Talking Climate Change

Nov 19, 2019 | Norm Reynolds | 1 comment

The following is an informative and fascinating insight into the kinds of difficult conversations that are now going on at all levels of society about how we are going to survive climate change. Conversations  from a Comox Valley list serve, ASCV, have been extracted with unidentified contributors. 

There are incorrect perceptions/ reactions to solutions to global warming; I  see most environmentalists thinking that e-cars are a solution to global warming. I see it as incorrect group think.  There are corporations and enviro organizations that are taking advantage of the Greta movement that will use it to continue the growth of capitalism; for example solar panels for Africans. They will be indebted to the corps to pay for them. Again people do not accept criticism of where this might lead us. Most people do not want to rock the boat and go against accepted views of the majority. 

 As an electric car owner, I have to say that I have never heard anyone say that these things are a solution to climate crisis. NOT ONE! They are one thing some people can do. Just like the water tank we use to collect rainwater for our garden, our composting toilet, our solar water pre-heater, our heat pump and our huge garden, all these things help make our harm to the planet just little less than before. There is no ‘solution’ to the climate crisis, but there are a million small changes we can all do to make our impact a little less harmful. As George Monbiot says, overthrowing capitalism is at the heart of the issue. 

CVEVA co-founder Randy Chatterjee believes the advent of electric cars alone will enable Canada and the world to live up to the Paris Climate Accord and keep global warming under 1.5 degrees C.” You say Norway has transit ridership go down 80% since introduction of e-cars and that people are driving more when they have cleaner burning machines. I’d like to see a source for your comment about an 80% decline in public transit use in Norway. As far as I can find out, there has been no decline in such usage, altho’ Uber and Lyft have definitely caused problems in the inferior public services in many cities, especially in the US. All my research shows that Norway has experienced NO DECLINE in public transport usage. I find it really ironic that you, one of the most ardent opponents of petro use in vehicles are spreading the petro industry line against EV’s. 

As for Randy Chattewrjee’s comments about ev’s helping us reach our Paris Climate accord targets… big deal. He may be correct, but I think everyone, including him, knows that these targets are not a solution to climate crisis.   

The biggest impact that I see from the growth of electric cars will result from the decline in sales of petroleum products. If ev sales continue to rise in BC (currently 9% of new vehicle sales) the demand for petro fuel will fall likewise. This could be the key to making the Transmountain project economically non-viable. At the very least, it is saving us $250 per month that we can use for positive impact in our community. I am sorry that I am not so good at supplying references to everything that I read.. If I come across it I will post the link.  If people are not going to stop buying and driving cars, maybe electric cars are better… They might even save you some money.  

Its only logical to think that people that buy electric cars will be less likely to use best practices in transportation: velomobile, electric bicycle, train , busses.  I am still against petrol industry. The fossil fuel industries supply most of the power to make these huge toxic consumer items. We just need to power down. Again, there is no doubt about it, electric cars will perpetuate car culture. Ok. Here’s my new plan. It’s a new plan because my old broken record of a plan is hitting deaf ears. I looked down the street today at all the newish giant cars and trucks going up and down the Road. Most people will not quit cars. They are so addictive; comfortable, warm, safe, gets you around like a speeding bullet. I have been flogging dead horses.  If we embrace nuclear, like thorium reactors, and build thousands of them, every person in the world would get a car and maybe a flying machine too. The roads would eventually get so big and congested, like 8 lane tunnels all over the place that people would scream for mass transit. In the meantime the air would get much better, lung disease would go way down and we could easily have the power to sequester carbon to reverse ocean acidification. – but isn’t that the masterplan for LA? So far part B (the screaming for transit) hasn’t kicked in.  Or take Toronto – I THINK a third of all trips are by transit and they still have more and more cars.. Part B won’t happen for a long time. When will Comox Valley be so full of cars that they start adding more traffic lanes? Then how much longer until these wider roads become unusable because of increased traffic?  It’s exponential, maybe doubling each 10 years. So let’s say 15 years. I think we better switch to nuclear fast. No other energy source will be able to replace fossil fuels at the increasing rate that we are using energy. 

The nuclear waste is stored, unlike the fossil fuel waste that we breath everyday.  Japan is a poor example of nuclear energy which should never be financed by private corps. It was built in the wrong place. Short cuts were made to save money.  I see no other options to power all the cars and planes. 

Nuclear wasted stored where? Do you know? Magical thinking.  NO permanent storage in Canada or US yet after 70 years! All stored in the same precarious temporary water pools as Fukushima. NO ONE but no one argues this is safe for 10,000 years. The salt caverns etc keep turning into disasters (USA, Germany). And Japan did screw up and now is starting their nukes up again, but they are dumping the radioactive water (to date!) from Fukushima into the ocean, which is why we will eat it.  Further more nukes are extremely carbon intensive to run and to fuel – have you REALLY looked into this? In all respect to you, because I think you are intelligent enough to figure it out, I doubt it.  I can’t believe you would make one choice to screw the future over another choice to screw the future. Makes no sense. If you haven’t read this yet, start here Of course, it is out of date now, but it doesn’t affect the time scale of nuclear waste. Which is still as radioactive as 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 years ago.

 I am not an expert on nuclear power.  I have read enough though to consider it as an option. The only other choices are to power down( That will not happen), or continue burning fossil fuels with pidly little bits of renewable power.  I think we all need to do more research before making blanket statements about a complicated technology. I’ll read the yellow cake story and also, more about thorium reactors, which can reuse old depleted uranium..  I read a lot from this link. I also read about thorium. It is also a dangerous method of getting power, not as bad as uranium, but still bad. I am hopeful though that the technology will be able to eventually use and reduce the existing uranium waste. I have no hope  as I first wrote that it can replace oil.  

