“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled”.
— Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Laureate Physicist
“The necessary wealth, resources, technologies and ideas are out there. What is missing is the political will to implement”.
— Charles Secrett, Environmentalist
During the last federal election a number of issues of importance to Canadians and to CARP’s Advocacy—the economy, health care and pension reform—were prominent talking points for all political parties. But one issue got short shrift—the environment, our energy supply and global warming.
The irony was that the silence on the subject was occurring at a time when gasoline prices were at an all-time high; Canada was getting dubious achievement awards from the international community for its lack of a constructive environmental policy; and concern about the rising costs of electricity bills was a daily topic in households throughout the country.
CARP and its members noticed the absence of intelligent discussion on the matter and think it’s an issue of too much significance to let pass in silence. Our objective is to engage a non-partisan view on these complex and evolving issues and to promote civil discourse to get beyond polarized and ideological arguments. The discussion can’t be left to the eco-warriors and the defenders of the status quo.
Most people live a fair distance away from oceans, glaciers and polar ice packs, so we rarely have a first-hand opportunity to see the environmental impact of greenhouse gases (GHG) in those areas. Similarly, most of us don’t live close to coal mines, oil rigs, or tar sands, or near large-scale wind or solar farms, so don’t live with the presence of either conventional or new energy technologies on an ongoing basis.
That’s why we encourage discussion about the interconnectedness of the environment, global warming and energy policy.
• The cost of energy for our homes, automobiles, businesses, travel and recreation is on the rise and will continue to be so.
• Demand for energy throughout the world, including developing economies such as China, Brazil and India, is spiking and driving the world price of non-renewable fossil fuels higher and higher.
• Renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal are becoming viable, affordable and sustainable as supplementary energy sources. • The scientific evidence indicates that the percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is at an all time high and is increasing with negative consequences world wide.
• Energy prices are a concern now, but the brunt of global warming will be born by future generations, which makes it an ethical issue today.
Of course there are no easy or cost-free solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or for increasing the utilization of sustainable energy sources. There are pros and cons to all energy sources and even the alternative sources have some negative environmental impact, such as threats to natural habitats and migratory birds, etc. But, we can’t let that deter us from moving forward.
Energy and the environment may have been given short shrift during the last federal election, but there will be five provincial elections in Canada this fall, so let’s make sure these issues are on the agenda. Is there political will to:
• Supplement the energy produced at existing power plants with alternative energy means, and convert some of those plants to operate on different fuels?
• Shift away from complete reliance on a few concentrated energy production facilities by adding new alternative sources, some feeding into the existing “grid” and some supplying local, or even individual needs?
• Provide practical, economical and convenient ways for households and small businesses to adopt new technologies to provide for some or all of their own energy needs?
• Use advances in technology as well as simple changes in human behavior to reduce consumption without requiring people to make major compromises or sacrifices?