Why Solar: Can Canada single handedly cure the GHG crisis?

Canadians are known around the world for their politeness and their willingness to help. We hold doors for those behind us; we rally behind those to which fortune has not been kind. At 3.4 people per square kilometer we have the coveted status of being among the least densely populated countries in the world. As of 2017 we amount to thirty five million citizens, a miniscule portion of humanity. Small we may be, but our leaders have arrogance, a veritable David versus Goliath. Can this inconsequential nation single handedly cure the espoused GHG crisis?

A noble fantasy to be sure, fantasies manipulated by foreign players, players analogous to 350.org, whose mandate is to keep our oil resources in the ground. Their stated goal: “We want institutions to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.” With court battles, public demonstrations, and untold reams of rhetoric, our direct resource based economy is losing ground in providing a livelihood for many in its workforce.

One merely has to look around the world at the projects on the drawing boards of innovators in every technology driven country in the world. It is easy to see the writing on the wall. Cost, shortages, environmental issues, are but a few of the conundrums forcing the world to look elsewhere to provide their energy needs and bring costs down.

The variable in the equation we seem to miss here in Canada is how we pay for this transition. It has been calculated that for current civilization to completely replace oil based energy the cost to every man, woman, and child would be $15 000 USD.

For as long as Canada has been a technologically progressive country we seem to find ourselves in a quagmire of political discourse and infighting. While we are having bitter legal arguments over which faction has the right to control shipping of resources and to where, other countries of the world are simply getting on with the battle.

Saudi Arabia has stated its goal of becoming the world’s leader in alternate energy production and technological advancement. They are building wind and solar facilities, investing in futuristic modes of travel such as hyper loops and autonomous aerial vehicles. As one of the world’s largest exporters of hydrocarbon it is just short of miraculous that they recognize the need to finance technology using funds from existing resources, meanwhile we puddle in petty conflict.

Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian absolute monarchy and divisive groups are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Democracy on the other hand does allow for all to have a say, it is integral to the much ballyhooed process we are so proud of. Yet there comes a time when practical reason has to prevail. Yes oil is on the way out; yes it will be very expensive to replace. We need funds; ergo we need sales. Let’s get at it.

Lorne Oja can be reached at lorne@solartechnical.ca

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