November 4th, 2056: The Last Fish In The World Dies
Industry pundits are agreeing today that early 21st century environmental scientists and fisheries experts were right when they predicted the world’s fish stocks would be depleted by mid-century. However, the industry spokespeople explained that protein tablets made from tar byproducts were just as healthy as fish protein and cost far less. Plans to increase the number of drilling platforms around the North Pole were also announced. “Ever since the troublesome ice finally melted,” said one, “exploiting the world’s last remaining reserves of crude oil is now financially viable.”
Sustainable Living Goes Mobile
The tireless Canadian architect and innovator Lloyd Alter has done it again. As a force behind Context Development’s seminal Niagara Street condo project, Alter showed the local design community he understands the market for smart, modernist design. He is back with a product that is so evolutionary - or perhaps revolutionary - that it is the answer to mass-produced, green living for the rest of us.
Alter and co. recently launched http://www.sustain.ca to promote his new miniHome line of self-contained, turn-key, ecological homes. While not completely zero-footprint, the new miniHomes come as close to it as anything found anywhere. This lifts Alter and the home’s designer, Andy Thomson, and indeed Canadian sustainable design, to the top ranks of the exploding eco-industry. Why? Take a look at the miniHome’s energy conserving features:
Now, all of those energy saving stats may have made you think that living in a miniHome is like living in a laboratory. Far from it. Thomson used his knowledge of modern, attractive design to make this a comfortable, well-considered home. That it is also environmentally leading-edge and affordable - prices start at just over $100k - makes it irresistible. Think of it as a Smart Car for living and you will be on the right track.
Do You Have A Black Cloud Over Your Head?
3.1 Billion Pounds of Exhaust To Bury 1.5 Billion Pounds Of Solid Waste
Dump image from York University’s Environmental Studies web site
Mayoralty candidates Stephen LeDrew, Rod Muir, and Jane Pitfield joined the Alphabet City Trash Festival crew Saturday night at the MaRS Centre on College Street to discuss the city’s garbage crisis (Mayor Miller declined the invitation to attend). In spite of what many people in our city seem to think about political candidates in general, those people who came to listen and ask questions found that the three performed well - they had ideas that might even work to reduce our city’s ecological footprint.
While researching my preamble to the evening’s discussion - I moderated the event - it occurred to me that the real cost in environmental impact terms of shipping tons of garbage hundreds of kilometers was never made public. I wanted to know how much air pollution a truck creates when carrying one ton of cargo one kilometer. With that information in hand it would be easy to determine how much invisible damage our NIMBYism was inflicting on the environment.
According to a study sighted by the Victoria Transit Policy Institute, in 2002 transport trucks produced on average 12.7 pounds of pollution emissions per ton per mile (or roughly 8 pounds per kilometer).
The Michigan dump site is about 260 miles from Toronto or 418 kilometers.
In 2005 we sent 86 trucks a day 365 days of the year to Michigan. They carried a total of 750,000 tons of Toronto garbage. That is 1.5 billion pounds of solid waste.
So, let’s do the math. For the sake of fairness, we will reduce the pollution generated on the empty return trip to Toronto to one-quarter. To do that we will say the trucks travelled only 100 kilometers on the way back.
Total trip length 418 + 100 = 518 kilometers
Total pollution per kilometer = 8 pounds
Total Tons shipped = 750,000
Then 518 x 8 x 750,000 = 3,108,000,000 pounds of tailpipe pollution.
There it is folks. To move 1.5 billion pounds of garbage so we don’t have to face our local responsibilities for waste reduction and management, we create at minimum 3.1 billion pounds of “Invisible” waste not to mention the other physical problems having those trucks on the roads produces (this does not factor in the pollution created by the truck drivers in turn driving to their jobs, manufacturing the trucks, producing diesel fuel, etc.,). The purchase of a new dump in Ontario reduces the amount of pollution but is still unconscionable. Toronto has to deal with its local waste issues locally.
To the panelists’ credit, that was their position. Each offered different approaches. Given Rod Muir’s experience as founder of Waste Diversion Toronto, it was not surprising that he had probably the best practical solutions to reducing Toronto’s waste. Jane Pitfield was a close second given her long experience on City Council and as Chair of the Works Committee, she knew the issues from the perspective of an involved politician. Stephen LeDrew was a contender in spirit but seemed - and this is from the awkward perspective of the moderator who cannot be as objective as an audience member - passionate about the issue but not as informed.
Incineration, or more accurately gasification, was discussed and all three agreed that it could be used if, and only if, pollutants we rigorously controlled. Rod Muir was least in favour of the option saying only 5% of the city’s waste need be dealt with this way. Still, when faced with the fact of how much air pollution we generate trucking garbage to Michigan, it is hard to imagine (...read more...)
Wind Energy Financing Makes A Breakthrough
Image from www.dailkos.com of the North Hoyle wind turbine installation.
Corporate Knights editor Toby Heaps’ story this issue on green power in Ontario got me thinking about how antiquated methods of project financing are a major barrier to the wider development of sustainable energy sources. So I did some research on who in the international financial community is leading the way in green energy project financing. This announcement is about the first non-recourse financing for off-shore wind farms in the industry:
Ontario and Canada’s potential for these kinds of wind projects is virtually limitless as long as we have the financing on the front end and an adequate distribution network on the back end. The Dutch financing is a breakthrough and will no doubt become a reference standard for green financing in the future. If, as Toby writes, Canadian investors like the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are indeed looking for large, green infrastructure projects, they will reference Rabobank, Dexia, and EKF’s move as an indication that institutional funds are moving in the right direction.
Smart Cars and Bicycles
With 100 MPG for the car and about 750 calories each per hour for the bikes, a quick calculation suggests that this combo can displace about six or seven normal cars. Not bad really. It’s economical too.
Offsetting Your Company’s Carbon Footprint
Contribute to the MESH Cities intelligent city database. Click here.
Read what people are saying about the environmental issues that impact us all
News about wind energy
News about sustainability
News about green investing
Blog posts about electric cars
The best green news sources on the Net