January 25, 2012

Festival film promotes practical energy ideas

As published in The Erin Advocate

Going for green alternatives does not require a belief in climate change theories or certainty about the causes of global warming, but simply a desire to keep more money in your pocket.

Carbon Nation, the first offering in Erin's Fast Forward 2012 Film Festival, delivered that optimistic message, and a series of practical strategies, at the Legion Hall last week. Sponsored by Rob's Automotive Service, it kicked off the third season of the festival before an enthusiastic audience.

With the damaging effects of climate change becoming more obvious, governments and corporations are focusing efforts on how we can adapt to control costs, keep the economy functioning and avoid widespread war, famine and environmental destruction.

Unlike the cure for cancer, for example, an effective response to climate change does not require major breakthroughs in science. We have everything that is required, except of course for the change in attitude that will eventually make it the planet's top priority. How bad will things have to get before that happens?

Carbon Nation presents ideas that stress the potential of good old American ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit – very powerful forces that could be focused on short notice. Half of all Americans, though, don't believe climate change is being caused by human activity.

Regardless of the causes, there are numerous changes that should be supported for purely economic reasons. Above all, it makes sense to wean ourselves from dependence on coal, oil and natural gas. Which means promotion of solar and wind power, development of non-gasoline cars and the retrofitting of buildings (which use twice as much energy as transportation).

For a fascinating look at the latest in home energy technology, take the Home Alive Tour during the Seedy Saturday event at Everdale Farm near Hillsburgh, on April 28. The straw bale house features a computer to track types of power use, special water, waste and solar systems, recycled building materials and a permaculture garden. Go to www.everdale.org/events/seedy-saturday/.

For more ideas on saving money while saving the planet, go to www.carbonnationmovie.com. Things like using video conferences instead of air travel, using a push lawn mower, or raising your kids' allowance if they help reduce utility bills.

How about Meatless Mondays? Less beef consumption means less need to create pasture land by destroying rain forests, which are needed to absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
If long-haul truckers could use auxiliary power sources (instead of their large engines) to power air conditioning while they are asleep during stopovers, 1,000,000,000 gallons of diesel fuel could be saved annually.

Polluting cannot be stopped quickly, but it should have a known cost in the marketplace, whether it is through a carbon tax or the trading of carbon credits. Only then will green technologies achieve their full value.

After the film, Upper Grand School Trustee Kathryn Cooper reported that there is a current proposal to install revenue-producing solar panels at all district schools.

"I'm hopeful that the rest of the trustees will support that," she said. "I certainly will and I've got a good feeling about it, so I'm pretty excited."

On her blog (www.cooper4trustee.wordpress.com) she urges parents to support this investment: "Do we want to model the new green energy path for our children? Are we interested in creating future revenue streams to protect our children's education?"

The next showing in the Fast Forward Film Festival is Water On The Table, a portrait of Canadian activist Maude Barlow, and her mission to have water declared an international human right. It is on Wednesday, February 15, at 7 pm, at the Erin Legion Hall, 12 Dundas Street East, sponsored by Credit Valley Conservation.

Liz Armstrong of CCAGE said water will be a local issue this year, since Nestlé will be seeking renewal of its license to take millions of gallons of water from its Hillsburgh well.

"Start thinking about what kind of demands we want to make to the Nestlé company," she said. "The Ontario government charges the magnificent sum of $3.74 per million litres of water. Tanker trucks travel almost constantly from Hillsburgh over to Aberfoyle, and with the exception of those tanker truck jobs, there is absolutely nothing in it for the community."

Nestlé of course does pay taxes, and has made substantial donations towards public facilities in Erin and elsewhere, but the core issue of water as a public resource remains a serious concern. More information is available at www.wellingtonwaterwatchers.ca.