I have a few minutes to think and reflect today.

It's 2 weeks after the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I still have a lot to do to get ready for winter. But in my memory, we had to have most of this done by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, because hard freezes were due, and a soft freeze might have happened. Even just 5 years ago.

I did make the trip to our cottage on the Thanksgiving weekend this year to close it for the season. It was obvious the leaves were more green this year than in years past.

The Canada Geese are still flying south; it's late for that.

I did have the day set aside to go pick up an electric boat being taken out of service by an old friend. He and his wife too is getting older, and they are putting a pontoon boat (also electric) into service now for the run from shore to their island cottage. The sportster layout has just become a struggle for them to get in and out of. However, the weather is so foul, (snow and rain where the boat is today), that I called off the trip. But the fact I had considered trying this trip in the second half of October shows I have internalized the longer warm season and shorter cold season than was the case when I was younger.

Instead, my wife and I pickled beets, and I'm picking at other season change activities. Like making sure the charging cords for our 2 electric cars are strung so they can't be hit by the snowthrower (also electric) or the tractor and plow (also electric) through the winter. Tomorrow I may string the Xmas lights, as that has to be done before the winter storm panels go up on the balcony. Yes, it's about the carbon footprint and pollution (and reducing energy costs). Same for getting the active solar heating system back into action. And researching a new technology for an air-source heat pump which can be effective to minus 35 degrees C. And a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which can operate in Arctic conditions without icing up. While I believe changes in behaviour and attitude are more important than hoping for technology 'miracles', I'm also willing to support R&D which will be beneficial. Sort of an 'all the above' philosophy for combating climate change.

It's distressing to see that Alaskan communities have concluded they have to physically move due to the effects of climate change. We see the same in Canada. The Russians are seeing the effects as well - methane craters as the permafrost melts. My colleagues and I predicted this years ago, but those communities and senior governments chose to ignore this. Now they claim its a surprise, and there's nothing to be done.

Which is why it's disappointing to see my federal government - elected largely on promises to take climate change seriously and reinvigorate environmental reviews and embrace soft energy paths - after a year in power has approved oil pipelines, a liquid natural gas (LNG) plant and shoreline terminal, and failed to show respect for our indigenous peoples on multiple levels.

I have been spending a lot of time on oil spill response lately. (You may have noticed the reduced number of my posts the past few months.) As our country moves inexorably to lighting the fuses on all the carbon bombs (increasing pipeline capacity and raising export tanker traffic by an order of magnitude), and with roughly weekly significant spill events (wells, pipelines, storage tanks, barges, ships, tankers, trains, trucks) across the country, there is so little interest in dealing effectively with the spills.

Which leads me again to the conclusion that we, as a species, need to stop using carbon fuels (especially fossil, and particularly those fuels with low energy return on energy invested) before we exterminate ourselves.

Dark thoughts on a dreary day. Yet, I see the signs of progress, improvement and victory. The continual cost reductions in solar (photovoltaic) and wind power. Plunging prices on advanced batteries for electricity storage. Growing numbers of EVs and greening of the grid. Growing ratios of biofuels for road vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships. Ships with hybrid drive systems becoming increasing common, and all electric ships in some niches (e.g. ferries).

Happy to see opposition is growing to the CETA (Canada-Europe Trade Agreement) and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

Darryl McMahon

Freelance Project Manager (sustainable systems)
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