We all know the devastating effects that fossil fuels have on both our planet and our health– impacts ranging from climate change and extreme weather events, to air pollution and human health problems, to habitat degradation and biodiversity loss– none of these effects seem like good news for us, and have even worse implications for our future generations. Over the last 150 years, combustion of fossil fuels has resulted in a more than 25% increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Since the late 1800s, global average land surface and ocean temperature has increased roughly 0.85 degrees Celsius, and is projected to keep rising over the next decade if we continue to burn fossil fuels. This is resulting in severe environmental consequences such as melting of glaciers, sea level rise, droughts, floods, and storms– all of which are linked with negative economic and social implications.
In Ontario, the primary problem lies in our heavy reliance on nuclear power– half of our energy supply, and 15% of Canada’s electricity supply, comes from nuclear. Ontario houses 3 large nuclear plants– Pickering Generation Station, Bruce Generation Station and Darlington Generation Station. Proponents of nuclear have long touted its primary advantage– it is emission-free and thus the “lesser of two evils” when compared to carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
However, environmentalists and opponents of this technology know that this tells only one side of the story– the untold harms associated with nuclear power include dangerous radioactive waste, human health and safety issues, costly refurbishments and waste disposal, and risk of environmental contamination. Nuclear energy is also considered an unsustainable resource, as its long (30 year) lifespan and exorbitant subsidies hinder the development of alternative energy sources that are cheaper, more efficient and less harmful for our environment.
Thankfully, there are now new, safer and more modern ways of generating the electricity that we need– using renewable energy. We now have the technology to efficiently harvest the power of sun, wind, water and earth to provide us with an abundant supply of energy to meet our demands, while also providing ample economic and social benefits to cities and local communities worldwide.
Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy can decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, and is one of the most effective ways to mitigate further climate changes and environmental degradation. Here in Ontario, renewable energy co-operatives have been growing rapidly, leading to vast reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For instance Solar Share, a solar energy co-operative in Ontario, generates approximately 5.25 million kWh of clean electricity annually, resulting in 585 tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions per year.
Watch the video clip below, and stay tuned for more from Our Power in the upcoming weeks for the launch of our complete video series, along with resources on how you can take action to help get Canada to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible.
Let’s work with our planet, not against it!