EV News Abounds

Following on Lucia’s generous and informative blog on her personal experiences in becoming an EV owner and what it was like taking “Evie” the Tesla on her first long-distance road trip, it seems we now see EV news everywhere we turn. What a trendsetter our Lucia 😊.

Building out from this personal account, we share more EV news, taken from a wider lens, and happily it too is very positive news and on many levels – local, national and global.

Local Signs of EV Becoming Mainstream

Momentum to transition increasingly toward electric vehicle fleets is being propelled by many forces now – the economics of fuel costs, more choice in competitively priced EVs, government investments in essential EV infrastructure (charging stations) as part of ‘build back better’ economic recovery plans as much as being integral to government climate action plans, and more recently, motivated by geopolitical goals and sanctions to reduce global reliance on Russian oil and gas in the face of the Russian-Ukraine war.

In Canada, several recent articles offer evidence of EVs on the cusp of becoming mainstream at the local and national levels for many, if not all, the reasons above.

Various Police and Fire Services Purchasing Electric Vehicles

Starting with the local, this CBC piece on the Windsor Police Service’s plans “to purchase fully electric vehicles next year,” reports that as early as April 2023, “its goal is to start replacing older unmarked police vehicles, sometimes used for administrative purposes, with fully electric cars.”  Reasons cited for making the shift – environmental benefits of moving away from fossil fuel use and “an ethical responsibility to lead by example” (says Barry Horrobin, director of planning and resources), and of course the current record-breaking fuel prices have the department looking at adopting EVs “a tad more aggressively”. 

The article also profiles Quebec’s Service de police de la Ville de Repentigny (SPVR) as being “on the leading edge of putting fully electric front-line cruisers on the road.”  Through the SPVR’s pilot project, it has purchased an all-electric emergency response car. “A Ford Mustang Mach-E is being retrofitted for police use with the help of Cyberkar, a company that specializes in technology for emergency vehicles.”

Further signs of EVs going mainstream south of the border are also noted: “The project is spreading, as officials in Quebec noted a police department in New York order 184 Ford Mustang Mach-E’s while looking to the SPVR for expertise learned during its trial.”  (CBC -https://bit.ly/3NRzeah)

And, in news in Driving on other emergency vehicles, we learn that, “Brampton City Council approved the purchase of Ontario’s first electric-powered fire truck,” and “can stand tall alongside other world-class cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, which all feature an electric-powered emergency response vehicle on their fleets.” Brampton has purchased “the Rosenbauer RT, the first EV fire truck on the market that meets firefighting standards” – learn more via the article – https://bit.ly/3J9Kuep and Rosenbauer RT brochure at – https://bit.ly/3NUzh5e.

National EV News

This CBC headline points to a promising shift at the national level – “Canada may have hit its EV target turning point,” while still watchful for confirming evidence in the budget.

“Electric car advocates are waiting to see spending details in this week’s federal budget, but for the first time, pro-EV business leaders and economists are expressing new optimism that Canada’s move away from internal combustion vehicles may have reached a turning point.”

“After years of excuses, there are signs that a conjunction of forces is pushing the country into a technological and social revolution that has been compared to going from horse to automobile and will bring affordable electric cars and trucks to roads and parking spaces across Canada.”

“High gasoline prices, a gradual increase in the price of carbon and a request by European powers for the world to use less fossil fuels to break Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s grip on their economies, are pushing us in that direction. A series of technological developments that have made electric vehicles not just as good as internal combustion vehicles but better and cheaper to run have helped make it possible.” (CBC – https://bit.ly/3Jg7us8)

We will look to the news on today’s release of the federal budget with heightened interest.

According to Narcity.com already the Canadian government mandates that 100% of light duty vehicles be zero emission by 2035 as they usually remain in service for about 15 years, so that will move Canada towards its goal of net zero by 2050. There is an interim target of “at least” 50% of vehicles sold be zero emission by 2030, only 8 years away.

Federal Government Funds EV and Battery Manufacturing Facilities

The Federal government is contributing $500 million to support the South Korean Battery Manufacturer LG Energy Solutions and automaker Stellantis for a total of $5 billion to build an Electric Vehicle battery factory in Windsor and this should create 2500 jobs. The city of Windsor is providing the land for the project that is the size of 112 NHL hockey rinks. (CBC: https://bit.ly/3DQnnVt)

“The federal and Ontario governments are investing up to $259 million each in the General Motors plant in Oshawa plant and its CAMI facility in Ingersoll including for electric-vehicle production. The government’s share announced Monday is part of a $2-billion GM investment to build the company’s first electric-vehicle production line in Oshawa. It will also support the construction of electric commercial vans under the new BrightDrop brand scheduled to roll off the line at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll later this year. The money will also allow a third shift in Oshawa to be added to produce more light-duty Chevy Silverado pickup trucks.” (CBC: https://bit.ly/3rapi1I)

Pocket Book Data: Electric Cars are Cheaper than Gas

Clean Energy Canada makes the budget case for going EV in this March 31st piece headlined, “Electric vehicles save Canadian drivers thousands over car’s lifetime, even at lower gas prices: analysis”

Its press release cites, “New analysis released today by Clean Energy Canada provides a clearer picture for consumers, calculating the total ownership costs of equivalent electric and gas cars, from purchasing, to refuelling, to maintenance. 

And in every case, the electric car comes out cheaper than the gas alternative.”

“The report, The True Cost, considers a number of Canada’s most popular car models and assumes each vehicle is owned for eight years, driven 20,000 kilometres annually, and (in the case of gas cars) fuelled with $1.35-per-litre-gasoline (the 2021 average).”

“For four out of our six comparisons, the total cost savings of going electric are in the order of $15,000 to over $19,000.” Projected savings would be even higher if current record-breaking prices at the gas pump become the norm.

More reasons confirming for Lucia that she made the right decision to become an early EV adopter!

To access the full True Cost report: https://bit.ly/3KfJsiD

About Clean Energy Canada, from its website:

  • “Clean Energy Canada is a climate and clean energy program within the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University.”
  • “We work to accelerate Canada’s clean energy transition by sharing the story of the global shift to renewable energy, clean technology, and sustainable industries. We conduct original research, convene influential dialogues, inform policy leadership, and drive public engagement.”
  • “We believe Canada is well-positioned to be a global clean energy leader today and into the future, but time is of the essence.”

Global Clean Energy Trends

Momentum for clean energy uptake is growing globally, too, as reported by the climate and energy think tank, Ember.

Wind and solar generated 10% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, reports Ember’s third annual Global Electricity Review, with ‘fifty countries get(ting) more than a tenth of their power from wind and solar sources.”

“Demand for electricity grew at a record pace…The research shows the growth in the need for electricity last year was the equivalent of adding a new India to the world’s grid.

“Solar and wind and other clean sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021. For the first time wind turbines and solar panels generated 10% of the total.”

“The share coming from wind and sun has doubled since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed.”

“The fastest switching to wind and solar took place in the Netherlands, Australia, and Vietnam. All three have moved a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to green sources in the last two years.”

“The Netherlands is a great example of a more northern latitude country proving that it’s not just where the Sun shines, it’s also about having the right policy environment that makes the big difference in whether solar takes off,” said Hannah Broadbent from Ember.

“Vietnam also saw spectacular growth, particularly in solar which rose by over 300% in just one year.”

Ember is an independent, not-for-profit think tank. Its analysis is based on a dataset it makes available as an open source resource for others to use in an effort to help speed the switch to clean energy, and comprising “annual power generation and import data for 209 countries covering the period 2000 to 2020. For 2021, we have added data for 75 countries which together represent 93% of global power demand.”

“This summary report—and the data behind it—is an open resource. Reliable and transparent tracking of the global electricity sector is critical to ensure effective action at the time and scale needed to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees. Alongside this analysis, we offer the comprehensive data set freely available to download or explore via our data explorer.”

“You can download the data or use our Data Explorer.”

Clean Energy Canada: https://cleanenergycanada.org/

Earth Day 2022

The countdown is on.  Mark your calendars for April 22nd – Earth Day 2022 is coming soon.

“The Earth Day 2022 Theme is Invest In Our Planet. What Will You Do?”

Readers may wish to consider action ideas offered in the Earth Day Organization’s Action Tool Kit  – https://bit.ly/3ue2Maf

As the Earth Day official website notes, “More than 1 billion people in 192 countries now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Today, we invite you to be a part of Earth Day and to help further climate action across the globe.”

The Canopy Project

As you may have noticed, Lucia and Catherine are partial toward “all things trees” 😊 and so we are drawn especially to supporting the theme of Invest in Our Planet, via donating to tree-planting conservation and restoration initiatives such as The Canopy Project, which has been underway since 2010. To learn more about it:  https://bit.ly/36XCiB2

Inviting the Artist in You…

We invite guest artists to consider creating an Earth Day piece (painting? photo? video? guest blog? other?) which we would feature happily and gratefully in our upcoming Earth Day blog.

A New Electric Vehicle: Tesla 3 AWD Long Range

Lucy’s Tesla 3 named “Evie” Photo credit Lucy

Researching An Electric Vehicle

So Lucy bit the bullet and bought a Tesla in December. It arrived within a month, right on schedule or a little early, on one of the coldest and snowiest days of the year! As for any vehicle, before Lucy bought it she did lots of research and took it out for a test drive. After talking with the informed Tesla staff, reading a lot about battery life of an EV and of this EV, learning about the range in different conditions, downloading the PlugShare App to locate all the charging and supercharging stations in all of Canada and the USA, comparing this vehicle to other EVs available on the market (or coming onto the market), learning about hybrids, reading online about issues Teslas have, figuring out what EVs are available on the market, sharing all this experience with another friend buying a Tesla, Sally, chatting with her partner and other friends, Lucy decided she wanted to be one of the people leading the way with going electric with her drive.

Some of the other types of Electric Vehicles on the market you might want to research include: Chevy Bolt, Mustang Mach-E Premium, Chevy Volt, BMWi3, VWe-Golf, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai KONA, Hyundai IONIC, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-PACE, and Tesla Model Y. Lucy checked out the Hyundais and none were available to test drive or purchase, and the IONIC is just coming onto the market this year.

Lucy recognizes in Alberta that buying an EV is less of a good decision with our strong reliance on natural gas to provide our electricity, but she is hoping Alberta’s reliance on fossil fuels will wane quickly over the next 10 years. Lucy realized that she thinks constantly about the health of the planet, but is also a person who drives more than she cares to admit, struggled to reduce her use of her car, and did not want to buy another car consuming petrol, so she was highly motivated to take the leap.

Red Rock in Nevada. Photo credit Lucy

Purchasing a Tesla 3

The actual purchase of a Tesla involves pushing 4 buttons online: picking the model, deciding on the color of exterior and interior, picking the wheels, and giving a $250 deposit. Even up to the time the car is made in the factory you can change your mind and cancel, as there are other people ready to take it over. Really so very simple. No price negotiation. Lucy chose the Tesla 3 AWD since the roads are very snowy in Alberta and she chose the Long Range as she did not want to risk ever not having enough electric charge. She chose the black interior and white exterior as they appealed to her and were at no extra cost. She went with the regular wheels as they are the most energy efficient (minimizes drag). The addition of 3M protection, floor mats, and other add ons is not part of the deal, and need to be purchased separately. Now 3 months after owning this car, it is selling for $7000 more than what Lucy bought it for. Teslas seem to be steadily going up in price, and resale value, in the short term at least, is very good.

At the time of buying this car there was a real shortage of computer chips on the market (still the case, and now a supply issue with other metals too) and cars use many chips, so very few EVs were available to buy, and for most you have to put your name on a waiting list. Hybrids too have long waiting lists. Tesla was one of the only EVs available. The Tesla seems to have the most years of research behind it, and years of drivers, and so it felt like a great decision from that view point. You know what you are getting. Tesla also has established superchargers across North America, so it seems the infrastructure is well developed and the Tesla app is excellent and improving all the time.

Once Lucy bought the car the next job was to get a 220 volt outlet installed into the garage. We learned that most houses can easily support 2 of these 3 things: a hot tub, air conditioner and/or an electric vehicle. We had an electrician install the 220 volt outlet for about $600 then the city then signed off on the installation. For more money there are ways to get more charge to your home.

Tesla dealerships are small in Edmonton and Calgary. When Lucy picked up her car it was covered in snow and very cold and she expected it would be nicely presented in a warm bay. Unlike the professional treatment when test driving a Teslas, the pick up was terrible, and she is not sure why. Her friend Sally had a great experience picking up her car in Calgary, ready for presentation and lots of set up, and she even received the gift of a cute model Tesla. The online/phone service with Tesla is more than excellent as they are very knowledgeable, friendly, patient, and available. Most issues the buyer has early on involve understanding or locating things on the car’s computer, so most of one’s answers come from these phone calls rather than an appointment. It is also nice to know there are fewer parts to break down on an electric vehicle.

