"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry D. Thoreau

 

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Tuesday
Dec152015

Climate Change - A Response from St. Pierre

By Ben Weatherby

At the time of this writing, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) is wrapping up in Paris. I thought this would be a good time to share a few thoughts on the topic in light of a drastic change I have made recently in my life arising out of my concern with climate change. I traded in my VW Golf for an all all electric vehicle (EV), a Nissan Leaf!

Now, this article isn’t meant to be about how cool my little EV is with its near silent driving experience, the ability to warm up the car and check the status of the battery charge from an app on my phone, or how it costs me a little under $2 worth of electricity to drive 100 km. While these are all great selling points of the car that I enjoy telling people about, I want to focus more on the main reasons I bought it, which are its potential for zero reliance on fossil fuels, and its zero emissions (it literally has no tailpipe!), which has the potential to drastically reduce our production of greenhouse gasses if implemented en masse, thereby greatly improving our chances of keeping global warming to below 2o C, which is a key objective of COP21.

So let’s look at where Canada stands in relation to the rest of the world for emissions. To put it in perspective, Canada makes up less than 0.5% of the world’s population, but is the world’s 8th largest producer of greenhouse gases (702,000,000 tonnes in 2011). Even though our contribution to the problem may seem like peanuts when compared to the top 3 emitters (China, the USA, and the EU), we all need to significantly reduce our emissions in order to prevent an irreversible environmental catastrophe, the effects of which we are only just beginning to appreciate in recent years.

With respect to those greenhouse gases, the energy industry and transportation sector contribute the greatest share of emissions: approximately 25% each. For individual Canadians, transportation accounts for the most greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to automobile use. Energy use in the home accounts for the remainder.

Research shows that, despite our high consumption, Canadians are eager to adopt clean, renewable-energy technologies, and the good news is that these technologies are available now and are better improving and becoming more affordable each year. For example, my Leaf costs just a fraction more than a conventional gas car of a similar class, while the gas and oil change savings will more than pay for the difference in just a couple of years. I’ve always wanted to leave this planet better than when I found it, and replacing my Golf with an EV is just one step in that direction!

Ben is a chiropractor and resident of St-Pierre-Jolys who is concerned about his environmental footprint

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