Energy and climate change – the importance of reaching the public
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Energy and climate change – the importance of reaching the public Energy and climate change – the importance of reaching the public Presentation Transcript

  • Energy and climate change – the importance of reaching the public
    • Steven Earle
    • Malaspina University-College
  • Outline What Canadians already know about climate change* *based largely on my experience with University students What they should know Why we need to improve their understanding How we might achieve that goal
  • What do Canadians already know (or think that they know) about climate change?
  • They know that it is getting warmer
  • But they think that the magnitude of change is insignificant
  • They know that greenhouse effect is the problem.
    • But they’re not very clear about what the greenhouse effect is.
  • Most Canadians know that the greenhouse effect has something to do with greenhouse gases Many people are confused about the difference between the greenhouse effect and stratospheric ozone depletion. But they have very little idea what the connection is, or even what a greenhouse gas is.
  • Canadians are aware that not everyone (nor every organization, nor every government) agrees that there is a climate-change problem.
    • This degree of uncertainty makes denial a little easier.
  • The biggest problem is that most Canadians think that: “What I do is not the problem.”
  • Or even if they recognize that they are part of the problem, they will argue that: “A change in my behaviour won’t make any difference anyway.”
    • This widely held belief makes denial a lot easier.
  • Canadians produced 546,000,000 tonnes of CO 2 in 2003.* * Statistics Canada Each of us produced a seemingly insignificant 0.0000032% of that total.
  • 18.3 tonnes of CO 2 per Canadian We consumed 37,000,000,000 L of automobile fuel in 2001*, or about 1233 L/person (24 L/week) , resulting in emissions of 2.95 tonnes of CO 2 per person. If each of us could cut our transportation CO 2 budget in half (by using a smaller vehicle, driving less, biking, walking or using public transit) we could lower our total emissions by 8%, and we would all be fitter and would have better air to breath. * World Resources Institute
  • My experience is that personal decisions that involve energy use are based on : 1) cost 2) convenience and comfort 3) fashion and prestige 4) the local environment (pollution) 5) the global environment (climate change)
  • What most people don’t know (and should know) about climate change.
  • Canadians need to know about some of the consequences of climate change.
    • It is getting warmer and ice is melting
    • Sea-level is rising
    • The weather is becoming more extreme
    • Its going to cost us – a lot!
  • Ice is melting Minimum Arctic sea ice 1979 Source: NASA, 2003
  • Minimum Arctic sea ice 2003 Source: NASA, 2003
  • Canadians need to know where greenhouse gases come from. Otherwise they will never feel any responsibility for the problem.
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  • Canadians need to recognize that, in the long run , the global effects of climate change are far more significant than the local effects of pollution. Alas, very few people consider issues over the long term.
  • Sumas 2 gas-fired generator
  • Virtually all of the discussion around this project has been about local air quality. Almost nothing has been said about the green-house gas production. The same is true for a proposed gas-fired plant in Nanaimo.
  • From: Sahay, Krishna [KSahay@NRCan.gc.ca] Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 9:54 AM To: Steve Earle Subject: West Coast Oil and Gas Drilling Moratorium - File D04-55946 Dear Dr. Earle: On behalf of the Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, I would like to thank you for your correspondence of February 13, 2004, concerning the federal review process, the conclusions of which will be used to inform a decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium on oil and gas activities for selected areas offshore British Columbia ... The Government of Canada and Natural Resources Canada are committed to balancing environmental, social and economic needs when considering the development of our resources. The ultimate decision ... Yours sincerely, Krishna Sahay Director General Petroleum Resources Branch Natural Resources Canada This letter goes on for two pages about First Nations, environmental, social and economic issues, but does not contain a single word about the greenhouse gas implications of B.C. offshore oil and gas. The stone age did not end for lack of stones!
  • Canadians need to understand the implications of their driving habits
  • Fuel consumption (city) of some popular vehicles Toyota Prius (hybrid) – 4.5 L/100 km Honda Civic – 7.5 Honda CRV – 10.9 Ford Explorer – 15.5 GMC Yukon Denali – 19.5 Cadillac Escalade – 18.1 Source: Office of Energy Efficiency, NRCAN
  • The Prius is pricey at around $30,000, but the Explorer is about $45,000, and the Yukon Denali is over $65,000! Lots of people think that they can’t afford one of those expensive hybrids, but they’ll happily shell out a whole lot more to have a smart-looking SUV in their driveway!
  • It is critical for Canadians to understand how carbon is cycled
  • Again: Canadians need to be convinced that every single person can make a difference
    • Every one of us in the industrialized world is partly responsible for the current situation
    • Every one of us can take steps to reduce our greenhouse gas contribution
  • Who do we need to reach?
    • The public
    • Teachers
    • Bureaucrats (institutional, civic, provincial, national)
    • Politicians
    • Engineers, architects, technicians
  • What if we don’t bother?
    • We’ll be left talking to ourselves
    • Until we can increase the public level of understanding of the issues around climate change we are unlikely to realize the potential for acceptance of renewable energy technologies
  • Is it our job? I think so – nobody else is actively trying to reach the public on this issue, and no organization is better placed to do it than the ACCC.
  • How can we get the message out?
    • Haul them in by the collar and lecture to them!
    • Advertise on television and radio!
    • Get them interested by showing them that they’ll save money, and then sneak in a message about climate change.
    • Make a very compelling video and/or computer presentation that really gets their attention.
    • Get our message into the schools
    Videos School visits NRCAN climate-change posters
  • Steven Earle Geology Department Malaspina University-College Nanaimo, B.C. [email_address]