Monday, December 25, 2006

Our Carbon Emissions Reduction Actions in 2006

As the year draws to a close, it's a good time to review the main things we did to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in 2006. Thanks to these actions, we have become more energy- and carbon-efficient without detrimental effects on our lifestyle or (gasp!) "freezing in the dark":

  1. Telecommuting: One of us is now telecommuting full time, working from home instead of driving to the office four days a week. Convincing an employer to go this route can take a few years and lots of negotiations, but it's definitely worth all the effort. In addition to a major cut in carbon and smog-producing emissions, telecommuting is much less stressful and leaves more time for important things like sleep and being with the family.
  2. Adjusting the Programmable Thermostat: We have a 7-day programmable thermostat. This year, we readjusted the thermostat to 26 Celsius in the summer to reduce air conditioning. Many people spend thousands of dollars on vacations to places with this type of temperature, so we feel no need to pay to keep our house colder. Our finished and well-insulated basement stays a bit cooler than 26 degrees anyway (just a bit of geothermal bonus?), so we can keep our home office is there in the summer. We set it for 19.5 Celsius in the winter to reduce the need for heating. The upstairs part of our house is usually warmer than that anyway. Those temperatures apply when we are at home and awake -- we program even more energy savings for times when we are away or asleep.
  3. Insulation: We insulated the crawl space that is under part of our ground floor to R12 (walls) and R20 (top of joists). That had been the top recommendation from the (now sadly discontinued) Energuide For Houses audit. We used the least expensive option that is also the most chemically inert (no risk of out-gassing into our house): fiberglass insulation. The floor above the crawl-space went from freezing to merely cool in the winter, and we are probably saving money on heating already.
  4. Shopping by Bike: We went grocery-shopping by bicycle instead of driving to the store, weather permitting. We have a bike trailer for the groceries and a child seat (on our other bike) for our daughter -- she loves going to the store by bike and asks for it herself on occasion. Not only did we reduce pollution, we also got some exercise and fresh air. Actually, the store is uphill from our house, so the exercise was mostly going there -- going back with a heavy load of groceries was a breeze, thanks to the free "gravity assist" :-) With the unusually warm weather this winter, we've even been able to do this in December!
  5. Air-Drying Clothes: We started hanging our clothes to dry when possible rather than use the electric clothes drier. This takes a bit more work up-front as you cannot just dump the wet load into the drier, but the clothes are easier to fold when they're dry since they're not all scrunched up. We hung the clothes outside on sunny summer days, and inside in part of the basement at other times.
  6. Efficient Lights: We finished converting most of our light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL). This typically cuts energy use from 60 Watts to 15 Watts per bulb. We even found tiny C40-type CFL bulbs for our wall-lights at IKEA, cutting energy use from 25 Watts to 7 Watts per wall-light. The only non-CFL (i.e. incandescent) lights we have left are on dimmer switches, allowing us to use less energy most of the time, when we do not need maximum brightness. At our daughter's birthday, we gave a free CFL bulb as a "thank you" gift to each guest family, helping to promote the conservation message among friends and relatives. (Note: all of our Holiday Lights already were of the energy-miser LED [Light-Emitting Diode] variety since last year.)
  7. Cutting Stand-By Power: We cut down on stand-by power use from appliances and chargers by putting the TV, stereo, microwave, computers, and high-speed modem/network box on power strips. We shut off the power strips when the appliance is not in use, or unplug the charger when the charging is done.
  8. Carbon Offset: We asked for Carbon Offsets instead of conventional gifts for the Holidays. We got a certificate for a 1-tonne GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Offset from the Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-op.
  9. Coming Soon -- 100% Renewable Electricity: We signed up for Bullfrog Power, which will provide all of our household electricity from 100% renewable sources, i.e. EcoLogo Certified Small-Scale Hydro, as well as Wind Power. Unfortunately, it take a long time to switch electricity providers even after signing all the paperwork. Bullfrog Power will become our supplier on January 12, 2007, helping us to start the new year on a positive note.

Additional ideas that we are testing include using a web cam to allow family members to see us and our daughter without having to drive to visit. We are also researching options for buying the most fuel-efficient replacement car (e.g. a hybrid or subcompact instead of an already-efficient compact), though this is a longer-term proposition.

We are not carbon-neutral yet, but we are working in that direction through a process of continuous improvement, as our finances and circumstances permit.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Save Santa - Save the Planet

Here's a cute video. Thanks to deSmog Blog for pointing it out!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The rake's progress

Now that fall is here, and the leaves are scattered on the ground, many of us worry about how to tidy them up. Well, Home Depot has a simple, yet sexy solution... the good old rake! (Thanks to for pointing out the link.)

Not only does this rake look good - you'll look good using it! And the exercise you get from raking your leaves will help you stay in tip-top form. In fact, why not get a few rakes and turn it into a family activity. My daughter just loves raking the leaves - an attitude I'm heartily encouraging!

I'm glad to see Home Depot finally putting some effort into selling low-carbon solutions to yard work. They certainly have big-enough displays of the noisy, gas-guzzling kind at their stores.

And don't think you'll save any time using a leaf-blower. According to this story, a grandmother in her late 50s "cleaned the areas using rakes or brooms faster than any of the battery powered blowers and almost as fast as the gas powered leaf blowers and she did a better job in cleaning up the areas".

I just wish I could send a copy of the Home Depot EcoOptions magazine to a fellow I saw a few weeks ago. Not only was he using a leaf-blower (ick!), but he left it unattended, running, and belching blue-grey smoke out in front of his house. Don't let this happen to you! The moral of the tale is: "For idling hearts and hands and minds the Devil finds a work to do." (Apologies to Igor Stravinsky.)

(An interesting aside - apparently, "it’s a little-known fact that the number of human calories expended world-wide in raking leaves each year roughly equals π times the number of arboreal calories required to make the leaves throughout the preceding year." Believe it - or don't!)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Norway 1, Canada 0 on Climate Change

In "Canada: Reality emissions check: business wins, we don't," Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson provides an excellent summary of the sorry state of Canada's climate change foot-dragging, especially when compared to the success of other countries, even oil-producing Norway. He also makes many other good points.

Thanks to for providing access to the full text of this important column, which would otherwise require Globe and Mail registration (the registration is free, but it is still a potential deterrent due to the hassle and privacy concerns). The original Globe and Mail page is here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fooling Most of the People Some of the Time

There have been media reports about widespread opposition to the Tory "Hot Air" Act. But most Canadians might still have been duped into complacency:

Polling Data

The Conservative government led by Stephen Harper has pledged to introduce a new environmental agenda to address smog as well as greenhouse gas emissions. They have said that Canada cannot meet the commitments made under the Kyoto Agreement by the previous Liberal government. How confident are you that the government’s new plan will come to grips with the environmental problems facing Canada?

