Musings on making the transition away from fossil fuels.
THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I GET TIRED OF BEING ME. In the morning I throw on a 35-year-old bathrobe (polyester is forever!) and scoop home-grown berries into my non-instant oatmeal. I check my emails and sign a half-dozen petitions supporting urgent local and global concerns. A signature is a pebble in the slingshot of these David-type campaigns, aimed at the temple of unscrupulous and predatory Goliaths. It’s not a fun way to start the day but once you know stuff, you can’t go back to the time when you didn’t.
I scour my news services for evidence that the Transition Plan towards Renewable Energy is finally receiving substance. You know the plan: Every post-truth politician keeps championing it while approving yet more fossil fuel capacity and expansion—which is like saying we need more cigarettes on the road to good health. If we’re really serious about transition, reallocating some of the massive federal oil subsidy to the renewable sector would be a good start.
I run what errands I can on foot, and when we absolutely have to start up the old Prius, I plot an itinerary that calls for more stops than your average school bus. At home we mostly use natural products, and sparingly, because they all end up where the fishes live and my conscience doesn’t handle that well. Besides, the recommended portion sizes for toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent—everything—are over the top anyway, suggested as they are by folks who really don’t care about the Earth’s burden and want nothing more than to sell you more.
We generally hang our laundry to dry, even on a rack indoors in winter. It’s a time-consuming task that invites raised eyebrows but the dryer is an energy hog that’ll stretch or shrink your favourite gear and masticate your underwear elastic. More importantly, operating it might give BC Hydro, by virtue of my usage graph, the impression that I need and support its wanton expansion. No siree, you won’t catch me being a corporate shill.
We grow some food and eat mostly vegetarian. We cycle our kitchen scraps back into the garden and produce little garbage. I even admit to being oddball enough to enjoy mending, repairing, repurposing and buying used. But it all takes time away from other activities—such as writing in my case—and sometimes at the end of the day I find myself wondering whether I’ve achieved anything worthwhile or shot myself in the foot.
Society doesn’t reward stewardship. Who cares if you’re treading lightly on the Earth? My little efforts plainly amount to zilch on the global continuum, and sometimes feel more like a quirky obsession. They’re also easily dismissed by the self-interested camp that calls you a hypocrite for driving your car to a pipeline rally and using electronics to voice your concerns. No wonder we’re bogged down to the axles in status quo.
And yet, we occasionally do manage to lumber our collective humanity a nano-measure closer to a better future. The signing of the Paris Accord was a pivotal step. So are the innovations and achievements springing up all over the world. China is moving away from coal. Texas, home of cheap oil, has one of the world’s largest wind farms. Qatar, home of cheap LNG, has one of the world’s largest solar projects.
Sweden is going to start paying people to repair rather than throw away their belongings. (Now, that’s trickle-down economics.) Every new and refurbished home in Europe must have a plug-in for charging electric vehicles (EVs) by 2019. Germany will put a million EVs on the road by 2020. Norway and the Netherlands will phase out diesel-powered vehicles by 2025.
Tesla, with more than 18,000 employees worldwide, has developed a solar roof tile that will revolutionize the way we do electricity. An Alberta company has found a way to convert spent oil wells—84,000 in that province alone—into geothermal wells.
And then there’s you and me. Make no mistake, humble individual efforts are crucial to our collective remediation. We ordinary citizens, through our votes, petitions and consumption practices, can move the world away from fossil fuels. Mark Reynolds of the Citizens Climate Lobby reminded us of this in the dark days of last November when he said, “You are still the world’s best hope for preserving a liveable planet.”
The encouragement helps to keep us resolved and moving forward, into 2017 and for as long as it will take.
Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic wishes everyone much happiness, good health and personal empowerment in the New Year.
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