 There are solutions to global warming. I am back to supporting power down: mass transit, elimination of personal cars, no flying, local  currency, local agriculture and biochar.   I am afraid you are correct about power down and I don’t see any way  of getting there politically except collapse, which I fear is  inevitable (and not all bad). And happens to all civilizations so far so no reason to think we are  different. We CAN try to do it in a staged manner.  All our efforts are to try to make things a little better. Or at least less worse.

 I’m reminded of the Quechuan parable of the hummingbird, as told by Nobel laureate Wangari Matthaai —  

 In my view the idea of nuclear power is something I fought –especially the uranium mines to fuel nuclear power. However I have two children and three grandchildren who I desperately want to see have the opportunities for a healthy life like I enjoyed. If I thought nuclear power would end the cooking of our atmosphere I would reluctantly support it and hope my family is never close to a reactor when it blows. However I think what is missing so far is the question of if nuclear power could replace fossil fuels why hasn’t it. One reason is that no one—other than governments– wants to take on the mammoth costs of insuring against accidents that could wipe out whole countries. That is why there was no construction of nuclear power reactors between 1979 and 2012. Since then more new reactor projects have gone into bankruptcy than have been completed. 

I can’t understand why we are talking of nuclear power when we could so much more safely and economically convert to solar power without the risk of poisoning whole swaths of the Earth. The thing about decentralized solar power is that it is obviously an essential in converting our economies to living within the balance of nature. While we talk of the disaster of global warming, without global warming we are still consuming/polluting ourselves out of a place on Earth. 

We need to learn—not to grow our economies with nuclear power—but to live in balance with the natural processes that support life on Earth. We simply cannot go on consuming all of life on Earth and poisoning/polluting all the rest of it and still have an Earth that supports human populations. 

My grandchildren will not prosper in a wasted/poisoned world of abundant nuclear power. The other weakness to nuclear power going forward is that we are facing a “climate emergency.” By the time we constructed enough nuclear power plants to fuel the growth of economies around the world – the world as we know it won’t be here. We need to stop growing over almost everything and poisoning everything else right now. If we are to survive on a human supporting Earth, we have to turn away from blind growth for growths sake and start talking of acting on designing our human activities to fit into the natural world—rather than devoting all our energy to consuming/poisoning it. I pray that collapse is not our only workable option!  

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Norm Reynolds

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You can read the whole argument at:

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You are warmly invited to join in CV Conversations which will be more—conversational; represent a diversity of perspectives on topics of interest to Comox Valley residents. We don’t know how this will turn out—It’s and experiment! We’re going to make up the rules as we go and we thoroughly hope that others will want to join the conversations and contribute new ideas as to how the conversations can evolve.

If you are interested in being part of CV Conversations for one issue or for all posts or have some thoughts on how this conversational blog could be even more relevant/interesting send me a note at nreynolds at We, the founding members of CV Conversations, see this as a natural progression for a participator centred local community website.

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1 Comment

  1. Tony

    Humans were designed to be hunter-gatherers. They did not need to plan ten or twenty years ahead. Knowing where food was likely to be found next spring/summer was as far ahead as they needed to think.

    Not much has changed. Most people do not worry about the impact of their behaviour on future generations.

    60% of humanity is in denial. Global warming is not happening and that’s it. Let’s keep drilling for more oil. Another 20% agree that there is a problem but assume that it is someone else’s job to fix it (politicians, scientists, etc.). They keep flying to Hawaii, Disneyland or Phoenix to consume as much as they can afford. So they continue polluting as usual.

    The final 20% worry about global warming and try to practice what they preach. A solar panel here, a bicycle there, composting, recycling and so on.

    But, of course, the impact of this is insignificant given what the rest of humanity is doing. It makes us feel better, but we are not kidding ourselves. It is a drop in the bucket. And our retirement funds are still mostly invested in petrochemical and banking industry shares.

    So what is the solution? There is no miracle cure. We won’t be rescued by any specific technology. The solution is very painful and, even if we agreed to the bitter medicine, it is probably too late in the process. We would need to drop capitalism and constant growth as our “religion” and adopt a ferocious de-growth plan with a drop in material standards of living. Oh, and did I mention we would need much smaller families (or no kids for many people) so that we drastically cut the number of mouths we need to feed with less and less agricultural land and more frequent droughts and floods? Not a very attractive political platform that will win the next election, is it?

    So, what do we do? Well, change is coming, whether we like it or not. And it will be painful. The Comox Valley (and Vancouver Island) could prepare for it by protecting what little agricultural land we have left and related water sources. By using electric trains to move people and goods up and down the island. By banning cars from all downtown areas and allowing only electric buses, electric delivery vans to deliver goods, bicycles and pedestrians. By taxing flying and driving alone in large vehicles. By expanding tidal wave, wind and solar power (knowing that using less energy is the goal, not just changing the source of the energy). Some people call all of this “localism”. You travel less, use less, walk and cycle more and live simply. Friends and relatives become your wealth, not material possessions.

    What? This does not sound too attractive to many people? Well, the alternative will be ugly. Less food and water for more and more people. You know how that will end, don’t you?

    For some excellent coverage on these topics, have a look at these recent articles:

    Happy reading.



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