High confidence


Moderate confidence


Low confidence


Not sure


Source: Ekos Research Associates / Toronto Star
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,211 Canadian adults, conducted from Oct. 10 to Oct. 12, 2006. Margin of error is 2.8 per cent. [As Reported by Angus Reid. Emphasis added.]

Oddly, it does not say "...2.8 per cent 19 times out of 20" which is more common in reporting poll results. But if the poll is correct, we have work to do.

Another interesting question raised by this report is this: are Canadians getting the truth about climate change from pollsters and consultants? Angus Reid's page (linked above) contains this little "gem":
Some theories say that climate change might be the result of human-generated carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases [emphasis added].
Sure, and "some theories" say that most lung cancer "might be the caused by" tobacco smoke.*

In reality,
The prevailing scientific opinion on climate change is that 'most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities'[1]. (Source) '

[The Source link and the links within the quote have been standardized to provide stable URLs.]
Only a few "climate skeptics" still cling to the notion that humans have nothing to do with climate change. The skeptics are the ones who might be said to have "some theories". At least some of these "skeptics" are financed directly or indirectly by fossil-fuel companies like Exxon (see desmogblog coverage; for a Canadian story about of industry and "skeptics," see "Mr. Cool" and the subsequent fallout).

In any event, if most Canadians are confused enough to believe that the Tories' plan is reasonable, then the various obfuscation methods are working. Clarifying the issues and debunking the myths is more important than ever.

* For more on the link between the old tobacco spin-masters and the new climate denial ones, see the post on "Monbiot, TASSC and the tobacco, climate change cover-up" in

Thursday, October 19, 2006

No 'clean air' from Ambrose

The Tories just don't get it. Many leading climatologists have warned us that we have at most 10 years to get our act together and deal seriously with climate change.

So how is it that the best we could do here in Canada is three more years of consultations (after we've already been 'consulting' for eons), only 'intensity-based' targets, and no real cuts to GHG emissions until some time after 2020???

Here is the section of the Notice of Regulatory Intent that lays out the timeline for the so-called targets [our comments in brackets]:

Short-term (2010-2015)

* For air pollutants: the Government intends to adopt a target-setting approach based on fixed caps. [As predicted earlier in this blog.]
* For GHGs: the Government intends to adopt a target-setting approach based on emissions intensity, one that will yield a better outcome for the Canadian environment than under the plan previously proposed on July 16, 2005 and show real progress on the environment here in Canada. [Such lovely spin!]

Medium-term (2020-2025) [What's happening from 2016-2019? Apparently we're just twiddling our thumbs for 4 years!]

* For air pollutants: the Government will continue to employ a fixed cap approach to target-setting.
* For GHGs: the Government will build upon the emissions intensity approach with intensity targets that are ambitious enough to lead to absolute reductions in emissions and thus support the establishment of a fixed cap on emissions during this period. [Well, at least they're ambitious intensity-targets!]

Long-term (2050) [And we're doing what from 2026-2049?]

* For air pollutants: the Government will continue to employ a fixed cap approach to target-setting.
* For GHGs: the Government is committed to achieving an absolute reduction in GHG emissions between 45 and 65% from 2003 levels by 2050, and will ask the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy for advice on the specific target to be selected and scenarios for how the target could be achieved. [Why are they waffling here? The NRTEE has already stated that a 60% reduction by 2050 is achievable!]

The targets and timelines for each sector will be the subject of ongoing analytical work and consultations. [Of course!]

The only items that are being moved on immediately are the emissions from On-Road and Off-Road Vehicles and Engines, and from some commercial and consumer products. It's great to address these problems, but this is very far from what we need to do. We need mandatory GHG emission caps - and the sooner the better!

The introduction to this document makes it clear that the Tories still have not much interest in the problem of climate change - the "Rationale for action" section has a heavy emphasis on air pollution, with only a passing mention of the climate change issue.

Unfortunately, it seems that the only Tory who does understand the serious doo-doo we'll find ourselves in if we don't act urgently has been kicked out of caucus. Not that this will help the Harper government. I'm sure Mr. Turner will continue to have lots to say.

For more commentary on the Tory 'plan', see:

The NDP news release:
"The Conservatives' made-in-Washington green plan means it will be years before any action will be taken to reduce pollution and halt climate change."

They're not kidding about the 'made-in-Washington' bit - the Notice of Regulatory Intent (where they describe their targets and timelines) is full of references to aligning our standards to US standards. If it were truly a made-in-Canada plan, we'd be setting our own targets and standard based on world-wide best practices!

The David Suzuki Foundation news release:

The federal governmentÂ’s new Clean Air Act will actually lead to increased pollution

From the Sierra Club news release:

“No targets means no accountability,” said John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor - Energy “This announcement is nothing more than a recipe for delay. Adopting the Bush Administrations standards will not lower emissions from vehicles.”

Liberal Environment critic John Godfrey said:
“Will the Environment Minister Rona Abrose admit that her real intention is to delay action on climate change for years when she already has the tools she needs to act today?”

Sustainability Through Oil -- Another Conservative Pipe Dream

As widely reported in Canadian media the Harper Government introduced their much-anticipated "Clean Air Act". It was met with a well-deserved chorus of jeers from everyone except the Tories' patrons at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. (See also today's other post in this Blog.) Meanwhile, Harper revealed his true colours as a political clone of G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney in a truly remarkable speech:
"Speaking to a convention of insurance brokers, Mr. Harper explained that the energy sector's contributions to the Canadian economy make it possible for the nation's high quality of life to continue.

'For international investors, the most important sector story I have to tell is energy,' the Prime Minister told a packed convention hall.

'Canada is an emerging energy superpower.'

Alberta's oil sands, he said, are the 'second-largest proven petroleum reserves on the planet.'"

[Emphasis added.]

