Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Will it make any difference?

One of my rain barrels
Saanich is offering a series of free lectures on topics related to climate change and what people could do at home.   The first one is on rainwater management and is this coming Saturday.

The cost to hold these lectures and the impact they will have are not likely going to be worth it.  The municipality would have a much bigger impact if it spent more money on building good sidewalks than holding these lectures.  They would also have more of an impact if they made some changes to streets to allow buses to move a bit faster.

The whole set of pages for Saanich on climate change are simplistic.   As an example, the carbon calculator, it has various problems.  

It assumes all vehicles in a class and how you drive them are the same, if you want to calculate the CO2 emissions you just need to know the number of litres you use in a year.   The CO2 emissions for electrical power is constantly fluctuating based on what power source we are drawing on.   If you use power in the middle of the night, you have a higher CO2 impact because that power is in part coming from coal fired plants in the US or Alberta.

Air travel is also not as simplistic as the calculator suggests.   Much depends on the number of passengers on the plane, how old the plane is and the speed it is flown at.   If you fly WestJet, your CO2 emissions will be lower because they have very new planes and have more passengers than average.  If you fly Harbour Air you have zero CO2 emissions since the airline is carbon neutral.

The calculator misses out a major source of greenhouse gases, the eating of meat.

It also misses out the impact of what I do that might reduce CO2.

The Saanich pages feel like "flavour of the month".   There is no real thought or rigorous academic backing for what is being done or what is suggested people do.   Lots of resources are going into project work that will have no impact.


Ryan Conroy said...

Blaming "the eating of meat" as a source of CO2 emmissions is as simplistic and inaccurate a view as the others you point out. Sustainable wild and pasture raised meats are one of the most efficient protein sources to produce. Grain products like soy are terribly inefficient, especially when you consider it is mostly genetically modified, processed into junk food, and contains huge amounts of the mineral robbing acid, phytic acid. While people who have been successfully brainwashed by agribusiness like to point out that cows who eat grass fart more and emit methane, pasture is also a carbon sink. The problem is not agriculture, it is the terrible way we are doing it. And really as consumers we have only ourselves to blame, spending all our money on junk food like cookies and boxed cereals, so now we have no money for pasture raised meats and eggs and dairy and we have to buy the cheap stuff even though we know everything about it is wrong.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

The biggest issue with meat eating is the methane that livestock produces.

Pastures capture carbon, but CO2 is 1/20th the impact of methane.

In may case, the meat I eat each year is close to the largest contribution I make in green house gasses.

Here is what I wrote on this in the past:

Bernard von Schulmann said...

Sorry about that, I never seem to be able to get links to works in the comments section - here are the URLs that were supposed to be in the last post