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Re Empty Gestures Trivialize The Very Serious Challenge Of Climate Change (Opinion, Dec. 28): Contributor Bjorn Lomborg believes the one thing individuals can do to fight climate change is "demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development” to drive down costs and out-compete fossil fuels. But green energy is already, in many cases, outcompeting fossil fuels. In Alberta, solar installers have been winning contracts at less than 5 cents a kilowatt hour – less than natural gas.
Mr. Lomborg decries individual actions as having a negligible impact. But once enough people take such actions, the collective emissions reductions can be substantial. More than half of the average Ontarian’s carbon footprint comes from driving, heating homes, flying and eating beef. Moreover, electric vehicles running on fairly clean grids such as Ontario’s can have up to 50-per-cent less lifetime emissions.
Solutions require policy changes and market transformations to scale, but many start at the individual level. Anyone discouraging individual action seems to be missing the big picture. Change must start somewhere, and everywhere, all at once.
Barnabe Geis Director of climate ventures, Centre for Social Innovation; Toronto
It seems like only yesterday that contributor Bjorn Lomborg insisted that the science of climate change was not settled and therefore we should not rush into action. Now, he sees an urgent climate crisis, but dismisses all present proposals and technologies. He also notes that renewables currently provide only 1.1 per cent of our energy needs. But not all that long ago, fossil fuels provided 0 per cent of our energy. That scaled up rapidly, and now it’s past time that renewable energy should soar.
Mr. Lomborg also says that the International Energy Agency has predicted that by 2040, we will have spent $3.5-trillion on renewables that will fill less than 5 per cent of our energy needs. However, the latest IEA report lays out different scenarios. In the “stated policies scenario” (basically the Paris Agreement), low-carbon sources will provide more than half of total electricity generation by 2040. And the demand for electricity is growing far faster than any other form of energy.
Mr. Lomborg might have told us which of the IEA’s scenarios he was citing. With him, it seems the new is always the same old.
George Clark Kingston
Re No, Pensions Didn’t Blow Up The Deficit (Jan. 1): Thank you to columnist Andrew Coyne, who has given us an alarming wakeup call that the Trudeau government is not controlling its spending, adding billions to the national debt even in the face of higher-than-expected annual revenue. Climate change is of course a huge challenge as we head into a new decade, but getting our country’s debt and annual deficits under control is at least equally important.
Robert Dale Toronto
Columnist Andrew Coyne’s position on federal deficits seems to ignore historical evidence that supports the very different view of history’s finest economists.
In Saving The City: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914, financial historian Richard Roberts explained how the Bank of England and British Treasury saved the bankrupt banks and averted a depression. With an understanding of the marvellous innovation of money, the bank issued funds to buy the unsold war bonds necessary to fight the First World War. The Bank of Japan used the same knowledge to help the bankrupt country restore its economy after the Second World War. And Ben Bernanke did the same for the United States a decade ago.
Federal politicians seem to not understand the explanation of many economists, such as Milton Friedman, that it is fallacious to compare household budgets with federal finances. Without paralyzing debt, politicians could mobilize the resources to end unemployment, poverty and the inequality of economic opportunity.
Joseph Polito Toronto
Columnist Andrew Coyne gives perspective on the government’s out-of-control spending, but doesn’t fully address the elephant in the room: the total national debt. Remind everyone just how big that pachyderm is.
Don Bowes Burlington, Ont.
When in Rome
Re Living With Bill 21 (Letters, Dec. 28): As a Montreal anglophone Jew of the same generation as a letter-writer, I would like to point out that I see little similarity between the events of 1977 and the issues of today.
I believe those who “took the 401” left Quebec because they could not, or would not, adapt to the reality that it was no longer feasible to remain in the province without learning at least passable French. Many, such as myself, chose to adapt and integrate. I have never regretted that decision and consider my life much richer for it.
Montreal has become perhaps the most multilingual and multicultural city anywhere, and remains a great place to raise children. I would also like to point out that if there was prejudice in those days, I believe neither community was innocent. And yes, there are still unresolved issues today.
I am more than disappointed by Bill 21, and am no fan of the current government. Some, but not all, of my francophone friends feel quite differently, making for lively discussions. But governments come and go – friendships here are not broken by political differences.
And life goes on.
Ron Sigler Lasalle, Que.
Don’t waste these tips
Re How To Start A Zero-waste Lifestyle The Average Person Can Actually Sustain (Jan. 1): I enjoyed reading the various waste hacks that were suggested and would like to add a few of my own.
I have given up using plastic trash bags and now put all my trash into paper lawn bags. They’ll break down in the landfill and cost about 50 cents each, much less than the plastic type. For sloppy kitchen garbage (after composting), we use an empty flour bag that can be reused many times – up to 15 and counting now – just fill it and empty it into the paper lawn bag.
At the grocery store, I use cloth laundry bags for produce and bulk baked goods. I reuse plastic containers to buy peanut butter and other liquids in bulk and bring my own Ziploc bags for powders and spices.
This is not intended to be a holier-than-thou kind of list, just some ideas for anyone interested in reducing plastic waste. It doesn’t take much creativity to find new (old) ways to cut down on waste and pollution
Richard Graham Brandon, Man.
Here’s one easy way to cut waste: At the coffee shop, skip the disposable cup and ask for china – yes, they have them. Need coffee on the go? People can bring their own cups. Bonus? Most places will give 10 cents off for a simple gesture we can all do.
Toni Ellis Elora, Ont.
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