Chang­ing our be­hav­iour

Car­bon tax OK if money spent on in­stalling so­lar pan­els or more mass tran­sit etc.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY JOHN BREWER John Brewer op­er­ated a tourism busi­ness in Cavendish for al­most 30 years.

In the Au­gust 4 edi­tion, Alana La­joie-O’Mal­ley stated a price on car­bon will change our be­hav­iour. She works for the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg which is try­ing to re­duce its emis­sions to zero but can’t do it un­less there is a car­bon tax to help pay for it.

This is self-serv­ing at a huge tax ex­pense to the tax­pay­ers. She claims fos­sil fu­els are sub­si­dized re­fer­ring to the nat­u­ral gas boom and over­re­liance on hy­dro­elec­tric­ity. There is some­thing wrong with this state­ment as nat­u­ral gas is a low emit­ter of car­bon and hy­dro­elec­tric­ity is about the clean­est means of pro­duc­ing re­li­able elec­tric­ity avail­able.

Ms. La­joie-O’Mal­ley con­tends, as do others that so­lar, wind, geo­ther­mal and sus­tain­able biomass are bet­ter al­ter­na­tives to fos­sil fu­els. She is only partly cor­rect.

So­lar is a good al­ter­na­tive with few side ef­fects ex­cept costs per unit of elec­tric­ity. Wind is good but un­re­li­able. Geo­ther­mal of­ten means drilling holes deep into the earth on a large scale which is ask­ing for trou­ble as we don’t know the long term ef­fects i.e.: frack­ing for gas has cre­ated lots of bad side ef­fects in­clud­ing earth tre­mors.

Heat pumps are fine but too many of them use so much elec­tric­ity to run that the sup­ply and de­mand of elec­tric­ity is thrown way out of bal­ance. In the case of P.E.I. the over use of heat pumps was partly to blame for so much peak de­mand of elec­tric­ity that the prov­ince had to pay over 100 mil­lion dol­lars to run a new un­der­wa­ter ca­ble to New Brunswick for more elec­tric­ity whose main source is nu­clear.

The last al­ter­na­tive that she men­tions is sus­tain­able biomass. There are two re­li­able sources avail­able on a ma­jor scale: Burn­ing plant ma­te­rial and burn­ing trees to cre­ate elec­tric­ity.

I think both are hor­ri­ble choices. I can­not agree with tak­ing farm land out of pro­duc­tion that grows food to eat and us­ing it to grow plants to burn for en­ergy plus ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­net burn­ing plant ma­te­rial pro­duces 25 per cent more pol­lu­tants than burn­ing coal.

Burn­ing a tree is just as bad as this is not car­bon neu­tral. It takes 40 to 50 years to grow a tree. While it is grow­ing it ab­sorbs a lot of chem­i­cals out of our at­mos­phere and stores it. So what do we do? We cut it down and burn it.

Twenty per cent of those stored chem­i­cals go right back into the air and that tree will never again ab­sorb chem­i­cals from the air we breathe. Sure we can plant a new tree but it will take 40 or more years to be as ef­fec­tive as the one we cut down.

It is true that we need to cut back on chem­i­cal pol­lu­tants but there are bet­ter ways such as bet­ter in­su­lated homes, more ef­fi­cient cars and not nec­es­sar­ily elec­tric cars as on a mass scale they use a huge amount of elec­tric­ity to charge their bat­ter­ies.

Re­strict cars in our towns and ci­ties in favour of mass tran­sit etc. I also have no prob­lem with a car­bon tax if the tax is spent on re­duc­ing car­bon such as as­sis­tance on in­stalling so­lar pan­els or more mass tran­sit but politi­cians are no­to­ri­ous for tak­ing our money and do­ing some­thing else with it.

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