Choices

So, I read an article in the Globe and Mail that said, regarding the forthcoming (in just a week) US election, that “A lot is at stake during this election. Among the issues that are at the forefront is climate justice, increased poverty, access to health care, and an uninformed response to the pandemic.” What, I asked myself, is “climate justice?”

Climate justice,” one advocacy group says, “is a term used to frame global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature.” (Italics used to show the emphasis is the original article.) The thesis is that climate change will have a more adverse impact on those who are already burdened by poverty and discrimination based on race, creed and other factors.

I’m sorry, but I think that pleading for “climate justice” might lead us all down a rabbit hole from which there is no possible escape. What we need to do re: global climate change is to make choices. Some choices are good, some are not so good.

A good choice is to “reduce, reuse and recycle,” especially where plastics are concerned. Another good choice is use less non-renewable, carbon based energy wherever and whenever possible.

Choices have costs. Singapore, for example, is planning to build, with private investment, the world’s largest solar plant ~ $20 Billion for 10 gigawatts of power … in the Australian outback! The Australians will put about ⅓ of the output in to its own grid but ⅔ will be sent to Singapore by undersea power cable to supply 20% of that small city state’s electrical power needs …

… it’s a good choice, a smart choice because, unlike Singapore, which is tiny, Australia has a lot of land that gets a lot of sunshine (insolation) but is not very useful for agriculture or mining or anything else. Singapore wants to import less electricity generated by coal fired plants in Malaysia. Singapore, being one of the world’s “best” countries by many metrics, has no trouble raising money to finance the project. It all makes sense. Solar power for Canada is more problematical, but possible, even in the Arctic.

Wind power works in many regions, especially in giant, off-shore wind farms …

… as do tidal power plants where the appropriate conditions prevail. Both might be good choices for Canada. But both have costs, too.

Canada already makes a lot of use of hydro-electric power, but it would be a good choice to preserve our natural environment by not damming up any more rivers.

While there are technologies (available and emerging) that make coal-fired electrical plants less damaging to the environment, the idea of “clean coal” is still a pipe-dream. A good choice for Canada, which still has several coal-fired electrical plants and is a major coal producer and exporter, would be to completely stop using coal to make electricity.

The most obvious good choice for electrical power generation in Canada ~ to “fuel” our cars and trucks, to heat and cool or homes, to power our factories …

… is nuclear power. Canada has always been a global leader in nuclear energy production and technology and, despite a massive and massively dishonest public-relations campaign to frighten Canadian away from nuclear power, Canadian nuclear reactor work and work well and safely. But, if we are going to stop burning coal ~ a good choice, if we are going to use less and less petroleum for fixed, permanent electrical generation ~ another good choice, and if we are going to stop damming rivers ~ a third good choice, then nuclear power use seems, to me, to be the best choice for Canada’s energy needs …

… but there is a lot of political work that needs to be done. Governments, national and provincial, and political leaders need to counter the dishonest propaganda by the anti-nuclear special interest groups. There are very legitimate concerns about nuclear waste management, storage and disposal; but that’s an engineering challenge and we, humans, especially we Canadians, have been overcoming engineering challenges for millennia …

… there is no reason for any reasonable person to fear that we will not overcome the challenge of safely managing nuclear waste.

Canadians need to make choices about how to cope with global climate change without sending us all back to a 15th century subsistence level of existence. Limiting how we use carbon based, non-renewable resources is, generally, a good choice. Non renewable resources, like petroleum and coal, are, by their very definition, limited. We can and should use them … but wisely. Canada has abundant fresh, clean water in our lakes and rivers; but it’s not just humans who depend upon it. When we dam too many rivers we destroy the natural habitat of many species and, ultimately, we hurt ourselves, too. Canada also has abundant supplies of uranium and we have the know-how to use it, safely, to produce all the clean, green nuclear energy we might ever need. Let’s make the right choice and go nuclear. And then lets’ sell our nuclear technology to the world.

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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