James Byrne: We must act fast, push for change and dump fossil fuels; “Health-care costs alone are a great reason to get the hell off of fossil fuels”

World needs to mitigate and adapt to climate change: expert by Ry Clarke, March 24, 2023, Lethbridge Herald

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs welcomed back James Byrne to its Thursday session speaking on the topic of “Climate, Energy, and Sustainability: Where are we? Where do we go?”

Byrne is a professor emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, and although retired he continues to have an active voice in the field of climate studies, sharing those insights and teachings with audience members.

“I’ve been working on climate change almost all my life, I published my first paper on climate change in 1989. You know, climate change is both a really bad news story on one hand, and a good news story on the other, it depends on what we do,” said Byrne.

“What we have really got to do is make sure that we take the steps that would make things better, that will make climate change better, allowing us to mitigate and adapt to climate change, develop resilience to this change.”

Byrne commented on Premier Danielle Smith’s speech on Wednesday, at the spring convention of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) held in Edmonton.

“She said renewable energy is unreliable and Alberta should build more gas-fired power plants for a more predictable source of electricity,” said Byrne.

“Natural gas is as bad as coal, you know the leakage of natural gas. I probably don’t have to tell most of the audience this, you have all known it for years, that is the case.”

Byrne notes with climate change, we have to push for the change. “Lethbridge people realize that there is some real value to be had from adapting to climate change, or mitigating for climate change. We can become the big energy centre in Alberta despite Fort McMurray. They cannot keep going more than a decade, maybe a decade and a half. Then the oilsands will have to wind down. But what is coming next is renewable energy, wind turbines, solar panels, big grid scale batteries,” said Byrne, noting that the cost of repairing climate change has dropped in half since his last analysis in 2007.

Byrne notes we need to act fast to preserve the planet for future generations.

“The AR Six report is out (Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and essentially this is our final warning, we are reaching what we think will be the tipping point if we do not do a lot in the next 10 years. Our children are in deep trouble, our grandchildren are in deep, deep trouble. The climate is changing radically and causing all kinds of problems,” said Byrne.

Byrne says air pollution is killing people with related diseases. “Nine million people a year are dying of air pollution-related diseases, and the health-care costs are in the trillions of dollars. Health-care costs alone are a great reason to get the hell off of fossil fuels,” said Byrne.

“Once you are exposed to a certain amount of air pollution toxin, that is all it takes to tip you over if you are sensitive.”

Byrne added “he climate change crossroads is terrifying and exciting. We have to decide what we are going to do,” said Byrne. “There are two sides to this coin, really dark and light. We will see which side of that coin we end up on.”

Comment by Southern Albertan:

Agreed….what is also coming to the fore re: climate change is, water. What will it take? The migration of millions of people to relocate to where there is water? We’re kidding ourselves if we do not believe that already, water scarcity has contributed greatly to the refugee crisis.

Refer also to:

No frac poster by Rena Woss, Lethbridge Alberta

Canada underestimated methane emissions from abandoned wells by as much as 150 per cent; Texas and Alberta have highest percentage of wells but no prior pollution measurement. Of course not, Alberta is Hell where regulators help Encana/Ovintiv illegally frac community drinking water aquifers. Kassie Siegel, director Climate Law Institute: “Big Oil is getting rich. For individual, ordinary people, it’s all risk and no reward.

Frac’ing Ontario? Wheatley (thermogenic corrosive) sour gas explosion injures 20, destroys two buildings, more, many families displaced. Still leaking, area remains at risk of more explosions like Hutchinson Kansas where two were killed in their home from industry’s leaking gas migrating 7 miles. Chatham-Kent top administrator, Don Shropshire: “Our area has hundreds, if not thousands of abandoned gas wells. They stretch from Niagara Peninsula to Windsor.” Also exploded from industry’s gas 85 years ago. The community must be relocated. But, where?

Thank you Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, for standing strongly against the public paying to clean up oil and gas industry’s world-wide polluting life-threatening leaking abandoned dirty laundry: “It’s the industry that drilled the well. It’s the industry that made money from the well. It’s the industry that was supposed to follow regulations for proper design, proper construction, proper maintenance and ownership of that well forever — and now they are saying let the taxpayers pay for it? No. No. The money has to come from the shareholders. The money has to come from the coffers of the oil and gas industry. They made the mess. They clean it up

New study on frac’ing in NEBC, Peace River area: “Troubling” link between frac’ing and chemical contamination in homes; Living frac’d may harm your health. Massive new gas plant being built near those already impacted, expected to increase the number of frac’d wells from 10,000 to over 100,000.

