social beliefs, our politics, our economics, and our future. This influence is even more pronounced in our Creation stories.
Take, for example, the Judeo/Christian creation story.
In Genesis, God, who lives in Heaven, finishes Creation in seven days. Genesis tells us that Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden because Eve had foolishly eaten the apple of Knowledge. As a result, God expels Adam from Eden with instructions to go forth and subdue and bring into bondage the Earth for his own benefit.
Some argue that this establishes a duality between man and nature.
However in Genesis (cf Gen 2:15) God also instructs Adam to ‘till and keep’ the garden of the world. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature; where dominion cannot be anything other than a stewardship in symbiosis with all creatures.
The Haundenosaunee Creation story is quite different. It tells of Sky Woman falling from the Sky World and, guided by the wings of birds, she is safely guided to the back of a giant turtle floating in a vast body of water. But Sky Woman needs land to be able to flourish and grow. The animals, sympathetic to her plight, in turn dive down to the bottom of the water to try and get dirt. They are unsuccessful until–some say otter, some say muskrat–brings a few grains of dirt to Sky Woman. She places the few grains on the back of the turtle. Dancing counter-clockwise, Sky Woman gradually expands and creates Turtle Island and the plant life on it.
The story is one of kindness, compassion, cooperation and bravery–values also reflected in the Haudenosaunee Prayer.
The Prayer reminds us of our responsibility to Web of Life: what one does to one part of the Web of Life, we do to ourselves. The Prayer starts with the duty and responsibility to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. In turn, it gives thanks to Mother Earth; the Waters; the fish; the plants; the food plants; the medicine plants; the animals; the trees; the birds; the four winds; the thunders; the Sun; Grandmother Moon, the stars; the Wisdom Keepers; the Creator. Each part of the Prayer ends with the words, “And now we are all one.”
The emphasis is on unity and the sacred duty to live sustainably and in harmony with all life. Most of Canada’s first nations share this commitment to the web of life and the protection of Mother Earth.
Why is this important?
The Trudeau government wants to build a pipeline to ship bitumen extracted from the Alberta tar sands ecocide. It is argued that this is in the national interest.
First Nations are opposed because this would violate their sacred duty to protect nature.
The question remains, “Is it possible to build a sustainable economy based on ecocide? Is ecocide in the national interest?”
Time is of the essence
Submitted by Ron Hart for County Sustainability Group
The catastrophic effects of extreme weather are reported every day on our TV screens: more extreme weather, rising sea levels, diminishing Arctic sea ice, warming oceans making typhoons and sea surges more frequent. Pain everywhere. Daily.
The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change is urging governments to immediately move climate targets from 2 degrees C to 1.5 degrees C.
We are now at 1.2 degrees C.
As the New York Times reports,
“Half a degree may not sound like much. But as the report details, even that much warming could expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a stark degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.”
In other words, expect long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems. As planetary limits are breached we can also expect run-away climate feedback loops.
Changes that would normally occur over tens of thousands of years are occurring over little more than a hundred years.
Since the 19th century, the atmosphere has warmed 1 degree Celsius. If present trends continue we will hit 4 degrees C by the end of the century. Between now and an Ice Age is about 5 degrees. Still, the IPCC Report notes “Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”
The Report gives a sobering summary of the consequences we might face if global warming does exceed 1.5C..To keep to the 1.5C target, carbon prices would need to be three to four times higher than for 2C.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.
Canadian filmmaker Avi Lewis writes,
“…the UN has suddenly reached the very realization that gave rise to The Leap Manifesto in 2015: the only thing that can save us now is the total transformation of our political and economic system.”
He counsels ,
“…instead of wasting another decade on market-friendly tweaks and silver bullet technologies, we certainly can mobilize for real, democratic control over every part of our economies.”
However considering Canada’s record in maintaining climate change targets, Kent Moore, professor at the University of Toronto’s chemical and physical sciences, says,
” Our economy is so focused on use of carbon, and carbon extraction, and things like the oilsands. It’s really, really hard for us to reduce our use of carbon….Can we do it? Yes we can, but I think it would require a huge amount of pain on essentially all Canadians to get there.
