Pebble in the Pond

The concept of the pebble in the pond is an old one, but one that resonates with us. We believe that small changes can ripple outward and become larger. Those larger ripples are what change the face of our society, locally and globally. With climate change being the existential threat of our time we are proactively trying to learn more about how we can be part of the solution, and we wish to share it with others. We believe in being a pebble.

Many of our blog entries will be connected to the Live Net Zero contest and the challenge categories they have defined, and then some will be more general or miscellaneous. We are organizing them that way to simplify finding posts that are of more interest to you.

You can select a category here or dive in to the most recent posts as shown below. Even though some of the categories will be empty until that challenge period is active we want to show how the Live Net Zero organizers are approaching ways to reduce your household and individual emissions / carbon footprint—thanks for reading!

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Gas Has Gotta Go!
by Steve Viau - 14 Sep 2023

For those living in denser urban areas the conversation about commuting, or generally getting from A to B, should be focused on improved public transit infrastructure and on making it free for people. This would incentivize either leaving the car at home, or not even having one.  For many years living in Toronto my ‘car’ was the TTC and my bike.  Throw a backpack on and add a couple baskets to your bike and grocery shopping is no problem. 

However, if you are shopping for a family it can be challenging, and if you are not in an area serviced by efficient public transit and that is geographically spread out, as things often are in Canada, then while the fight rages for creating widespread access to free public transit having a car might be necessary.  That’s where our family currently find ourselves—trying to avoid driving as much as possible, but acknowledging that we need to do so some of the time.

Knowing that cars are a necessary evil in our lives we long ago decided that we would never purchase another gas-powered vehicle; having said that we also decided that an existing car is better for the environment than a newly manufactured car, something that in my reading is difficult to quantify with certainty but that appears to be met with general consensus.  With that in mind we have begun the process of researching which car we’ll be purchasing when our current combustion-engine ages out in the near future.

One thing we discovered is that there is more going on in terms of tackling the major downsides of EVs (the batteries, both the components and end-of-life disposal) than we realized and in Ontario there is seemingly a bright future after some darker days not so long ago when our current Premier was first elected.  Not only are there plans to mine lithium in northern Ontario, which is problematic BUT better than continuing to exploit the Global South, there is also a growing industry around recycling and repurposing batteries at the end of their lifespan, both for new EV batteries and for electricity storage batteries.  And this is just the current state of affairs.  Emerging technology should never been relied on as the saviour of the planet—we all need to be proactive in our behaviour and not rely solely on technology, all while viewing each decision through the lens of climate change—however, we should absolutely embrace the greener future that new tech is designed for and welcome that tech with both eyes and arms wide open.  After all, these cars are still in their infancy and will continue to quickly improve.

Another thing we learned when we first began scoping out EVs is that on top of the extreme reduction in GHG emissions there are economic benefits that are often less highlighted in conversations.  The fact that electric vehicles require much less maintenance means fewer parts are being manufactured, meaning those industries would potentially be a secondary source of GHG emission reductions.  And of course the savings the vehicle owner would enjoy can really add up too—in fact according to AAA for someone driving 15,000 miles per year the savings could be close to $1000 annually with the current cost of gas and repairs.  Granted we’re in Canada but the numbers still add up.

Well, throwing a combination of EV information with our opinions on the benefits is all good and well, but theoretically anyone interested in an EV doesn’t need this post.  However, maybe someone who was on the fence reads something here—really anywhere that helps is great of course—and begins investigating for themselves with more purpose, more intent.  Really we’d like to close with a quick word about how much fun the test drives were. 

Our first drive was in a Hyundai Ionic 5, a beautiful crossover in matte black that drove like a dream.  Smooth, great sightlines, amazing acceleration and handling, and the regenerative braking system was incredible.  A leading contender for our imminent-ish purchase.  Next we took out the Chevy Bolt, one the OG options here in North America, and still a very very good one.  Also had a solid regenerative braking system and was a pleasure to drive—with its lower price tag it is also an incredibly attractive option for us.  And there are so many others nowadays that have plenty of bells, whistles, and of course range.  We hope you too are either already driving an EV or are considering the benefits to both your pocketbook AND the planet!