Deforestation is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for up to 15% of total emissions. Deforestation plays such an oversized role in climate change, in fact, that part of the 2015 Paris Agreement singled out both the end of deforestation and the importance of reforestation to hitting national climate goals. Planting trees – lots and lots of trees – is the best way to counteract deforestation. Take action by pledging a tree or planting a tree this Earth Day! Visit earthday.ca to learn how to participate, and to find out more about Earth Day Canada’s programs.
In the interest of achieving balance, let’s follow up all that feel-good Earth Day activity with something most of our readers are likely less than thrilled about - yet another increase to hydro rates announced last week. This one’s a doozy. In a release, the OEB says "Ontarians consumed less electricity than expected over the recent milder winter. As a result of lower usage, Regulated Price Plan (RPP) prices did not recover the full cost of serving RPP customers. One of the main reasons prices are increasing in May is to recover this shortfall." Crank up the AC! Do your laundry on a Tuesday afternoon! Run the dishwasher on half loads! What does it matter? We’re charged more when we use too much and, now, when we use too little electricity. Is it coincidence that this latest increase follows so closely on the heels of the debt retirement charge elimination and the introduction of the Ontario Electricity Support Program? It would take far more space than we have here to fully explain all the factors in the mismanagement of energy that has led to poorer families having to choose between running their fridges and having food to store in them.
We are, of course, not advocating that you disregard all of the energy conservation efforts you make. Yet, the fact is that fixed distribution rates plus increased charges for less usage serve to undermine the energy saving measures we’ve been encouraged to implement through costly marketing and advertising strategies. Talk about adding insult to injury. For many, switching off the lights when you leave a room is a life-long habit, and a good one. Our elders used to say, ‘waste not, want not’. While rising costs for all of modern life’s necessities are making it more difficult to see that adage reflected in our bank balances, it still applies to our responsibility as humans on this planet.
Most mechanisms for generating electricity release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere. While small quantities of carbon dioxide exist naturally in the atmosphere, the generation of electricity has greatly increased the presence of greenhouse gas. Those gases lead to air pollution and acid rain. The dangers of radioactive waste produced from sources like nuclear energy add to the ways in which electricity affects the environment.
Let’s not get so distracted by the frustration of being chained to the hydro giant that we forget there’s a far more important benefit to conserving energy than saving money. Since usage is less relevant to that number on our hydro bills with every rate and policy change, start (or continue) to think of conservation in terms of caring for the planet. All those Earth Day trees we were talking about at the beginning will bring much needed change. Don’t make it negligible by giving up. Keep doing your part to help all the living entities on our planet, including ourselves, to thrive.