I’m what you might call a soft environmentalist.
I worry about climate change. I applaud those who went to jail to protect the rainforests. I try not to use plastic bags. I detest what’s happening to the dolphins. Everything I’ve seen and heard about the tar sands frightens me.
In moments of weakness, I even think the carbon tax isn’t such a bad thing.
Some day, before the trees are all gone, the ice cap has melted and the oceans have become fetid cesspools, I hope we’ll stop the insanity. Hoping, I know, isn’t good enough.
Modern environmentalists want either-or answers, now. They want us to stop making lumber and driving gas-powered cars, period.
Everybody must go green. Even City Hall is on the bandwagon, writing “sustainability” into every new planning document. Now they’re even talking about setting rules for wind power.
The role of municipal governments in alternative energy sources isn’t clear. Earlier this year the TNRD mused about run-of-river projects and proposals for wind turbines in the Nicola Valley, and how it doesn’t really have much authority to regulate them.
One of the biggest fans of alternative energy is Coun. Donovan Cavers. I like that he takes the bus and rides his bike. He’s all about setting an example, sending a message. Sometimes, though, the logic of what he says escapes me.
This week, he talked to the downtown Rotary club about setting up “hard boundaries” around the city. When I heard that, I envisioned a chain-link fence, but Cavers assures me there would be no fence, “no moat.”
What he wants is growth that goes “upwards, not outwards.” That doesn’t seem in any way practical to me. Civic planners have been all about containing urban sprawl for a long time now, but nobody thinks you can draw a line on the ground and stop growth.
But back to wind power. Cavers envisions turbines on the ridgelines around the city, capturing the power of the wind as it sweeps up the hillsides.
“Some people think they’re ugly, but personally I think they look nice,” he confesses.
Harnessing nature sounds good in theory. In her recent book, This Crazy Time, Greenpeacer Tzeporah Berman points out that Denmark now produces 20 per cent of its energy needs with “endless rows of windmills.”
Economist Jeff Rubin, in The End of Growth, also acknowledges the 20-per-cent number. But he points out that the other 80 per cent of Denmark’s power supply comes from coal, the dirtiest of all fuels. All those wind turbines are for show.
Wind power’s opponents claim it’s too expensive, too noisy, too inefficient, hell on birds and just damn ugly. My vision for Kamloops doesn’t include wind turbines lining the hilltops. The upside is that it’s not likely to happen any time soon.
Canada produces only one per cent of its energy with wind, compared to Denmark’s 20. Kamloops isn’t blessed with the wide-open real estate needed for wind farms, so if the rest of Canada can only make a one-per-cent dent in its energy needs with wind, full-scale wind farms here are unlikely.
I salute the determination of those looking for answers whether it be in the air, the rivers, the sun or in cow poop, but in the meantime I’ll just keep car pooling now and then and shopping with my re-usable bags.