And in a truly surreal twist,
"He linked the country's economic sustainability to lower taxes, better child care and Canadians' confidence in the future."
News Flash, Mr. PM:
  • You cannot have any long-term "economic sustainability" based on an inherently non-sustainable, non-renewable resource like oil -- that is guaranteed to run out even sooner thanks to your policies!
  • Prosperity for Alberta and other oil-exporting parts of Canada may mean poverty for other parts of the country.
"The Canadian dollar is increasingly viewed as a petrocurrency. As the price of oil rises, oil-related export revenues rise, and thus constitute a larger compononent of Canadian exports. Thus, the movements of the Canadian dollar have become increasingly correlated with price of oil." (Source)
And the more the Canadian Dollar rises, the harder it is to export anything else, like manufactured goods. Manufacturing-heavy Ontario is already on the brink of a recession this year (2006) according to the Royal Bank. They try to spin it by claiming that a relatively strong Canadian Dollar "...will continue to fuel imports of machinery and equipment by Canadian businesses, investment which eventually should bolster Canada's lagging productivity." But John Johnston, chief strategist, The Harbour Group at RBC Dominion Securities said that
"...the best thing for the struggling manufacturing sector in Ontario would be a five cent drop in the Canadian dollar."
  • Endangering the future of our children by doing nothing serious about climate change is not a way of "caring" for them! (Never mind that your Government's actual "Child Care Plan" is also a sad joke -- but that's a topic for a whole other Blog).
  • It is hard to have "confidence in our future" if glaciers continue to melt, oceans rise, freak storms wreak havoc, thousands of species go extinct, and the rest of the world fries -- which is going to be that much more likely thanks to Harper's policies!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jet Stream Extreme? A Severe Winter Storm in Mid-October, the "Dust Bowl" Creeps Back...

We've just had an unprecedented winter storm in Ontario and Upstate New York -- in autumn. Might this be related to anomalies in the Jet Stream, and is there a link to global warming? I'm not a meteorologist, but I don't remember seeing this sort of Jet Stream before. Usually, the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream is a wavy line circling the entire globe. But Environment Canada's chart for Friday, October 13, 2006 at 18:00 UTC (2:00 PM EDT) was forecasting a small circle of Jet Stream surrounding just the Province of Ontario! Check out the screenshot below (the Jet Stream is represented by the thick red lines):

(Source:, accessed on 2006-10-12, 4:56 PM EDT)

It's fairly well-known that "...the path of the jet stream steers... storm systems at lower levels in the atmosphere...."

Coincidentally (or not)
on October (not November!) 13, 2006, we got this: "'Historic' October snowstorm blasts Niagara Region". Moreover,
Environment Canada said the storm brought 'significant snowfalls of historic proportions.'

'This really does stand out as a historic event and one that will be looked at by meteorologists in a number of years to come,' said Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada who specializes in warning preparedness.
Nearby, in Buffalo, NY, USA, three people are dead.
'Our street looked like it was hit by a hurricane. It looks like the apocalypse. ItÂ’s unreal,' said [Buffalo resident] Matthew Colken, who lost power at 4 a.m. 'One hundred-year-old trees are down.' (Source: Toronto Star.)
I know that these are the words of a possibly distraught disaster victim in a country where Apocalypticism (or its close relative, Millenarianism) is a known historical current. Still, I cannot help but find this quote to be, how shall we say... chilling.

Yes, it is unscientific to attribute any one weather event to global warming. Global warming deals with patters of weather events (climate), not predicting single events. Still, I cannot help but wonder: are we likely to see more Jet Stream anomalies and extreme weather (both heat and cold) if global warming continues?

By the way, in May 2006, Jet Stream shifts due to warm ocean temperatures were implicated in causing the notorious "dust bowl" of the 1930s. Here's another headline, from later in May 2006: "Report: Jet stream shift is expanding the Earth's tropics and deserts" [emphasis added]. So now we're talking about the present and future. Is the nightmare of the 1930s on its way back? Does the Harper Government care?

Memo to self: Bruce Sterling's novel, Heavy Weather, would make a nice holiday gift for Harper! (Book preview -, local library search -
  • Plot Spoiler warning... If I recall correctly, in this book, the Jet Stream gets so out of hand that it crashes down to ground level and causes unimaginable "F-6" level storms. A bit far-fetched -- or is it?

Hey Harper, To Cut Smog, Reduce Global Warming!

In his speech on October 10, 2006, Stephen Harper promised to “ a holistic approach that doesn't treat the related issues of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in isolation." Does this sound too good to be true, when it comes from Mr. Harper? Unfortunately, it is! His main target is smog rather than global warming. But his plan may achieve nothing, or even make things worse -– for both global warming and smog.

The Globe and Mail reports: responding to questions in Vancouver, Mr. Harper uttered a phrase that had the opposition fuming. 'We will produce intensity-based targets over the short range and the long term and they will cover a range of emissions, not just carbon dioxide, but nitrous oxide, sulphur oxide, sulphur dioxide; so it will be a comprehensive plan,' the Prime Minister said.

[...] 'intensity-based' [...] means industries would have to reduce emissions per unit of production, such as per barrel of oil.

Lowering emissions per unit, however, does not mean that Canada's total output of greenhouse gases will decline. If, for example, there is an expansion in the oil sands, total levels of emissions would increase even if per-unit emissions decrease.
So Harper still doesn't get global warming.

Ironically, Harper does not even understand his chosen target, smog. As Elizabeth May said in the Globe & Mail on October 11, 2006,

...a failure to confront the climate crisis, directly and soon, will result in more extreme heat conditions. The more 30-degree days that Canadians experience, the more smog days will occur.

Some people, like Blair King from Langley, Canada, say that May got it wrong, and Harper's plan would actually reduce smog. Further, "...environmental protection has to include more than just Kyoto. Let’s not let this useful piece of legislation get hijacked by special interests who seem unable to concentrate on more than a single issue at a time." But implementing Kyoto would actually help reduce smog. The two issues are linked, and it's people like May who understand this linkage. Here are two more reasons why she is right:

Combining the two effects, we could get:
more extremely hot days + a net increase in smog-causing emissions = even more smog
  • A hard limit on smog-causing chemicals but not on greenhouse gases could also prove ineffective. This "compromise" idea is not too far-fetched. Harper repeatedly referes to the environmental achievements of the Mulroney Government, whose Acid Rain control program had limited net sulphur dioxide. But studies suggest that sulphur dioxide (an aerosol) actually creates a bit of shade from all that haze. This shading can counteract warming to some extent, regionallly or even globally. Scientists call it the "global dimming" effect. So if Harper decides on a net reduction in sulphur dioxide, it could reduce "global dimming" -- and cause more warming. Again, the net reduction in smog could be less than expected, due to the hot weather connection above -- unless there is also a net reduction in the causes of global warming, like carbon dioxide!
To sum up, the most effective way to cut smog is to reduce global warming at the same time. This means producing less net carbon dioxide. The Tories just don't get it. I hope that the Canadian people will.


* Michael H from Edmonton, Canada makes a similar point.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Introducing a Guest Blogger ...

Climate change is a frequent topic of discussion in our household. Having commented on a few past entries in this blog (anonymously), my husband has decided to contribute guest posts on occasion.

Please give a warm welcome to ydzabelishensky!

