We have to change the way we think about power & energy

Stephen LaFrenie

Alternative off-grid and non-grid reliant building methods using passive solar, thermal mass construction combined with solar/wind power and common sense conservation can greatly reduce the pressure on existing grid structures. It will also go a long way to creating independent and sustainable northern and rural communities. Stronger, independent but smaller communities can significantly lessen the migration to large centres reducing the impact and demand for power sources. One of our major mistakes is the centralization of everything. One grid. One power source. One button. One important city. One big solution. Alternative construction methods also incorporate alternative water treatment, recycling gray water from black water reducing the pressure on sewage and water treatment plants. These technologies and methods of construction are available now and only require the political will of both government and the public to realize it.

There is debate as to whether residential/commercial power demand contributes more to green house gasses and pollution than industry. This argument misses the point. Everything has to change. The change has to happen with people in order for political change to take place and continue into the next generation. When people prove it to themselves then they begin to question the products they buy and how they are made. We need to work in all areas at the same time. As one small personal example we have cut our power consumption by over 50% from an average of 10,000 kwh per year three years ago to 4,000 kwh this last year in 2006. We are paying less on our hydro bill now in 2006 on average than we were in 2002/03 even with various price increases and adjustments. We accomplished this by changing our habits and not by sacrificing our lifestyle. I live with a friend and his daughter; we have two televisions, three vcr/dvd players, several radios, and three computers. We also have a fish tank that runs 24/7 and an outdoor pond that runs 24 hours, 8 months out of the year plus two of the rooms in the new extension to the house use electric heat. It was his daughter who caught on the fastest. She constantly reminds us when we become lazy about our habits. With this I still get to sit in front of a flat screen tv, and either watch world saving documentaries or drink whiskey, (bought with the money I saved on hydro) and watch things blow up. It really hasn't changed my life that much.

An incredible amount of the demand on the grid system is pure WASTE. A lot of the commercial/industrial power is used to make JUNK! JUNK we don't need. If each household would make similar changes to habits and cut their power consumption by a half or even a quarter we could make an incredible dent in the demand on the grid within a year. Now put that attitude into the small/medium business community while at the same time making the legislative adjustments to make industry run cleaner and with less demand where possible. Now on top of that add investment into solar and wind power for local, small independent commercial and residential use and we are well on our way to meeting Kyoto targets while further researching and developing technologies for industry. It is more a question of will than anything else. I just watched the documentary, "End of Suburbia" for the second time. The one thing that struck me again as it did the first time is the building of 2 million homes in the United States within a two to three year stretch after WW2. Simply because there was the political will to do it. 2 million children live in poverty today in Canada. In the time span of a single government term we could build 2 million alternative, affordable houses that have 50% - 70% less power demand and half the impact on municipal infrastructure. It's all connected but we view problems apart from each other.

Liberal and conservative governments don’t have this political will. In Ontario the liberal government is looking for ways to SUSTAIN our level of WASTE rather than reduce it, placing our future in the hands of unnecessary nuclear power. The arguments I read about nuclear vs wind vs solar vs coal vs farts vs whatever else is out there is not the real issue. It is not a question of whether nuclear is clean, safe or cheap, which are all obviously debatable. It is simply not necessary. The amount of money they plan to spend on nuclear power over the next decade in Ontario could and should be placed into other alternative solutions, multi-level solutions coming from across the spectrum of society.
We have to change how government and society thinks and since the liberals and conservatives have demonstrated that they can’t change their way of thinking then we have to change government. Canada and Ontario need the Green Party. We need Green Party voices in government.

We're running like lemmings to the edge of a cliff and all we are doing is arguing about how much more efficiently and quickly we can reach that edge. The result's the same.

This blog reflects my personal opinion.
It is not official Green Party Policy.