Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Stop Recycling, Go Nuclear, and Plant Trees

Hundreds of thousands of protesters were out in full force across the country last Friday on a so-called Global Climate Strike demanding action now to save planet Earth. However it isn't planet Earth that's in danger, it's us. Things were a lot hotter long before we arrived on the scene; remember the dinosaurs? As much as everyone would like things to change there's no quick and easy fix, particularly if nobody is really prepared to change the way they live. So, rather than ask people to give up their disposable containers, their junk food, or their cars, why not try a completely different approach and simply stop recycling, go nuclear and plant a few trees.

Coventa Waste-To-Energy Facility
Our hopelessly misguided attempts to recycle not only wastes clean water washing out refuse nobody really wants anymore (including China) most of it ends up in a landfill somewhere anyway. In fact we are often trucking it for hundreds of miles to some rural community so it's out of sight and mind. Instead we should be incinerating all this garbage in state of the art facilities that convert waste to energy like they do in Sweden, which is much further ahead of us on the environmental awareness curve. We have one of these waste to energy facilities, the Coventa plant in Burnaby, which was used for disposing of the waste we tried to fob off on the Philippines but unfortunately for political reasons Vancouver won't use it. We should have a lot more of them and we should supply 3rd World countries with these facilities for free so they could stop dumping everything into the ocean and get themselves some electricity in the process.

Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station
In spite of the enormous amounts of garbage we produce in our wasteful society, waste to energy facilities would only provide a very small percentage of the energy we need to run our homes and businesses, particularly if we all start switching to electric cars that need charging at night. There is really only one solution for pollution free energy and that is to go nuclear. Canada is already a world leader in this technology with its CANDU reactors and we have the world's largest nuclear energy facility at the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario on the shore of Lake Huron. Not only does the CANDU technology allow for the almost endless recycling of fuel it can also process nuclear waste from dismantled nuclear weapons. We have sold our technology to many other countries and we should build more of these nuclear power plants in our own country to replace coal fired plants.

There have also been recent breakthroughs in much smaller nuclear power technology that could be used for powering communities in the far north and other areas not connected to the grid. Referred to as Small Modular Reactors one SMR, being developed and tested by the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp of Seattle and Canada's Global First Power, is small enough to fit inside a standard shipping container. It has now entered the 3rd stage of a 4 stage process being run by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to develop a 5MW reactor which would produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. Safer and less complex than traditional nuclear reactors these SMRs also use new technology like molten salt as a coolant. Canada is once again poised to take the lead in nuclear technology but this will require political support to really move things forward.
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp SMR
And if you really wanted to feel good and do something all on your own what could be better than planting a tree? The benefits of trees are many but principally they absorb carbon dioxide, provide us with oxygen, and prevent soil erosion. They live for a long time and they are easy to manage so why not get behind a national annual tree planting day like they have in many other places around the world and make it a goal to plant at least one tree for every person in the country. Nothing could be easier and we could do it immediately.