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Amazing Disappearing - Reappearing Minister

When the intrepid Ms. Ambrose turned up missing following the release of the Environment Commissioner's report, I started to get worried. Even Treasury Board President John Baird didn't seem to know where she was.

With still no sign of her this morning, I was just about to call those nice, friendly FBI agents from the CBS show Without a Trace, when I heard a report on the CBC's The Current that she had been located. Nothing to worry about - she was only visiting her friends on the oil patch. Whew! Too bad that she didn't have time to answer questions from the pesky reporters, and had to slip out the back!

And now she's been spotted giving an interview on CTV's Mike Duffy show. However, something seems different - like she's changed...

"The time of politely asking industry to do the right thing is over," Ambrose said Friday during an interview on CTV's Mike Duffy Live. "We need national standards."

Something's wrong here. Has somebody kidnapped the real Rona and replaced her with somebody who actually has a clue? Or is it all a cruel hoax?

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode right here on "As the World Burns".

Sunday, September 24, 2006

How much electricity do you use?

At our house, we're constantly looking for ways to reduce our electricity consumption. Our average electricity use for this year is around 470 kWh/month. Given that the average household in Ontario uses 1000 kWh/month, it's not too bad. But I'm sure there's more we can do, if we work at it.

And now that we've signed up for Bullfrog Power, we have an extra incentive to reduce our consumption (because the rate per kWh is a bit higher than with Oakville Hydro).

There's a new program in Ontario put on by the Conservation Council of Ontario called Lighten Up Ontario. You can enter your current electricity usage and pledge the actions that you'll take to reduce it. For example, you could save 30 kWh/month by switching your lightbulbs to compact fluorescents. They have a great list of tips and links.

It's one way to keep on thinking about conserving, and how we can turn ourselves into a conserver- rather than a consumer-society.

But, I really signed up so that I could use this photo of Colin Mochrie ;-)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost - why it's important!

I know that you all recycle anyway - because it's good for the environment, and saves landfill space - right? But following the '3Rs' and composting also save energy and help to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Avoiding the production of a material in the first place is the single most effective way to avoid emissions at all stages of its life cycle. Reusing materials also diverts waste from disposal, at least temporarily. (Source)

However, once a material has been produced, recycling is probably the best way to dispose of it. Here are some facts you can use when somebody tells you that it's just too much trouble to recycle that pop can or piece of paper!

How recycling saves resources, energy and GHG emissions:

The waste sector accounts for 3.5 per cent of Canada's total greenhouse-gas emissions.

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to operate a TV for up to 3 hours. (Source)

A ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves:
* 7,000 gallons of water
* 17-31 trees
* 4,000 KWh of electricity
* 60 pounds of air pollutants

Increase storage of carbon in trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood, in a process called "carbon sequestration." Waste prevention and recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain standing in the forest, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Using recycled glass to make new glass products requires 40 percent less energy than making it from all new materials.

When recovered steel is used instead of iron ore to make new steel, water consumption is reduced by about 50%.

It takes 70% less energy to recycle plastic than it does to make it from raw materials.

A family of three can reduce GHG emissions by more than 125 kilograms per year by backyard composting.

Reduce and reuse too!
If you can save this much energy by recycling, think of all the energy you save when you:

* Buy less stuff!
* Buy stuff with less packaging!
* Use re-usable items, rather than disposable items!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I subscribe to a listserv called Good Work, which emails job opportunities "in environment, sustainable living, organics, peace and related themes".

Here's a recent posting I thought worth repeating:

Position: Change Organizer/Networker/Catalyst
Organization: you, together with other individuals, groups & organizations
Location: your city, province or state
Apply to: yourself, your friends, local groups, your community

"A five-day march by hundreds of Vermonters calling
for real action to address the climate crisis... Bill
McKibben, who trekked all 50 miles, reports that the
event changed Vermont politics -- and made him feel more
hopeful than he has in nearly 20 years of climate activism."

Full story from Grist magazine

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature (which was recently re-printed, and I am currently reading). His story of this march is very inspiring. If the Tories don't come up with something worthwhile soon, I think we should all march to Ottawa! Anybody else up for a trip???

11 Realistic Ways You Can Help Reduce Global Warming - Part 2

My recent post was very Ontario-centric, so here are some links to information in the rest of Canada. If I've missed any good links, please let me know!

1. Change to accredited Green Power option

Pollution Probe has a listing of how to buy green power across Canada!

2. Install energy-efficient hot water system and 3. Install solar panels

The Canadian Solar Industries Association has a list of rebates/subsidies for solar thermal and solar electric installations by province/region.

On this site it mentions that if you happen to be a customer of Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro, you may even be eligible for a grant to install a solar hot water heater!

7. Check fuel efficiency of next car

Here's a listing of fuel-efficient cars in Canada, including the EnerGuide winners.

According to this article, Quebec, PEI, and BC also offer sales tax rebates on hybrid cars. Note, however, that you may not get the full amount of the rebate, depending on how you've purchased the car, and how much sales tax you paid.

BC: Here's a link to the rebate form (PDF)
Quebec: Link to more info
PEI: Here's a link to the rebate form (PDF)

8. Walk, cycle or take public transport

More information from the Sierra Club of Canada

10. Suggest a workplace audit

Some ideas from Green Learning

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Heat is On: The Economist

The Economist has produced a special report on climate change (on sale this week).

Not only do their articles advocate action on the issue, the entire issue was made carbon-neutral by purchasing carbon offsets!

You can view the articles online (after viewing a commercial). Here are links to two of them:

The Heat is On

The Heat is On: Survey Introduction

Let's just hope that Harper and Bush are paying attention!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tim Flannery's "11 Realistic Ways You Can Help Reduce Global Warming"

Here is a list of action items from Tim Flannery's web site (author of The Weather Makers). After some items, I've provided links to local (mostly Ontario) resources and information.

(Action = Impact)

1. Change to accredited Green Power option = Eliminate household emissions from electricity

It's easy to do this in Ontario:

Bullfrog Power
Green Tags Ontario
Oakville Hydro's Green Power program

More information is available at Electricity Choices

2. Install energy-efficient hot water system = Up to 30% reductions in household emissions

You can install a tankless (on-demand) gas system, or a solar (thermal) system, or both!

OZZ Corporation offers high-efficient tankless hot water heaters. You can buy or rent (according to their web site)
I've also noticed them for sale at the Home Depot.

Lots of places that sell solar systems are listed on the Electricity Choices web site.

BONUS: The Ontario government is offering residential consumers a full sales tax rebate on the purchase of solar energy systems and components up to November 26, 2007.

Another energy-saving idea: Install a heat-recovery unit on your drain to recover some of the energy wasted by showers, etc.

