When fire struck in Lytton, B.C., this year, it spread so quickly that hundreds of people had to flee for their lives, leaving behind pets, sentimental keepsakes, and personal belongings. Most of the town was “erased.” It had recorded the hottest temperature ever in Canada, 49.6 C.

The heat wave killed hundreds in the Pacific Northwest. It was caused by climate change, according to an international team of scientists. One said that the way the records were broken scares him. Usually, a new record is about one degree more. In Lytton, it was 4.6 C higher for three days running.

This year’s wildfires are worse than ever in Ontario, the West Coast, Siberia, and Europe. The warmer atmosphere is bringing bigger floods this year in China, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, India, and the U.K. Tropical storms will keep getting nastier. Ocean current disruption, biodiversity loss, and glacier melting are all exploding, and scientists are tired of sounding the alarm. Like sheep, we are simply following politicians who have been bought by oil companies into a firestorm.

Power costs much more in Ontario

Average citizens in Ontario think climate is being handled by someone, somewhere, and that their electricity costs about the same as in other provinces. But analysis from the Ivey Business School shows that energy now costs about half as much in Quebec as in Ontario, and about 60 per cent as much in Manitoba and B.C. The gap will grow while Ontario repeats the energy mistakes of the 1900s.

Some governments are committing billions in post-pandemic “build back better” money to proven failures like carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power, bioenergy, and blue hydrogen. “These things are opportunity costs and distractions from real solutions,” according to the world’s foremost climate technology expert, Prof. Mark Jacobson at Stanford University. He leads a team of engineering scientists and PhDs who advise the White House and has developed plans for wind, solar, and other clean renewables for 143 countries, including Canada.

Jacobson says gas power plants now cost twice as much as solar power. “Nuclear power costs 500 per cent as much as wind, and takes about 15 years to design and build, during which time, you have 15 more years of emissions.” His plan for Canada would save 3,800 lives from air pollution each year, and cut ratepayer energy costs from $292 billion to $93 billion each year.

Ripping out windmills and spewing out pollutants

Immediately after being elected, Ontario Premier Doug Ford spent $231 million to halt 751 clean energy projects. He ordered the teardown of new wind turbines in Prince Edward County. He tried to rip out others but lost in court. His government plans to run a highway through the middle of the best farmland in southern Ontario, the Holland Marsh. A program to install electric vehicle charging stations on Ontario highways has evaporated.

Opinion: Like sheep, we are simply following politicians who have been bought by oil companies into a firestorm, writes @bfnagy. #ClimateCrisis #ONpoli

The province is spending $26 billion to repair obsolete nuclear facilities, and increase gas use from seven per cent to 30 per cent of the mix. Meanwhile, a gas power phase-out is being called for by Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Kingston, and 25 other municipalities in Ontario.

Nuclear power is obsolete and extremely expensive

Nuclear power use is in decline worldwide. Even champions like France and Illinois have created schedules to close most of their plants. Nuclear reactors must shut when it gets too hot, as will be frequent by 2030. Governments can no longer afford the massive runaway costs of nuclear and decade-long construction delays. After 65 years of talking about a waste disposal solution, the industry still has none. Spent fuel, radioactive enough to kill hundreds of thousands of people, is kept in vulnerable storage facilities near reactors around North America.

“If you flew an airplane or missile into Darlington and it hit the spent fuel bay, you would have a big problem,” says Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “The water could drain out of the pool (and intense heat would) melt the cladding. Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,400 years, and if you can access it, you can use it for weapons.”

The latest gambit by the industry is promoting small nuclear reactors (SMRs), which only exist on paper, and yet Ontario is investing in them. The earliest proof of concept might be 2035, and SMRs won’t solve any of the aforementioned problems. They’ve been dismissed as pointless by nuclear experts everywhere.

Modern economic opportunities

Governments around the world are finding that renewables and large battery systems are healthy, safe, viable, create more jobs than fossil fuels, can be added quickly, and are less expensive than nuclear, gas, and coal. Electric vehicles are safer, cleaner, and less costly to operate than gas and diesel vehicles that spew black air into the lungs of children.

Tesla will sell about one million electric vehicles this year. Australia saved enough to pay for its big batteries within two years. Scotland is generating all the clean power it needs, a half dozen other countries are operating at or near 100 per cent renewables, and large economies like California and Germany have been running at above 80 per cent and 46 per cent renewables, respectively. Globally, renewable power additions make up 90 per cent of the total expansion in global grid capacity. Green stocks are now attracting about 25 times as much investment relative to fossil fuels.

It’s time for Ontario’s government to realize that the year is 2021, not 1950.

Bruce F. Nagy is the author of The Clean Energy Age (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and more than 250 articles on climate solutions. Please see BFNagy.com or Twitter: @bfnagy.

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"and large economies like California and Germany have been running at above 80 per cent and 46 per cent renewables". It is misleading (intentional?) to focus only on energy in the form of electricity and largely supplied by power grids. Fossil fuels still contribute over 80% of primary energy consumption in these jurisdictions and almost all others. This is not to say that we must continue to rely on fossil fuels, we absolutely must stop using them, but it does point to the magnitude of the problem and the necessity to have serious informed discussions about issues such as nuclear power. We actually focus far too much on increasing and replacing energy sources than on reducing energy demand and thereby eliminating the need for them entirely. We must first drastically increase the efficiency with which we use energy. Electrification will help immensely with this, as would building more energy efficient vehicles, houses, etc. We must then increase our use of renewables as much as possible and subject to full life cycle analysis of environmental costs, such as requiring proper recycling of solar panels for example, and finally use a non-emitting source such as nuclear to supply whatever residual energy is required, which should be almost nil if the previous action items are done properly. Under no circumstances should we use fossil fuels as the backup plan, as Germany is doing by expanding domestic coal production and use and importing more natural gas from Russia., and do not start cutting down forests to burn in boilers (common in the EU) without being properly guided by science.

The Ontario government spends roughly $6 billion annually subsidizing electricity rates for households, the majority of which do not need the subsidy. Higher-income households, and those with larger homes, receive larger subsidies. Should the government remain on the same trajectory, it will spend at least $228 billion over the next 25 years subsidizing electricity rates. Source: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/ontario-energy-association-says-go...