Features of the Tesla

The Tesla is basically a huge battery and a computer linked to your phone. If you are in the car, it is automatically on. You can turn the car on from your phone a few minutes before you leave and it will notify you it is ready and at the temperature you set. It has a heated steering wheel as a bonus. It unlocks when you are close with your phone. When you walk away from your car (don’t forget your phone) it automatically locks in about 15 seconds. There are two wireless charging surfaces for phones. The screen will show your speed in either km or miles by tapping the number. This speed limit is displayed right beside your actual speed, and Lucy feels this helps her avoid speeding. As the car drives so smoothly and has no engine noise or vibration to indicate you are going faster, it can be easy to speed unexpectedly. On the screen it displays the cars on all sides of you on the road, so you have an additional way to check for cars for lane change. The car has great sensors all around it. One thing quite different about a Tesla is that you do not need to use the brake, as the motors slow the car down to a stop when you take your foot off the accelerator, so basically you can drive with one pedal, although you need to use the brake at times when stopping really quickly, just to be sure. Learning to use the computer is quite easy although we did struggle a few times to figure out the wipers, and are still learning about the radio. Lucy had to look up where the flashers were located and still struggles to find the glove box release. It is fun though, and of course becomes very natural after a month or two. The all weather tires that come with this AWD make snowy roads manageable, and Lucy has not slipped once this winter. Everyone has trouble figuring out how to use the door handles both inside and outside of the car, so it is best if a demonstration is given to anyone who has not been in a Tesla. The navigation system is fantastic, and the voice controls are excellent. The navigation system will tell you where you need to get a supercharge, if needed, as well as available stalls and how much charge you will have when you get there. We have never experienced chargers that are not working, as we had been warned about. Lucy did hear from a friend that the chargers at the Lake Louise ski resort are not reliable, but she is not sure if this is still the case. To back into your garage, (as needed for charging since the port is inside the rear driver side light) and to charge at a Tesla supercharger, one needs to get good at backing it into tight spaces. It’s a slow learning process.

On the Road with the Tesla to the USA

I Don’t Think We are In Canada Anymore…Nevada-Near Mohave National Preserve…Photo credit Lucy

In February we took our Tesla all the way from Edmonton to Nogales Arizona, at the Mexican border, including a visit to Palm Springs in California. This was about an 8500 kilometre month-long trip. Before we left we made sure the outdoor temperatures were not extreme and that the roads were clear in Alberta and Montana. We had never charged at a supercharger so we went to Southgate Mall to charge up at the Tesla Supercharger as well as to use the slower Flo chargers there for which we had downloaded the app and bought an adaptor. We had to synch a credit card with the supercharger. We had to preload some money for the Flo charger. It was all very easy using the apps. We mostly just use the Tesla app. Lucy did realize she was using her phone to open and lock the car, so when she put her phone on airplane mode for the USA trip, she could not get in the car so she had to use the card or her partner’s phone. It is interesting how reliant on a phone we are now. In the USA several hotels and Bed and Breakfasts provided free charging. That saved us money and was very convenient. We were glad to be told some other hotels are planning to install EV chargers. We chose a few hotels based on the fact they had a charger, or were next to chargers, especially since one hotel was quite remote. For sure one needs to plan ahead more with a Tesla/EV, and really that is not a bad thing. To be in synch with the USA charging, rates at superchargers in Canada increased this March 2022. They average roughly about $.35/kWh. In Canada you are billed by the minute based on different tiers. If 50% of stalls are in use the 80% charge capacity goes into effect and you are notified to come back to your car and move it or pay a $1.00 penalty.

Shelby Montanna. Photo Credit Lucy

The electricity rates across Canada vary in our homes, with Alberta and Quebec being $.06/kWh and BC being $.09/kWh and Ontario being about $.08/kWh. For all of us the fees and delivery cost of the electricity actually increases costs a lot; in Alberta it triples the actual cost of the electricity to $.17/kWh in our house, and again these rates even vary from house to house.

As with most vehicles, the range or efficiency reported for the Tesla is not quite what you really get, except on that one perfect spring or fall day of 18 degree weather when you drive 45 km an hour with no stops, elevation, wind, or weight in the car!!

Looking up some articles about charging, the superchargers offer a 4 tier pricing system, so it is cheaper and faster to charge at the start of your charge, and becomes both more expensive as well as slower to charge at the end of your charge. Knowing this, it is cheaper to stop and charge more frequently than try to top up to 90 or 100% charge. It is much more costly to charge above 80% and not recommended unless essential. It looks like the costs vary across the country significantly. Below is a display of the Red Deer supercharger rates. On Facebook one Tesla owner in Orangeville noted a same charge in February that was about $9.00 went up to $16.00 in March.

Electric Vehicle Range and Efficiency

Many things affect the efficiency of the Tesla: weight in the car, outdoor temperature, use of heaters, AC, and radio, wind, elevation change, and speed…and we are sure we missed a few. In Alberta with the very cold sub-freezing temperatures we have in winter, the battery has much less charge. Of course we do not do many long road trips in the cold but one has to plan more, even for ski trips. It is unclear how many of these factors are considered when the Tesla tells you how much charge you will have remaining once you arrive at your destination. We found that we sometimes had 5-15 percent less charge on arrival than was initially predicted in the route planner and one could see the charge remaining keep going down as one drove along. On occasion it also goes up. Since Lucy knew she wanted to use the car for longer trips, she chose the long range battery reported to be able to go 540 km at peak, but we will wait for summer to see what the reality is for distance. So far in winter with a full car and wind and some elevation it was able to go 350-370 km distance, the “real-world range”. The Long Range Tesla costs significantly more money, about $18000 more. Since battery life declines over time, getting the maximum battery life seemed to be important to Lucy. Many provinces give rebates of about $5000 for an EV if it is $45000 or less. This is generally the price range for the short range battery EVs.

Lucy just read an article that shows buying the other much cheaper Short Range Tesla 3 RWD has relatively good range, maybe only 40 km less in cold weather. In warm weather we were told the RWD gets 100 km less range than the Long Range Tesla. Check out “Insideevs.com Tesla Model 3 Winter RWD Vs. Long Range Vs. Performance”. It says “Having covered 270 km in freezing cold conditions the Model 3 RWD had used 85% of its 60-kWh battery, which would result in a real-world range of 318km from 100% to 0%. Th Model 3 Long Range used 75% of its 75-kWh battery giving it a 360 km real-world range, while the Model 3 Performance used 77% of its 82-kWh for a real-world range of 350 km.” So if you live in a place not needing AWD you likely may do fine with the one of the other models.

Photo credit Lucy

Charging the EV

The Tesla is programmed to charge in the night at home and is fully charged to the recommended 80% by morning. It will end charging as you need it if you schedule a regular morning departure time. All of this is something you can monitor on your phone remotely. They recommend you keep the charge between 20% and 80%. Lucy has to say, the greatest thing so far is not having to go out and gas up the car, and having a charger in the garage is so easy. The only drawback is we do not get any car wash discounts from gassing up!! We only charged a few times to 100% while on our road trip, when needed. The charger locks into place when in use. Superchargers are close to restaurants, malls, grocery stores, fast food, and bathrooms so they are always convenient but not necessarily where you might have chosen otherwise. On our trips we love to treat ourselves at Starbucks, but not as much now if there is not one close to a supercharger. Generally it is good to stop and stretch your legs anyway while the car charges for usually 25 minutes but can be 5 minutes to 50 minutes (for 100% charge) depending on your need. As mentioned earlier, the PlugShare app shows all chargers and superchargers in the world. We find many Tesla owners stay in their vehicle while charging as the car stays warm while charging, so you can read a book, use your phone or play a game (like backgammon) on the car computer screen.

Supercharger Locations

Based on Lucy’s experience, this chart above is a bit of an underestimation by about 5-10 minutes.

Page Utah Photo credit Lucy

We only had one place where we could not confidently drive between superchargers on our winter road trip to the USA, as they were quite far apart. That was between Fort MacLeod Alberta and Great Falls Montana. We have already reported this to Tesla and hope another supercharger can be added. En route down we did stop for a slow charge in Milk River near the border, and that was like watching paint dry. On the way back we did not, and it was a little tense, arriving with only 6 % charge even though at the start of that leg of the trip we were told we would have 20% on arrival. If you lose all charge you need a tow. The further south one drives in the USA the more Teslas there are and the more stations. We saw a stop with 24 chargers. In California we had to wait at two stops as there was a short line up for the chargers. In Canada there are superchargers every 250 km from the east coast to the west coast along the TransCanada highway. There are also many other chargers and they are working to fill in other needed stations. We think there needs to be one between Jasper and Kamloops, and heard there is one going in. There needs to be one by the border of the USA in southern Alberta. Fernie just got one.

Tesla 3 Long Range Operational Costs

Trying to calculate how much money Lucy is paying to operate her Tesla compared to her previous Infiniti is challenging. Comparing gas/litre to cost of a kWh/km at home or at superchargers, actual distance obtained by the Tesla per kWh, rather than projections, knowing how far you travel on average each month or year is all a stretch for one’s brain and requires assumptions for vehicle efficiencies. Of course, as gas prices are steeply climbing right now, Lucy is sure she is clearly saving even more money than expected, but this month the EV charging rate went up too. Let’s see if we can make some sense of this. One article Lucy read is that the owner did not notice much of an increase in their electric bill from charging their EV. Of course monthly electric costs are so variable it would be hard to know until looking over a period of time and right now everyone is experiencing higher electric costs this winter. The Tesla app says Lucy has already saved $355 while using Superchargers.

Reflection Pool at Sunnylands Gardens in Palm Desert Photo credit Jane

The Numbers and Costs (Lucy’s Math)

Gas Vehicle Tesla 3 Long Range

Gas prices about $1.60/litre. Elec $.058/kWh+fees=~$.17/kWh ($.35/kWh at supercharger)

Gas Vehicle – 9L/100km Elec15kWh/100km

Gas Trip is $.145/km. EV price $.053/km

GAS600km/month=$87/month. EV 600km/month=$15.30. ($31.50/month at supercharger)

*GAS 1000km/month=$145/month EV 1000km/month=$25.50/month ($53/month at supercharger)

GAS 1500km/month=$215/month EV1500km/month=$37/month. ($80/month at supercharger)

*Based on this information Lucy has the potential to save about $120 a month from charging her EV at home, and even more if she adds in travel. That should help offset the cost of the car!

Summary

Well Lucy hopes you learned something about being an EV owner. With each passing day she is enjoying the Tesla more. It is very smooth and quiet, easy to talk in the car while driving and easy to sneak up on birds along the country roads. It is no fuss for charging at home and is much cheaper. It has an excellent navigation system. Lucy likes that she can warm it before getting in just with one button on her phone and she loves the heated steering wheel. She is not going to mention the incredible power and acceleration, as that is not why she bought it, but many people ask her about that. She loves the screen showing if vehicles are in the blind spot. The radio is much different and she is still learning about that. You can use your Spotify in the car if you have it. You can set it to keep a set temperature for the dog or for “camping”, as the back seat lays flat for sleeping. One day Lucy plans to sleep in the car for a night…that will be an adventure!

Sand Dunes in Winterhaven, California Photo credit Lucy

Seats are very comfortable, and Lucy was not sore anytime during the long road trip. On cruise control there is a software glitch that causes phantom braking, suddenly slowing down the car. We think it is worse at high speeds. Tesla is working on a correction for this. This is a negative aspect in the vehicle, but after a while you don’t get bothered by it, you just try to figure out why. In future, if you want this car to be self driving you only have to give Tesla $10,000 and it will happen as the capability is in the car but current regulations don’t allow it. Updates are always sent so the car is always current, making it like new. So Lucy is really happy with this purchase. It was expensive but she does hope to use it a long time. Who knows what the future of EV batteries will be, and they very well may improve a lot. At the same time, on the news there was talk of supply chain issues now with metals needed for the batteries in EVs, so going electric is likely going to be more difficult in the near term than we had hoped and may continue to become more costly rather than less costly. Let’s hope not. Hope you will consider an EV and that this blog post offers some helpful information to save Readers some research time. By 2035 EVs will be the only option in Canada. Let’s hope there will be many more EV choices readily available on the market in the very near future.

