Time for Electrifying Ideas

Most people who live in a ‘free country’ like Canada believe they have the right to a healthy environment. We feel we are entitled to all that is imbedded in that philosophy — clean water, fresh air, healthy food, etc. Those of us who live in a rural setting (18% as of 2019) have many advantages in that respect because we are geographically removed from those industries that constantly spew toxic chemicals into the atmosphere or pollute the groundwater. This is one reason I believe so many of us who live in a less polluted environment have a tendency to ignore what so many others have been screaming about, marching and rallying for. We are insulated in a way from these concerns (unless we lived in Pictou when Northern Pulp was in operation).

Boat Harbour, Pictou Landing

Boat Harbour, Pictou Landing. (Photo by Miles Howe, Halifax Media Co-op)

Nature is telling us something fierce. It is telling humanity that we have an invisible foe that was caused by all of us. The average atmospheric CO2 level continues to rise and this means we are still not doing anywhere near enough to bring down the carbon dioxide level in order to avert an eventual catastrophic change in climate. Canada is warming at twice the global average which emphasizes our need to address climate change with a much greater sense of urgency. The main principles are ‘decarbonize and electrify’ as much as possible and as quickly as we possibly can.

James Lovelock, Naomi Klein, Paul Hawken, The Centre for Local Prosperity, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Kate Raworth, The David Suzuki Foundation, Fred Singer, The Council of Canadians, Seth Klein, Dr. Adam Fenech, and thousands of others have been writing about the climate emergency based on scientific facts and yet, the denialism continues. Every single one of these writers is calling for every municipal, provincial and federal government to make a bold and committed declaration of a climate emergency and to act accordingly. To quote Greta Thunberg:

We have to act like our house is on fire.


The public is hungry for bold, political action but leadership means moving on issues even when the public is not yet on board — waiting is taking far too long. We have researched this issue ad nauseam, so the time has come for all levels of government to act instead of debating. There are many critical aspects to our collective responsibilities when addressing the climate emergency but we don’t need to have all the answers at our fingertips to move in the right direction. If the private sector is not prepared to do the entire job for one reason or another, then crown corporations need to be created to fill the void.

Quebec plug-in vehicle license plate.

The numbers and letters on a Quebec plug-in vehicle license plate are of a green hue, which entails several benefits, including access to reserved lanes and toll exemptions.

General Motors recently announced that all their vehicles would be powered electrically by 2035. California and the province of Quebec have banned the sale of internal combustion engines after 2035, while nine other countries have promised to do the same. Canada needs to step up and join these other jurisdictions decarbonizing on one end of the carbon-dependency spectrum and electrifying everything at the other. By stopping all new pipelines and reducing the production of oil we can provide many thousands more jobs in the fastest growing job market in the world — green energy. We need to electrify all our modes of transportation — buses, ferries, vans and commercial vehicles.

Since Canada Post has the largest fleet of vans in Canada, why not convert the General Motors plant in Oshawa to produce all the electrically powered vans and buses we need? Thanks to Canadian ingenuity, we already have the capacity to make the component parts. A perfect example of this is a Canadian company called Corvus Energy which has again been contracted by Norwegian Electric Systems (NES) to supply lithium-ion battery-based energy storage systems (ESS) for the all-electric ferries being built by Havyard for Norwegian ferry operator Fjord1. Think of all the ferries in Canada that could and should be converted.


Forests are the most amazing carbon sink created by Mother Nature yet humanity continues to destroy them faster than they can reproduce. Forests take hundreds of years to re-grow. The ever-increasing incidence of forest fires is more than a double whammy because they pump an enormous amount of CO2 into the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the capacity of the forest to absorb CO2 for decades if not centuries to come.

As part of our energy transition we also need to recognize past errors and  address them in a responsible way. “Biomass” electrical generators are NOT efficient at all — 80% or more of the trees that are used to fire the boilers that produce the steam that powers the turbines that turn the electric generators goes up the chimney as heated, toxic smoke. We need to ban these ridiculously inefficient dinosaurs as fast as we possibly can.

Clearcut on NS crown lands.

WestFor clearcut on Crown land off Hiking Trail Road, just north of St. Margarets Bay. (Source: Ecology Action via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aUpNzcnhwc)

The laws and regulations concerning forestry here in Nova Scotia are based on what industry wants rather than what the majority of the forest experts and the public knows are the best practices. Our forests are public resources and should be treated with the respect they deserve. Our forests do not need to be clearcut or sprayed with glyphosate-based poisons that kill not only the deciduous trees but a whole host of other valuable, living organisms.

Governments at all levels need to step up to the plate with public incentives to do a better job of decarbonizing and electrifying. Governments need to legislate a firm date for a huge variety of passive and active technologies to be mandatory. All government buildings should be upgraded to a specific energy efficiency level by a specific date. It should be mandatory that all new-build homes contain high-efficiency heat pumps, incorporate solar panels or geothermal energy systems, etc. We can make all these energy-saving solutions right here in Canada but they will need to be subsidized by our government to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

The time to act is NOW.

Featured image: Symbol of Quebec’s “Running Electric” program. (Source:Choose a Plug-In Vehicle that meets your needs“)


Paul Strome

Paul Strome worked 12 years as an educator in the Northwest Territories/Nunavut where he experienced the culture, language and geographic parameters of Indigenous people. He has petitioned the government at every opportunity to bring about the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. As an elder and David Suzuki Ambassador he has championed the Blue Dot Movement in Unama’ki (Cape Breton) and in recent years was the Atlantic regional representative for the Council of Canadians.