Climate Newsletter: A Useless Exercise In Accomplishing Nothing

 

When did it become the responsibility of the City of Ottawa to write huge essays on climate change that no one will read?

It’s not that climate change isn’t an enormous problem … it is. But if Ottawa eliminated all of its greenhouse gases, it would do almost nothing to eliminate the problem. Coal usage in China and southeast Asia has reached record levels. We need to address that. We all share the same climate.

So this essay is useless.

It will have no effect on climate change, virtually no one will read it but it will give city hall types a warm feeling that they have done something. They haven’t. The most readership, by far, that this essay will get is from this post on The Bulldog.

We are piling up debt to astronomical levels as city hall, reserves are diminishing and services are being cut back.


How much labour did this useless exercise take. Wouldn’t those people be better used shovelling snow banks away from OC Transpo stops?

Ken Gray

 

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

 

Coffee Houses on Sustainability
 
The Glebe Community Association in collaboration with CAFES is hosting a series of Coffee Houses on Sustainability. Knowledgeable neighbours will be sharing their experiences on the following topics over the next few months:
Homes and energy – January 27, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Glebe Community Centre,
Reducing your carbon footprint – February 24, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Glebe Community Centre
Greenspace and water management – March 24, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Glebe Community Centre
Transportation – April 27, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Glebe Community Centre
Responsible consumption – May 5, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Glebe Community Centre
Basement flooding – June 8, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Jim Durrell Recreation Centre

The homes and energy coffee house on Saturday, January 27 will feature a presentation on the City’s Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program at 9:30 am. You can also hear from homeowners who will be sharing their experiences on solar panels, heat pumps, insulation, air tightness, energy efficient appliances, windows and doors.

Find out more and register on Eventbrite.

 
Electric vehicle charging station usage doubles in 2023
 
We’re excited to see the number of charging sessions at City installed stations was just over 10,000 last year. That’s up from 5,000 in 2022. The three stations with the highest number of charging sessions were:
118 Cartier Street with 1240 charging sessions
301 Laurier Avenue East with 1035 charging sessions
City Hall with 979 charging sessions

The usage data for 2023 is now available to view and download on Open Ottawa.

We are currently developing a personal electric vehicle strategy to support the uptake of electric vehicles in Ottawa. Stay tuned for opportunities to provide your input soon.

Learn more about heat pumps

Electric heat pumps are energy-efficient heating and cooling systems that provide comfortable temperatures for your home year-round. They also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to heating with fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.

To help Canadians learn more about heat pumps Natural Resources Canada has developed a comprehensive guide which outlines factors to consider when choosing, installing, operating and maintaining a heat pump. You can also hear from Ottawa residents, Shawn, Holly and Paul, who proactively installed cold climate heat pumps before their gas furnace failed.

Don’t forget, rebates and financing are available for heat pump installations. Anyone who finances a heat pump through the City’s Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program will also be eligible for additional incentives.
 
Snow is still stormwater

Winter weather is part of what makes Ottawa great, but as big snow falls start to arrive, here’s a reminder that snow is stormwater too. We often think of stormwater runoff as rainfall, when in fact snow is a big source of runoff when it melts, especially come spring!

Here are three tips for dealing with snowfall at home:

Keep drains clear to avoid ponding in the road during the inevitable thaw. The City of Ottawa has more than 2,700 kilometres of storm sewers and 134,020 storm drain inlets throughout Ottawa! You can tell which ones are storm drains because they usually have a fish on them.
Pile your snow on permeable surfaces like your lawn where it can be absorbed easily when it melts. This simple tip can help reduce flooding in the spring and prevent pollutants like salt from flowing into the river with the melt water. Win-win all round! You can learn more about salt use by taking this Quiz from Ottawa Riverkeepers.
Snowmelt flowing from your downspouts can freeze on surfaces and create slipping dangers. Consider relocating a downspout to drain that water onto your lawn. Use a downspout extender to make sure it drains at least 2 metres from your house to protect your foundation.

Want to be better prepared for snowmelt in the future? Consider installing permeable pavements on your driveways or walkways, and a soakaway pit in your yard. These two solutions help snowmelt and stormwater get absorbed into the ground where it falls, preventing erosion and environmentally damaging runoff.

Want to learn more about these and other solutions? Rain Ready Ottawa offers resources and rebates of up to $5,000 to help eligible residents manage stormwater at home. Find out more at ottawa.ca/rain or follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
 
Upcoming events
 
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Energy Webinar for Communities

January 15, 1 to 3 pm
Virtual
Join the IESO to get a deeper understanding about

Who the IESO is and its role in the electricity sector
Addressing Ontario’s electricity needs and decarbonisation goals
Procuring electricity: the diverse mix of energy sources and their unique roles in the grid
The role of municipalities in the success of the energy transition
Ongoing and upcoming initiatives

Find out more and register
 

Low carbon training foundations

January 16, 8 am to 5 pm
Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, 150 Albert Street

Canada’s green building sector is growing, and the number of jobs is expected to triple by 2030. This course offered by the Canada Green Building Council will equip the people and businesses involved in the design, construction, and operation of green buildings with a common language and understanding of low-carbon strategies and solutions.