Hiking near Phoenix Arizona Photo credit Lucy

Lucy asked her friend Sally, who bought the same car, how she feels about her Tesla. Sally loves that there is “dog mode” so she can leave her dog in the car and the temperature stays as set. Sally loves that you can pre-warm the car in the garage in a matter of minutes, and get a notice when it is ready, and loves all the heat features like heated seats and steering wheel. Sally loves the feel of the drive, and the acceleration which makes lane changing easy but she finds it easy to speed in this car. She is thrilled that the value of the car has gone up already, and is happy she has gotten into the market since it looks like the timing may have been good. Sally passed along this article link from interestingengineering.com – https://bit.ly/3wmQmOM – that shows that companies are developing ways to charge the EV much faster, which possibly may be available by 2024, and hopefully will create some price competition so that public charging may become cheaper. Sally also dislikes the “phantom breaking” when on cruise control.

Lucy hopes that you will send along any questions you might have about the Tesla 3.

To close, here are a few of the new birds seen on the USA adventure where the Tesla found all the chargers needed to bring us to the very small town of Patagonia near the Arizona border with Mexico and then home again.

Lifer Birds seen in Patagonia Arizona

Reflections on Our 100 Friends4Trees4Life Blogs

Photo Credit Jim

Since the autumn of 2019 we, Catherine and Lucia, have chosen to blog, in an informed and hopeful way, about global warming issues, and climate action to make a difference. We simply felt there were so few articles in the news on this topic, and at that time, there was still debate in the public about if global warming was real. In our inaugural blog we reported the findings of a large number of scientists whose research demonstrated that global warming is real. We also chose to put focus on trees (as reflected in our name) because trees are so valuable to our planet and to life on our planet, and planting trees is an easy and positive way we can have a significant effect on the climate change emergency.

Over these two years of blogging much has changed. The talk of global warming is now everywhere in the news we find, in political promises, on the radio in the songs being written and interviews shared, in podcasts and documentaries, in books and protests, and unfortunately, alive in the increasingly frequent and intense storms, fires and floods around us. More and more people are not in doubt of global warming and we are thrilled that leaders around the world are heeding the evidence and words of the scientists.

We plan to continue our blog, as we feel there is still urgency for greater action, as many pledges have been set by countries around the world for the future, for 2030 and for 2050, but more action is needed today, and our own country of Canada needs to be more accountable for implementing its commitments. Much innovation and research is going into making cleaner energy and energy efficiencies, so overall, and compared to two years ago, we, Catherine and Lucia, feel encouraged. At the same time, we worry that leaders are too slow in setting concrete plans, so we want to keep up the conversation. And we also want to share ideas, respectfully, to impact individuals, you, me and each and every one of us, so we may make informed action on our own behaviour in whatever ways are personally meaningful and appropriate.

With this, our 100th post for our Friends4Trees4Life Blog, we celebrate 100 things we have learned from our research that have touched us, by spotlighting one item from each of our 100 posts to-date.

We are proud of this blog that began in our early fledgling efforts with the affectionate nickname of “Baby Blog” but now we feel is evolving to become “Blissful Blog” to us. We have learned so much and enjoyed immensely writing this together and sharing with you, our Readers. We appreciate that you have been reading our blogs, giving your comments, sending us tips and ideas, and we especially want to thank our volunteer guest bloggers, photographers and artists for sharing your insights, time and talents.

So now, here is one take away nugget from each one of our 100 blogs to-date, starting and working forward from that momentous (to us) first post on October 20, 2019:

  • Scientists agree the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated
  • Trees matter in so many ways such as to capture carbon, cool the planet, clean water, and for air quality, biodiversity, our health, and climate regulation
  • In 2019 Victoria BC joined the “United Nations Trees in City Challenge” to plant 5000 trees by 2020 (thank you blogger Wanda)
  • Tree planting alone will not solve the global warming and climate change emergency, but it is still one of the most impactful positive actions that an individual, organization and government may take
  • Consider gifting trees through “Tree Canada” or “One Tree Planted”
  • Since 1994 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has brought 197 countries together to meet annually at (COP) Conference of Parties to take stock of progress on action to combat climate change and stabilize green house gas emissions (GHG)
  • Even 5 minutes around trees (tree bathing/shinrin yoku) can improve health, boost immune systems and energy, lower blood pressure and stress, improve mood, focus and sleep, and accelerate recovery from illness
  • When shopping for ourselves and others consider vintage items, consumable items and carbon negative items like a Merino wool sweater, or gifting an experience; these all lessen your carbon footprint
  • There’s an app for that – we can track our “carbon footprint” with one of the many apps on the market and consider ways we might want to adopt to reduce our carbon footprint
  • Consider how what we eat, where food comes from and how it is processed and packaged, the impact of food waste for others, our pocket books and the planet, and how improvements and our choices in each of these areas may make a significant difference in addressing climate change
  • Canadian Tree Planting Drones can plant ten times faster at 20% of the cost of traditional methods
  • Trees can be planted as memorials to help remember or pay tribute to those we have lost in our lives
  • The TuBiShevat Festival in February is an annual ecological Jewish Holiday of Trees focusing on what can be done for the environment, celebrating nature, and promoting tree planting while sharing the fruits of the tree (with thanks to guest blogger, Eileen)
  • Thank you to blogger Randy who tells us in great detail the process of choosing and installing solar panels and explained how solar Panel installation on one’s home is an investment in the environment; the system gives you data on how much CO2 you saved from putting in the air.
  • Canada has a goal of having 100% electric vehicles (EV) by 2035, (updated from 2040 when the blog was written) and some provinces offer $$ incentives to purchase an EV
  • Earth Day’s 50th anniversary was in 2020 and this global collaboration event to protect and restore our planet includes a billion people in 193 countries
  • Fun facts about trees in Canada featuring: White Pine, Birch, Oak, and Giant Sequoias in Yosemite. Did you know the Eastern White Pine is the Provincial Tree of Ontario known as the “tree of peace” and can live 400 years?
  • Food waste is significant, as 60% of all food produced is being lost and wasted annually (!) and contributing sizeably to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions/global warming problem
  • We featured mangrove forests and boreal forests-up to 37% of emission reductions needed by 2030 can come from conservation, restoration and management of forests
  • 30% of birds have disappeared in the USA and Canada since 1970 or 2.9 billion birds
  • We featured photos of birds to emit positive energy from nature during our first COVID-19 lockdown; here are some owls-hopefully they can lend more wisdom for we humans
  • We shared photos of gentle early spring blooms from Victoria taken by reader Wanda to lift spirits
  • Learning how to choose the best tree for your desired outcome with planting tips and guidelines
  • More tree suggestions for different needs: privacy, flowering, fruit, bird attraction, ornamental accent trees, and/or trees for small spaces
  • Celebrating Earth Day with children’s artwork (thank you guest artists!) and learning its 50-year history
  • Learning about composting and why soil carbon matters for climate action. This process can divert up to 30% of household waste going into the landfill, avoiding for release of harmful greenhouse gases
  • COVID 19 benefits for the environment were observed with the first lockdown since people were forced to be working from home, buying local, home gardening, enjoying walks in nature, and decreasing flights yielding reduced carbon emissions and best of all, the skies became bluer and the air cleaner
  • In gardening therapy, we explored tips for vegetable gardening from experts in topics including: seeding, soil preparation, hardening indoor plants, caring for your plants, and using magic marigolds
  • More gardening tips were explored like: when to plant based on soil temperature, types of seeds and seed tape, benefits of raised beds, community gardens in a pandemic, and harvesting tips
  • Favourite fruit trees and information and advice on: choosing trees, pollination, pruning, zone hardiness, harvesting and winter protection
  • Endemic plants of Canada in nature and which trees are best for reducing air pollution
  • The wonders of the Amazon Rain Forest with it’s 40,000 plant species as the lungs of the world
  • We featured an extensive list of tree-connected careers and tree organizations
  • A Greener Canada featured what is currently being done in Canada to reduce carbon emissions in 2020 including the carbon levy, phasing out of coal, clean up of orphan wells, research on carbon capture, wind energy development, solar energy development, making bioenergy, plan for retrofitting buildings
  • We featured various books over the two years including “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Wohlleben, with thanks to our Readers for putting many tree-themed books and articles on our radar
  • The temperate rain forests of BC have the largest carbon storage capacity per hectare on earth
  • We shared inspiring quotes, podcasts and music, and listed the top five (5) nations with the most forest coverage
  • Learning more about carbon capture innovations and rewilding the planet
  • Building retrofits and innovations: steps being taken to prepare for the minor, major or deep retrofits needed in Canada
  • Canadian Arboretums and Botanical Gardens were described. This summer Lucia and Catherine organized a plan and enjoyed a stroll through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Arboretum in Toronto, and Lucia also visited the Butchart Gardens in Victoria with friends Kathy, Janet and Wanda
  • Thank you to guest blogger Shanthi who wrote about growing flowers for cutting-where to plant them, choosing what to grow, harvesting and arranging
  • Re-do of community gardens and Community Supported Agriculture (vegetable box programs)
  • Thank you to blogger Brian for writing about how becoming a bee keeper will help pollinators thrive as one third of our food supply depends on the role bees play
  • The One Trillion Tree Initiative for Ecosystem Restoration as organized by the United Nations in 2020
  • Journalist Liane Faulder shares the reason for her attachment to certain special trees in her life
  • Plant Behaviour: delving into the secret lives of plants and how they communicate
  • National Tree Day Sept. 25, 2020 is a global day for climate action and celebration of all tree benefits
  • Climate Action Momentum is Building at the federal level with new pledges and timelines
  • The Delicate Ecosystem of Jasper National Park and action to protect it. Jasper National Park is divided into three life zones – montane, subalpine, alpine – which are broad landscape units with characteristic species, communities and physical environments.
  • We are cautiously optimistic in sharing evidence that, at long last, momentum is building, internationally and globally, for climate action and system change (including, e.g., 180 countries agreeing to the U.N. goal to reduce harmful ocean plastics worldwide, and, China’s new resolve (among a small but growing number of countries) to become carbon net zero by 2060
  • At age 93, David Attenborough continues to inspire with a call to action by offering his personal witness statement and story of global decline in his single lifetime, messaging concern, optimism and the long view. He inspires hope by reminding us that “Nature is our biggest ally and our greatest inspiration. We are urged to embrace it, support it, and care for it. Plant a tree and enjoy the benefits.”
  • Some of the numbers we have learned and reflect on in one-year of blogging, include – In 2020, Canada and China are among (just) 30 countries committing to being carbon net neutral; there are 3 trillion trees in total on the planet and capacity for 1 trillion more; Earth Day 2020 set a tree planting goal of 7.8 billion trees, one for every human alive
  • Tree planting continues to be the fastest and most cost effective way to sequester carbon and one of the most impactful actions for individuals, organizations and governments to take
  • Ocean Voyages Institute is a U.N. Climate Hero for its volunteer efforts toward the goal of cleaning up one million pounds of plastic, by to-date removing 103 tons (206,000 lbs.) in 48 days from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (located between California and Hawaii)
  • Ocean ecosystems cover 70 percent of the planet and are deserving of more respect. They feed us, provide the oxygen we breathe, and protect us from ourselves – were it not for the oceans (absorbing more than 90% of the warming created by humans since 1970), climate change would have already made the earth uninhabitable (yikes, and thank you Mother Nature!)
  • Thanks to Reader Nora for letting us know that Toronto is designated a Tree City of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation, for its leadership in urban and community forestry
  • Cities are packing a punch: Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are among a group of 120+ cities worldwide that are championing and delivering on stepped up climate action plans as members of the international C40 Cities group. This is important and impactful since we are learning that “cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions.”
  • Individuals planting trees are making an inspiring difference: Profiling famed photographer Sebastiano Salgado and his wife Lelia, who began efforts in 1994 to re-establish a once-healthy ecosystem by planting two million trees to create a now forest in the Minas Gervas region of Brazil (thanks to Reader Leslie). One Tree Planted, together with local farmers in India, planted over one million fruit trees even during the pandemic, to combat both hunger and climate change
  • We share photos and ideas aimed at creating new outdoor opportunities to lift holiday spirits while still in the pandemic. Lucia’s new favourite saying is “There is no bad weather, just bad gear!” You go, girl!
  • Our Joyful Joyful blog shared Nature’s gifts of joy for the holidays, and our gratitude and joy as our hearts are warmed by Readers letting us know that our blog has inspired you to give the gift of trees this holiday
  • Ontario’s Project Neutral inspires with practical ideas and a Carbon Calculator for how we can make a difference to “create a beautiful future powered by clean energy and a new generation of climate optimists” (e.g., install LED lightbulbs, lower the water heater temperature, walk and bike when you can). “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
  • “Climate Emergency” is the Oxford Word of the Year 2019, and 33 countries, including Canada, most European countries, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, South Korea, Bangladesh and Maldives had declared a climate emergency as of December 2020. Oxford definition: “A situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible damage resulting from it.”
  • Illustrating letter, as concerned citizens, written to Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, urging our government to deliver on its promises to create real accountability, measurability and transparency for Canadian climate action
  • We shared calming images during challenging times of the Canadian wilderness taken by Toronto photographer MaryAnn Griffin
  • Edmonton Public Library has had Home Energy toolkits available since 2016, and Lucia and Allan were excited to use the toolkit to learn how to make their home more energy efficient, including by insulating the hot water pipes and ordering an efficient dual flush toilet
  • We profiled three topics from CBC’s weekly What on Earth newsletter: flexitarianism, broader implications of trading water futures, and Indigenous Peoples and Seventh Generation Philosophy
  • We profiled Ted Talks and Foundational Qs and As (e.g., What is net zero?) on the urgency and building momentum for climate action
  • Trudeau and Biden pledge to work together on six priorities for climate change, including a focus on accelerating climate ambitions. A report outlines how Canada is in an advantageous position to reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • In anticipation of a new season, we profiled past gardening guest blogs by Wanda, Shanthi, Audrey, Leslie and Ross, as well as, shared a video made by videographer Shanthi to showcase the plants in her developing Moon Garden (thank you to all)
  • Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNR) – what are they and how might they help Canada reach its goal to become carbon net neutral by 2050?
  • Two automakers, Ford Motor Company, and GM, commit to achieving carbon neutrality globally in productivity and operations by 2050 (Ford) and by 2040 (GM), in line with the Paris Climate Agreement
  • How best to transition to a clean energy economy and low carbon future? Conference Board of Canada provides scope and insight: “Energy is more than developing energy products like oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, biofuel, hydrogen, wood, coal and geothermal. Energy is also about users. Transportation, housing, businesses, affordability, urban and rural centres, and financial markets all contribute to consumption. Combined, producers and consumers make up Canada’s energy system, and it is undergoing a dramatic evolution, often in a discordant way.”
  • Blog posts featuring gardening tips, successes and inspiration continue to resonate with our Readers
  • Relevant as ever, research and medical practices on the powerful antidote that time in nature offers in helping deal with pandemic stress. We learn about Dr. Qing Li, world expert in forest medicine. His 2018 book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, claims to offer “(t)he definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.”
  • Getting ready for Earth Day 2021 by profiling the five pillars of: Restore Our Earth; The Canopy Project; Food and the Environment; The Great Global Cleanup; Climate Literacy; and, Global Earth Challenge
  • We dedicate Earth Day 2021’s blog post to children everywhere, gratefully welcoming back our talented guest artists (ages 4 to 12 years), Charlie, Hannah, Connor, Emily, Claire, Brady, Elizabeth and Karis
  • Twice in April 2021 Canada increases its level of commitment to fight climate change, pledging now to the new ambitious goal to slash emissions by 40-45% of the 2005 baseline level by 2030
  • We learn in greater detail about Canada’s climate change challenges (e.g., breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector and effects of Canada’s changing climate) and our climate action plan
  • Exciting innovation and leading-edge technology in the food sector via vertical hydroponics is producing fresh, safe, pesticide-free, sustainable, local, traceable and package-free produce, and making for less food waste
  • 1000 of the world’s rivers are the source of 80% of the global ocean plastic pollution in the world, and rather than being daunted, Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup is actually quite optimistic that this is a solvable problem
  • Featuring flowering trees across Canada and early signs of spring to lift spirits and renew hope
  • In May 2021, Canada launched the portal for its new Canada Greener Homes Grant. The goal is to help make Canadian homes more energy-efficient, contributing to Canada’s climate action. “Buildings, including our homes, account for 18% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Three solar panel innovations – Building-Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV); Floating solar panels; Peel and stick solar panels – plus practical considerations for going solar shared by guest blogger, Edmund
  • Tree-inspired poetry by Mary Oliver and various tree-themed quotes offered as ‘soul food’ plus what is regenerative agriculture and why it matters to reducing carbon emissions
  • Lucia shares her volunteer experience with Edmonton’s Roots for Trees, a volunteer tree planting program aimed at planting 45,000 trees each year
  • Profiling some Canadian change agents and leaders helping us forward to our goal to become net zero in carbon emissions by 2050
  • Bill C-12 The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act passes in July 2021, setting national targets for “the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions based on the best scientific information available and to promote transparency and accountability in relation to achieving those targets, in support of achieving net-zero emissions in Canada by 2050 and Canada’s international commitments in respect of mitigating climate change.”
  • How are richer nations helping vulnerable countries to invest in renewable energy, leap frog polluting technologies as their economies develop, protect from climate change, and tackle climate-induced disasters?
  • Win-win good news: COVID-19 relief fund is used for an ambitious coastal clean up to remove 400 tonnes of plastic waste along 1200 km of BC coastline while employing workers and vessels from the tourism sector hard hit by pandemic lockdowns
  • “The future is smoky”: forest fires, fire weather and climate change-induced disasters are here to stay in Canada, sadly; wisdom to be learned from Indigenous people and traditional fire management practices in B.C. First Nations communities
  • Sharing a summer photo gallery to celebrate and inspire caring for and enjoyment of, Canada’s great diversity of wildlife, with thanks to guest photographers Allan, MaryAnn Griffin and Jim MacQuarrie
  • We feel fortunate to live in this country and appreciate that most fellow Canadians take climate change seriously. Heading into the federal election 2021, all but one major party included platform commitments in areas such as: emissions targets; carbon tax; modelling and analysis to track progress on targets; plans to transition to a low-carbon economy and more (e.g., electric vehicles, green retrofits)
  • “The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24 – the largest generation of youth in history…Young people are not only victims of climate change. They are also valuable contributors to climate action.” (U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres)
  • “As adults, we owe it to the youth and those not yet born to do everything in our power to ensure they have a livable future, with clean air, drinkable water, healthy food, biodiverse life and a stable climate.” (Davidsuzuki.org)
  • We learned that Canada is home to the world’s longest trail network – the Trans Canada Trail. This cross-Canada connected system of greenways, waterways and roadways extends over 28,000 kilometres, stretching east-west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and north to the Arctic Ocean. Amazing, and what a national treasure! Happily, Lucia is able to access it regularly and within walking distance
  • We spotlight three funding programs and some of the inspiring clean innovations they sponsor to help solve for the transition to a net zero world: MaRS Climate Impact Conference; Earthshot Prize Award (Prince William); and, the U.K.’s Faraday Battery Challenge. Funded innovators include: Costa Rica’s citizen project to restore natural ecosystems; the city of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs; green hydrogen technology to transform how buildings and homes are powered; 17 innovation projects to advance the U.K.’s next generation batteries for electric vehicles
  • COP26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow offers hope. In recent years there has been a shift from international disagreement (and in some cases outright climate change denial) to today’s consensus view that the threat of climate change is real and consequential and there is heightened urgency for the world to act. Progress, with yet many challenges ahead to secure the goal of global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees rise in global warming within reach…
  • BBC’s environment correspondent, Helen Briggs offers a glimpse into our possible futures in 10-15 years, arising from decisions taken at COP26 – a switch to electric vehicles; a switch away from coal energy (40 countries pledging) to renewable sources (e.g., wind and solar energy) and possibly nuclear energy; solar panels and heat pumps becoming standard fare in home building; price premiums on carbon; more expensive food; more space for Nature’s role in fighting climate change
  • “We may also witness a shift in our thinking…Delivering a just, net-zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles.” (Dr. Stephanie Sodero, University of Manchester)
  • Key outcomes of COP26 include: pledge to end deforestation by 2030 (137 countries); global coal to clean power transition pledge (46 countries); green investing pledge; pledge to stop public financing of coal/gas/oil (30 countries, including Canada); global methane reduction pledge (108 countries); Canada pledges to limit biodiversity loss; call for global carbon tax (championed by Canada); commitment to zero-emission cars and trucks (15 countries, including Canada); climate finance delivery plan
  • Finding and celebrating simple pleasures and joys in Nature in continuing unsettled times and a second pandemic holiday season
  • We share our second annual New Year’s reflections and re-commit to shifting our mindsets, choices and lifestyles in our ongoing personal quest to be positive contributors to achieving the global transition to a cleaner, greener, sustainable, healthier, happier net-zero future
  • We share mindful reflections and inspiring innovations in food rescue interventions (there’s an App for that!) and profile the overlooked bivalve (oysters, mussels, clams, scallops) – a remarkable food with high potential to clean our waters, nourish a billion people, while being carbon negative. Who knew?!

