Monday, August 23, 2010

Thinking Green Costs Green

Let's take a quick audience poll.

Who wants to save the environment by taking on new green initiatives and learning to conserve energy at home?

Of course, yes, who doesn't want to save the environment? Would there really be such heartless, ignorant creatures out there who don't? What a silly question. Move on.

Who wants to pay more for energy?

Paying more? Don't we pay enough to those greedy companies? You can't make the average person pay more for essential life expenses such as energy. Everything already costs too much, how could you propose such a thing? Rising taxes, inflation, ridiculous bank rates, credit crunch, bailouts, new taxes and now, more increases? Surely you jest! Give the working family a break! Isn't it hard enough to get by as it is?

Well, this is where the problem comes in, at least for the province of Ontario, and a few others besides. The people of Ontario are good-hearted people who care about the environment, but they're also hard-working people who don't want to pay more to do it. And that's exactly what the province is asking them to do.

Ontario Hydro is going up and it's mostly due to new green initiatives that consumers said that they wanted. Not all the initiatives were voted on, but people in the province showed general support for them in principle. Unfortunately, going 'green' means that it's going to cost a lot of green to get there.

The recent studies say that this is a question of economies of scale, which means that although the initial costs for these new initiatives will hit people squarely in the pocketbook where it hurts, this trend won't last forever. After a couple of painful years, the costs should balance and level out nicely, meaning that current Ontario residents will be paying for the future and it will be a greener one at that.

Alternate energy sources are scarce and expensive. They're much harder to harness and use, and it's largely a work in progress as far as the science of it is concerned. We may not know for another decade how beneficial and efficient these alternate sources are and if the mechanisms used to access them are worth the effort. If it turns out that it's more expensive to access energy than what the energy itself is worth, some of these costly initiatives will ultimately fail.

Others may succeed, in which case, it will have been worth the effort and the investment. And nobody wants to be the heartless ogre in the room who would rather save money than save the earth for the children of the future.

So it is our responsibility as citizens of the earth to swallow the costs of energy, for today and for tomorrow. It's the right thing to do and we should all stop complaining about it. Because doing the right thing is often not easy, pleasant or cheap.

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