Find out more and register
 

Bill McKibben Lecture – Notes from the Climate Struggle

February 2, 7:30 pm
Lecture theatre 2200, Richcraft Hall, Carleton University

Hear from renowned author and activist Bill McKibben at this free public lecture. Bill has been at the forefront of environmental campaigns centred on the growing climate crisis for decades.

Find out more
 

Climate change rebates and financing

Rebates and financing are available for home energy efficiency upgrades. Find out what you’re eligible for at betterhomesottawa.ca/rebates.

Rain Ready Ottawa offers residents in priority areas up to $5,000 in rebates to help install stormwater management projects. Find out more at ottawa.ca/rain.

The Residential Protective Plumbing Program provides financial assistance to qualified property owners for the installation of protective plumbing devices, such as sump pumps and storm and sanitary backwater valves. Find out more at ottawa.ca.
 

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14 Responses

  1. The Voter says:

    Oh, Ken, you know that pencil pushers can’t shovel snow for the City even if they wanted to. They’re in different bargaining units and can’t cross over those lines no matter what!

  2. Been There says:

    Ken,
    Make work projects like this, VUT audits, and others to numerous to mention will continue until some of the fat is cut at city hall. As long as there are people, work must be found and now that most are back in the office optics are important.

  3. Hey Ken,
    I beg to differ on this one!
    Ottawa is a city of a million people. On a per capita basis Canadians are in the TOP dozen polluters world wide right up there with Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and far above China. The average Canadian emits 20.37 tons of CO2 equiv per year; avge Chinese 9.61; avge Indonesian 7.49 since you talk about S/E Asia (2021 data). Canada has the worst record among OECD countries in reducing our emissions. China on the other hand has installed as much renewable energy last year as the rest of the world combined. They are in action – switching away from the coal that you mention.
    So I agree that we need to address emissions, but not China’s — our own. Agree with you that we all share the same climate. So how about we take care of our Ottawa emissions. And not cast stones at others …who are polluting less than us.
    Regarding the City of Ottawa having a newsletter for residents that shares out some information about what is happening with climate action, what people can do, what the city is doing — I think that is great! Most people feel anxious and overwhelmed when you mention climate change and would rather go shovel snow just as you suggest we should do. That is denial you know.
    And finally, regarding dissing the City staff helping to promote community-led events like the <> that your fellow residents like Della and me are organizing, hey it is pretty cool that the city bureaucrats are supporting community events!
    Angela Keller-Herzog

  4. Angela Keller-Herzog says:

    PS your text editor cut out the name of the community events that i put in brackets in my earlier comment. These are community-led events that the city newsletter was helping to promote. It is a series called *Coffee Houses on Sustainability*. First one is on Jan 27 9:30 to 11:30 at the Glebe Community Centre. More info on Eventbrite.

  5. Ken Gray says:

    Angela:

    We are a very small nation that the rest of the world doesn’t care about.

    So we are not leading by example if we lead on climate change. No one cares what we do.

    And per capita means nothing when you are dealing with 40 million versus billions.

    I don’t think what the city is doing is cool. It might be fashionable however. What will it achieve? Nothing. It might gain some public servants promotions and politicians some votes. That’s about it.

    Climate change won’t be stopped in Canada. You are using words rather than reality. Using per capita is a mugs game when you are dealing with a small country like Canada and billions in India and China.

    If making minute efforts to fight climate change makes you happy, go ahead. But it will achieve nothing. The war against climate change will be won somewhere else. Though it is my strong belief that we will not solve this problem. Complacency.

    And when transit is not running well, paying money for a newsletter that reaches almost no one is a waste of taxpayer money.

    The rest of the world cares about what Canada does about as much as we care about what Latvia does.

    The sad thing about climate change is that I believe we won’t deal with it until it is too late. When Bangladesh floods as oceans rise.

    I’ve lived long enough to know a bit about human nature and we won’t get serious about this until the effects are catastrophic.

    So do what you will to fight climate change. If that makes you feel better, good on you. Just don’t spend my money on publications that will achieve nothing.

    Spend my money on efforts that achieve real results. We won’t conquer climate change in Canada. On a world scale, we don’t matter.

    China matters, the U.S. matters, India matters.

    Sad to say, we don’t.

    Sorry

    kgray

  6. Ken Gray says:

    Angela:

    Your editor is me. Links are not allowed in comments because they slow down the website.

    cheers

    kgray

  7. Douglas Paul Durber says:

    Glad you publicized Café’s events, many of which are interesting to any person wanting to empower themselves in the face of pollution and extreme weather. That is really the point: acting in the interests of our climate, local and by extension global. It is not just taking responsibility but contributing to our wider community. In the meantime, good you are taking an interest — critical or not! Paul

  8. Della Wilkinson says:

    Hello Ken,
    I am one of the community volunteers organizing the Coffee Houses on Sustainability series featured in the City of Ottawa Climate Newsletter. I just want to clarify that I submitted the write up to the city staff and I imagine that many of the other highlights were also written by Ottawa volunteers.
    The Coffee Houses on Sustainability provide a forum for Ottawa residents to learn from each other about making sustainable choices to the extent possible based on their personal limitations with respect to money, time etc..
    Posters have been placed in Community Centres across the city and the series advertised in local newspapers. Ottawa residents are invited to attend and enjoy a free cup of coffee and a cookie – just remember to bring your own cup and a willingness to consider making your lifestyle more sustainable.