Thank you for reading our Blog and travelling alongside with us in our learning journey – we look forward to continuing the connection and conversation together, with any luck, for the next 100 posts! 🙂

Common Loon Photo Credit Lucia

Food for Thought and Hope

Becoming Mindful of How our Food Arrived at Our Table

Sharon Salzberg, a leading expert in mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation, observes that on “physiological and psychological levels, connecting with others improves our health and state of being. We are better able to let go of stress, to feel supported, and to find a sense of wholeness even as we move through our busy lives.”

She offers simple ways to find a sense of connection and community in everyday life, regardless of whether or not one is in a group of people – needed evermore now we think in these stressful times of wave after wave of pandemic lockdowns and social isolation, including for some due to illness and/or quarantine.

We begin this blog post aimed at enhancing our understanding about the potential roles that food – the global food industry through to our personal food habits and choices – may serve in positively impacting climate change, with a mindfulness suggestion from Salzberg that is relevant to the topic:

“Before eating a meal, take a few breaths and reflect on the extended community that was involved in bringing the food to your table. There were the farmers who grew the food and the farm owners who employed those workers. There were the people who transported it and stored it. There were those who sold it to the grocery store. The list goes on.”   (Sharon Salzberg. Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. New York: Flatiron Books: 2017. p. 264.)

In two earlier posts, we profiled what we were learning about the food waste and climate change connection (March 2020) –   https://bit.ly/3ISyM8c, and, the nature and impact of regenerative agriculture practices in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions (June 2021) – https://bit.ly/344EIfT.

A compelling and motivating take-away from the March 2020 post for us is the impact available to individuals for climate action through our efforts to re-direct food from becoming waste, including by composting to keep it out of landfill as garbage, thus avoiding for harmful methane emissions.

The notion of ‘food capture’ and the inverted triangle of giving priority to re-directing food before it becomes waste, to: a) feeding people, b) feeding animals, c) converting to energy, d) composting, and avoiding e) sending it as garbage to landfill, helped us in our thinking about food and climate change, and how our personal choices and actions might make a difference.

Food Rescue Apps

Recently, we learned from this CP24 article about new innovative efforts at re-directing food to feed more people, using food rescue Apps such as “Too Good To Go,” “Flashfood,” “Feedback,” and “Olio”. According to the article, the Too Good To Go App was founded in Copenhagen in 2016 and has recently come to Toronto, with Eataly and Pusateris among its participating restaurants and grocery stores (https://toogoodtogo.ca/en-ca). 

“ ‘Signing up for Too Good To Go was a no-brainer’, said chief operating officer James Canedo.”

“ ‘As chefs, you never want to see food wasted. It’s almost sacred for us,’ he said.”

“ ‘So many people out there don’t have the same privileges, so for food to be wasted, that is something we’re trying to prevent.’ ”  (https://bit.ly/3L4B4TO)

Saving food, feeding more people and helping to save the planet – hmmm, some “food for thought” on potential change.

Opportunity to Calculate Environmental Footprint of Food You Eat

This link to BBC’s Foodprint Calculator helps  us further our understanding  and explorations of the complex topic of the global food production industry.  If, as the BBC site claims, the food we eat accounts for up to 30% of our household’s greenhouse gas emissions, depending on where we live and what we eat, then it is something worth investigating and thinking more on, we believe.

“Unravelling how the food you eat affects the environment can be tricky, which is why BBC Future has created a Foodprint Calculator to reveal how different choices change the impact you have.”

“…The entire food system – which includes the production, packaging, transportation and disposal of everything we eat – accounts for 21-37% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, our food could account for almost half of all carbon emissions released by human activity unless more steps are taken to reduce its environmental impact.”

“But one of the problems we face as consumers is knowing which foods have the least or greatest effect on our planet’s health. Unlike nutritional information that appear on the labels of most foods we buy, easy to read information about sustainability is largely absent.”

“This is why BBC Future has worked with Verve Search and researchers at the University of Oxford to produce our Foodprint Calculator. It will allow you to input a selection of staple foods, along with the number of times you consume them in a week up to a maximum of seven, to find out what the environmental impact of your chosen diet might be. Crucially you can also choose a selection of alternative foods to see how changing your diet might alter your carbon emissions.”

“You can try the calculator by clicking here.” (https://bbc.in/3IYyjBz)

The Simple Food that Fights Climate Change

Among the food and life experiences that Catherine is dearly missing during this pandemic are the pleasures of sharing a bowl of steamed mussels or indulging in celebratory splurges of fresh oysters on the half shell, shared in the company of family and friends.  She looks forward to when the time will come to reconnect with these simple pleasures and will bring new enthusiasm and verve to her first post-pandemic bivalve slurp after reading this BBC piece on ‘the simple shellfish that fights climate change”!

