“Silent Spring“ – 2022
I will act to maintain and restore biodiversity. Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone. Study finds steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada. Source
At the time, one of the biggest threats to bird populations, besides habitat loss, was the widespread use of DDT to control insects. Fast forward 60 years, in 2022 the widespread use of neonicotinoids to control insects has become a serious threat to bird populations and to the insects that pollinate our food crops.
Carson identified human hubris and financial self-interest as the problem. Her passionate concern for the future called on us to live as though we humans are an integral part of the earth’s systems.
Today, Global bird populations steadily decline:
A recent update to the study Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone states: “The fate of bird populations is strongly dependent on stopping the loss and degradation of habitats.” Further, the study identifies climate change as an emerging driver of bird population decline.
In Ontario, we need to conserve habitat and reduce climate changing carbon emissions. We do not need more highways and urban sprawl.
What can you do in your own backyard? Here’s a link to a previous carbon challenge – Carbon Drawdown – Rewilding – Climate Action Muskoka
And from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds
Global bird populations steadily decline | Cornell Chronicle – May 5, 2022 update
Efficiency without sufficiency is lost
I will question what level of consumption is sufficient to live comfortably. Fact: Without “sufficiency,” gains from increasing efficiency in a growth-based economy are lost. Source: A Critique of Techno-Optimism (PDF)
In his book, “Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle,” Lloyd Alter explores the idea of what is enough, valuing simple solutions that use less of everything and cost less. For example:
- Now that we use LED light bulbs, is it ok to leave the lights on longer?
- Does buying a more efficient refrigerator mean I can now buy a bigger one?
- Can a more efficient clothes dryer ever be more efficient than a clothesline?
- Do heat pumps and better insulation mean I can have a bigger home? Do we need a bigger homes? Or do we need more small, affordable housing options?
A switch to electric vehicles (EVs) is one of the changes we need to reduce carbon emissions. If I drive an EV is it ok to drive more? Will widespread adoption of EVs contribute to urban sprawl? Or are walking, cycling and public transport more viable options?
We must reduce our emissions and our demand for resources and at the same time provide a decent living standard for everyone. We all need to consider what is sufficient.
- Efficiency Without Sufficiency Is Lost (treehugger.com)
- Jevons paradox – Wikipedia
- Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change (ipcc.ch)
- Laundry, Sufficiency and the Climate Pact – Energy Cities (energy-cities.eu)
Get Outside — Spring Edition
I will choose Fossil Fuel Free outdoor activities this summer – Good for people – Good for the planet. Fact: Canadians of all ages need to move more and sit less to help achieve optimal health. Physical activity and your health – Canada.ca
Recent numbers tell us we are not out of the woods yet as far as Covid is concerned and that’s one more reason to get outside. Warmer weather, longer days and returning bird song are drawing us outside and into the woods, literally. As the snow melts and the ground dries up, watch for the opening of your favourite walking, hiking, biking trails. Here are links to some local trails.
- Hiking Trails in Muskoka – Best Hiking Trails in Ontario (discovermuskoka.ca)
- Cycling in Muskoka – Top Road Bike Routes in Muskoka (discovermuskoka.ca)
Talk to your local councillor about providing more routes and about connecting existing safe hiking and biking trails in your community.
If we are serious about attracting tourists to Muskoka in the future, providing more active recreation opportunities is essential.
Fossil Fuel Free recreation activities are good for your health, good for our planet’s health, and good for the future economic health of Muskoka.
Two previous Community Carbon Challenge pages related to physical activity:
- Active Transportation for Muskoka – Climate Action Muskoka
- Choose People-Powered Recreational Vehicles – Climate Action Muskoka
Reminder: If you are a gardener it’s time to think about planting seeds indoors so plants are ready to go out when danger of frost is over.
Talk To Your Kids About the Climate Crisis
I will talk to my kids about the Climate Crisis, and I will take action. FACT: Around the world, young people report increased levels of eco-anxiety and despair. – Youth Environment Assembly
Children know climate change is happening and are concerned about the future of the planet. Parents and educators need to step up to facilitate the necessary conversations. Climate change education focused on solutions is essential to bringing hope to students.
