Green Economy – Follow up

June´s discussion of the Green Economy drew our biggest turnout yet! WSIC packed the bar with thoughtful people, all eager to listen to our experts and voice their own opinions on this complex subject.

Kate Holloway, Director of Business Development at the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, started us off with a brief explanation of why conservation matters. We´re approaching the limits of our finite resources and must end our dependence on fossil fuels. Conservation is needed to ensure a smooth transition from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy.

Next to speak was Jeff Dreben, Managing Director at DBL Capital, a company long ahead of the curve in terms of sustainable business practices. Jeff described his reasons for starting his business, then went further, pointing out that California, a state with approximately the same population as all of Canada, currently invests 20 times more than we do in clean technology. While California´s public sector pension fund has rules requiring it to invest part of its assets in clean technology, no such rules exists here in Canada.

Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, spoke up from the audience. He pointed out that, as we come to terms with the realities of dwindling fossil fuel supplies, we will have to make choices between producing vital products like plastics (made from fossil fuels) and driving our trucks.

The conversation continued, now exploring the role each of us play in our environment and the economic impact of consumer choices. Although power to effect environmental change is generally perceived to be in the hands of government, Kate and Jeff agreed that consumers could do more. Social media may do more to reduce resource consumption than government ever could, since people can influence the choices of those around them in ways institutions cannot.

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1 Comment on "Green Economy – Follow up"

  • that because elecrticity is a fuel made somewhere else we have to examine how clean the source is to determine how clean the vehicle is. I find this a false argument for a number of reasons. We know that a gun or a knife is not suddenly bad because it was used by a person of criminal intent (rather than a person of culinary intent.) Neither is the car bad because someone may have used it to run another person over. So also an electric CAR is not suddenly bad because one person charges with photovoltaic cells and another charges from a coal fired power plant. The CAR stays the same. The CAR is not suddenly good or bad. The CAR never changes. But an electric motor is a radically different way of converting energy to motion than using an internal combustion engine (ICE.) It is not simply a change in style or design. It is not a slight mechanical modification. It is part of an entirely different energy to transportation system. It is entirely different than a petrochemical transportation system, (PTS.) Because the one common denominator is that it uses elecrticity it is part of an ELECTRIFIED TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, (ETS.)1 It may be another 10 years before some will be able to understand this concept. It would be as if we suddenly began to switch to telepathy instead of talking for a communication system. Currently parts of the ETS uses fossil fuels to create elecrticity. The amount will vary in each country and within each country. The US use of coal to generate elecrticity is now about 48.3% and dropping while the California use of coal is only about 16% and dropping.3 Power plants alone are more efficient than an ICE vehicle. The combination of the most polluting power plant and an electric car is far less polluting than a refinery and an ICE vehicle. It is a better system.2There is no way to test an electric vehicle to determine if there is a polluting power plant. Neither can you test your SUV to see if a Petrochemical Company murdered an oil minister that was not sympathetic. You can’t test your SUV to see if a petrochemical company used a blow out valve that was suspect by the industry and a resulting oil spill caused the death of millions of creatures in the environment. A test is not possible because these things don’t reside within the vehicle. You can’t blame either your SUV or the ELECTRIC CAR for these things. It is the SYSTEM that might be a problem. You can either work to correct the system or switch systems but remember as an owner or operator you are also part of the SYSTEM.

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