Norway is not the sole promoter of a transition to zero emission electrical energy for powering their frigid world. Sweden’s heavy equipment manufacturer Volvo is developing electric wheel loaders, haul trucks, and excavators at Skanska’s quarry near Gothenburg, Sweden. These machines match the Norwegians road vehicle, ship, and aircraft aspirations. Cold weather seems to initiate inspiration and stimulate forward thinking.
At first glance, technological advances seem to be the realm of government and large corporations. But never underestimate the little guy. My ancestors, one generation back, were no strangers to innovation. These people survived not only two world wars, but a depression. They were in Canada at the time of the wars, but the call for raw materials and supplies meant a shortage of goods at home. They were the ultimate conservationists long before the term was dreamed of. Grandma wasted nothing. Flour sacks were used for tea towels; butcher paper and any plastic bag from store bought goods were reused to the point of failure.
Organic food stuffs filled the cellar long before the modern refrigerator was even invented, let alone readily available. Canned and cured meats were the staple of the day.
Cows provided milk, butter, and cream for both home use and a supplement to the wallet with a cheque from the creamery. Pigs provided ham and bacon; chickens fed many a family gathering.
Barns and the main domicile were painstakingly built from finely crafted logs; lumber for the house was cut on Grandpa’s sawmill. Their home, small by today’s standards, met their needs.
Transportation was a team with wagon, horseback, or foot. In short they made little impact on the environment. Everything they consumed was raised at home. There was little need for foodstuffs to make thousand mile journeys on trucks from warm environments.
Today, numerous home owners are providing the electrical requirements of their residences with power generated by photovoltaic arrays, small wind turbines, and even hydro power on a small dedicated scale. Many have developed heat generation units that provide the warmth needed in the winter season from the decay of the grass they cut from their own lawns in summer. Saskatchewan is known for the ingenuity of rural folk who heat homes, workshops, and greenhouses with the heat from burning straw or hay bales.
The idea put forth is that conservation does not require a large amount of investment; many of the things we do in life can be modified to lessen our impact on the environment.
Growing our own vegetables, raising a few chickens or a beef eliminates the need of having these commodities shipped in from hundreds of miles away. If you do not own land, buy locally from farmers markets, self-pick berry farms or vegetable gardens. Purchase your meat from your local butcher shops or right off the farm.
Conservation of resources, along with utilizing novel ways to supplement your heating necessities, electrical needs, and transportation requirements, is a means for a personal contribution in the transition to a durable civilization.
Lorne Oja can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org