Awkward Questions

TRANSPORTATION QUESTIONS

  • What is the point of buying an EV when if everyone does this, there won’t be enough power to go around? 
    • A: There is no indication that there will be any shortage of power in BC, even if every vehicle goes electric.
  • What do I do if I can’t afford an EV? 
    • A: Wait a couple of years, or buy one of the second hand EVs that cost under $20,000. It’s also good to consider how much an EV will save you, financially.
    • A: if you run a business, there may be a tax advantage to buying an EV. 
  • EVs don’t have enough mileage before a re-charge is needed. How is that a good thing when I need to get from A to B quickly? 
    • The older models get up to 220 km in summer, 160 km in winter. The new models get 400 km in winter, more in summer. So that’s a very good range – and they are QUICK!
  • I’ve heard there are too many problems with EVs. A friend of mine returned their EV and went back to the gas vehicle. What do you think of that? (a true story)
  • I’ve heard that the answer isn’t EVs, it’s better transport infrastructure and car shares, e-bikes. What is your answer to that? 
    • It’s not either or – we need both!

HOUSING QUESTIONS

  • Where do I find out about retrofitting?
  • Is there funding to help me with retrofitting?
    • It ranges from $50 to $3,000
  • How much does a basic retrofit cost?
    • How long is a piece of string? That’s hard to answer, because all homes are different, some older, some newer, some larger, some smaller. 
  • How much disruption is there when a retrofit occurs?
    • Adding insulation will cause no disruption. Changing old windows in winter will allow the cold to come in! Adding a small mini-split heat pump is not disruptive at all. Adding a central heat pump system takes longer. The biggest disruption would be if you chose to add thickness to your walls on the outside, to allow for more insulation. 
  • How can you retrofit apartments?
    • Not individually. It is best down by the building operator. You can change to LED lights and efficient appliances within an apartment. 
  • Aren’t there coolants in heat pumps which aren’t good for the climate?
    • No. The common refrigerant is R410A, which is not an F gas. If you have your heat pump serviced regularly, it should not leak any refrigerant. 
  • Can I retrofit insulation from the outside?
    • Yes, but it will involve building a new external frame for your house. This is being done in Europe, where homes are made of brick. 
  • What kind of insulation should I use?
  • Windows: Does it make sense to replace them if they are still in good condition?
    • Most modern windows are double-glazed, so it does not make sense to replace them. If you have older single-glazed windows, then definitely. 
  • Are efficient wood stoves an acceptable heating source?
    • Burning wood produces more carbon than coal, so inherently, it’s not good. If you are sure that the wood comes from a sustainable source, where you are confident that new trees are replacing the cut wood, or from thinnings, then it is considered to be carbon neutral, since the newly growing wood will absorb similar carbon as the carbon you release by burning. 

FOOD AND WASTE QUESTIONS

  • Is it true that some foods are better for the environment if they are imported, rather than grown locally?
    • Yes. Flowers grown in East Africa and flown here, for instance, have a smaller carbon footprint than flowers raised in a gas-heated greenhouse. 
  • What about using clear-cut land to grow local food?
    • If you are clear that the land can not be reforested, then sure!
  • What do we do about abattoir services for local sourcing?
    • There has been a long struggle by small farmers to acquire small approved abattoirs. The BC Association of Abattoirs is the place to look for answers: https://bcabattoirs.org 
  • What are the first steps toward a circular economy?
  1. Setting a zero waste goal in your municipality or regional district
  2. Levying a fee on articles that are hard to recycle
  3. Forming a partnership of local businesses and councils to develop a road-map to achieve a fully circular economy.

PLASTICS QUESTIONS

  • What is the point of recycling plastic when most plastic apparently can’t be recycled?
    • Most plastics can be recycled; the challenge is with the economics, not the technology. Companies all over the world are working to find new and better ways to do this. 
  • What happens to the plastic we recycle?
  • Plastics are here to stay–they’re in everything. How do you deal with that?
    • Some are here to stay, and play an important role in our lives. Others are truly harmful to nature. There’s no simple black and white answer. 
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