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At the writing of this letter, COP 26, the 2021 UN International Conference on the Environment is over ... but questions remain. Will the pledges made by some 200 governments to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius Degrees amount to anything? ... or are they just more "blah, blah, blah!" as predicted by that cheeky young upstart, Greta Thunberg (and reiterated by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson).

COP 26 was all about change in the commitments, policies, and programmes of governments and corporations. What is more important to our collective Future, and what was beyond COP26, is whether or not each of us is willing to change the conduct of our daily lives. Our choices determine the behaviour of governments and the success or failure of corporations.

Can we change or are we committed to consuming more?, building bigger houses more?, traveling more?, loving ourselves and our pleasures more? ... and do we do so at the expense of all other forms of life on Earth more? If the answer is "yes" (or at least a shrug of the shoulders), are we not sowing the seeds of a chaotic Future for our children more, if not our own demise as a species more?

About 45 years ago the way to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation was to "Reduce! Reuse! and Recycle!", a phrase that is even more relevant today than it was then.

Yet Cobourg's NoFrills distributes 5,000+ yellow plastic shopping bags a week. On several occasions I have seen organic bananas and broccoli wrapped in plastic. I thought it was a joke designed to make us laugh at our own stupidity. I was naive! Apparently it's good for business!

One effective guiding principle that encompasses the 3Rs is to reduce our use of energy where ever we can. It is based on the fact there is no such thing as pollution-free or carbon-emissions-free energy. This includes hydro-electric sources such as dams where the massive reservoirs of water needed to drive hydro's generators produce tonnes of methane, a gas which is four times more effective at trapping the sun's heat than CO2.

Electric vehicles are only window dressing. Over their lifetime, (if you dig down deep enough), they reduce the threat posed by fossil-fuel powered vehicles by less than one-third. Because China is the source of 90% of the rare-earth-metals needed to produce vehicle batteries, the growth in electric vehicles will increase China's geo-political influence. Given the expected growth in human population the net advantage of electric vehicles will be quickly lost in a decade or two.

As for changes to our daily lives I propose that we use the stairs more, walk and bike more, buy what we need at local stores more (instead of having them shipped one at a time to our doorstep). For Cobourg residents there's a better way to set out our waste on garbage day. As the heavy diesel pickup trucks make their rounds they accelerate and decelerate from house to house over short distances. In doing so they emit the maximum amount of harmful micro-particles and waste the maximum amount of fuel. Why can't four households set out their waste in one location and eliminate 3/4 of the problem? In Sweden I've seen communities that take their waste to a bin at corner of each street.

In the end the choice is up to us more than governments ... it's turn off the lights or turn off the Future!

Keith Oliver
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editors note: Email provided per request from Keith - he would like responses.