Original Published on Aug 10, 2022 at 20:40

By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Almaguin Climate Action Group has completed making its presentations to the  town councils in the Almaguin Highlands calling for an end to fossil fuels and is now organizing a conference to further achieve this end.

Spokesperson Al Bottomley says the local conference will involve the town councils and residents of the region to further reinforce in people’s minds that the world only has so much time left to do something about climate change before the damage is irreversible.

Bottomley is considering holding the conference after the new municipal councils are in place this fall rather than holding the event prior to the elections and risk talking to current elected officials who could lose their seats.

Bottomley addressed 12 municipal councils from April to July but accidently missed the Township of Joly for which he sent out an apology.

His message to each town council was that when the time came for each municipality to replace its vehicles, if possible, would they consider replacing them with electric cars and trucks.

Bottomley set a goal of 2035 for the municipalities to complete the switchover from fossil fuels to electric.

Bottomley says each town council agreed to his request with the exception of the Township of McMurrich Monteith which was split on the issue.

“But afterwards a couple of the councillors said they would come to the conference,” Bottomley said.

“Our group wants to see the municipalities lead the way to getting rid of fossil fuels.”

He adds after this is accomplished, the next step is to see municipalities get their buildings off natural gas for heat which is another contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Bottomley says the planet is seeing more damaging storms and this affects infrastructure like bridges that are wiped out by floods.

He says each time communities put up money to replace damaged infrastructure, it means less money for other needs.

Bottomley says the other big concern is how storms eliminate food crops and how this can lead to food shortages.

It’s a major reason why he wants farmers in Almaguin to attend the conference because he wants to know if they are ready to cope with potential food shortages.

He adds food shortages are a reality farmers around the world face if storms take out their crops.

Bottmley doesn’t plan on having any special guest speakers at the conference.

Rather he says it’s designed to be a grassroots event.

He plans to open the event by pointing out there is only so much time left to reverse climate change and then open the floor to the various forms of alternative energy that already exist like solar and wind power.

“Yes, I’ve heard the argument many times that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine to generate power,” Bottomley said.

But he notes Australia and California have been developing infrastructure that is able to store power as it’s generated by wind and solar and can then be used at a later time.

Bottomley says this is something Ontario should be taking a hard look at and also develop power storage capabilities.

Bottomley believes Ontario could move in this direction if Premier Doug Ford took climate change more seriously.

“Ford needs to come on board,” he said.

Bottomley said in addition to identifying the various forms of alternative energy, the event will also highlight which countries are further harnessing these energies and how Canada can become more involved.

Bottomley says for people who attend the conference the message won’t only be that time is running out for the world.

“I want them to have hope,” he said.

“Yes, it’s a depressing issue and there is a perception that no one is doing anything.  But if we can start the ball rolling here maybe other communities will start doing the same.”

Bottomley notes there are parts of Canada where action is well underway to switch vehicles from fossil fuels to electricity.

He cites Quebec as an example where some communities are seeing their gas-powered school buses switch to electricity.

Bottomley says examples like this show some people get it and understand that we have to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

He believes there is still hope for society to change matters for the better.

This item reprinted with permission from The Nugget, North Bay, Ontario