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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

Environmental Headwinds

Photo Credit: 123rf

The problem is easy to see. Global temperatures are rising, and solutions, whittled down to 30-second sound bites, are not working.

Where In the World are we At?

Global GHG emissions have increased an average of 4.4% per year between 1990 and 2022. Many statistics create confusion, but the bottom line is that the world is heading in the wrong direction.

The graph is from Carbon Brief.

We are heading into headwinds which are not talked about much, but to us, it is the Facts that Matter. If we do not move away from the 30-second sound bites that seem to drive the solutions, we are all doomed to live with the consequences.


What are the Headwinds?

It is the headwinds that should be discussed, or given more thought, on how we move forward considering the impacts on people, the planet and sustainability. Below, we list a few for thought.

Land Use Changes

Land use changes, clearing for agriculture and wind and solar farms, and many other uses account for about 10 percent of the worldwide GHG emissions.

We have all been bombarded about the impacts of losing the rainforests, but how many of us know that land conversion to build a wind or solar farm can have a negative impact? And with the amount of new electricity we will need, the quantity of land conversion will be huge.

Add to the GHG impact the loss of habitat. Here, we are all worried about species at risk and not a peep about the negative impacts.

Human Impact

We all hear about the transition to the new economy, but there needs to be more discussion about the impacts on the present economy or if a transition will even work. What about all those folks who are left behind?

What happens if our standard of living is decreased? It is only people who are at the upper levels of Maslow’s hierarchy that can have any thought about protecting the environment.

In Canada, we have approximately 7 million people facing food insecurity and heat poverty, and many do not have homes to live in. That is almost 18 percent of our population. How can the folks suffering even think about saving the environment?

And let’s look at an extreme. How can more than 145 million people in India think about the environment?

Photo Credit: 123rf

The issue is they cannot; in Canada, we may be heading into similar headwinds.

Oil Production

Access to inexpensive oil has allowed us to have the standard of living we have had. Without oil, we would face a world as far outside our ordinary experience as possible. Those who promote “killing oil” scare the mass of the population. On the extreme, we have governments – I suggest Canada’s, which is hell-bent on making our environment green. We have policies and actions that are not good for the people; I argue they are not sustainable and, in the end, may not be good for the environment. They are good for the 30-second sound bite but are destroying us socially, economically, and environmentally.

Please do not get me wrong; I am not against “saving the environment.” I am against trying to do it, “damn the torpedoes.”

There are too many things we need daily that rely on oil. We cannot, in the foreseeable future, eliminate oil. We can reduce consumption, and that should be our focus. Before we can be successful, though, we need alternatives, whether in the food supply, production of the goods we use every day, transportation, and providing homes and heat, along with a “hundred other things.”

Some critical Issues

  1. Offshore wind projects are facing critical issues. Costs are rising where more government subsidies or higher utility rates will be required. Can we afford more government subsidies or higher utility costs?

  2. EV pricing is beyond the point many people cannot afford to buy. The standard line is that “prices will fall.” But will they, as metal and chemical inputs become more expensive due to increased demand? Also, problems are already showing up with electrical supply, challenges with recycling batteries, etc.

  3. It takes years to get a project approved. The year 2030 is only seven years into the future. We see projects taking more than ten years to get approved. How can we meet the demand for electricity, more mines and others to drop GHG emissions by 2030 when we cannot even get needed projects approved before that?

We seem to head into the wind without first thinking about the problems and the social, economic, and environmental impacts. Some Numbers for Canada1

  • Our electrical needs in 2030 are estimated at 650 TW/h, an increase from 550 TW/h today.

  • Our capacity will be 150 TW/h, a shortfall of 500 TW/h.

  • Fossil fuels will supply 50% of our energy needs, and renewables, 38%

The Bottom Line

We will continue to have a long-term relationship with oil. As a society, we would have a more significant opportunity for success in advancing environmental interests by developing decisions that are good for the people and the environment and are sustainable. We must move away from the 30-second sound bites as the basis for our environmental agenda.

Best wishes from us all ...

Vancouver, BC

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