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  • Writer's pictureRon Davidson

Letter to the editor: Why Your Town Needs to be More Sustainable

Sustainability is a word you hear quite often now a days but what exactly does it mean? By definition the word sustainability means; the ability to support oneself continuously. Specifically, to never run out of resources.

To elaborate further: urban sustainability is a community’s ability to support itself continuously without running out of resources or depleting the goods and services the natural world provides us.

So why does your town need to become more sustainable? The earth isn’t equipped to comfortably sustain our current way of life. We are using the earth resources faster than it can replace them. But to keep up with human consumption needs, we are altering the state of the earth and surpassing the earth’s carbon threshold.

A major side effect to keeping up with human consumption is carbon dioxide which will have negative ramifications towards a sustainable future.

As of May 2020, the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached 416 parts per million, which is the highest it has ever reached in human history. The rise in carbon dioxide heats the earth and this is the cause of climate change. The cause of this is mainly greenhouse gasses which come from burning fossils fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum.

To keep this planet livable for humanity and all the creatures on earth we need to start adapting sustainable methods of living. Each city should be striving to become more sustainable by creating an action plan on how they are going to reduce their carbon footprint, by addressing areas such as transportation, water, agriculture, waste, air quality and energy. Durham Region has already enacted a Community Climate Change Local Action Plan and a Community Climate Adaption Plan. The first is a plan to help mitigate climate change and the latter is a plan to help adapt to the changes that come along with climate change.

There are many things you can do to put your city on the path to urban sustainability. Instead of grocery shopping at the big-name grocery store, shop directly from local farms in your area.

Most of the time, the big-name grocery store gets their meat, produce and dairy from intensive agriculture practices. These practices produce a lot of carbon and take a lot of resources such as water and crops to sustain them. When you buy directly from the farmer, you are supporting your neighbours and you know they put time and care into their animals and crops.

Most of the resources invested in local farming practices comes from human energy and effort, making use of natural recycling of byproducts produced on the farm to supplement growing mediums needed and utilizing time for production rather than chemically or artificially forcing the rapid growth of farm produce.

Making the switch to renewable energy can help save the planet and save you money. Powering your home with renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines will help reduce the need for natural gas and will help protect you from rising fossil fuel prices. (A reference here about the various Government financial incentive assistance programs available, actually doing the research and listing them would be a very helpful catalyst for change. It would alter this from a piece with not only encouraging words on the same old topic to one with meat in it. It could stimulate those who may be able to make changes on a larger scale and offer real practical benefit for them to act. Just a thought for you to motivate the writer to maybe do maybe a second investigative article on Canadian grants and such, or even on technology ahead of us for import, which the Government will still benefit you from with maybe tax benefits and such.)

Also, if you happen to have a stream on your property you could harness the power of hydroelectricity by diverting the flow through a generator.

As a larger collective effort, creating many ways that we acquire energy will also help reduce our need for importing fuels. For example: filling all of your unused space with greenery; planting trees on your property, this will help create better air quality and sequester more carbon from the air, trees can also lower your energy bills by shading your home in the summer and keeping it warm in the winter; also, filling your garden, or creating one, with shrubs, herbs, vegetables and native wildflowers will help add biodiversity to your area as well as creating produce for you to eat.

Urban sustainability is a necessary measure, to ensure we have the best quality of life going forward. It is our responsibility as inhabitants of this earth to actively move towards becoming more sustainable, it is the most sure way to secure our future on this planet.

Alexandra Paetzold

#lettertotheeditor #sustainability

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