Children need the truth about climate change, and it’s causes. They need to know they can take action. They need to see that the adults in their lives are advocating for the urgent action necessary to mitigate and to adapt to the coming changes.
“The only way to tackle the climate crisis and its effects on our mental health is through education.”— Gargi Bhavsar, 13-year-old Indian student
Time is running out to make the changes we need. According to the IPCC, Children aged ten or younger in 2020 will experience a four-fold increase in extreme events, even if we can hold global heating to just 1.5°C. A person aged 55 as of 2020 will not feel the full effect of the changes in their remaining lifetime under any warming scenario. Source: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report FAQ page
“Of course, we need hope but the one thing we need more than hope is action, because once we start to act hope is everywhere”. — Greta Thunberg
- Climate Anxiety Highlighted at Youth Environment Assembly | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD
- Why climate education needs to include mental health — Assembly | Malala Fund
- World’s Largest Lesson, a guide for talking to young people about climate change
- Fighting the Climate Change Threat to Our Mental Health | The Tyee
Thinking about spring – Haven’t ordered seeds yet? Check out this challenge item from a year ago. Grow Your Own Vegetables, updated March 2022
Yes, heat pumps work in winter in Canada!
I will consider a heat pump when I upgrade my home heating and cooling system. FACT: Cut your electrical heating bill by up to 60% and cool for 30% less with an ENERGY STAR certified ductless heating and cooling system. Heating and Cooling with a Heat Pump (nrcan.gc.ca)
Heat pumps are not new, they have been around for more than 150 years. You already have at least one in your home. Every refrigerator, freezer or air conditioner has a heat pump. They all pump heat out of a space you want to keep cool. Cooling your living space will become increasingly important during the extreme heat weather events we can expect in the future.
Heat pumps can also pump heat from an external source into your living space. Home heating in Canada accounts for 62 percent of residential energy use. Most Canadian homes are heated with fossil fuels. This presents us with a huge opportunity to reduce our green house gas (GHG) emissions.
To reduce your emissions, first minimize heat loss from air leakage and poorly insulated areas of your home. This will reduce your heating requirements.
Next, in a home with fossil fuel central heat, retrofit to a heat pump with an indoor air handling unit that can work within your existing ductwork. You will reduce GHG emissions and save money.
If you have no ductwork, or you have costly electric baseboard heat consider a ductless mini-split heat pump system. Call your local HVAC expert. You may be eligible for a Canada Greener Homes Grant (nrcan.gc.ca)
- Ductless heating and cooling (nrcan.gc.ca)
- Are Heat Pumps worth it in Canada? – New Canadian Life
- How To Heat Your Home In Canada Without Fueling Climate Change (chatelaine.com)
Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom by Bill Mckibben. Joe Biden Could Damage Putin Badly–and He Doesn’t Have to Ask Joe Manchin
A new challenge will appear in our newsletter every few weeks
Here’s a list of all our New Challenges:
- Think Globally – Act Locally
- Winter Recreation – Get Outside
- Repair Everything II
- New Year’s 2022 — CO2, A Direct Result of Consumption
- A Climate Christmas Carol
- I will work to further reduce my Carbon Footprint
- Get Creative to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Holiday Season
- A Stitch In Time – Mend Your Clothes
- Break the Idling Habit
- Don’t Upgrade Your Phone (Yet)
- Going On a Picnic…
- Support the Circular Economy
- A Call to Action at Every Level
- Choose People-Powered Recreational Vehicles
- Restore the Dark Sky
- Active Transportation in Muskoka
- Carbon Drawdown – Rewilding
- The Carbon Footprint of Your Refrigerator
- The Carbon Footprint of Your Next Vehicle
- The Carbon Footprint of Food – Bonus “Quick N Delish”
- Grow Your Own Vegetables
- Shop Local – Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- Repair Everything
- The Carbon Footprint of Getting Dressed
- The Footprint of Food Packaging
- Energy Vampires
- The Impact of Tires on Your Carbon Footprint and Your Health
Return to the Community Carbon Challenge – here