3. Install solar panels = Eliminate household emissions from electricity

While this is a great idea, it can be really expensive. (I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing this until you've made your household as efficient as possible first.) However, with the new offering from the Ontario government it has become somewhat more cost-effective. Some people in Toronto are trying to implement this in their neighborhood.

If you want to do this on your own, Electricity Choices has a list of suppliers.

4. Use energy-efficient whitegoods = Up to 50% reduction in household emissions from electricity

When replacing your old appliances, be sure to look for the Energy Star logo!

5. Use triple-A rated shower-head = Up to 12% reduction in household emissions

These are available at any hardware store. Here's some information from HydroOne.

6. Use energy-efficient light globes = Up to 10% reduction in household emissions

Again, these are available almost everywhere. The Ontario government send some coupons for $5 off on these earlier this year.

7. Check fuel efficiency of next car = Up to 70% reduction in transport emissions

Ontario offers up to $2000 rebate on the PST when you purchase a hybrid vehicle.

8. Walk, cycle or take public transport = Can reduce transport emissions

Taking the bus, train, or your bike can be lots of fun. We've started to take our weekly trip to the grocery store by bicycle (when the weather permits). It's fun, and we get some exercise!

9. Calculate carbon footprint = Can eliminate transport & household emissions

Some places online that you can do this:

Although the Government of Canada has taken down its climate change web site, their GHG calculator is still available (for now!). Visit while you can.

There is also, Al Gore's version, and one from the World Resources Institute.

There are many more out there if you Google 'carbon footprint'. Take your pick.

Of course, then you need to decide what to do with the information. For example, maybe you want to offset your emissions. Lots of choices there too. The David Suzuki Foundation has a list of vendors, as well as lots of info.

10. Suggest a workplace audit = Up to 30% reduction in emissions

This site is from Australia, but the ideas should work here too.

11. Write to a politician about climate change = Can change the world

OK - I've tried this, and I don't think I've changed Rona's mind yet. But maybe if we all join in? It can't hurt, anyway! See this post for contact information for your federal politicians.

And don't forget your provincial and municipal politicians - especially with municipal elections coming up soon. We emit GHGs at all levels of government!

Edited to addd: Check out this post for more links to information in other provinces.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Elizabeth May! Hooray!

OK - I'm paraphrasing from my 22 month old daughter, who's been adding the word 'hooray' after many things lately (as in, Oatmeal! Hooray!, etc.) - but I really was excited to see Elizabeth May win the leadership of the Green Party this weekend.

In particular, I'm hoping that she can kick-start a serious national discussion of how to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and do our part to slow global warming. Following her victory on Saturday, she said

We must stand up to the big lie that Canada cannot meet its Kyoto targets.(From the Globe and Mail)

Those are fighting words! According to May, she'll be "holding policy sessions across the country and calling on experts to put together a comprehensive platform with new ideas." I can't wait to see the results.

As a party, the Liberals seem to be hamstrung by the idea that anything serious they put forward will be labeled the National Energy Program Mark II by the Tories. However, Stephane Dion, and Michael Ignatieff both have interesting things to say.

In an excellent column in the Montreal Gazette, Henry Aubin writes:
Meanwhile, two Liberal leadership contenders have pulled away from the pack as far as this issue goes - Dion, with his call for mandatory controls, and Michael Ignatieff, with his candid talk of a carbon tax.

And I'm sure we're all eagerly anticipating the Tories' "Green Plan II"! Aubin says in his column:

Will it ruffle Alberta's feathers? If it doesn't, the plan won't be serious. Harper's home province, with the second-largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, is the heart of the problem. The plan will demonstrate whether the prime minister - a la Nixon goes to China - can sell mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions to his power base or whether, true to form, he mollycoddles it with voluntary measures.

The NDP also has quite a detailed plan on dealing with climate change and other environmental issues. They just need to do a better job getting the word out on it.

It seems that we have lots of good ideas out there. Unfortunately, according to David Suzuki, many people still don't understand the problem, or what we should do about it. The Suzuki Foundation conducted a focus group on global warming. Suzuki says:
Apparently, according to the average Joe, global warming is happening because we've created a hole in the ozone layer, allowing the sun's rays to enter the atmosphere and heat up the earth - or something like that. The cause of the problem is cars, or airplanes, or aerosol cans. No one really knows for sure.

We desperately need to increase the visibility and level of debate on this topic. I'm hoping that by adding Elizabeth May to the mix of voices on our national stage, the Greens will do just that.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Canadian vs. UK government messages on climate change

Here's our government's climate change web site (screen shot taken August 17, 2006, 10:00pm):

Here's the UK government's climate change web site (screen shot taken August 17, 2006, 10:00 pm):

This is a very nice site. They also have a very effective (short) video.

Plus they have a great primer on how to effectively communicate about climate change.

Thanks to deSmogBlog for pointing out both links.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Better never than late!

Finally a 'response' from Ms. Ambrose to my email asking what the Tories intend to do about climate change. With such a late, meaningless reply, it would have been better to have sent me nothing at all! Anyway, if you care to read it, here it is. (I'm not sure what all the question marks were for - some strange formatting thing, or is she really that unsure of her own numbers?)

Ms. Neumann:

Thank you for your e-mail of April 14, regarding Canada?s intentions on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

I assure you that the Government is committed to addressing this important environmental issue. To do that, we need a new approach to reducing pollution and GHG emissions that is effective and realistic for Canada. We will develop solutions that involve all Canadians?the provinces and territories, stakeholders, the private sector and individuals.

In Budget 2006, the Government announced the first steps for a Made?in?Canada approach. A 15.5?percent tax credit for the purchase of monthly transit passes will start July 1. Up to $1.3 billion will be provided to support public transit capital investments. I am also leading the development of options for implementing a 5?percent average renewable content in Canadian motor fuels. Our government is consulting with the provinces and territories on how to move forward with this commitment.

To build on these initiatives, I will be working with my Cabinet colleagues to develop a plan that will have many benefits for Canadians, including: cleaner air and water to protect the health of families and their communities; opportunities to build a competitive and sustainable Canadian economy; energy security; development and use of new technologies; actions at the local level; and greater accountability to Canadians. Budget 2006 allocates $2 billion over the next five years to the Made?in?Canada approach to reducing pollution and GHG emissions.

I appreciate your taking the time to share your views, and hope that I can count on your support as we tackle this important work.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Rona Ambrose

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A tax by any other name ....

It's good that Jean Charaest isn't running for the Federal Liberal Leadership, or he might not get very far with his proposal for reducing Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions.