Best letter to the Editor: “Fracking must be stopped. It poisons our drinking water and pollutes our air. … Health hazards cannot be prevented. … Laws do not protect people. No regulations protect people. The process is not safe. Fracking must be banned.”

To Honour the Fallen on Remembrance Day: Make public AER’s secret “D79 Abandoned Well Methane Toxicity Preliminary Assessment” & Appendix 2 by Alberta Health, Admitting “Acute-Life threatening” risks & “Neurological effects”

Note the red dotted line: “Acute Threshold”

March 2023:

The following Letter to the Editor was published in both the Whitehorse Star and the Yukon News on Friday, March 17, 2023. The main purpose of this letter is to show how Yukon Wind generation projects will be more cost effective than building the Atlin Hydro project.
Building cost comparison

Atlin Hydro _8 megawatts for $330.000.000.00
projected building cost of 41.25 million / megawatt

Haeckel Hill _ 4  1 megawatt wind turbines for $
projected building cost of 6.25 million / megawatt

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC (became operational 2009)
102 megawatts for $
actual building cost of 1.96 million / megawatt


Letter to Editor March 17, 2023

Yukoners Concerned congratulates Chu Niikwan, the economic development arm of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, for planning and commencing the building of four wind towers on Haeckel Hill. 

The Haeckel Hill Eagle Wind Project will produce 8 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy annually and will power at least 650 homes.  The predicted cost for the construction of the four wind towers is $25 million.

Yukoners Concerned is elated that Kwanlin Dun First Nation will wholly own the Haeckel Hill Eagle Wind Farm. The payback for the total investment will be eight years.

The power purchase contract for the wind electricity with Yukon Energy will be for 25 years.

The past six years of wind studies on Haeckel Hill show that the peak wind production, in Whitehorse, occurs in the winter months when we need the most energy.

Yukoners Concerned has been pressing Yukon Energy since 2012 to utilize one of our most obvious natural resources –wind- to help eliminate our reliance on fossil fuel generation.

With costs ballooning out of control on the Atlin Hydro Project, rising from the original projection of $120 million to $230 million in March 2022 and then to $330 million in February 2023, this project has lost whatever viability it might have originally had.

The Atlin Hydro project would produce 31 gigawatt hours of annual electricity at today’s estimated cost of $330 million. The Atlin hydro project has not yet started construction.
To provide electricity to the Yukon grid a 100 km transmission line will have to be built from Jakes Corner along the road to Atlin, through rugged mountainous terrain.

The Haeckel Hill Wind Project constructed three of the four tower bases in 2022. The fourth base and the towers will be installed this summer in 2023 producing electricity this fall.

The Haeckel Hill Wind project will be built adjacent to Whitehorse, and will be connected to the already existing Fish Lake transmission Line.

Additional wind turbines could be constructed on adjacent, Mt Sumanik, Montana Mountain in Carcross and at the Faro mine.  Each of these regions has already existent transmission lines to Whitehorse and proven long term wind studies.

One of the basic concerns is that the Atlin Hydro Project will not be built in the Yukon and will not be owned or controlled by Yukoners. The Haeckel Wind Project is built in the Yukon and is owned by Yukon First Nations.  

Future construction of  Yukon wind farms could be added in the Yukon starting today,  providing for investment by Yukoners who would like to support future renewable projects.
The Atlin Hydro project has not started construction, and it may take at least 10 years to complete this project before we see power produced.

The Haeckel Hill Wind Project will be producing power this Fall and was built over a 3 year period.

Do Canadian and Yukon Taxpayers want to invest over $330 million (As stated in Yukon Energy’s 10 year plan) to produce a possible 31 gigawatt hours of hydro electricity when we could spend less than half of that on wind turbines for the same output?

We believe that Yukoners want renewable energy that is reasonably priced, owned and controlled by Yukoners.  

It is important that all Yukoners let politicians know they want ‘made in the Yukon solutions’ to our energy needs.

Please write your MLA.
Thank You

Donald J Roberts
Chair – Yukoners Concerned
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