  9. Terrapin says:

    As a mother and grandmother, I welcome the City’s environmental sustainability initiatives, and am doing what I can to promote them in my neighbourhood. When I depart, which I hope will be long before my grandchildren do, I would like to know that I did what I could to keep the world they grow up in a little bit healthier, even though they will never experience the masses butterflies and birds, clear rivers and teeming fish, tolerable summers without a/c, and clean air that I did growing up in this very city.

  10. Ken Gray says:

    Terrapin:

    We must have grown up in different cities.

    I remember Lake Erie having a black ring around it from pollution. I remember a Cleveland river catching fire.

    The Great Lakes and many rivers and streams are in much better shape than when I was young. And fewer pesticides have helped restore waterfowl numbers.

    Save climate change (that’s a big save), the environment here appears to be improving quite a bit.

    cheers

    kgray

  11. Alison Hobbs says:

    Mr. Gray, you appear to be saying that we Ottawa citizens need to address coal usage in southeast Asia rather than “wasting our time” with practical advice in anticipation of a worsening climate.

    What the City and its community associations are announcing is that we have opportunities to learn about the benefits of energy-saving devices and how to get these installed with the help of rebates. Training in the design and construction of buildings that will better withstand extreme weather is also on offer.

    I do not see what is so despicable about this.

    Why are you not reinforcing the message (for the sake of your numerous readers) that these are steps we can take, rather than sitting back helplessly moaning about cut-backs, snow-banks or environmental policies in countries other than Canada?

    Anyhow, if we want progress here and now, a very relevant action for any Ottawa citizen concerned about climate change would be to send a message urging the government to speed up its efforts to reduce our own country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Believe it or not, other nations ARE watching what we do in this regard.

  12. Colleen Rollins says:

    Hi Ken,
    I empathize with your feelings about lacking agency in mitigating climate change – it’s hard to feel impactful when we compare ourselves to big players. But collectively – and this is a key word – what we do matters. Here are some statistics that really convinced me. There are almost 200 countries in the world, and most countries’ share of global emissions is less than 1%. In fact, most are less than 0.1%. Canada emits 1.5% of global emissions. Only six countries emit more than 2% of the global share (China, United States, India, Russia, Japan, and Iran). Here’s the takeaway: If we add up the emissions from all countries that emit less than 2% of the global share, they add up to 36% of the world’s CO2 emissions! That means that if “very small nations” like Canada don’t reduce our emissions, then more than one third of emissions won’t be tackled.

    Think of it like littering. Imagine a scenario where Ottawa has a littering problem. If every person in Ottawa took the stance: “I’m only one person, therefore my actions don’t matter. It makes no difference to the city if I continue to litter,” we would never solve the littering problem!

    You mentioned that you don’t think that we’ll intervene on climate change until it’s too late. I’m worried that we’re not acting fast enough, too. But the reality is that many people around the world are already experiencing devastating impacts from climate change. In some ways, it’s already too late. But that’s not a reason to give up, because every fraction of a degree of warming we prevent will save lives, species, and ecosystems. And so our actions will always matter.

    To me, the city newsletter helps show that even though we feel small as individuals, collectively, our actions add up. And for many folks, it offers concrete ways to take action. As Juan Baez put it, “Action is the antidote to despair.”

    This statistics above are from Hannah Ritchie, Head of Research at Our World in Data, in her blog post titled “Why ‘my country only emits 1% of emissions’ is no excuse for rich countries to not tackle climate change”.

  13. Cecile says:

    Hi, Ken.
    “Virtually no one” here and I definitely DO read the city’s climate newsletter. In fact, I look forward to receiving it regularly in my in-box. It functions as a handy reference tool when I want to quickly find contact information for the wide range of programs and events that I might be interested in participating in. Plus, it keeps me informed of various ways to make the changes–big and small–that add up to something significant when enough people implement them. “Almost nothing” is not the same as “nothing.”
    You’re right: complacency is the enemy of action. I can’t control what people do in Asia, but I can control what I do. I’m happy to start there and get the (snow)ball rolling. To my mind, it’s certainly more productive than doing nothing.
    PS First time I’ve heard of your newsletter.

  14. Ken Gray says:

    First off, Cecile, it’s not a newsletter … it’s a website.

    Second, it has been operating for 14 years … the first couple in the Citizen.

    Third, it has 131,000 page views a week so you might not have heard of it, but many have.

    Finally, I’ve said what I’m going to say on climate change.

    cheers

    kgray

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