Amazing how the knives came out today after Michael Ignatieff dared to suggest that a carbon tax might be an option to consider in the fight against global warming! We sure wouldn't want to hurt the feelings of the Alberta oil companies, would we.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Slowing the electricity leak - or how to save 10% or more on your electricity bill!

While doing some reading recently on how to become more energy efficient at home, I found information on how a lot of equipment is constantly leaking energy. Just like a leaky faucet - but without the annoying 'drip, drip, drip'...

For example, did you know that your computer probably uses power even while it's "off"? For an overview, see this article from PC Magazine.

Or that the clock on your microwave uses more power than the actual microwave feature? See this article for a good explanation.

Some of this power is used by the equipment for things like digital clocks, or the ability to receive an "ON" signal from a remote control. But some of it is just bad design, and just plain wasted - like the power used by a transformer that's not connected to anything. If you touch a transformer that's been plugged in for a while you'll notice that it feels warm - it must be drawing some power to generate heat!

For most electronics and appliances, it averages to around 4W of electricity each. It doesn't sound like much - until you start to add it up!

So, I recently conducted an experiment at home. Before I left for work one day I made sure that all of our equipment, lights, computers, central air conditioner, etc. was "off". Everything except for the refrigerator. Then I wrote down the numbers on our electricity meter. And when I came home I checked the meter again. Our house had used up 2.2 kWh while I was away. I was away for 9.5 hours, so over the course of a day this would add up to 5.6 kWh. Over a year, this represents 2028 kWh (or roughly 2 MWh).

Our refrigerator is rated at around 528 kWh per year, so this leaves 1.5 MWh per year of wasted electricity!

The next morning, I went around and unplugged everything that I could find in the house that I thought might be 'leaking':
computers and associated devices
portable telephone
TV, DVD/VCR and stereo

I unplugged everything except for the refrigerator, stove, and dehumidifier (which was turned off), and turned off the central air conditioner. Then I noted the electricity meter before I left, and again when I came home. What a difference! This time the house had only used 0.9 kWh over the 9.5 hours I was away. This represents 2.3 kWh per day, and 829 kWh per year. Over a year, this could represent a savings of 1198 kWh (1.2 MWh)! Last year our electricity bill was around 8500 kWh, so this represents a potential savings of 14% of our total electricity use! At today's prices in Ontario, this is about $115 savings per year. And electricity prices are only going to go up!

Of course, we'll only realize these savings if we keep this equipment unplugged all of the time. However, for most of the items 90% of the time they are not being used.

However, it is a pain to keep unplugging and re-plugging things. So we've purchased several power bars that have an Off switch. This allows us to, for example, turn on or off the TV, stereo and DVD/VCR, all at the same time. Of course, this means that we can't use our DVD/VCR as a clock any more. For us that's OK. It may be an issue if you use your VCR to record shows regularly.

[Edited to add:] I just thought of another advantage of unplugging your DVD/VCR and microwave - less clocks to update when you switch to daylight savings time and back again!

Now, if you multiply our savings by the number of households in Ontario (3,924,515 at the 1996 census), and you get 4704GWh (giga-Watt hours)per year! Convert back to Watts, and it's a draw of around 537 mW. Not enough to shut down Nanticoke, but still a significant amount.

And how much carbon would this save? Well, that gets a bit tricky, so I'll leave it to another post.

(If you're confused by all these measurements and calculations - like I was, see here for a good explanation.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Oilers vs. the Hurricanes - a parable for our times?

There's something ironic in the matchup of teams for the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

You've gotta love this headline: Many Hurricanes have ties to Alberta

And the Hurricanes are currently trouncing the Oilers (leading them 2-0 in the series)! It kind of makes you think...

From a recent CBC report:

17 per cent of the region's oil production remains off-line because of last year's hurricanes, which damaged 167 offshore platforms and 183 pipelines. Some platforms were found as far as 100 kilometres from their original moorings.

Personally, I'm cheering for the Hurricanes. (And it has nothing to do with my participation in my office hockey pool - really!) ;-)

And while I have your attention, here's another link to ponder:

Clean air and global warming mean more hurricanes (from the Discovery Channel)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The PM's New Alternative Energy Souce - Hot Air from Ottawa

In a bold move today, Prime Minister Harper announced that he would personally restore the "hot air imbalance" in the country, thus providing the provinces with a new source of renewable energy.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the PM has banned Parliament Hill press conferences and will himself travel around the country taking questions from local reporters.

The PM said that this is only the beginning of his "made-in-Canada" plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. "Actions speak lounder than words, unless those words come from the federal government", he said. While admitting that the provinces will probably be upset over the recently announced cuts in funding for their Kyoto programs, he said that the new "hot air transfers" will more than make up the difference.

"Charest may have his hydro-electric power, but I have the full force of the Conservative caucus and the Bloc Quebequois behind me."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

They call it 'balance'; I call it 'gross misrepresentation of the truth'!

Perhaps Harper's problem is watching too much US television. Recent ads put out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) - an industry-funded lobby group - use the tag line "They call it pollution; we call it Life", in reference to CO2 being labelled a pollutant.

You have got to see these ads to believe them! They would be hilarious if they weren't so creepy!

The second one shows the titles of two papers they claim show that global warming is not causing the glaciers to melt. However, the conclusions of the actual papers mentioned make the opposite point. See here and here for an analysis.

An appalling betrayal - of everyone!

Elizabeth May has it right. She is quoted at the end of this CNews story as saying the Harper government's actions are "an appalling betrayal of Canadians". Canadians did not elect Harper and Ambrose to gut the Kyoto accord!

Unfortunately, they seem to be trying to do just that. From the CTV news story:
According to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, the Conservative government will oppose a plan to set tougher greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed nations in the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, and wants to see the climate change agreement phased out.

The Tories only received 36% of the vote in the last election, and are running a minority government. The Tories certainly did not receive a mandate to pull us out of this important international agreement!

According to a recent poll, 50% of Canadians are worried about global warming. We need to be doing more than trying to derail the little progress that has already been made.

In fact, with these latest tactics Harper and Ambrose are betraying everyone in the world! The Kyoto accord is far from perfect, but it's the best hope that we have so far for global action to slow down climate change. If the Tories don't like it, they should get out of the way and let the negotiations progress.

Ambrose needs to resign - and Harper needs to start listening to someone other than George Bush and John Howard!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gardeners take note...

The US National Arbor Day Foundation has published an updated "hardiness zones" map, taking into account changes due to climate change. On their web site they've compared the old map (1990) and the new one (2004). Although the map doesn't include Canada, it's quite interesting to see this visual representation of how the North American climate has already changed!

According to their press release "once the Foundation analyzed the new data, hardiness zones were revised, generally reflecting warmer recent temperatures in many parts of the country".

