Tyler Hamilton ran across some elaborate, multibillion-dollar plans for a carbon capture and sequestration network in Canada, geared around enhanced oil recovery. Naturally it was asking the government (read: Canadian taxpayers) to assume the bulk of the risk. Naturally it won’t be done for well over a decade.

Then he ran across something else:

Then I read about a new law passed in Germany that, among other things, will require all new homes built in the country to get 14 per cent of their energy from renewables. The law is primarily targeted at home heating, whether for space heating or hot water, and opens up huge opportunities for solar thermal and geothermal markets. In the words of Germany’s federal environmental agency: "The heating sector is the sleeping giant of renewable energy." According to RenewableEnergyAccess.com, "Existing houses will also have to be remodeled to incorporate renewable-energy-based heating systems from 2010 on. For old houses, 10 per cent of the heating and domestic hot water energy needs will have to be provided by renewables." With the stroke of a pen, you get much-needed change. It’s an illustration of how we can start taking serious action today using existing technologies. All we have to do is, like Germany and Spain, give a legislative nudge supported by incentives that instantly spark large-scale societal changes.

The market alone isn’t going to solve our problems, nor are Canada’s oil companies. Yet somehow, the proposal of a multibillion-dollar plan — one that’s years away from implementation and which encourages the production and consumption of oil — grabs more attention than a simple pen stroke that, like seatbelt legislation or no-smoking legislation, would have greater impact sooner.

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Word, word, word. There’s so much debate over whether we can “beat climate change” with existing technology, as though we have to know whether we’ll reach the finish line before we start running. It’s like we’re huddled around the van in Seattle debating whether our gas is going to get us to Miami.

The thing is, once we get going, we’ll find gas. Time will pass, we’ll learn things, build up expertise, today’s technology will become tomorrow’s technology, we’ll be able to do more, and so on. There will never be a time when there’s not plenty of things we can do immediately. So why don’t we quit telling each other scary stories, throw our bags in the van, and argue about it on the road.

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