In a great movie and discussion event about climate change and energy in St. John’s last November, a beautiful thing happened. Dr. David Suzuki said what we all know, that “the day of major big dams is over”. Good to hear from such a prominent scientist. The conversation proceeded to talk about the reality of where energy needs to go: small projects and a diverse grid.

How? Solar (yes, it is possible), wind (don’t give me that “wrong kind of wind” crap) and true run-of-the-river – that is, turbines that use the energy that is there instead of creating major reservoirs and trying to pass it off as run-of-the-river.

The single biggest threat to our species today is global warming. The very chemistry of our atmosphere is changing, and the cause: taking carbon out of the earth and releasing it into the atmosphere. That may be through burning fossil fuels or destroying the carbon sinks that hold it in.

Dr. Suzuki said that environmentalism has failed us because it has not managed to make us look at ourselves differently. We have to stop thinking that our imagined values are somehow above nature. Nature doesn’t care about our economy, our political boundaries or value system. We need to recognize that we are talking about our own survival. 

We need to “seize the crisis and realize that we have to do something in a serious way.” Our economy is a defective system, but we cannot change the chemistry of the atmosphere. And it is not going to wait for us to catch up.

When we let ourselves realize that this change in the way we think about our place on Earth is both necessary and and must be immediate, the possibilities can suddenly become endless. When we don’t tie ourselves to the bigger-is-better mindset and instead be the innovative beasts we are, a world of possibility opens up. 

The magic is that it is already happening. France has zero tolerance for industry that is a possible risk to public heath. Germany leads the world in renewable energy.

And all this starts with vision and a look beyond the next four years.

Denise Hennebury (Mount Pearl, NL)