Saturday, May 25, 2024

Thoughts on Climate Change & Green Energy Projects

Dear Editor,

The Pumped Storage Proposal retrospectives left me wondering whether people would still oppose green energy projects if they understood where we stand on fighting Climate Change. Especially in Canada. Because I doubt they could.

So, uh, I wrote another letter.

The science of Climate Change is actually pretty simple. The math of Climate Change is too. What complicates doing what needs to be done is human selfishness and greed.

John Tyndall demonstrated that a small portion of the different gases in Earth’s atmosphere heat it – way out of proportion to the tiny amounts of gas involved – around 1859. Svante Arrhenius quantified this – what is now known as the Greenhouse Effect – more than 100 years ago. Exxon Mobil scientists alerted Exxon executives that CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels were affecting the Earth’s climate. In 1977. (They were told to keep it quiet). Dr. James Hansen of NASA warned Congress in 1988. (Hansen was ignored). We’ve understood the basics – for a very long time.

Scientists have quantified the extent and risks of the problem with a high degree of precision and confidence. To the point we know how much more CO2 and methane (CH4, Natural gas. It’s over 80 times worse than CO2) humans can still add to the atmosphere before suffering the consequences of 1.5- or 2-degree C increases in Earth’s temperature. This is known as the Carbon Budget. Want to avoid the horrible things that will happen? Stick to the Budget. We understand the math.

It’s kiddie math to divide the Carbon Budget by the number of humans on Earth. To estimate the amount of additional CO2 every human must average to. To prevent the worst. Multiply by the population to get your country’s Carbon Budget. Everyone has one. It’s all the same atmosphere. We have one planet to work with.

Basic science. Simple math. Then people get involved. This is where it gets bad.

Developing countries (Rural China, India, much of Africa) believe their people are entitled to electricity in their homes, heat, tractors on their farms, buses, and maybe even a vehicle in their driveway too. Canada, America, and Europe have had them all for 100 years. Difficult to argue with that. Why shouldn’t they have what we already enjoy? They’ll need a larger share of the Carbon Budget than the average to get there though. Canada, America, and Europe are all “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Sure. We caused this problem. Everybody knows that. But if you get the stuff we have, the problem will get worse. Plus, we need more than our share or we might need to ratchet back our lifestyles.”

The main thing though is that even if the world decides to screw over the billions of their fellow humans in China, India, and elsewhere, we KNOW without a doubt what the amount of CO2 per human NEEDS to be below. Ideally even less.

So, the Carbon Budget is clear, but splitting it up requires overcoming human greed and selfishness. What selfishness?

An example I read beautifully illustrates this problem. I hoped to share it with your readers.

(Sorry to put you all through that preamble, but it’s the only way the example makes sense.)

The individual I read suggests we consider the Carbon Budget like the buffet at a big event. We know there isn’t as much at the buffet table as everyone would like. And there won’t be. Can’t be. But we know how much is there – at most – for each individual present. If everyone gets their share.

Canada produces three times the CO2 per person compared to the average person in the world. We’re Top 10 – one of the worst CO2 emitters per capita in the world. That’s now. Not at all what it would need to be to stick to our Carbon Budget.

So, when the line forms at the Carbon Budget buffet table, Canada’s front of the line, plate in hand. And two more plates in the other hand. When Canada fills three plates from the buffet, that leaves nothing for the plates of two others further back in line. Canada leaves nothing on the table for those guys.

So, Canada should be doing much more than most other countries to fight climate change. Not trying to get away with doing less. And Canada urgently needs fully implemented green energy solutions to do our part. (Please see: Pumped Storage Proposals – Meaford, Ontario)

Every day in Canada, someone repeats the fossil fuel mantra. Our MP, Alex Ruff, did to concerned constituents on May 25, 2023. Saying “Canada is responsible for 1.6 per cent of global emissions and so what’s done here “won’t change anything” when “China’s putting more coal plants online every month.”

It is my hope that if you and your readers hear anyone, ever, (Not just Mr. Ruff, or Pierre Poilievre, Danielle Smith, Scott Moe etc.) repeat their mantra, you will immediately get an image in your mind that you cannot shake out.

An image of that person at the buffet table. With plate in hand.

And two more plates in their other hand.

I still don’t know what it will take to get everyone on board with green energy projects. How we can motivate the doubters to actually join the fight against Climate Change. Instead of fighting to make it worse.

But I still believe a good start is calling out – publicly – all misleading claims. Challenging any and all deliberate attempts to mislead and misinform us. Every time.

Thank you for making that possible for us in Meaford.

It’s too important to not do so.

Bruce Mason, Meaford

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