Tumbler Ridge Coal Forum ? Searching for Sustainable Energy in the Future

Dr. Patrick Moore Ph. D, a co-founder of Greenpeace, gave the keynote presentation at the 3rd Annual Northeast BC Community Coal Forum October 10, 2007. The topic, which was supposed to be ?Sustainability and the Mining Industry?, was changed at the last minute, explained Moore. His presentation was titled, ? Searching for Sustainable Energy in the Future?.

The history of Moore?s radical environmental activism, which started in the 1960?s/1970?s with the co-founding of Greenpeace, was a nice warm up to the informative presentation that left some audience members puzzled. Why were they puzzled you ask? The majority of the presentation was focused on the need to use more renewable resources for energy (like wood) in order to reduce carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions. It was a thought provoking presentation.

Changes in our behavioral practices, like turning off the lights when you leave the room, and using different technology (switching incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs), will have an impact on how much energy we consume. These changes, explains Moore, will help us think differently. Starting with small changes will save energy and as consumers we will save money.

14 % of energy used around the world is renewable, with the majority of that being wood. 86% of the world?s energy is produced by fossil fuels(coal, oil, natural gas), which are non-renewable, meaning that eventually over time they will run out. According to Moore, 10% of the world?s greenhouse gas emissions are from coal fired power plants in the United States and Canada. Wealth and CO2 emissions are strongly related, says Moore. For example, with CO2 emissions, tonnes per capita, the United States and Canada are around 20.0. Germany is sitting around 10.2, France with only 6.8 tonnes per capita. 80% of France?s power is nuclear, which does not give off CO2 emissions. That is why there number is so low.

Numbers like these suggest people are the cause of global warming. Yet there is no actual calculation that can prove humans are the direct cause of global warming. There are too many variables explained Moore. Also, it is impossible to calculate statistics on such a small sample size; there is only one Earth. Regardless, global warming is an issue and as energy consumers, we should be concerned with climate change.

New technology is emerging regularly and it challenges consumers to make a choice. Shopping for a new car is one way to change behavior. The one consumer decision that people make which impacts the greatest on the environment is the choice of car we drive. Consumers can now choose a more environmentally friendly car, like a hybrid. Hybrid cars offer consumers an innovative, efficient and affordable option as opposed to the solely gas powered vehicle.

During his presentation, Dr. Moore suggested many ways in which we can ?close the carbon cycle? and reduce CO2 emissions. First, it is important to use renewable energy sources, like hydro and nuclear power. The word ?nuclear? can be a controversial one, but banning beneficial technology, just because evil can be created from it, is not a good enough reason, states Moore. Nuclear and hydro power produce low CO2 emissions. Both are very good energy options.

Having an aggressive nuclear power program, and using technologies like ground source heat pumps will help close the carbon cycle. Growing more trees and using more wood as fuel to heat buildings is also necessary. Trees are the only abundant, biodegradable and renewable global resource. If we use more wood for energy, then we can use less concrete, steal and plastic, which are heavy CO2 emitters during production, says Moore. Another way to close the carbon cycle is through conservation and choosing efficient technologies(cars). This helps consumers play a larger role in the reduction of CO2 gas. It is viable that we are all part of the solution.

Dr. Moore?s presentation was intriguing. Some very interesting points were made. With the makeup of the audience(people who work in the Coal industry), it would be interesting to know just how many people appreciated his presentation that encouraged the use of more renewable resources like hydro and nuclear power. Regardless, it is hard to ignore there is a need for balance. Starting with baby steps, like turning off the lights and choosing a more efficient car, will ensure that we are all part of the solution that is working to reduce CO2 emissions.