That Flashing Red Light - Failure to Adapt.

 

Take it from the Brits - mitigation without adaptation is ruinous.

As governments pretend to be behind the effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions, they're doing next to bugger all about the shorter term imperative, adaptation.  Cutting emissions is vital but if we're to come through on those solemn promises we have to defend what we have.

Britain should be our poster boy.  

Over the past few days the country has been thrown into panic, as soaring gas prices threaten to plunge hundreds of thousands more households into fuel poverty, joining the 2.5 million already there. For others, uncomfortably tight budgets will be further squeezed. Any country reliant on the worldwide gas market faces the risk of perennial price shocks.

The UK is a difficult country to keep warm. It has some of the oldest and leakiest housing stock in western Europe, ensuring that heat dissipates through walls, windows and doors quickly after leaving radiators. Nine in 10 households rely on gas boilers, and lots of gas boilers need lots of gas: UK households consume more of it than almost all of their European peers, at around twice the EU average. In 2000, when North Sea gas accounted for 98% of overall supply, households were at little risk of price shocks. But as national production has tumbled by two-thirds in the two decades since, imports have risen from just 2% to 60% of supply to fill the gap.

Gas burned in households now equates to half of all imports – that is why any spike in gas prices immediately translates into higher heating bills. ...Using cheap gas to compensate for poor housing stock only works as long as gas is cheap – and as long as you don’t have a climate crisis spinning out of control.

Is this a precautinary tale for Canada's insane rush to export our own stocks of natural gas?

Here's a new term, "future proof."

Between 2012 and 2019 the number of home insulation installations actually dropped by 95%. The charity National Energy Action has noted that at that rate it would take nearly a century to properly insulate all of the current fuel-poor homes in the country. In 2021, millions still live in fuel poverty, and many more will likely join them this winter, while domestic gas boilers account for one in seven tonnes of carbon the UK emits each year, accelerating the climate crisis.

This must be the last winter fuel crisis we ever face, and our homes must be future-proofed without delay.

An easy fix?

No new builds should be connected to gas, and every time a boiler breaks, with a handful of exceptions, it should be replaced by a heat pump – an ultra-efficient device that uses electricity to harvest ambient heat from the air (or ground) to heat your home. The UK props up the table of European countries for annual installations: Lithuania installs five times as many per year as we do, Italy 10 and Norway 60.

At the current rate it will take the UK around 700 years to move to low-carbon heating. The government’s legally enshrined climate commitments require us to be halfway there by the mid 2030s.

It sounds too good to be true and it probably is. Electrification is great if you have a low-carbon means of generating electricity.  The UK isn't ideally suited for solar. Wind power generation is doable but it must be scalable. Offshore wind energy seems viable.

Canada is in a similar bind thanks to the petrolhead neanderthals that stalk the halls of Parliament. We really must stop electing these louts (and that includes Junior).  If you've got 16 billion to piss away on pipelines, use it instead to develop systems to harvest the free energy that nature provides in abundance every day.

Given the Earth's reliable rotation (it never stops) the west coast affords a bounty of options for windpower.  We can also harness the energy of tides and, even better, the ocean currents that sweep down the coast.  Then there's the normally overlooked resource, our mountains. They provide opportunities to tap into our geothermal bounty.  B.C. is full of hot springs. They don't heat themselves. 

We're familiar enough with Iceland where geothermal provides most of their heat needs. We rarely think of the Philippines where geothermal now meets 12 per cent of their energy requirements and is projected to double by 2040.

The Philippines is, of course, on the Pacific "Rim of Fire."  So is British Columbia. Mounts Garibaldi, Cayley, and Meager are three well-known examples in southwest British Columbia, but there are many others, including Nazko, Tseax, Lava Fork, Hoodoo, Volcano Mountain, and Edziza, all in more remote areas.

Magma-power, you can't beat it. Unless, that is, the political caste is in thrall to the fossil fuel giants whose economic prosperity hinges on free pipelines and tens of billions in obscure annual subsidies, grants and deferrals.

Let's not be Britain. Margaret Thatcher propped up her regime by relentlessly exploiting her country's North Sea oil bounty. They pissed it all away. Now they're in a needless energy deficit, dependent on costly and unreliable fossil fuels from Europe and elsewhere.


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