From oil to renewable energies

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series.

“Less is more” is the guiding principle to reduce greenhouse gases. Less travel, less flying, less buying, less consuming, less wasting.
My parents were non-consumers. I grew up in a house made from a log barn. Our furniture was pre-used or homemade (my bed was a foam mattress on plywood and cement blocks). Clothes were homemade or refurbished. My mother made laundry soap from lye and pig fat. At mealtime it was common to hear her say, “everything on this table is from our land.” She dug food waste back into the garden to compost. My father switched his gas-burning Volvo to run on fuel alcohol.

These were lifestyle choices; my father earned a good living in the 1970s and 80s. In the 90s, a solar panel contributed to my parents’ household energy, limiting vacuuming to sunny days.

Our behaviours today decide the health of our planet tomorrow. Our homes, use of power, travel, transportation, what we eat, how much we throw away all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does our consumption of clothing, electronics, and plastics.

Some people worry there won’t be enough energy to maintain our existing consumer society as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. But planet Earth’s climate stabilizing systems are collapsing at an accelerating rate, dictating our behaviour, like it or not. The wealthiest bear the greatest responsibility; the richest one per cent of the global population accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the poorest 50 per cent.

Each one of us is a participant in this journey.

• Choose items without packaging. Email manufacturers and stores; request less wrapping.
• Growing food locally saves transport and improves nutrition. Join community gardens (contact Minden Community Food Centre).
• Adjust your thermostat. Reduce heat/AC when not at home. Close doors to unused rooms.
• Install a water efficient shower head. Shorten showers.
• Fix drafty doors, windows, chimneys, floors. Home improvements can be eligible for government funding (Environment and Climate Change Canada).
• Wind, solar and other renewables minimize greenhouse gases and pollutants. Are you eligible for Ontario’s Solar Panels Program? Geothermal? Heat pumps are encouraged for new builds and retrofits.
• Don’t throw it out. Refurbish. Use SIRCH’s Thrift Warehouse Haliburton and the Repair Café.
• Be responsible for your waste using the Haliburton County Waste Wizard App.
• If it is garbage, send it to the right place. Drop old or non-usable clothing at Dysart’s landfill textile recycling program. Food waste that isn’t leftovers? Investigate Haliburton County’s FoodCycler program and composters.
• As electric vehicle battery sizes and car dependency decrease, lithium demands will drop (up to 66 per cent). Plug in to one of the County’s EV charging stations.
• Review the Community Climate Action Guide on Haliburton County’s website to reduce your carbon footprint.
• Research and reduce “vampire energy” drains in your home.
• Consider internet use. Google’s energy consumption reached 15.4 terawatt hours in 2020, prompting higher efficiency servers, advanced cooling, and AI.
• Refer to to reduce fossil fuel uses in fashion, food, beauty care products.
• Become politically active. My father would say, “enough baby fingers can move the elephant.” Contact Environment Haliburton (EH!) and make our voices louder.
• Join thousands endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
• United Nations Climate Change website has a “Race to Zero” page.
• Check out The Energy Transition Show, a podcast about transitioning from fossil fuels.
• Look at your investments; eliminate funds investing in fossil fuels.
• Bitcoin remains moderately coal-heavy, prompting organizations within the mining industry to launch the Crypto Climate Accord.
• Follow to track Canada’s progress toward net zero by 2050. Canada committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 440 megatonnes in 2030.

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