Who knew that the overlooked bivalve holds the potential to play a starring role in cleaning up our waters and nourishing a billion people, while being carbon negative?!

According to the BBC, “…Bivalves have the remarkable potential to provide people with food that is not only environmentally sustainable but also nutrient dense,” says David Willer, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge in the UK.”


“..The animals that are the source of this food require no feeding, need no antibiotics or agrochemicals to farm. And they actively sequester carbon. They can even protect fragile ecosystems by cleaning the water they live in. Welcome to the remarkable and unglamorous world of the bivalve.” (consisting of mussels, clams, oysters and scallops)

“With a higher protein content than many meats and plant crops, and high levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, like iron, zinc and magnesium, this specific group of shellfish has the potential to ameliorate many global food issues. This is particularly relevant to child malnutrition, as many of these nutrients are especially crucial to growth, and the planet stands to gain from their increased consumption too. Bivalves can be both wild-harvested and actively farmed offshore and in coastal areas, with a fraction of the environmental impact of more traditional animal proteins.”

“We know that meat and fish have a greater environmental impact than plant-based foods,” says Willer. “But the environmental footprint of bivalve aquaculture is even lower than many arable crops in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, land and freshwater use.” Given that animal protein production is so often cited as a significant carbon culprit down both to the carbon footprint of feed and fertiliser production, and the methane emissions of the animals themselves, this is forcing a shift in the landscape of environmentally friendly eating decisions.

Of course, as with many (most?) areas of food production, there are complexities in such bivalve acquaculture to be mindful of, including the need to pay attention to potential risks of the nutrient environment the bivalves are grown in.  “Because they are filter feeders, whatever is in the water – good or bad – ends up inside them, which is a problem due to the relatively unusual way in which we eat this food.”  Still, caveats and all, definitely “food for thought” we find, and possibly “food for a future healthier planet and population”.  To learn more – https://bbc.in/34qLXhR

Follow the Food

James Wong reflects on his experiences working on the BBC’s Follow the Food episodes during a pandemic, in this piece titled “The Reasons to be Hopeful – How Food Can Save the Planet” (https://bbc.in/3sd7rHm).

The Follow the Food documentaries “examine where our food comes from and how this might change in the near future with new technologies and innovative ways of farming.”

As he concludes, he went into the series with no preconceptions and left “feeling optimistic that science will find solutions” – a positive note we would like to share and end on, via this last example he presents of innovation in creative problem solving to fight climate change.

Wong offers, “…We think we need to overhaul our diet – but we don’t. We need to think creatively.”

“And what if we could make cows green too? Cow methane is not a problem with the animal, but the microbes in its stomach. You can suppress this microbial activity by adding small quantities of charcoal or seaweed to the cow’s diet – which has no impact at all on our health or the health of the animal.”

“Food” for thought and hope, we find, and offer the ideas and information in this blog post in hopes they may provide a source of optimism for our Readers too.

Perspectives on Change

Closing perspectives on making change, from mindfulness author Sharon Salzberg which give the last thoughts, and connect us back to, our beloved trees.

“I was startled to discover that a single redwood tree, after it falls, contributes to the ecosystem for three hundred to four hundred years, five times longer than it was alive. Its trunk, limbs, and roots become food for other species in the forest. The stump of the fallen tree raises a new seedling above the forest floor to receive sunlight so it can grow. Eventually, the roots of the new tree grow around the stump to reach the ground.”

“Using nature as an example, picture the impact of an activist extending for three or four hundred years after their lifetime. I think of the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on theologian and educator Dr. Howard Thurman, promoting the power of non-violent resistance when he visited him in India. Dr. Thurman served as a spiritual advisor to many towering figures in the U.S. civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a driving inspiration for me and for countless people of this time – and I’m sure into the future.”

“In the meditation tradition, we call this profound connection to those who came before us and helped mold us lineage. A sense of lineage is another way we let go of self-preoccupation and realize we are part of a larger fabric of life. It is a way to find the energy to affect the world while also recognizing we are not in control. This brings us to much greater balance.” (Sharon Salzberg. Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World. New York: Flatiron Books: 2020. p. 215)

Climate Hero and Earth Hero Carbon Calculators

Happy New Year and best of wishes, especially for good health, to you all, for 2022.

It is that time of year of annual reckoning for Lucy and Catherine with our carbon emissions. We have been discussing the impact our blog has had on us personally and we agree that it is hard to make lasting changes in one’s lifestyle so as to reduce our carbon footprint. It is hard to live more simply, it is hard to give things up, and we humans are such creatures of habit, so it is hard to change. WE are the ones blogging about protecting life on Mother Earth with our Friends4trees4life blog, so if it is hard for us to be gentler on Mother Earth, it is also likely hard for each and every one!!!! Reflecting on past goals set, it feels like we go two steps forward and one step back. For example, Lucy planned to increase insulation in the house, and only made minimal changes this year in this regard. Catherine planned to reduce heat loss/energy use by installing new windows in the house and is still waiting, months later, for the order to be fulfilled, now most likely into 2022. There are factors that limit one’s success, like having others in the household on board, the type of energy sources available in one’s province, the type of city one lives in, unpredictable supply chain challenges beyond our control, and one’s willingness/capacity to alter a privileged lifestyle, or even costs. Undoubtedly continuing to pay attention to one’s daily habits is an important first step in finding even small ways to improve and be more mindful about the impact of our choices. We believe we are all really good with some of our earthly habits, and not so good with others. That’s human nature. And, as we stated last year, no one can do everything, but every one can do something. Clean air, fewer storms, reduced waste, more gratitude, and a simpler less-stressed lifestyle are some of the benefits we, our children and their children will realize from all our collective efforts.

CLIMATE HERO CARBON CALCULATOR

Lucy’s Climate Hero Calculation

One way to plan for reducing personal carbon emissions is to use one of the many carbon calculators that are easy to find online. For this New Year 2022 Lucy tried a different carbon calculator that she really liked, and it is called Climate Hero (https://climatehero.me/ ). It was very thorough without requiring the annoying task of digging up of energy statements, and it offered lots of suggestions for improvement including some that she had never considered before. The Carbon Hero calculator indicates how much each change can reduce one’s carbon footprint. This is the third New Years that Lucy is calculating her carbon footprint, and she can see her score improving. It appears that by selling a second property, removing beef from the diet, buying only things that are needed, putting in only LED lights, hanging clothes to dry half the time, driving less, growing a vegetable garden, putting in water efficient toilets, giving home made, consumable or vintage gifts, among other things, that she has been able to make a difference in her carbon emissions for sure. It seems every little bit counts towards lowering one’s footprint by 0.1 or 0.2 tons of carbon/year.

Lucy’s carbon footprint was about 11.5 two years ago, and now, most recently with the addition of an electric vehicle, her carbon footprint is at 8.0 tons of carbon/year. This has moved Lucy out of the “Climate Villain” category into the “Climate Consumer” category, but there is still a ways to go towards becoming a “Climate Friend” or a “Climate Hero”. It is progress. Lucy’s aim was to reduce her footprint about 8% a year and she has surpassed that for sure, as she is about a year ahead of schedule. That is good as it is getting harder all the time to find ways to make a difference, and of course the easiest things have been done first.

This coming year Lucy set these goals:

  • Reduce energy loss by sealing windows in the house in winter
  • Greatly reduce dairy consumption
  • Get energy efficient kitchen appliances (done)
  • purchase an electric vehicle (done)
Meet Evi – Lucy’s new Electric Vehicle

The Carbon Hero calculator also made many suggestions (promises) for Lucy and here are the ones she chose, that she saw as doable this year:

Catherine’s Climate Hero Calculation

Inspired by Lucy, her personal “Carbon Hero,” Catherine followed suit, and calculated her carbon footprint also using Carbon Hero. She has a carbon footprint before promises of 6.7 tons CO2 per year, joining Lucy in the “Climate Consumer” category.

The suggestions (promises) that Catherine is adopting, subject to research and family agreement about replacing one of our aging cars with an e-vehicle/hybrid, in order to reduce her carbon footprint to 4.8 tons CO2 per year are:

  • Change one medium-haul flight to a car/train/bus/ferry ride (-0.4 tons)
  • Replace your car with a green vehicle (-0.6 tons)
  • Eat more vegetarian food (-0.2 tons)
  • Fight food waste (-0.2 tons)
  • Shop less (-0.3 tons)
  • Adopt circular shopping habits (-0.2 tons).

The calculator also reports that carbon offsets of $11 per month would be sufficient to reduce her carbon footprint of 4.8 tons CO2 per year to zero. Achieving a zero carbon footprint, even for one year, is something that would be very meaningful and further motivating for Catherine. She is committing to purchasing carbon offsets via donations totalling at least $132 in 2022 ($11 x 12 months) to Canadian tree planting groups such as Tree Canada and One Tree Planted.

EARTH HERO CARBON CALCULATOR APP

If you prefer to have an APP on your phone to track your emissions, there are several to choose from. Lucy downloaded for free EARTH HERO. Like many calculators it allows you to track your emissions over time, set goals, suggests reading materials, and this one gives you Earth Points! Who doesn’t want Earth Points? I somehow find this one has almost too much detail for me, and I find I prefer to use my computer rather than my phone to track my progress, but I imagine many people would prefer this app. Below is a link to a list of best phone apps for tracking your climate footprint.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tracking-carbon-footprint-best-apps/

Offsetting Carbon Footprint

The Climate Hero calculator offers a means for you to contribute money to offset your carbon footprint. The projects it supports are found all around the world, not Canada. Lucy and Catherine are not choosing this option, but rather donate money towards planting trees through, for example, One Tree Planted or Tree Canada to offset their carbon from air travel.

Do You Strive to Be a Climate Friend or a Climate Hero?

We encourage you to consider looking into your carbon footprint, and consider making one or more improvements. Maybe you might want to follow Lucy in choosing to be one of the pioneers in the Electric Vehicle world. Let’s make this world more habitable together.

Finding Simple Pleasures and Joy in Nature

This holiday season we find ourselves once again needing and finding our joy in the comfort, healing powers and simple delights of, and in, nature.

It continues to be a time for caution and tempered, modest celebration and limited social engagement with friends and family for a second year, sadly.

We are working hard (and creatively) to counter weariness with the continued (never ending?) pandemic and its impact on daily living. At the same time, we are mindful that no matter how difficult and protracted it all seems, we are ever so grateful for the privilege of being able to ‘shelter in place’ among fellow citizens in this wonderful Canada we both are proud to call home.

Our goal for today’s blog is to offer a bit of cheer and serenity, if possible, in hopes of helping to lift spirits in these unsettled times.

Seeing a light dusting of new fallen snow on the trees and rooftops outside, and being greeted with the fresh evergreen scent of the indoor Christmas tree offer us both a fresh, happy start to a new day of possibilities, with a reminder of the wonders and simple pleasures that beckon from nature, if only we take a moment’s pause and lift our gaze up from our screens and racing thoughts, to notice.

We share a few local ideas and moments of joy we have experienced as we adapt how we celebrate this holiday season in Edmonton and in Toronto, in the hopes it may fuel our Readers’ creative and festive muse to spread and share a bit of joy and delight with others…. If all else fails, we share opportunities to wonder and marvel at nature from the treasure trove of Lucia’s magical photo collection.  Please enjoy!

Catherine’s start to the week began with a delightful new tradition and opportunity to share in the special community spirit that makes her local neighbourhood such a treasure. At the invitation of her friend and consummate ambassador of community spirit building, Nora, she joined the outdoor “Holly Jolly Time” in neighbouring ‘Triangle Park’ for a tree trimming, festive cheer sharing, neighbourly event to mix and mingle safely, while also serving as a chance to donate to the local annual toy drive for children in need in nearby communities. The twist in this year’s second annual Holly Jolly Time donations event, aided by technology, is the opportunity to support the toy drive while at the same time supporting participating local retailers. Shopping local via the specially created toy drive website automatically generates donations to the toy drive, donations which then generously are being matched by participating local car dealerships. Win-win-win for all!

Lucia has started volunteering this year with her local bird rescue organization –The Beaverhill Bird Sanctuary – a special opportunity and joy to be outside in nature regularly, meeting new people and working together for a great cause that is personally meaningful to her as an avid birder.  Here she is, learning the ropes while banding a Dark Eyed Junco.

