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Facing despair as a strong economy fails to defeat climate change: Don Pittis

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It is not unreasonable that the majority of Canadians and the 97 per cent of scientists who understand that climate change is real are feeling a certain amount of despair.

Optimism following the 2015 Paris summit that the world could and would halt the growth of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and slow the devastating effects of rising seas, storms, drought and forest fires has turned to gloom.

And perhaps most disheartening is the fact that despite a strong, growing economy in many parts of the world, including Canada and the United States, governments have failed to reverse the damage. So what happens when the economy goes into retreat?

Backsliding at the G20

As the G20 meets in Argentina today, reports from groups that monitor greenhouse gas output show that none of the world’s richest 20 economic powers have met their Paris targets that would limit temperature increases to two Celsius degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“Current nationally determined contributions would lead to a global temperature increase of around 3.2 C,” says the report from Climate Transparency, based on numbers assembled using the various governments’ own data.

And yet people who have seen it say the draft resolution of the G20 concluding document backslides on climate, partly to make it palatable to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has already withdrawn his country from the Paris accord and promotes increased use of coal.

Experts say climate change is already affecting poor countries, helping to spur waves of migration that are expected to increase as the climate warms. These migrants were intercepted Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain. (Jon Nazca/Reuters) 

Study after credible study show the increasing impact of climate on human lives and health. It is already contributing to mass migrations that will worsen.

Trump reportedly tried to suppress a recent U.S. government study by releasing it on the day after American Thanksgiving. That may have backfired when the release — which declared climate change had already cost the economy hundred of billions of dollars and would cost hundreds more — was unofficially labelled the Black Friday Climate Report.

“Climate change … is arguably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced,” says Stewart Elgie, chair of the Smart Prosperity Institute, a think-tank based at the University of Ottawa, comparing it to the impact of nuclear war. “We are messing with the planet’s life support system in a way that we haven’t before.”

Captured by selfish forces

But despite large support for climate action, governments have been captured by selfish forces that seem bound to sacrifice the planet for short-term interests. Well-funded voices of opposition use social media to discredit sound science. 

In Canada the government of Ontario has tossed out carbon pricing, the favoured free market way of cutting carbon, on the grounds that it will slow economic growth. Yesterday they replaced it with costly taxpayer handouts to business that have been shown to be ineffective in parts of the world where they have been tried.
The governments of Alberta and Canada continue to use taxpayer billions to subsidize oilsands transportation when market forces have signalled we should stop.

 

Repeatedly, public funds are being spent to make climate change worse, instead of investing in alternatives that would make it better. And since Earth’s climate is the ultimate shared resource, there sometimes seems no advantage in taking individual action, if others others just produce the carbon you have saved and more.

But rather than despairing, Catherine Gauthier is using the law to fight back. A spokesman for the Quebec youth group Environnement Jeunesse, the 29-year-old has helped launch a legal campaign to sue the federal government in an effort to keep it from destroying the planet for future generations.

“We are bringing the government to court because it is infringing our fundamental rights,” says Gauthier. Under Quebec law, that includes the right to a safe environment and the preservation of biodiversity, she says.

Growing visible impacts

Gauthier says the technique has been used elsewhere, including the Netherlands, to give the fight against climate change a legal basis that stands above individual economic interests.

Sarah Buchanan, a policy expert with Environmental Defence Canada, has had moments of despair. But she still hopes democracy and capitalism can solve the problem, in part because people will increasingly witness climate change in their lives.

A policeman stands in front of a G20 banner at the summit’s media centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

“People who do not see these immediate impacts right now are going to start seeing them very soon,” says Buchanan.

While she objects to increased government subsidies for fossil fuel production, she insists it is false to see a conflict  between fighting climate change and supporting the economy. And while poll after poll show most Canadians realize something needs to be done, she thinks their voices have been overwhelmed by the financial clout of pro-carbon interests.

Buchanan says she hears from despairing people who ask what they can do, and she always asks them if they have told their elected officials how much they care.

“More often than I expect, the answer is, ‘No,'” she says.

Paralyzed by fear

Elgie, like other climate scientists and activists I spoke to, will not let despair divert him from helping to move the world to a low-carbon economy.

“Fear can be paralyzing,” says Elgie.

But he says that the world leaders in climate change, including the countries of northern Europe, have cut their carbon use per person to levels less than half that of Canada, with a quality of life as good or better than Canadians’.

He admits that dramatic shifts are always disruptive and often go through a process of “two steps forward and one step back.” It may be that in recessions people will be less willing to make changes, but he says whether we realize it or not, the process of decarbonization is underway and is unstoppable. 

“In 20 to 30 years, we will live in a low-carbon global economy. We can debate the pace of change,” he says, “but the fact that change is happening is now undeniable.”

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis
 

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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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