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Our carbon future
Our family has been discussing the report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and our grandparents reminded us of the rapid, huge industrial changes during the Second World War in order to defeat the Nazi war machine. The IPCC report and Paris accord make it clear that our generation is facing a threat to our planet greater than any in history. By the time we are 35, or sooner, unless we make sacrifices the way our grandparents did and reduce greenhouse gases, scientists from around the world tell us the climate crisis will have reached catastrophic levels.
What can we do? Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus calls for carbon taxes worldwide. That is possible, in the same way that the world adopted the Montreal protocol to save humanity from a depleted ozone layer several decades ago. Similarly, we can drastically cut greenhouse emissions.
We know we can fight climate change because more than 2,000 people have visited our grandparents’ off-grid house, where we’ve learned about the huge economic potential of solar, wind and sustainable buildings. Canada can be a leader in saving our world and future generations from the worst of the coming heat waves, floods and other catastrophes by developing fossil-fuel alternatives. If our leaders won’t act, we young people can start a global tsunami of youth activism via the internet to rescue our future from them.
Alison and Hannah Ketchum, age 12, Toronto; Anthony Ketchum, age 81, Toronto
A correspondent suggests that because Canada contributes less than 2 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, we should wait for larger contributors to act, and only then do our fair share. Here’s another take: Canada has 0.5 per cent of the world’s population, so if we are emitting four times more than our “fair share,” the time to do something about it is now.
Patricia Monger, Hamilton
Once again, someone points out that Canada is only .5 per cent of the world’s population, but causes 2 per cent of global emissions. Hardly surprising, since we are a cold country that lacks decent economies of scale for efficient transportation (mass transit) and our populations are scattered. You can’t compare our needs to a densely populated, warm region.
Per capita carbon measurement is bogus. Just for fun, try measuring carbon output per tree or land mass or GDP, or for that matter, the greenhouse gases in human flatulence in densely populated nations. Do the math.
Rob Graham, Claremont, Ont.
Re Sidewalk Toronto Is A Smart Way To Build A Neighbourhood (Oct. 10): Mark Wilson gives the game away in one phrase. Waterfront was looking for “big solutions to big problems.” This is what one would expect from an ex-IBM executive. There is little doubt a culture of central control and own-everythingness would mesh well with the culture of a buy-it-to-control-it corporation like Alphabet (Google’s parent).
Bottom-up, microcomputer-based, networked distributed systems, with the intellectual property, data and equipment owned locally but widely, is the smart way to build smart cities. If city hall, on behalf of citizens, controlled the data and owned the intellectual property rights to the software that accesses that data, you might even call it a democratic solution. That would be smart!
Alan Ball, New Westminster, B.C.
I share Jim Balsillie’s concerns about the possibility of Sidewalk Labs taking over chunks of our waterfront (Sidewalk Toronto Is Not A Smart City – Opinion, Oct. 6). Questions about data security and ownership haven’t been adequately answered, and neither have those about the real estate at Quayside and, perhaps, the Port Lands. Most of the land is publicly owned. When tenants occupy buildings on Quayside, who will be their landlord? If Sidewalk builds the public realm, will parks and streets be city parks and streets or privately owned? If the latter, by whom?
When Sidewalk puts in novel ways to collect garbage, supply hydro, etc. will these be part of the city’s public utilities or privately owned and operated? It is distressing to see Waterfront Toronto depart from the way it has operated and fail to provide adequate responses to questions from community members who have supported it for so long.
Julie Beddoes, Toronto
But will it profit Canada?
Re With Trump, There Can Be No Rapprochement (Oct. 10): Lawrence Martin’s column comes as a reminder of Aesop’s fable about the mice who are planning to get rid of the cat by hanging a bell around its neck. The plan is excellent, but there’s a hitch: Who will bell the cat?
For Mr. Martin, the answer is obvious: Now that the trade deal is done, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should hang the bell on the enemy and run against Donald Trump in next year’s election.
There are many more of Mr. Trump’s values and policies to oppose, says Mr. Martin, and the PM would profit from doing so. This advice might indeed profit Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals, but there is again a hitch: Will it profit Canada? Surely, this is the age where we worship everything that is “evidence based.” How can we ignore the stark evidence that Canadian traditions and values are no defence against the potential onslaught of the aroused cat ten times our size?
Countries far more powerful and at least as principled as Canada have learned from the evidence of the past few years. Whatever they think stays behind closed doors. Mr. Trudeau tried last summer to do what Mr. Martin now suggests – “to stake out Canadian ground in a firm clear manner … and speak out loudly” – and he found himself the only and lonely leader of a Western nation on a public stage.
Who will bell the cat? This is a task for the American people, not for Canada’s Prime Minister.
Peter F. Bartha, Aurora, Ont.
Leader, not master
Re Do Canadians Believe Father Knows Best? (Oct. 9): This poses the wrong question. Asking if the father should be the master of the home suggests a master-slave relationship between the father and his wife and children.
If the question asked if a father should show his share of leadership at home, the response would have been different.
In researching my book, Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man, many women complained how their husbands didn’t show their share of leadership at home. Single women complained the men they dated couldn’t take the lead on choosing a place for a coffee.
It’s about being a leader, not a master.
Elliott Katz, Toronto
In the presence of genius
Re Kanye Defends Support Of Trump During Visit To White House (Oct. 12): The profanity-laced meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West shows what can happen when a very stable genius meets with a somewhat unstable genius. There may have been a failure to communicate.
Bruce Couchman, Ottawa