‘Quebec and Ontario have opted out of vaccination mandates for their healthcare workers. I think this is an unfortunate political decision.’ I said as a provocative opener at our weekly get together at the pub.
‘A vocal minority is holding the majority to ransom and the politicians did their usual knee jerk and back bending,’ Camp said, nodding his unruly head of white curls.
‘We used to listen to doctors and scientists but these days more people, including politicians, base their decisions on social media than on scientifically based reasoning.’
‘They’re prioritizing the so called ‘freedom’ of the unvaccinated over the health and safety of the patients. Would you let your loved one or yourself be treated by an unvaccinated nurse or care aid? You can’t get into a restaurant or a movie theatre without proof of vaccination but you can work in a hospital. Does that make sense?’
We sipped our beers, looking out at the wet and grey world. I wanted to change tack and talk about the recent climate conference, COP26 in Glasgow. ‘Over 100 countries have pledged to cut methane emissions asap, not in 2050, but tomorrow,’ I said.
‘Yes, but actions and dollars need to follow these grand commitments and words,’ Camp said, ‘or to quote Greta Thunberg: enough blah, blah, blah.’
‘Can we really reverse and limit the methane output of 7 billion humans and their activities just by signing agreements?’ I asked.
‘Don’t be such a sceptic,’ Camp said. ‘If we don’t try to reduce our destructive activities we cannot go back and undo the damage. The earth’s atmosphere is very thin, comparable to an onion skin. Climate change happens with or without human input but we have accelerated the process which in the last two hundred years equals the change in 10’000 previous years.’
‘Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a sustainable future, except the current warming trend also releases millions of tons of methane from melting soils and seas in permafrost regions. It’s an accumulative feedback loop. The warmer the atmosphere, the more gas is released the warmer the atmosphere gets. Yes, bovine and human farts and bleating sheep are partly to blame but natural gas extraction and the current warming trends are the real culprits.’
We both emptied our drinks and looked around for Rosie, our server today since Vicky started her studies and has dropped some shifts at the pub.
‘What do you think of China’s claim to be number one on renewable energy investment?’ I asked Camp.
‘Maybe in terms of size but in reality, China is also the world’s biggest polluter and has only made marginal improvements in its emission-cutting plans which it submitted to the UN just before the COP conference.’
‘My neighbor just had solar panels on their roofs installed. Each panel has an inverter and the whole system is tied directly to the grid. All automatic and monitored by the existing metering system. Over the summer the electricity produced will accrue credits with BC Hydro, which will subsidize the energy use in winter. It’s supposed to be energy and dollar neutral. Amortisation is about a dozen years. Now that is pro-active engagement which should be subsidized and supported.’
‘I agree,’ Camp said, ‘not too many of us have the means and the will to invest thousands of dollars in personal energy production and consumption. We stick to recycling and maybe an electric car. All of it cancelled out by a few international flights and driving around our RV’s and pickup trucks.’
‘Now, who’s the cynic?’ I said. ‘We have to support every commitment, local, national and international, on preserving the world as a livable place in the future.’
‘The future has always been uncertain but with today’s science and forecasting tools we know one thing for certain: It will get worse before it gets better. I know it’s a cliché but we will see more extreme weather and I don’t think anybody is prepared for the mass migrations and civil unrest over rising inequality due to changing weather patterns.’
‘At the conference in Glasgow, the world bankers, insurers and investors pledged limiting climate change. Those signatories have $ 130 trillion at their combined disposal. Not sure how that works,’ I said.
‘And in Maine voters, lobbied by the fossil fuel industry, rejected a Quebec Hydro transmission line to Massachusetts. This renewable, albeit Canadian electricity, would power 1 million homes and cut 3 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to taking 700’000 cars off the road. So much for green energy.’
‘We can only be sure of one thing,’ Camp said with a lopsided grin. ‘Beer will be more popular as the temperature rises. Which reminds me, where are our refills?’
My frantic waving eventually brought Rosie to the table. ‘What’s the hurry boys, you two have all the time in the world.’
‘That’s what you think my dear but the older we get the less time we have, I said, handing over my empty mug.
‘Two pints coming right up,’ Rosie grinned.
‘So is Christmas,’ Camp grumbled.