Catherine is ‘spicing things up’ every day this holiday month– literally – enjoying supporting local retailer The Spice Trader while at the same time enjoying together with Tony a daily ‘surprise box’ of new aromas, flavours and inspiring recipe ideas via The Spice Trader Advent calendar (https://thespicetrader.ca/ ). So far, we have enjoyed being transported to France via creating a delicious mushroom stew medley seasoned with Herbs de Provence and can’t wait to “travel” to new exotic worlds when next we learn to cook for the first time with Iranian Loomi (black limes), sweet Aleppo pepper chili, South East Asian Kala Namak (Bir Noon or rock salt), EVOO and more. Yum!

These are just a few of the new ways and added reasons to celebrate the gift of our “one wild and precious life” (in the words of poet Mary Oliver) that we are exploring. (from Poem 133: The Summer Day. View at: https://bit.ly/3oABYOM and/or hear Mary Oliver herself reading the poem in this Youtube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ )

We would love to learn about and be inspired by your new holiday adventures in and with nature!

Butchart Gardens Christmas Lights near Victoria

A Glimpse into Our Future Lives Following COP26

Here’s a glimpse into our future lives, some ways in which the decisions made at COP26 could change our every day life in the next 10-15 years, as written by Helen Briggs, the BBC Environment Correspondent. Even though it is a British perspective, it seems to have universal application. One spokesperson she interviews predicts we can expect an overall happier and healthier lifestyle in future.

In the second half of the blog we summarize the key pledges made at COP26 and take a look at Canada’s commitments.

A change in the way we get around…..

“Switching to an electric car is among a number of lifestyle changes we’re likely to be making. Experts predict that new electric vehicles could cost the same as new gas or diesel cars within the next five years. It is also possible to lease an electric vehicle, and there’s a growing second-hand market, where these vehicles are cheaper. Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. Meanwhile, others argue we need fewer cars on the road – walking and cycling more could also be among the changes we make.”

A switch to greener power…..

“More than 40 countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy – and possibly more reliance on nuclear energy. It’s hoped the announcements made at Glasgow will send a signal to the market that it is worth investing in renewable energy.”

Our homes get greener…..

Photo credit Randy

Solar panels and heat pumps could become standard in our homes. We’ll build new houses using low-carbon alternatives to cement and concrete – and try to re-fit old ones. There’s also a focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities are able to withstand the current and future impact of climate change.

Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development Director says: “We also need to make sure [buildings] are fit for more extreme scenarios.” This could include improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, installing “cool roofs” that reflect sunlight and prevent overheating, or introducing shutters so homes can withstand hurricane winds.”

We may start paying more for carbon…..

“Our lifestyles contribute to carbon emissions, whether we’re shopping for imported food, or flying away on a foreign holiday. In future, we may see the cost of a product’s carbon emissions being added to the price we pay – wherever it is made. So if a business doesn’t try and reduce the emissions of the goods it’s selling, its prices may have to go up. It’s hoped that will make consumers and businesses think again about how we consume and where we put our money. In response to this, some big household names like Amazon, Unilever and Ikea have now said they’re looking to ensure the cargo ships they use to deliver goods will run on cleaner fuel.”

Photo credit Kathy

More space for nature…..

“Nature’s role in fighting climate change and the need to restore the natural world – from forests to peatland – was high on the agenda at Glasgow, and we may see the benefits in greener spaces around our towns and cities. “Nature can be helping us here if we looked to actually treat it with the respect it deserves,” says Dr Emily Shukburgh of the University of Cambridge. The arguments to make space for nature are now clearer and louder than ever, says Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. “There is now renewed momentum about the need to… protect forests and other precious habitats and put nature in recovery.””

More expensive food…..

“Breaking the link between cutting down forests in the global south and products consumed in the global north, such as soybeans, beef and palm oil, could end the era of cheap food. Experts say that a hard choice could be faced – deforestation will never be stopped if sustainability concerns are always out-competed by price: “Consumers will inevitably have to absorb some of these costs if we want to deliver on the COP 26 declaration – by paying more and consuming less,” says Toby Gardner of the Stockholm Environment Institute.”

Thursday’s Urban Market in Downtown Timmins File Photo

Your pension and investments could be moving…..

“More than 400 financial institutions – controlling an estimated $130tn of private finance – agreed at COP26 to provide more money for green technology. It means that many major pension providers are going to be looking at investing your money in more environmentally friendly sectors. This might include “helping our customers identify ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes… investing in companies developing new, sustainable ways of living and working,” says Janet Pope of Lloyds Banking Group.”

A change of thinking…..

“We may also witness a shift in our way of thinking. Dr Stephanie Sodero of the University of Manchester says the goal of sticking to 1.5 degrees – above which scientists say climate impacts will become more dangerous and unpredictable – could galvanise community action. “On the ground, in UK communities and beyond, led by youth activists, I think there will be sustained and intense pressure to scrutinize all governance decisions – from local transport to national energy – through a climate lens,” she says. Matthew Hannon from the University of Strathclyde says the drive to net zero is likely to yield benefits such as cleaner air, quieter streets and better mental and physical health. “Delivering a just, net zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles,” he says. “The question should therefore be less about what will I lose under net zero and more about what could I gain?”

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59263761

Key Outcomes of the COP26

1. Pledge to End Deforestation By 2030: 

“Already 137 countries committed to end deforestation by 2030 in a move to protect the world’s forests. Amongst the signatories are Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the U.S., with more than US$19 billion in private and public funds pledged towards the plan. Germany, Norway, the U.S. and the U.K. led an approximately US$1.7-billion funding pledge to be given directly to Indigenous Peoples and communities in recognition of their role in protecting the land and forests as part of the wider deforestation pledge. If this promise is kept it would be one of the biggest achievements of COP26.”

2. Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Pledge: 

“Another agreement announced at COP26 saw 23 new countries (46 in total so far including Canada) make pledges to phase out coal power entirely by 2040. Clause 3 is a promise “to stop new construction for any planned coal plants which have not already achieved financial closure”. The signatories to the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement did not include China, India and the U.S., but the agreement does include some other large coal users like Indonesia, Ukraine and South Korea. Canada also committed a Billion dollars to help other countries wean themselves off coal and reiterated an election promise to end exports of thermal coal by 2030.

The U.S., Britain, France and Germany announced a plan to provide US$8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal, as they get about 90 per cent of their electricity from coal-fired plants, a major emissions source.”

3. Green Investing Pledge:

“Banks, insurers and investors represented by UN climate envoy Mark Carney, who assembled the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero pledged on Wednesday to put combating climate change at the centre of their work and promised efforts to make green investing a priority. Carney put the figure at $100 trillion over the next three decades from the finance industry.”

4. Pledge to Stop Public Financing of Coal/Gas/Oil:

“Canada, the U.S. the U.K. and 27 other countries joined a deal to stop new direct public financing for coal, oil and gas development by the end of 2022 and to shift investment to renewable energy. It commits signatories to stop using loans, loan guarantees, grants, share purchases and insurance coverage from any government or government agency to finance new international fossil fuel developments. The deal does not include China, Japan or Korea, who are the world’s top fossil fuel funders besides Canada, which averages about $13.6 billion a year on financing fossil fuels, almost all of which flow through the federal crown corporation Export Development Canada. This is the first time that countries are really acknowledging that public financing oil and gas is a problem.”

https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/cop26-week-1-key-takeaways-from-the-climate-conference-1.5655890

Photo by Lucy

5. Global Methane Pledge:

“So far, 108 nations, including the US and the EU, have signed up to this initiative, which aims to reduce human-caused methane emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030. That will require tighter controls on gas well and pipes, as well as actions on livestock and municipal landfills. Climate Action Tracker says these commitments are likely to reduce emissions by about 0.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That figure will increase as more countries sign up. It does not include China’s plan, made after this Pledge, to reduce its methane output. Canada has previously committed to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas to 75% below 2012 levels by 2030, but has yet to say how it will meet its targets.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/11/key-cop26-pledges-could-put-world-closer-pathway

6. Canada Pledges to Limit Biodiversity Loss:

Photo credit Lucy

“Trudeau received international praise when he told COP26 that Canada will impose a cap on oil and gas sector emissions “today” to ensure they decrease “tomorrow” at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050. So far the government has not said how this will work.”

7. Canada Calls for Global Carbon Tax:

“Trudeau made a major contribution at COP26 when he showed leadership and urged all countries to impose a global price on carbon that would cover 60% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions (currently at 20%) . There are 64 carbon-pricing policies around the world. Though several European countries are on board, it is a tough set without the support of beg emitters like the USA and China.”

8. Canada Joins Commitment to Zero-Emissions Cars and Trucks:

“A memorandum of understanding was signed by 15 countries including Canada working toward 100% zero-emission cars and trucks by 2040 or earlier, or by no later than 2035 in leading markets. They pledged there would be 30% zero-emission vehicles by 2030, which is a new pledge from Canada. Unfortunately several of the major auto manufacturing countries did not sign.”

Photo credit Lucy

http://www.cbc.ca/news/science/canada-cop26-summary https://cutt.ly/DTCeAWP

9. Canada Coordinates Climate Finance Delivery Plan:

“Only 80% of the US$100billion promised by 2020 has been delivered to help developing countries mitigate their emissions and adapt to climate change. Essentially these funds are more than 2 years delayed. These “climate reparations” or this “solidarity fund” acknowledges that the green house gas emissions produced predominantly by rich countries has indirectly caused poor countries to suffer loss and damage. The Climate Finance Delivery Plan, compiled by the German and Canadian Governments at the request of the UK as host of COP26, projects that more than $100billion would be provided from 2023 to 2025.”

New poll: Canadians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deliver on climate promises in his first 100 days in office

Photo credits Lucy

Climate Plan Acceleration and Reasons for Hope

Photo credit Jim MacQuarrie

It is week # two of the COP26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow. The good news is that there has been much daily coverage and profile given to this important gathering. The consensus view is that the threat of climate change is real and consequential (existential) and that there is heightened urgency for the world to act. Just a few years ago, this was not necessarily a given where climate deniers had a platform and influence in high places, including among prominent government world leaders.

As this CBC piece outlines, one of the key goals of COP26 is to secure global net zero by 2050 and “keep 1.5 degrees within reach”. Read more here on why it makes a critical difference to keep 1.5C within reach, and what is the difference between climate impacts for 1.5C and 2C – CBC: https://bit.ly/3EUmKsY

It is easy and understandable to feel discouraged knowing that already the world has warmed by 1.1C above pre-industrial temperatures, as the United Nations reports. There is a huge, sustained effort and such major change required globally ahead on so many levels, acting to common goals – by governments, economic sectors, businesses, organizations, communities and individual citizens – it can become overwhelming at times, to make sense of the myriad challenges and how best to make positive, impactful change in one’s personal sphere of influence.

Some, especially (but not only) youth activists, are growing impatient at the pace of change. Afterall, it is almost six years since the 196 parties first adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21 in Paris, on December 12, 2015, with the Agreement entering into force on November 4, 2016.  (See What is the Paris agreement, at: UNFCC: https://bit.ly/3mYYC2z)

We will spend time in upcoming blogs looking at the results and commitments arising from the annual meeting of the Council of Parties – COP26 in Glasgow.

For today, we wanted to share some positive news pieces–with a view to helping to keep up our spirits and optimism for change.

Five reasons to feel some hope after reading the IPCC report on climate change”

First, let’s start with some hope. Offered up by Rick Smith, in an October 2021 blog post for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (at: https://bit.ly/3mYjMxs)

“Changes made in Canada and globally could help to trigger an acceleration in decarbonization.”

“..So, yes, there is a lot to feel anxious about between the covers of the new IPCC report.”

“But that’s not all there is. So often, with climate change, the public discussion takes on a tone that verges on nihilism. But the future is still ours to write. With the backing of the IPCC’s historic scientific report, here are my top five reasons that I’m ending this week feeling some hope: 

  1. The worst impacts of climate change can be avoided.
  2. Global warming is reversible—if we act fast.
  3. Global progress towards reducing emissions is already happening.
  4. Carbon doesn’t stick around forever.

“Between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20 to 200 years. As the IPCC report makes clear, achieving low or very low greenhouse gas emissions will lead, within years, to discernible effects: swiftly reducing emissions today means that global temperature would begin to detectably trend downward within about 20 years.”

5. Rapidly reducing GHG emissions can be win-win-win. 

“Our report on Canada’s Net Zero Future shows that doing Canada’s part to keep warming to 1.5 is not just achievable, it will be beneficial to our future health and prosperity.” 

To access the full report – Canada’s Net Zero Future – Canadian Institute for Climate Choices – and to find out more about people and organizations involved in the Institute, go to: https://bit.ly/3C3nnP8

A Progress Report on Canada’s Climate Plan

So, how is Canada doing on our contribution to mitigate global warming, we wondered?