Avi Lewis warns to beware of doom merchants, the pundits and deniers:
Let’s take a good, hard, clear-eyed look at the fucked-up future we are headed for, and decide — collectively — to leap to a safer, better place.
But taking a good, hard, clear-eyed look, forces us to consider the ticking 10-year clock.
This is unquestionably an unprecedented emergency for Canada.
Because of the checks and balances between federal, provincial, the Canadian Senate, and the role of the Opposition, legislation requires lengthy periods of consultation before it is finally enacted. Realistically, we don’t have the time to achieve the necessary measures to keep within the 1.5 degree UN target if we follow business as usual.
Some suggest that Canada has introduced overarching emergency action in the past when time is of the essence and the perfect is the enemy of the good.
For example, the government could enact a Canadian Climate Emergency Act , an act to control extractive industries, transportation, trade and manufacturing and all GHG emissions without interference from the provinces, opposition parties, the Senate and the media. It could also include measures to limit false information, whatever the source.
Yes, democracy would take a temporary hit. But government needs to seriously, quickly, consider every option.
Whatever you decide, be sure to write to your representatives and voice your concern. Time is of the essence.
Clear-cutting White Pines and Other Green Forests
Column printed in the County Weekly News, Aug 6, 2018
By the County Sustainability Group
If Ontario is to do its part to stem global climate change, the election of Doug Ford as Premier of Ontario with unrestricted majority control looks like a major step backwards. We may have just driven over the cliff! It is worth investigating how we got to this point.
The first contributing factor is our first-past-the-post, provincial electoral system that fails to provide proportional representation in Queen’s Park. The second factor is voter apathy, as shown by consistently low voter turnout. Many voters feel their vote is wasted if it doesn’t result in representation by someone in the legislature. Ford vaulted into the Premier’s office with a majority through the support of only 23% of eligible voters. The third factor was Premier Wynne’s failure to step down a year ago when her popularity had plummeted and it was statistically time for new leadership.
Prior to this election, Ontario created a strong green track record that had become the envy of many around the world. We became leaders in developing solar and wind energy. Liberals eliminated coal-fired electricity generation, getting rid of millions of tons of CO2 emissions and eliminating dozens of smog days per year. Long term mismanagement of Hydro One was mostly fixed- it was both paying for itself and our decades-old nuclear debt. The Ontario government should have saved billions by considering the NDP’s proposal to replace nuclear with renewable hydro power from Quebec.
Ontario implemented a carbon cap-and-trade program in partnership with California, Quebec and other governments which earned Ontario several billion annually which was used for green initiatives such as the GreenOn program. One of the strongest electric vehicle incentive programs in the world was developed – an ideal companion for wind and solar energy in view of the relatively short term future for fossil fuels and their corresponding CO2 emissions.
But rapid progress in positive directions has its more ‘conservative’ detractors. As the Prince Edward County population ages and becomes suburbanized it has become a global leader in anti-wind hysteria. During the 18 year fight against renewable energy by a small but hard core group, wind farms that would have been producing clean energy to help The County in our fight against climate change were killed. This is not something anyone should now be celebrating. There is an online petition to Save the White Pines Wind Project that now has 12,170 signatures which you can add your name to at https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/stop-the-white-pines-wind-project-termination-act or by visiting Live, Laugh, Eat Bakery and Variety Shop in Milford at 3020 County Road 10.
While USA and the world has to deal with Trump and his reversals of pro-environmental policies, everyone now has to deal with Ford. Since being elected , his terrible environmental decisions are reckless, short-sighted and show no regard for the health and welfare of this or future generations, not only in Ontario but globally. There are no reasonable justifications for cancelling 758 renewable energy projects, terminating legal ongoing contracts with WPD for the White Pines Wind Farm in PEC, ending the GEEA ( Green Energy & Economy Act ) , withdrawing from the Cap & Trade system, refusing to participate in federally mandated emissions programs, and promoting dangerous and costly nuclear energy.
In the meantime, we have entered the era of ‘The New Norm’: Massive forest fires, rapidly changing weather patterns, extreme heat waves and the exponential rate of extinction of species we share this Earth with. CO2 levels are rising and have reached between 405 and 412 PPM ,O2 production is falling and oceans are warming as a result of human behaviour. Is this the legacy our generation wants to leave for our children and grandchildren to deal with?