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Evan Saugstad: Carbon circle of life

I have seen the light and am now committed to doing my part
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Evan Saugstad: "In the yardstick of life, I am now past measuring in feet and now down to inches. Not hard for me to accept that I, personally, will achieve my net-zero by 2050. Just don’t know if that will be by a few worms turning my protein into compost or by a few gigajoules turning me to ash to then be used to fertilize a few trees and bushes for the elk to browse."

Another report on Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, another miss, another commitment to spend billions more chasing ever-elusive goals. Or is it that we are just chasing an expensive pipedream disguised as something meaningful to help bolster the sagging image of our two Prime Ministers on the world stage?

Another commitment to reduce the oil and gas sector’s emissions by 42% and transportation's by 23% by 2030, despite history telling us both are still increasing, year by year, as we demand and use more energy to move ourselves and our goods, and as we demand more services in our insatiable addiction to affordable energy to sustain our lifestyle.

Another $9-billion-plus in tax dollars to help us along, or at least help us get us somewhere. And soon, another Federal budget, likely detailing just where these billions will come from and how they will fit with a Prime Minister coalition that has already committed to approving whatever new taxes are thrown our way.

Yes, we can argue about climate change and what is causing it, argue about what is real and what is fake, and argue about spending billions chasing something the rest of the world is ignoring. But not me. No matter what others believe, I have seen the light and am now committed to doing my part.

We have changed every light bulb from incandescent to compact fluorescent, to LED to super LED to 10,000hr LED, despite paying more and having them all burn out just as fast as what I replaced. Even take all the old ones to recycling without understanding if it is energy efficient to do so. Yes, I now believe all that government spin and have totally got used to just paying more.

We have replaced all our windows with triple pane, all on our own dime, and accepting that my government made me pay them for this luxury we can now turn up my gas-fired heat with less fear of it escaping out and warming up the wilderness. Even replaced our gas-fired fireplace with another more efficient one and gladly gave our government more taxes for that privilege.

I have even accepted it is much more efficient to deliver the important parts of our health care services in our distant big cities, so our specialists have no need to spend my tax dollars and their carbon to come see me and a few thousand others. Yes, 8000 kms of driving back and forth to Prince George this winter to spend a little time with my cancer team so Premier John can save some of my tax dollars makes sense. Am even trained to fly to Vancouver to see specialists for a few minutes so Premier John can save even more carbon.

Closer to home, I have virtually stopped buying my protein at the big box stores and moved over to locally produced and sourced beef, pork, and fowl; does a pig from Dawson Creek use less carbon than one from Chilliwack?

Later this spring, another 2500 kms to get to the coast and back in my eco-boost fossil-fueled pickup truck for a diesel boat ride to catch some organic fish for a bit of variety. Later this fall, another few thousand kms in my pickup and fossil-fueled quad in search of locally grown elk and deer followed by another 2500 kms of driving up the highway and a few more kms in a fossil-fueled airplane to find a mountain sheep and goat to ensure our freezer is full. 

And yes, I do feel good about all this carbon as my freezer is electric and I can, with almost certainty, say I will save a bunch of carbon by not having to chase moose this year as they become the exclusive domain of others, or those masses down south lucky enough to draw a tag so they too can travel that 2500 kms north to source their protein.

Soon I will have my gas-fired rototiller going. Nice to have that locally sourced electricity for those four grow lights going 12 hours a day to get those little seedlings ready to face the free outdoor solar sources. Glad to have that fossil-fueled truck to pack those thousands of gallons of water to ensure they survive what could be another summer, or now better described as another year of solar phenomenon. And despite all the carbon, those free, fresh, and locally grown veggies sure are good.

Yes, in the yardstick of life, I am now past measuring in feet and now down to inches. Not hard for me to accept that I, personally, will achieve my net-zero by 2050. Just don’t know if that will be by a few worms turning my protein into compost or by a few gigajoules turning me to ash to then be used to fertilize a few trees and bushes for the elk to browse and complete my carbon circle of life.

Yes, I have moved on and now accept my part. Instead of worrying about how to get more carbon credits, I will let you do that. I have decided to keep my fossil fueled lifestyle until it makes economic sense to trade it off and will just keep paying more. Yes, I have now ordered my new energy-efficient-fossil-fueled 1-ton pickup truck and will happily pay those taxes knowing that someone will receive them to support their taxpayer funded electric vehicle purchase. Just not paying that B.C. luxury tax that lesser trucks must pay.


Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.