It is sometimes hard to decipher, and views are mixed on whether as a country we are doing enough, fast enough, particularly in terms of transforming our energy systems. As we will unpack in future blogs, taking earlier action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., hitting targets by 2030, enroute to 2050) makes a significant difference to achieving the longer-term goal of keeping 1.5C within reach. We liken it to being a bit like responding to the pandemic – going harder, early achieves a better result. 2030 targets matter.

Here is one report, by Clean Prosperity, that Canada’s climate plan has “a reasonable chance of meeting its 2030 targets”. “Measured” but still “good news” that we are seemingly on path to achieving our goals.

What is the goal? Canada’s climate action plan sets a target to cut emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. (https://bit.ly/3mZcZnu)

“Our modelling shows that the Liberals’ climate policies give them a reasonable chance of achieving their Paris Agreement target. But getting there will be no easy feat. It’s critical that the Liberals implement their policies quickly and prioritize them intelligently,” said Clean Prosperity Executive Director and the report’s lead author Michael Bernstein. 

“Based on the Clean Prosperity/ESMIA modelling, the three most important climate priorities for the Liberal government should be: 1) the Clean Electricity Standard; 2) regulations to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector; and 3) policies to reduce emissions from road and off-road transport. These three priorities represent over three-quarters of the emissions reduction potential to 2030, and will be important for Canada’s long-term decarbonization and economic competitiveness.”

Read the full October 2021 report at: https://bit.ly/3bV0qD9

“Grassroots to Glasgow”

When ‘global’ feels too big and out of reach, some, like B.C.’s “Cool ‘Hoods Champs program” find that ‘local’ works to bring “ordinary people into the climate conversation”.

“The Cool ‘Hoods Champs program was created to bridge the knowledge gap between climate science and everyday people — by bringing solutions to where they live, said lead researcher Cheryl Ng.”

“…There are a lot of Canadians who care a lot about climate change, but they don’t know what to do about it,” said Ng.

“What better way to start than to just, you know, go to people right where they live and talk to them about how they can pick solutions with their family and their friends and their neighbours within the neighbourhood?”

Learn more about the UBC climate change workshop and positive steps we can all take to counter feelings of climate anxiety from this CBC piece at: CBC- https://bit.ly/3kir0Li

Mi’Kmaw Communities Go Solar to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Here are excerpts from another hopeful piece by CBC, profiling local community climate action by seven New Brunswick Mi’kmaq communities going solar toward the longer-term goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral. (CBC – https://bit.ly/3F0V9Xf)

“Four buildings in Fort Folly First Nation will soon be completely powered by the sun, as part of a move toward renewable energy in Mi’kmaw communities across New Brunswick.”

“Chief Rebecca Knockwood said the project is an investment in the future.”

” ‘As First Nations people, we’re protectors and keepers of the lands and of the environment. And we want to try and reduce our carbon footprint,’ she said.”

“In Fort Folly, about 40 minutes drive southeast of Moncton, near Dorchester, solar arrays are being installed on the roofs of the band office and community centre, and on ground mounts in front of the former bingo hall and the building that houses the community’s fisheries habitat recovery program.”

“Once complete, those buildings will be entirely carbon neutral.”

‘Exciting for the community’

“The solar panels will take five years to pay off, before generating about $17,000 per year. That extra revenue is being considered to offset costs for employment and youth programs.”

“N.B. Power’s net metering program allows individuals and organizations to install up to 100 kW of solar on a building. The owner receives credits for days where surplus electricity is produced, which offset the days with limited sunlight.”

(Full article at: CBC: https://bit.ly/3F0Vkln)

Old Crow, Yukon – Big Ambitions to be Carbon Neutral by 2030

We are inspired and humbled after witnessing the wisdom, grit and optimism for the future in this meditative CBC videoclip on how the small Yukon community of Old Crow on the Arctic Circle is taking action to adapt to climate change in order to still be able to practice their way of life, now and in the future.

The community of Old Crow has big ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030.

We appreciate this window into hearing the elders explain how they ae applying a “climate conscious lens” as they act to mitigate the impact of climate change on the caribou’s habitat and shift to clean energy sources toward a livable community for future generations to come. We recommend taking six minutes for this inspiring video piece:  https://bit.ly/3wCimvV

David Suzuki Foundation – 10 Reasons to be Hopeful about Climate Action

Even David Suzuki, tireless champion for the environment and climate action, recognizes the need to feed and sustain hope, even while acknowledging as real the ‘grief, fear and injustice woven into the harsh reality of a changing climate.”

“Along with feelings of grief and fear about climate change, there are reasons for hoping that Canada can ramp up its climate ambition to help the critical global mission to limit warming to maintain a livable climate.” (Suzuki Foundation –https://bit.ly/3EXLRLE)

Ten Reasons to Be Hopeful about Climate Action

  • The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly
  • Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action
  • The kids are all right. The youth climate movement is not backing down
  • The Supreme Court affirmed that climate change is an emergency
  • Indigenous communities are taking energy and climate issues into their own hands
  • Canada has a strengthened climate plan and significant funding to implement it
  • Cities and towns are demonstrating leadership in climate action
  • The U.S. has stepped up its ambition and is normalizing bold action
  • Climate action creates millions of jobs — and everyone wants jobs
  • Centering equity in climate action will help address systemic causes and interconnected injustices

Readers may want to learn more about these ten reasons for hope, by viewing the details in the accompanying pop up windows at: https://bit.ly/3obNONK.

To illustrate, here is the accompanying blurb and information for the first reason listed above–

“The cost of renewables and energy storage is dropping rapidly:

“In 2019, jaws dropped when a report by International Renewable Energy Agency demonstrated that unsubsidized renewable energy in most circumstances became the cheapest source of energy generation. Then, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020 declared solar power the cheapest source of electricity in history. In addition, the cost of energy storage has dropped by more than 90 per cent over the past 10 years. These lower costs will continue to propel mass adoption of renewables and will make them available for many people.” (Suzuki Foundation – https://bit.ly/3mZSqHr)

Majority of Canadians Support Climate Policy

Good news reason number two on the Suzuki Foundation list above is “Public opinion is on our side. Canadians want bold climate action.”

This article by Erika Ibrahim on recent survey results  backs up this reason for hope. (Ibrahim – https://bit.ly/3BZtvb6)

Ibrahim reports that, “Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to an online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they support Canada’s announcement at the summit that it will cap and reduce pollution from the oil and gas sector toward net zero by 2050.”

“Some 65 per cent of respondents also say they support the government’s new policy to stop exporting coal by 2030, a move which would end the trade abroad of about 36 million tonnes of the resource, currently 60 per cent of what the country produces.”

“Sixty-one per cent also support Canada’s recent policy announcement that it will halt subsidies that assist oil and natural gas companies to run and grow their operations outside the country by the end of 2022.”

“..Canadians were split on how they rate the country’s effort to address climate change, with half agreeing that Canada has taken great strides and 40 per cent disagreeing.”

“..Three in four respondents said they believe there is still time to put measures in place to stop climate change…”

– Ibrahim article: https://bit.ly/3obZfVQ

– Leger tracker website and survey highlights: https://bit.ly/3CW8wHA

– Leger Poll Full Report, https://bit.ly/303SGvZ

Photo Credit Lucy MacQuarrie

COP26

COP26 in Glasgow wraps up this week.

We plan on examining the reports on its impact and actions arising in future blog posts.

For now, we end with this succinct and hopeful appraisal by Rick Smith, in his blog for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choice:

“COP26 is a pivotal moment for Canada and the world.”

“There’s still just enough time to do what we need to do — so long as we’re smart, ambitious, and determined.”

(Smith, November 2, 2021: https://bit.ly/3EWE9l1)

Funding for Climate Change Innovations

We are in awe of the inspiring innovations that we read about daily that can help the world deal with the climate change challenge. Not only are there constantly new ideas, but these ideas are finding funders. Three such funders are: THE MaRS CLIMATE IMPACT CONFERENCE, THE EARTHSHOT PRIZE AWARDS (announced recently by the Royal Family), and the UK’s FARADAY BATTERY FUNDING, an effort to encourage cooperation in the mass development of the Battery Industry. This blog will highlight several cool innovations that can help save our planet and the supporters of these innovations.

MaRS CLIMATE IMPACT INNOVATION CONFERENCE

“MaRS Climate Impact is a new innovation conference that leverages business and private capital for social good. The event brings together the cleantech and social-finance communities — as well as big-time players from the ecosystem — for one comprehensive online experience. The worlds of clean innovation and investment are inextricably linked. But ensuring their mutual success requires dialogue, as well as a showcasing of groundbreaking solutions to advance both a healthy planet and prosperity.

MaRS Climate Impact will feature the most promising ideas and companies solving for the transition to net zero. Meet the brilliant minds driving climate action on a global scale: entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, finance professionals, academics, journalists and policymakers.

This online conference is happening starting in November, should you choose to sign up.

https://climateimpact.marsdd.com

Celebs Join Prince William: Earthshot Prize Award

“Celebrities joined Prince William in London on Sunday October 17, 2021 for the inaugural awards ceremony of his Earthshot Prize, an ambitious environmental program that aims to find new ideas and technologies around the world to tackle climate change and Earth’s most pressing challenges.

“The winners announced Sunday included:

  • the government of Costa Rica, which was honored for a project that pays local citizens to restore natural ecosystems
  • the city of Milan, which was handed a prize for its Food Waste Hubs program, which recovers food from supermarkets and restaurants and distributes it to those in need.

“Actors Emma Thompson, Emma Watson and David Oyelowo joined William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in handing out the awards at Alexandra Palace in north London. Guests were asked to “consider the environment when choosing their outfit,” and Watson arrived wearing a gown made from 10 wedding dresses from the charity Oxfam. Kate wore an Alexander McQueen dress made for her in 2011, while her husband wore a dark green velvet blazer and a polo neck.”

“William and his charity, The Royal Foundation, launched the Earthshot Prize last year, inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “Moonshot” speech that challenged and inspired Americans to go to the moon.”

“The prize, to be awarded to five winners every year until 2030, is billed as the most prestigious of its kind. Each winner will receive a grant worth 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) to develop and scale up their ideas. “There’s been lots of amazing ideas over the past decades but it’s the implementation that really counts, so that’s what this is all about. So it’s really a reason to be cheerful,” Thompson said.”

“The other winners were:

  • a land-based coral farm in the Bahamas to restore dying coral reefs; 
  • a green hydrogen technology developed to transform how homes and buildings are powered;
  • an India-based technology that creates fuel from agricultural waste in a bid to stop crop burning.

“William has said he wanted the initiative to inject some optimism into the climate debate, and on Sunday he urged young people not to give up hope for the future. “For too long, we haven’t done enough to protect the planet for your future. The Earthshot is for you,” he said. “In the next 10 years, we are going to act. We are going to find the solutions to repair our planet.” The United States will host next year’s award ceremony, he added. This ceremony came days ahead of the COP26 U.N. climate change summit in Glasgow.”

Sylvia Hui of The Associated Press

Funding The UK’s Next Generation Batteries for Electric Vehicles

“Seventeen projects making electric vehicle (EV) batteries safer, more powerful, cheaper, faster-charging and easier to recycle have been announced shared across businesses and research institutions across the UK.”

“£10 miIlion of FARADAY BATTERY CHALLENGE FUNDING is being used to help build a better British battery industry for the future of zero-emission travel. The projects include a consortium led by LiNa Energy that will develop a new sodium nickel chloride battery system, leading to improved cell performance, and manufacturing optimised for scale-up, decarbonization and recycling. Another, led by Anaphite Ltd, aims to develop faster charging batteries by incorporating graphene into the battery cathode.”

“This funding comes shortly after the official opening of UK Battery Industrialization Centre (UKBIC) on 15 July by the Prime Minister. Based in Coventry and part-funded through the Faraday Battery Challenge, UKBIC is a is battery manufacturing development facility, which provides a link between battery technology and mass production. This will support the UK’s ambitious climate change targets, including achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.”

“With the sale of electric cars rising rapidly in 2020, more and more EVs are appearing on the market. The battery industry is developing ways to electrify other forms of transport, including boats, planes and off-highway vehicles, like diggers.” (https://bit.ly/3mr4GAi – July 27, 2021)

Canadian Shoes That Turn Into Apple Trees

BlogTO.com

“A Toronto designer, Luc Houle, created a pair of shoes that eventually turn into an apple tree after he spent seven years in the fashion industry and looked for more sustainable choices. The shoes look like a normal, canvas sneakers but they are made with biodegradable materials and have an apple seed hidden in the sole. They are cushiony, lightweight and water resistant, and come in black and white.”

“The idea came to Houle while he was working in the fast fashion  industry, which pumps out a lot of cheaply made clothes that end up in landfills. The soles of shoes are usually made of plastic, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. So after about three years developing the technology and creating a prototype, he came up with Johnny, named after Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) who introduced apple trees to Ontario and many northern U.S. states in the 1800s.”

