Sunday, September 13, 2009

Living in the “Post Expansion Age”

Man’s ability to predict outcomes, especially for the economy, the weather or environmental change, has been seriously brought into question. Studies predicting one effect are often followed by other studies predicting almost the opposite. We have to step back and look at the source of studies for potential bias, the quality of them, the numbers on each side of the issue, the evolution of opinions, and use our own minds. Climate change is now accepted by most researchers, the only question is how fast is it happening and how far it will go. Successive studies generally suggest faster rates of change. Greenhouse gasses are almost universally accepted as to contributing to climate change, only the extent of their effect is disputed. The activities on mankind are a major contributor to greenhouse gases. The world population is growing fast and will continue to without a major natural disaster, war or lethal pandemic. The planet is not growing! Simple logic tells us that at some point we will reach the limits of our earth and the “Post Expansion Age” will begin.

There is some dispute as to when this age will start. Some say we are already there, some say it will not happen this century, but it most certainly will happen. Our planet has gone through many temperature cycles. At first, temperatures were too hot for water to exist as a liquid. At one time, all land was covered by ice. Since then their have been many swings back and forth, trending over time to be less severe. Presently we are in the warming phase of the cycle. Mankind is giving this swing a strong push, driving this cycle far further and much faster than it would have gone. We are now getting a taste of what is to come in our recent severe and unpredictable weather conditions. Changes are too fast for many life forms to adapt or migrate to suitable climates.

However the dominant issue on peoples’ minds is the economy. Prevailing opinion is that we cannot have a healthy economy without growth or expansion. Our monetary system demands it. Simple logic tells us that eventually we will have to find a way. Continuously increasing consumption of resources can only lead to exceeding the planet’s environmental capacity. If we go too far before we realize it, we may have to quickly change to a shrinking economy. Where this tipping point occurs is hotly debated. Some opinions are that we have already past it.

Regardless where this limit is there are some measures we can take to give us more time to learn how to solve our problems. Obviously reduce, reuse, recycle, and restore is a start. The “green economy” which actually reduces resource consumption will buy us some time. We may have to focus on our needs more than or wants. Adjusting to activities that do not consume a lot of resources for enjoyment and fulfillment may eventually be necessary. Eventually we will have to find a way to deal with the growth of our population.

Solving these problems may seam insurmountable, but I have faith in mankind’s ingenuity to accomplish this. The sooner we get started the easier it will be and the less human suffering will result. We will have to find a way to do the impossible so that we do not have to consider the unthinkable.

Fred Twilley

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Should We Learn From The Ontario Blackout of 2003.

The electricity blackout of 2003 was a reminder of how dependent we are on technology and how vulnerable we are to serious consequences of technology failures. Although advancements in technology have positive effects on our lives, we must include their possible failure in our emergency planning as we do for floods, fires, pandemics et cetera.

How do we mitigate the consequences of power failures? Making sure that we have battery operated lighting and other equipment, independent generators, and water and food supplies not requiring power to access or prepare, are obvious examples.

Although conservation efforts may not prevent an outage they would reduce the probability of one in part by reducing the load on transmission lines. More efficient appliances would also lessen demands on limited generators and fuel supplies during a blackout.

By building green generation capacity locally and linking it to essential services so that they could function off-grid would reduce the impact of a power failure. The added insurance of local power generation, especially during emergency situations, would make these electrical plants more economically attractive. More sources of power generation may help improve the operation of the electrical grid and reduce the risk of a system failure.

These factors provide us with additional reasons for developing green energy projects in addition to;
-They can stimulate the economy and reduce our carbon footprint.
-They would give back savings to mitigate the debt loads associated with stimulus spending.
-By helping to control utility costs they would contribute to keeping our local businesses competitive.-They would be one step in learning to live in the “Post Expansion Age”.

Fred Twilley

Friday, August 14, 2009

About Your Green Party Candidate

On June 11, 2009 I was chosen to be the Green Party candidate for the Sudbury riding. This is a privilege and a responsibility that I will work hard to fulfill. In this introduction I hope to illustrate why I am a good choice for this important job.

I was born in 1945, raised and educated in Toronto. After a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Geology, I earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto became a Professional engineer in 1972. After moving to Sudbury in 1970, I worked for Falconbridge Ltd (now Xstrata Ltd) until 1999 and have since done contract work for Falconbridge and First Nickel. Geology has taught me a lot about our planet’s long term environmental evolution and the potential consequences of humanity’s influence on its finite biosphere. Business education has equipped me with enough understanding to state with conviction that we can have a healthy economy and live within the environmental capacity of the earth.

Having been raised by parents that survived the depression, I have always been thrifty and practiced reduce, reuse, restore and recycle when that option became available.
In my home life and career in geology my adherence to these principles often put me at odds whith others. In every decision of significance every day I try to think of the true costs of my choices and how to minimize them. It is part of my inner nature. I often try to convey my thinking to others, and occasionally learn that it is not appreciated.

As a young person I readily communicated with friends and strangers in almost all social environments. Over many years I learned to speak in front of large groups of people and communicate and listen effectively. In debates and with media I can handle tough questions. This is largely due to the comprehensive well thought out policies and information available from the Green Party. Through my volunteering for the Red Cross, Restorative Justice, and Victims Crisis Assistance and Referral Service, I have gained an invaluable appreciation for the numbers of people in need and some understanding of their needs.

The problems we face will require combined knowledge and intellect of many people. Although I am very proud of my education and experience, I recognize that I am only one member of a like minded group that needs to work together as a team to bring about the necessary changes. There is certainly a wide range of opinion of when and how much change is needed. There is very little dispute that big changes will eventually be necessary. The sooner we start these changes the less detrimental the consequences will be. I invite you all to join the team.

Yours sincerely,
Fred Twilley.