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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Solar Furnace 2.0

Hey Lower Footprinters!

It's been a quiet few months, but we're now into the beginning of the heating season. Even if you don't plan on turning the heat on yet, you know that many of your friends and neighbours already have that thermostat creeping up. I, for one, enjoy waking up to the crisp morning chill, even if some days it means an extra few minutes under the blankets.

To that end, this weekend is going to be a construction weekend. I have a summer's worth of soda cans stockpiled. I have left over bbq paint from last year and I also have four south facing, vertical windows and three more ceiling windows that are ready to take the cans.

While I may not get to it this weekend, I also intend to put two uni-directional vents in the wall between my solarium "heat room" and the rest of the house. One flows into the house at the ceiling, the other out of the house near the floor. With proper louvers and good interior temperature control, this should mean very little heat loss to the solarium on cloudy and cold days.

Photos will update my progress as the weekend unfolds!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Green Shut Out of Canadian Election

While over 6% of Canadian voters supported the Green Party today, the party failed to secure any seats within the parliament. Leader Elizabeth May faired well against Tory Peter McKay, but was not actually close enough in her rural Nova Scotia riding.

The Liberal Party lost roughly a quarter of their seats while only only losing 3.3% of the popular vote (or roughly 10% of their previous total vote). Much of this loss is attributed to a weak leader and his Green Shift carbon tax platform.

While the NDP gained 8 seats, they were effectively taken from the Liberals, who share common ground in terms of environmental attitudes.

Welcome to the world of Canadian politics at the end of 2008. Environmental issues and environmental policies have never had so much support from the population, but with a lack of unified, coordinated leadership to take these issues and form them into policies and platforms that are understood by the people, we face more years of being on the outside of the process.

Certainly, our first-past-the-post electoral process is partly to blame, but given that reality, three contenders in each riding that more or less represent some part of my environmental concerns means that the voters remain confused. I'd like to say it's time for the "Left" to unite, but the environmental issues we face cannot wait for that to happen.

The economic crisis we now face is a perfect parallel for the environmental crisis we also face. Corporate greed causes catastrophic damage. Individual overconsumption and irresponsibility is encouraged and rewarded. In the case of the economic crisis, however, governments the world over recognize the need to step in and commit.

How bad does the environmental crisis need to get before similar action would be possible? Would the damage be as reversible as a few bad weeks on Wall Street? What if you lost 25% of your environmental capital in less than six months?

As we enter into a new period of minority government, the green mandate of the majority of Canadians needs to find a new voice. It needs to become the bargaining chip in everything that the Conservative government gets to do in the coming months. We can't afford to wait for the political "Left" to sort themselves out.

I put it to you. What do we do next?