Apparently, the USDA is also working on a new map. However they say that the new map will reflect "weather" changes rather than "climate" changes. Sounds like semantics to me. There is a very interesting article about the planned new USDA map at

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tories Scrap EnerGuide for Homes Program

Here is the notice on the Natural Resources Canada web site:

The EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive program has been discontinued as of midnight May 12, 2006.

It seems that they didn't like the fact that the Energy Advisors (who performed the home audits) were talking to people about climate change. According to this letter to the editor by a former Energy Advisor:
"The first thing the new Conservative government did when they were elected was to tell us to stop talking to homeowners about climate change through the One Tonne Challenge. Our focus was to be on energy savings."

This was a great program. We had an audit done a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, because of the incentive structure we didn't qualify for much of a rebate. But it did give us a list of things we could do, and how much energy and money we'd save for each item (which we're hoping to get started on this year).

The program could certainly have been improved, but that doesn't warrant scrapping it! Unfortunately, it seems that anybody who mentions climate change as a serious issue is not popular with the Harper government.

NOTE: The NRCan site also says "Property owners who have had a pre-retrofit evaluation performed prior to this date can have a post-retrofit evaluation and still qualify for a grant until March 31, 2007." So, if you've had the audit and are planning renovations, get them done soon!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quebec's energy plan

Having received some feedback that a previous post could be taken as being anti-Quebec (which I'm not!) I've decided to post this instead.

I think that the recently announced Hydro-Quebec plan could be great for Quebec, Ontario, and the climate. Having more energy available from Quebec will surely help Ontario with it's plan to get rid of the coal-fired generating stations.

I especially like the energy efficiency targets:
"Between now and 2015, Quebec's government plans to increase the province's overall energy efficiency target by a factor of eight from the current levels. That is expected to save consumers about $2.5-billion a year, and avoid putting about 9.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in the air annually."

For comparison, our yearly emissions from all of Canada is close to 750 million tonnes. But it's a great start. Imagine if all the provinces had similar projects - we'd be a lot closer to our Kyoto targets.

Quebec may be getting some federal funding to help with climate change projects soon (see the end of the article) - we should be expanding this type of funding to all of the provinces.

The wind power projects could also be good, provided they are constructed in locations that have minimal impact on migratory birds.

Some of the hydroelectric projects, however, are more controversial in what the resulting environmental impacts will be.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Al Gore urges Canadian action on climate change

Al Gore was in Toronto to promote his movie An Inconvenient Truth. This was covered by a CP story, and by the Toronto Sun (of all papers)! I was unable to find a story the Star (just a movie summary), but the Globe is carrying the CP story.

From the CP story:
"When read the "made-in-Canada" quotes from Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, Gore rolled his eyes and made a flag-waving gesture with his hand."

In other news, apparently our "made-in-Canada" solution includes cutting yet more funding for programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Program to help low-income homes cut energy use axed

Ottawa pulls pollution funds for Ontario

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Debunking the 'skeptics'

For a great overview of the Canadian global warming denial lobby, read this piece by Donald Gutstein (in The Tyee).

Here's a quote, talking about Jim Hoggan's deSmogBlog:

In a recent post, Hoggan discusses a column by Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson, who complains that here's a letter from 90 scientists urging action; there's a letter from 60 scientists urging Harper to ignore calls to action. "What's a layman to do?" Ibbitson whines.

His solution? Forget about global warming and instead work with the US to improve air quality. "After all," he writes, "a continental agreement on air quality would do far more to improve the lives of both Americans and Canadians than any actions specifically targeted at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."

It's called bait and switch. We're alarmed about the health of the planet our grandchildren will inherit. But (thanks to the lies and deceptions of the deniers) nobody can agree on what's happening, let alone what should be done. So let's do something that we can all agree on instead.

Ibbitson's column makes clear the political purpose of the deniers' letter -- to help Harper out of a tight corner. His goal of capturing a majority government depends on winning seats in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces where support for Kyoto is strongest. He could court their support by giving them Kyoto, but this would infuriate his oil industry masters.

Tory budget ignores climate change

Well, no big surprise really - the Tory budget cuts the Kyoto programs and replaces them with a small tax credit to transit users, and promises of funding for a 'made in Canada' solution.

As Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation said:

“Ninety per cent of Canadians have said global warming is a serious problem and they want the government to take action,” said Mr. Marshall. “By gutting the climate plan and abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, Prime Minister Harper is effectively thumbing his nose at their concerns.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to create a best-seller

According to a CBC article, the novel written by Mark Tushingham, Hotter Than Hell, is now in it's second printing.

Looks like Ms. Ambrose did the publisher a big favour giving them all that free publicity!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ambrose wants to join 'coal pact'

Today Environment Minster Rona Ambrose talked about supporting the US-led Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Environment. (See the CP story.) According to the CP article, this is "a loose agreement involving the United States, Australia, India, Japan, China and South Korea. It is not legally binding and does not set caps on carbon emissions."

Here's the low-down on this 'pact' by Grist magazine. I particularly like this quote from James Connaughton (head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality):

"[W]hat we're trying to do is create a framework in which we can define more effectively and on a faster timescale real programs of action that will deliver real investments and real places. ... Hopefully, we'll get a convergence of some of these broader rhetorical commitments into a program of concrete action."

Wow - I feel much better about our chances of saving the planet now!

According to the Grist article, Bob Brown, head of Australia's Green Party has labeled the agreement "a "coal pact," noting that Australia isn't the only big coal producer at the table. China, the U.S., and India are also top producers of this hot commodity, and aren't anxious to phase it out anytime soon."

However, Ms. Ambrose also said that we won't be joining any more partnerships until we clean up our own backyard. I hope that the Tory plan for doing this is a little more concrete than this 'pact' seems to be!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Canadian Environmental Policy a 'Blank Slate'

I was listening today to a CBC radio interview about Brian Mulroney's "Greenest Prime Minister" award. The interviewee said that the only good thing about the current government's environmental policy is that it's a 'blank slate' - if they wanted to, the government could do great things for the environment.

With that in mind, I've added a poll to this site. What do you think the government's policy should be on global warming? Vote, and/or send us your comments!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Warning: Proximity to oil sands may cause near-sightedness

According to a recent Leger Marketing survey, 23% of Canadians "believe global warming will lead to the destruction of the planet". They also broke down the results province-by-province:

Thirty-one per cent of Quebecers believed in the end-of-the-world scenario, while other regional breakdowns along the same lines were: British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces, 22 per cent; Ontario, 21 per cent; and Alberta, 16 per cent. (emphasis is mine)

I guess if you make enough money on the oil patch you can buy yourself another planet or something.