“The apple seed is released as the shoe biodegrades. The shoes won’t biodegrade on your feet and should last as long as a typical shoe but when worn out, they can be buried. A compound in the sole remains dormant until the shoes are planted underground. Once buried, they attract naturally occurring microbes to break down the entire outsole within three years. Halfway through the process, an apple seed coated with a natural fertilizer is released and begins to take root. “If you’re going to plant it in the ground, why don’t you put a tree seed in there,” he says. Houle adds he had help from a Canadian friend in China who is working with ethical factories there to make the shoes. The materials sourced are also fair trade.”

(BlogTO at https://bit.ly/2XWweUQ)

Air Fuel from Oilseed Crop in the USA

“On October 15, 2021, in Canadian Biomass Magazine, is a report about new biofuels, a sustainable aviation fuel derived from a type of mustard plant that could reduce flight carbon emissions by about 68 per cent, research from a University of Georgia scientist suggests.”

“Puneet Dwivedi, associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, is leading a team studying oil obtained from Brassica carinata, a non-edible oilseed crop. He said Carinata-based SAF could help reduce the aviation sector’s carbon footprint and create economic opportunities. Carinata is grown as a winter crop in the U.S. south and doesn’t compete with other food crops. Dwivedi added it provides cover-crop benefits associated with water quality, soil health, biodiversity and pollination.”

Reusing Take Out Containers in Toronto, a More Sustainable Idea

 Wing SzeTang, Special to the Toronto Star Sept. 23, 2021

“Pop quiz: when you buy takeout that comes in black plastic, should the packaging go into the garbage or blue bin? Ask the City of Toronto and you’ll learn that (surprise!)no black plastic of any kind  is accepted for recycling by the municipality. This is partly because the optical sorting machines used just can’t recognize the colour. So the city’s answer: dump directly into the trash.”

“But ask Catherine Marot, founder of CASE, and she has a smarter idea: that takeout plastic need not be thrown out after a single meal. After all, why toss a totally functional container when a restaurant has to buy that exact same container again? Her startup has figured out a circular system, supplying Toronto food businesses with plastic containers otherwise destined for the landfill.” 

“If you have cleaned, reusable plastic takeout containers that meet Marot’s specs (#5 polypropylene containers in various sizes and colours are accepted), you can donate them to Case through one of her public collection boxes, set up at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Toronto.” 

“Today, Marot spends virtually all her time collecting and sorting heaping piles of plastic containers, taking them to be thoroughly sanitized and then supplying them back to restaurants that want to buy them. It’s a process she describes as “extremely laborious” but meaningful; to date, she’s collected 60,000 containers that would’ve wound up in the trash.” 

“I really believe in the impact that this can have,” she says, “and I’m just someone who was like, you know, I’ll get the ball rolling.” (Toronto Star article at: https://bit.ly/3pPQZ0b)

Check out North Vancouver’s similar program called REUSABLES at Reusables.com

Ontario Designs Blue Roofs To Mitigate Flooding Effects of Storms

From CBC What on Earth April 22, 2021

“You’ve probably heard of a green roof, which sits on top of a building and is covered with vegetation. But what about a blue roof? You might have guessed that it has something to do with water. Indeed, a blue roof collects stormwater through a pond system, temporarily stores it and gradually releases it afterward — offering a way to conserve water and prevent water damage. During a storm, rainwater can overwhelm urban sewer systems and send contaminated, untreated water into lakes and rivers. A blue roof could help solve this problem.” 


“It’s a new form of green infrastructure,” said Rohan Hakimi, an engineer in integrated water management with Credit Valley Conservation in Ontario. Hakimi said the benefit of blue roofs is most evident in industrial commercial areas, which make up almost 30 per cent of commercial lands in cities.” 


“When it rains in these areas, because of all these hard surfaces, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go, so you get a lot of runoff and risk of flooding.” Water damage has become the leading cause of personal property claims in Canada, said Bruce Taylor, president of Environment Stewards, a company that provides businesses with sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. He said our current urban infrastructure was not designed for the extreme weather conditions we are increasingly experiencing as a result of climate change.” 


“With climate change, you won’t get the same amount of precipitation but you get it in a shorter duration in bigger, shorter storms,” Taylor said. “If you get water faster than you designed for, then it fills up and it starts backing up and you get flooding. And flooding is very expensive wherever that occurs.”


“A blue roof system stores rainwater and slowly releases it using flow-control devices or structures, from customized trays to existing building risers that cause water to dam up. Together, they act as a temporary sponge, collecting and then releasing the water over time. The stored water also provides the building with a cooling effect through evaporation, as well as additional water for reuse.”


“Enviro-Stewards will be doing an impact assessment for two community organizations based in London, Ont., including a food bank, where the water stored in the roof will be used for irrigation in their greenhouses and gardens, said Taylor.  An “active” blue roof has a greater capacity than a “passive” one, allowing it to store water for a longer period of time and releasing it at a faster rate. Since the food bank doesn’t have the pool liner required for an active roof, they implemented a slow-release roof drain as a passive blue roof.” — Vicky Qiao, at CBC : https://bit.ly/3jQxNLJ

American Designer Creates Wind Turbine Walls

[Image: courtesy Joe Doucet]

“What if we could build wind turbines in our cities, right here in our own backyards? Not the tall and bulky poles with the huge spinning blades, but a new kind of wind turbine—one that could hide in plain sight and easily be mistaken for a wall?”

“American designer and entrepreneur Joe Doucet has created such a concept, and it looks like a kinetic art installation. His wind turbine wall consists of a grid of square panes spinning simultaneously along 25 axes. The exact size and format aren’t set in stone, so variations of that wall could be used anywhere with a decent span, like on the side of a highway or the fence around a building. In other words, it could make wind farms even more pervasive—not just in the ocean but also on land. This ingenious wall could harness enough energy to cover your electric bill.”

“In its current iteration, the wall is made up of 25 off-the-shelf wind turbine generators (the middle part the blades spin around). These are attached to 25 vertical rods with square panels attached alongside them. Right now, the wall is 8 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but the concept can be scaled. “You could have 25-foot rods clad entire buildings,” says Doucet. The only challenge would be to get the weight ratio right, so to make it lighter, Doucet envisions a framework made of aluminum, which can then be clad with any lightweight material.” (FastCompany.com at – https://bit.ly/3vYaG6W)

Trans Canada Trail and Great Canadian Hike

We learned recently that Canada is home to the world’s longest trail network – the Trans Canada Trail.

This cross-Canada connected system of greenways, waterways and roadways extends over 28,000 kilometres, stretching east-west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and north to the Arctic Ocean.  Apparently, according to the TCT non-profit group that fund-raises to continue development of the trail, most Canadians live within a 30-minutes’ drive to access of the trail. After hearing this observation by TCT President and CEO Eleanor McMahon while being interviewed by Steve Paikin on The Agenda, Catherine decided to test if this was indeed the case for her. Sure enough she learned that in Toronto she can access the Waterfront Trail via “The Toronto – Sir Casimir Gzowski Park Pavilion is located within the park at the foot of Windermere Avenue, along the Waterfront Trail, just east of the QEW Monument and the Humber Bay Bike Bridge.”

From the Pavilion panels (text available virtually), we learned a bit more about the history of the Trans Canada Trails’ launch in 1992 –

“The Great Trail in Ontario: This marks the connection of Ontario’s section of The Great Trail of Canada in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. From where you are standing, you can embark upon one of the most magnificent and diverse journeys in the world. Whether heading east, west, north or south, The Great Trail—created by Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and its partners— offers all the natural beauty, rich history and enduring spirit of our land and its peoples. “Launched in 1992, just after Canada’s 125th anniversary of Confederation The Great Trail was conceived by a group of visionary and patriotic individuals as a means to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Given Canada’s vastness, varied terrain and sparse population, it was a bold—almost impossible—undertaking. Today, the Trail stretches nearly 24,000 kilometres, giving Canadians, now and for generations to come, a way to honour our shared history by retracing many of the routes that charted our nation’s development. Paddlers can explore the rivers and lakes first traversed by Indigenous peoples and voyageurs; hikers and horseback riders can meander the paths travelled by our first settlers; and cyclists can pedal the former railways that powered early industry. With hundreds of sections, The Great Trail is a trail of trails, running through urban, rural and wilderness areas, including all provincial and territorial capitals and many of our country’s provincial, territorial and national parks. The Great Trail provides Canadians and visitors alike with free, accessible recreational infrastructure promoting healthy living, active transportation and an appreciation for Canada’s natural heritage.”

The trail connects over 15,000 communities and is created and maintained as a labour of love by thousands of Canadian volunteers, for the benefit and enjoyment of all Canadians.  Fun fact: The Trans Canada Trail also is home to the world’s longest free ferry ride (about 30 minutes), from Balfour to Kootenay Bay, British Columbia.

The TCT vision for the future – “Building on the achievement of connection, the Trans Canada Trail will continue to inspire everyone to embrace the outdoors, to discover the diversity of our land and people, to enhance their health and well-being, and to share their stories along this globally significant and iconic trail network.”

Youtube video of The Agenda interview with TCT President and CEO, Eleanor Mc Mahon –

Join the Great Canadian Hike

There is still time, until October 31, to be part of the second annual Great Canadian Hike if you are inspired to experience the trail for yourself while also contributing toward the goal of logging 28,000 hours on Canada’s 28,000 kilometre Trail.

From the Press Release launching the Great Canadian Hike —

“This year, TCT invites Canadians in all 13 provinces and territories to DISCONNECT from screens and RECONNECT with nature and to one another, by collectively spending 28,000 hours on Canada’s 28,000 km national trail. Whether they choose to hike, walk, run, skip, paddle, roll, stroll or bike, the Great Canadian Hike is the perfect antidote to the social isolation brought on by COVID-19. In fact, 95% of Canadians said their enhanced trail use was prompted by a desire to enhance their mental health since the onset of the pandemic.

“In last year’s inaugural edition of the Hike, over 10,000 Canadians took up the challenge to collectively hike the length of the Trans Canada Trail, and amassed a combined distance of 108,000 km equivalent to almost three times the earth’s circumference!”

“New this year, participants are eligible to win great prizes when they refer friends and family members to join in the Great Canadian Hike. All participants must abide by local public health guidelines and recreate on the Trail safely and responsibly.”

“Visit the site at GreatCanadianHike.ca (to register for free) and watch the video here.”

“Find your local trail: Explore our map to find a Trail section close to you and decide where you’d like to hike. Check out our Featured Hikes for some inspiration!” (GreatCanadianHike.ca)

Virtual Visits with Parks Canada

Need more information and inspiration?  Readers may want to check out virtual visits to the Trail, put together by Parks Canada using Google Street View technology, at: https://tctrail.ca/parks-canada-virtual/

Virtual Park Tours are available for:

Banff National Park, Alberta

Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

Pingo Canadian Landmark, Northwest Territories

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, Ontario

Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario

National Historic Sites

Virtual tours of national historic sites include, among others:

Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Alberta

Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia

Riel House National Historic Site, Manitoba

Monument-Lefebrve National Historic Site, New Brunswick

Signal Hill National Historic Site, Newfoundland and Labrador

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Nova Scotia

Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site, Ontario

Chamblay Canal National Historic Site, Quebec

Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan

S.S. Keno National Historic Site, Yukon

(Go to: https://tctrail.ca/explore-the-map/)

500 Days in the Wild

Meet and celebrate a (literal) Canadian TCT “trail-blazer” – Dianne Whelan.

On August 1, 2021, filmmaker Dianne Whelan, walked the last few feet of her epic six-year solo journey across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail, emerging at Clover Point, Vancouver Island, to become the first person to complete the continuous trail on land and water routes. She is producing a documentary, “500 Days in the Wild,” to detail her six-year experience and motivation for embarking on this journey.

This one-minute CBC newsclip introduces Dianne  –

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1941544515546.

She begins to unpack her story, in this piece by Elaine Glusac in the New York Times, “Learning to Love Solitude (and Hate Oatmeal) on a 15,534-Mile Canadian Trek”

One of her learnings resonated in particular with us at Friends4Trees4Life – “…I’ve been able to do these things because of human kindness. It was just meeting people, sharing the story, and people were like, ‘Hey, Uncle Joe is driving that way, he can take your canoe.’ It was very grassroots. I learned this beautiful story from an elder in the Mi’kmaq Indigenous community, Danny Paul, who said we’re kind of like trees. On the surface, every tree looks like it stands alone. Beneath the surface all the trees in a forest are connected…”

We agree – we are all connected across this beautiful country, Canada, on this incredible blue planet we gratefully share with all living things as our home.