Our little bit

For Earth Day, 24HRS (a local Vancouver newspaper) ran some articles on the environment. One piece showed 12 ways that a family can reduce their carbon footprint. I was feeling pretty good that of the 12 things mentioned, our family is doing 10 of them.
1. Use a reel mower (not electric or gas). I took that one step further and got rid of all our grass, now I just need to mow the boulevard
2. Scooter. I’ve had a scooter for almost 3 years. Still, I need to ride my bike more.
3. High Efficiency Furnace. We replaced our 45 year old furnace with a high 96% efficient model.
4. Cold Water Detergent. I don’t know if our detergent is “cold water”, but we do all are washing in cold tap water
5. Laundry Line. Nope, we don’t have one. I’m going to look into this…
6. Hot Water Timer. Nope, don’t have one. I’ll think about it, but this may not work so well with our tenants, since I don’t know or control their schedule and when they would like hot water
7. Composting. We have two composters and 1 rain barrel.
8. Farmers Market. We are 1 block from a farmers market from May through October, although I don’t think we buy much stuff from them.
9. Lighting. I replaced all of our incandescent lights with compact fluorescents.
10. Cloth Shopping Bag. We have several cloth/reusable bags, and I haven’t used a plastic bag since the beginning of February.
11. Thermostats. Our furnace and two gas fireplaces are on thermostats. The electric heaters are all connected onto one timer, but each heater has its own temperature setting. One of the fireplace’s thermostat is broken though and I’ve been reluctant to shell out $160 for a new one.
12. All purpose green cleaner. I just recently started mixing some of my own cleaners. Right now I have an all purpose cleaner that contains vinegar, washing soda, castile soap and borax. We’re still using commercial floor cleaners. I tried using baking soda + vinegar for the floors but it left a lot of residue. I also want to look into greener dishwashing soaps.

I’m not sure any of the above will actually make a difference in this world, but these are some of the only things I can do. I’d like to take some positives out of it because a lot of the news these days as it pertains to the environment, climate change and greenhouse gases really ain’t all that good…

Too bad for us: no Gore for 2008

The BBC reported that Gore will not run for a presidential bid. Too bad for us. I thought it was pretty exciting that someone with drive and passion for such an important issue might run for the US Presidency. You’d think that if the US president’s strongest political push was for the environment that the world would have tremendous benefit. Alas it was not to be. Perhaps Gore recognized that even as the US president his ability to affect any change on the environment would be minimal and that his efforts would be better placed elsewhere to champion his cause.

Even losers can win

Leading up to the 2006 Federal Election, I wrote this post on Canadian Values which discussed what many consider to be a darker aspect of the Conservative Party. Luckily for Canadians (at the time), Darrel Reid lost in the election. But even losers can win. Environment minister Rona Ambrose recently appointed Reid as her chief of staff.

I can’t say for sure, but I bet Reid is one of those guys that thinks that the earth is 8000 years old. I don’t find a lot of comfort that a person like Reid is in a position of power when it comes to Canada’s environmental policies. I can only imagine the disregard he has for certain accepted scientific theories in favour of his Christian beliefs.

Rick Mercer summed it up in his “Rick’s Rant of the Week” from October 10.

Rick gave another scathing assessment of the Conservative’s environmental policy in his October 17 Rant of the Week.
You sure get the feeling that Harper appointed Reid as the chief of staff and that Rona is just doing his bidding.

In contrast to these two rants, check out Rick’s Skinny Dipping With Bob Rae. Rae certainly echoes values that are much closer to my heart.

Sustainable Energy

Sustainable energy is a huge issue for me, it seems like I am always thinking about it.  This is a bit odd, because I had never spent much time learning about sustainable energy.  I guess I just kept thinking in the back of my mind, “gas bad, windmills good…” and, “I sure wish everyone would use less oil and less water.”

This past weekend I had a chance to discuss sustainable living with a good friend of mine, Jason Kubian, and he told me about the BC Sustainable Energy Association. I haven’t had time yet to dig into what they are all about, but I guess this is a great place to check out for more information on sustainable energy.

While I aquaint myself with BCSEA, here are a couple of thoughts:
the USA is the largest user of oil in the world
24% of there oil consumption is for automobiles
if everyone in the US doubled their vehicular fuel efficiency, there would be an immediate 12% reduction in oil and its resulting pollution

Anyways, check out BCSEA and see what they have to offer.

What, me worry?

I’ve been trying to think about how I would write this entry for a few weeks now. I’ve since come to the realization that I’m not a writer, and the very fact that you are reading this means that you have also come to terms with my blabbering. So here it goes.

I heard an interview on CBC with David Suzuki, and one thing that really stuck with me was when he described how he opens some of his recent lectures/speaches. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but basically it was “What kind of planet are we leaving for my grandchildren?”. No kidding eh.

I am constantly amazed at the decisions people make in their every day lives when you consider that the majority of these people have children and/or grandchildren. Sure, maybe a 60 year old dude has it made in the shade. Maybe he’s got a good stash of cash, a cushy job or perhaps retired, a nice family, nice home, and isn’t too worried about the collapse of ocean fish stocks before he dies. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? But what about his kids and grandkids? Shouldn’t this guy be shitting his pants, wondering what kind of world his family will have to face? Okay, maybe shitting his pants is a bit extreme. How about “shouldn’t he make small changes in his everyday life, doing his best to minimize the negative impact his lifestyle choices may have on sustainable living?”.

This especially applies to political and industrial leaders, who perhaps have more power in making meaningful changes. It’s easy to understand the pressures (political, economical, monetary, popularity) that leaders face, and that’s why I think if people concentrated on their children’s future, the world would have improved sustainability.

Without getting too doomsday on you, here are some possible things that could occur in the coming years. Global warming (scientifically accepted as already occuring) could cause climate shifts such that crop failures take place. Ocean currents and salinity levels change because of the melting polar ice, which can cause dramatic weather changes along with its associated devastating effects. Overfishing may push fish stocks past sustainable levels so that fisheries collapse. Continuing dependance on oil drives the economy to the point that when oil reserves fail, the world is thrust into a fair amount of chaos. The list goes on and on…

I figure I’m already an extremely lucky person. I’ve lived 36 years with a lot of joy. 1/2 of this time was spent with my immediate family, and this time would be hard to beat by any other family. I now have a loving and caring partner who has given me the two greatest gifts imaginable. I can’t explain just how much I love my iPod and docking station. ha ha. I could die today and be a happy guy (I think… I’m not entirely too sure as to what happens when one up and dies). But here’s the rub: what will happen to my kids over the next 30 years and more? This questions truly haunts me. I know that all parents worry about their kids, but this is different. I do the normal “worry” stuff too, but this other stuff is over and above it all.

Basically I approach this dilemna two different ways. First, I truly try to give my kids as much love and joy as I can. Secondly, I try to do little things in my every day life to minimize my impact on the environment. This includes things like increasing the heating efficiency of our home, riding a bike to work, buying a scooter to use for commuting, not taking bags when I buy something at the store, only flushing the toilet once a week, etc. Just kidding, I flush at least twice a week.

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