Finally, it’s summer here and restrictions are being lifted, cases are down and vaccinations are up. There seems to be a path back to some kind of normalcy, which is evident by the crowded pubs, parks and beaches. Watching the Euro 2020, a year late, with the stadiums half full, gives me hope that we’ll get back to the future. We all want to come out of our confinements and hibernation and toss that mask in the bin.
‘Camp was reclining in his chair by the window, pawing his smart phone and already nursing a pint. ‘What are you looking at?’ I asked.
‘An interesting article on the green investment boom and the bottlenecks that threaten to hold it back. Already, supply-side strains are growing. The price of minerals used in electric cars and power grids – cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese, zinc, graphite and rare earth minerals – has soared in the past year and timber mafias are roaming Ecuadorean forests to find balsa wood used in wind-turbine blades.’
‘I read a report by Amnesty and African Resources Watch from January which points out that corporations such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Daimler and VW were failing to ensure that they did not use cobalt mined by child labourers.’
‘And a tsunami of unrecyclable trash is about to be unleashed by consumers swapping out their obsolete solar panels for newer and better ones, according to new research by the University of Calgary. The same study warned that we may soon face the dark side of renewable energy. Thanks to government incentives, at the end of 2019 Canada had 3310 MW of solar power, an increase of 1500 per cent in ten years. If the sun is shining, all those panels have the capacity to match Ontario’s Pickering Nuke Plant.’
‘Solar panels aren’t the only aspect of the green economy with a looming and unaddressed waste problem,’ I said. ‘There is a rising tide of obsolete electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines, both of which have no easy conduit to recycle.’
‘And now Keystone XL is finally dead and Albertans are on the hook for 1.5 billion dollars in investments and have lost hundreds of jobs.’
‘But refineries on the gulf of Texas are still wanting Alberta oil but will now have to use alternative transportation methods to get it, like rail.’
‘I want to know where the ‘green’ projects are in BC,’ Camp said.
‘You should come and see Clare’s garden,’ I said. ‘And the Saulteau First Nations have completed a 15megawatt wind project located south of Chetwynd and there is the Clark Lake geothermal project by the Fort Nelson First Nation which will generate 7 megawatts of clean power.’
‘Hydro claims that 95% of BC’s electricity is generated from renewables,’ Camp said.
‘Talking about Hydro, I saw a picture of the Hoover dam and Lake Mead which is at its lowest level since it was built in the 1930’s. Las Vegas gets 95% of its water from Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River.’
‘Don’t forget Los Angeles. Blame goes to the decreasing rainfall and higher temperatures. More of the same to come,’ Camp said. ‘I also read that the Swiss turned down a new law restricting CO2 emissions with a narrow 51%. Surprisingly it’s the 18 to 34year old’s who voted against it.’
‘Yes, it’s a shame really, so much for a greener Swiss future. We do need government policies, like the ones that failed in Switzerland. They would force industries to change their practises and emission standards. That will make the difference, not you and me going vegan or recycling plastic bags.’
We both contemplated the varied ways of our fractured world.
‘Is beer a renewable resource,’ I asked, finishing my pint.
‘I’m glad you asked,’ Camp said. ‘Beer is part of the food-energy-water nexus. Clean energy and water make for green beer. Three of the most critical elements of a modern society are: food security, energy security and water security and they are all inextricably linked and come together in beer.’
‘You two ready for another one?’ Vicky asked while exchanging our empties for a couple of full ones.’
‘Is the pope catholic or do the Irish drink whiskey?’ Camp retorted.
‘And does beer loosen your tongue,’ Vicky said.
‘That and the fact that beer holds together modern society and transcends political, religious and gender barriers,’ Camp said with a wink.