SmartTrack: Make it work!

Torontonians know all about traffic congestion.  Commuters from the suburbs have their own personal horror stories about being stuck in traffic. The previous City Council toyed with improving with public transit.  Not that there was an indifference to the need.  As much as anything the confrontational atmosphere in that Council made assessment of the merits … Read more

Climate Change: Key to Canada’s 2015 Federal Election

Our last blog, A Ray of Hope, suggested that the Federal Government might become active on renewable energy after two years of indifference.   What is the basis for this optimism?

First, the Ontario Liberals, who have been very active in promoting renewable energy, now have a comfortable four-year mandate.  The Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glenn Murray, understands the importance and challenges of renewable energy better than any Federal Minister.

Secondly, Quebec, a Province where a great majority of people have constantly supported mitigation of climate change, now has a Liberal Government that intends to move forward on this neglected area.

Read moreClimate Change: Key to Canada’s 2015 Federal Election

Global warming? Nothing can be done about it!

So says Margaret Wente.  How can global warming be stopped if countries that are the largest contributors are not committed to the necessary reductions in their GHG emissions?

Ms. Wente referred to the proposed new US regulations on coal-fire electricity generating plants, such as the large Ohio plant in the attached image. (Source Wikipedia) As she points out, these regulations are subject to review and comment, a process that will last into next year.  Expected legal challenges could result in further extensive delay.  So there could be little reduction in US GHG emissions for some years, a circumstance that may result in the US missing its Copenhagen targets.

Read moreGlobal warming? Nothing can be done about it!

Climate change – but no ark in sight!

The Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released today re-emphasizes the conclusions expressed in previous IPCC Reports.  What is new is a focus on risk.  The Fifth Report sets out the impacts of climate change in considerable detail, with a careful statement of the probability of their occurrence.

Popular opinion may regard risk consequent on climate change differently from country to country.  People in Northern Temperate Climate Countries may think that global warming can’t be all that bad.  Particularly when they have come through a long, cold winter in which the snowfall compares with winters they experienced as children, oh so long ago – even before the term “climate change” had worked its way into a publicly consciousness. (Does that sound like Canada?)

Read moreClimate change – but no ark in sight!

Fracking=Nerve Wracking

There are divisions within the renewable energy camp that may prove to be irreconcilable.  The best known is the disagreement over the role of nuclear energy. There are effective advocates for continued use of nuclear energy, such as George Monbiot and James Lovelock. Critics of nuclear energy are just as effective, referring to issues such as the large costs of instalation, collateral security risks and problems of disposal of spent uranium.

So it is with fracking, a process that extracts natural gas from reserves that cannot be exploited by conventional drilling methods.

Environmentalists in favour of fracking, such as Lovelock, refer to the world’s continuing need for fossil fuels to generate electricity.  GHG emissions from natural gas are well below emissions from coal and conventional oil.  So fracking, which has greatly increased the supply of natural gas, enables the US to reduce its GHG emissions by phasing out use of coal in the production of electricity.

Read moreFracking=Nerve Wracking

Green Innovation on Our Street

When collecting signatures for our petition on renewable energy, we made an interesting discovery.  One of our neighbours is associated with a company that specializes in renewable energy technology.  Green Syndications, working with George Brown College in Toronto, has developed a line of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines, with models designed to generate a maximum output of electricity from 2.5 to 10 KW.  The structure is also fitted with small solar panels that supplement output in calm wind conditions.

These small wind turbines have many advantages: they can be easily transported and set up; they are silent; they can operate in turbulent air flows; they are a good size for roof-top installation.  As they are less costly to manufacture, they will be priced less than other roof installations.

Read moreGreen Innovation on Our Street

A Cash Shower

On May 3 last,  the Canadian Government (described in its Press Releases as the Harper Government) showered cash on certain Canadian businesses and research institutions. Coordinated press conferences to announce these grants took place across Canada: in the Maritimes,  Quebec City (Harper was there), the Canada Cement Lafarge cement plant in Ontario, Toronto and the Yukon.  These grants approved in the 2011 budget under the Federal ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative total 85 million.

Grants for $17 million were awarded for research into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), larger  than amounts granted to any other research category.  Still the amount is relatively small in comparison with the Alberta Government committment to advance $1.3 billion to support the development of CCS as a solution to Alberta’s GHG emissions.

Read moreA Cash Shower

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