Become Part of the Solution, Before it is Too Late - Global Warming
Wednesday January 17th 2007, 11:49 am

The snow didn’t amount to much this week, but it has been years since it has been this cold in January here. The forecast high for today is -15C, with a wind chill of -25C, and it is -18C now at 11:30 am. We are lucky that this cold will last only one day. When it is very cold, I think about the amount of oil we have to burn to stay warm, and I am glad it doesn’t get this cold often.

We recently watched the DVD of “An Inconvenient Truth” which is about global warming, caused by too much carbon dioxide from burning fossel fuels, going into the atmosphere. In the movie, former Vice President Al Gore states that we must act now to save the earth. He advises that every person can make changes in the way we live our lives and we must be part of the solution before it is too late. I am very concerned about this and am convinced that we must do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This is a very important movie and should be watched by everyone.

About ten years ago we had to replace our oil furnace. At that time, I thought it would be a good idea to look into getting solar panels, to at least reduce our dependency on oil heat. I called several government agencies to get some information, but no one could help me, so I gave up, and we bought a new oil furnace.

This week the Federal government will be announcing a plan to put over $200 million into research for environmentally friendly ways to produce electricity. They will also be reworking a version of the EnerGuide for Houses program, which had been scraped because it wasn’t working. Of the people who got the energy assessment done on their homes, 70% never implemented the suggestions. I would say the main reason was that it was too expensive. The new version will offer tax credits instead of direct subsidies. I hope that part of the plan is to encourage people to use things like solar heat and offer good tax breaks for insulating our homes and driving more fuel efficient vehicles. I cringe whenever I see someone driving an SUV.

Our Provincial government in Nova Scotia recently announced a new plan for builders to build homes with an energy efficiency standard of 80, which will be required by all homes built by 2011. In the meantime, all homes built with the 80 rating will have a $500. incentive for the buyer, plus a $350. rebate which is available for homes with a rating of 77, from the Provincial government. Although these homes will cost an additional $5,500. to purchase, the buyer will save $900. annually on their energy bill and prevent more than 5.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The 80 rating would require low-E argon windows, R-25 wall insulation, R-50 ceiling insulation and R-10 insulation under the basement floor, among other things. The average new home built in Nova Scotia now has a rating of 67. Can you imagine the rating for most of the homes built years ago with little or no upgraded insulation, doors or windows.

Our house was built in 1973, and does have extra insulation in the attic and basement. We have replaced all our windows and doors to more energy efficient ones. It still costs $2,000. a year to heat our home with oil, besides the $1,100. it costs for electricity a year. Nova Scotia Power uses coal to fuel the electricity for everyone in Nova Scotia, so these emissions would be massive. They decided to use coal years ago to support the coal industry in Cape Breton. A dinosaur, which for the most part has ended, but Nova Scotia Power is stuck with this archaic way of providing fuel to generate electricity. In our house we try to conserve energy by buying energy efficient appliances and using small electrical appliances often to save more energy. We use the energy efficient LCD light bulbs. We lower our thermostat at night and when we are not home. We try to be energy efficient but we are still not doing enough, and we are still putting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Years ago the Federal government gave grants to people who installed wood stoves in their homes. I don’t know whether there is more carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere from wood stoves than oil or gas, but it certainly smells worse. In our neighbourhood you can hardly breathe when the wind blows toward our house from the numerous wood stoves burning on our street. I have never seen a report about this, but I hope the government doesn’t encourage more people to purchase woodstoves to save on oil, if the result is that more carbon dioxide is produced. I know our lungs know the difference.

The average person in Nova Scotia can only do so much without the help of our government. We don’t want to freeze in the dark, so there must be better ways to stay warm and live our lives as we have been accustomed. Not many people will inconvenience themselves too much, in order to save energy, especially when they see their neighbours wasting fuel on gas guzzlers, massive homes and other wasteful lifestyles. Government has to take the lead, so more people will take this real and present danger seriously. More innovative ways of conserving energy must be developed, before it is too late.

Anne