[Disclaimer: "The margins of error for the regional breakdowns are higher."]

Response from Stephen Harper

Here is the PMO's response to my email:

Dear Ms. Neumann:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your recent e-mail.

Please be assured that your comments have been noted and that they will receive due consideration from the Minister, who has already received a copy of your correspondence.

L.A. Lavell
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Climate change is not just an issue - it is THE issue

Everything I've been reading lately has me more and more convinced that climate change is real, and that we MUST do something about it. Here's a scary piece from ABC News:

"Last year the chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change said that man's carbon emissions were reaching such concentration that "immediate and very deep cuts in the pollution are needed if humanity is to survive."


And yet according to a recent poll, the majority of Canadians, while being concerned about the environment, are not concerned that Stephen Harper is in power, and even think the Tories are doing a good job!

Obviously, the message is not getting out here in Canada. I see lots of stories in American media on climate change, and relatively few Canadian stories.

And now for some better news...
On the other hand, there are lots of good-news stories happening at the local level: Halton region has a pretty good plan to improve car-pooling and transit use among it's staff members. And Toronto councillor Joe Mihevc has an interesting idea of creating small neighborhood groups of people to help each other make their homes more energy efficient! Sounds great - anybody else in!?!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hotter Than Hell

Want to order a copy of Mark Tushingham's book? It's available at Or better yet, recommend that your local library purchase a copy!

My letter to Stephen Harper and Rona Ambrose

Dear Mr. Harper and Ms. Ambrose:

I am deeply concerned about the announced cuts to the One Tonne Challenge and other Kyoto programs. Most climate experts agree that climate change is real and is happening right now. While we may not feel the full effects for many years, we don't have a lot of time left to mitigate this problem. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to act now!

As far as I can see this is the most important issue that we as Canadians should be working on. I urge you to take the advice of government scientists, and environmental leaders like David Suzuki.

I understand that the government will soon be announcing tax incentives for transit users. While this is a good first step, there is so much more we need to do. The federal government should be playing a critical role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • encouraging and enforcing industrial emission-reductions
  • promoting and subsidizing alternatives to fossil fuels
  • assisting businesses and individuals to become more energy efficient
  • bringing in programs to reduce automobile use
I strongly believe that we can and must fulfill our Kyoto commitments. Please let me know what your government plans to do on this very important issue.

Worried about climate change? Let Harper know!

D.Neumann asked "how can we get the message out to more people?"

Well, first I think we should all contact Stephen Harper, Rona Ambrose (Minister of the Environment), and your local Member of Parliament. Let the Tories know that you care and are watching what they do! Don't forget to post here and let us know what you said!

Also, if you like this blog, please forward the address to anyone you think may be interested. Don't forget that you can be notified when it's updated using the site feed address:

If you use Firefox, you can use this address to create a live bookmark. Or if you use a service like My Yahoo, you can add the feed to your home page.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Canadian gov't stiffles scientist while chopping Kyoto programs

This story says it all!

Novelist scientist silenced as Harper Tories quietly axe 15 Kyoto programs

I woke up this morning in Canada, but I feel like I'm going to bed in good-old George W. Bush country!
Apparently, government scientists are supposed to sit around doing nothing for a year while Mr. Harper figures out a way to pretend to do something about global warming. And they should certainly not be writing (and promoting) any novels!

On the other hand, maybe I should move to California. At least Arnold admits global warming is a problem and is working on a plan to address it (although maybe not fast enough)! However, moving will not get me and my family away from global warming.

If the Dutch minister of the environment is right, "we have only a few years, and not ten years but less, to do something". We can't afford to waste a year figuring out another strategy!

Canadian 'skeptics'

Heard the one about the '60 leading scientists' who don't think climate change is real?

The National Post published this letter from signed by 60 scientists (well, at least 2 are economists, but who's counting?).

I don't normally read the Post, but I found references in other media to these 'leading scientists', and tracked down the letter. I was curious who these people were - how do they know each other, and who coordinated this letter? Anyway, after a bit of searching I found that at least some of them are affiliated with a group called Friends of Science. Clearly, this is a group dedicated to not believing in global warming. I found at least one reference to the Fraser Institute on their website, which sent up another red flag.

According to the website SourceWatch, the FoS domain name "registered to Charles Simpson, a "retired oil industry employee"."

Follow the Money
There's more interesting information on Tim Ball (a FoS member, and signatory to the letter) in this article by Daniel Gutstein. It seems that a lot of Mr. Ball's work is sponsored by coal and oil companies. What a surprise!

And the other side...
Here is a more detailed description of what is wrong with this letter. Way to go Joanna! What she said!

Thinking of planting some trees to offset your CO2 emissions?

While planting trees is usually a great idea, it may not have much impact on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to this article from SciDevNet.

The bottom line is, we "cannot rely on nature to clean up"!

Monday, April 10, 2006

How many planets do you use?

Here's another interesting quiz: Ecological footprint quiz

According to this quiz, it takes 3.8 hectares to support my lifestyle. It also says "If everyone lived like you, we would need 2.1 planets".
Here are my results:

It's interesting, but the questions are not as detailed as the One Tonne Challenge, so I wonder how accurate it is. It does bring the question of what we choose to eat into the picture though.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Apparently I was a bit late to be touting the OTC!

As pointed out in a blog called Clay and Wattles, use that calculator while you can because the Tories may be removing it soon! According to an article in the Globe and Mail the Tories have abruptly stopped funding this program.

In other news, apparently biofuels are good, but only if they are made in Canada!

Two steps back and one baby-step forward??

Canadian Emissions Chart

Here's a scary chart, courtesy of the United Nations Environment Program:

Canada Emissions up to 2003

I can only imagine that our emissions have continued to climb in the last 2 years. You can also see other countries' charts. Check out Germany, France, and the UK for comparison!

By the way, it's rather embarassing that Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be ahead of us on this issue.

Do nothing? You can't be serious!

Here's a great piece from the Times Online (UK) arguing against the 'climate change skeptics'. Some nice quotes:

"If we discovered that some asteroid was heading in our direction with a 5 per cent chance of collision, we would mobilise every missile, throw all our money at strategies to deflect it. But when scientists confront us with a threat that they believe is still within our control, we wish it away. Crazy."

"The real superstition here is our horror of using less, in societies that have been reared on consumption. There is a desperate fear that greater efficiency would devastate the economy. But the idea that we are plunging into a new Dark Ages is ridiculous. Is everything we hold dear threatened if we have to refit our homes with energy-efficient lightbulbs? In the US, corporations that have reduced energy use have made money."

I think the idea of buying 'clean' power plants for China is an interesting one. What do you think?