As someone who always enjoys visiting Canada (and not just because he happens to have very close friends there) this blogger finds that our neighbors to the North have a lot of very interesting and eminently sensible ways of doing things that we overlook even over here in the USA. This article on the about to be launched for sale Nissan Leaf electric car talks about the anxieties that Canadians share with us Americans - range issues and fears over charges depleting faster in the winter. But then, there is a hugely positive fact that the review casually tosses out as if it were not even worth mentioning - 70% of Canada's electricity is generated from renewable sources. In three provinces - Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, that figure is 100%.
Why is this important? The Canadians have oil - a lot of it - and they make a lot of money sending it South to us. In a sense this is a good thing - it makes the USA less dependent on rogue nations like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela for one thing - it makes money for Canada selling a mineral resource overseas. The Canadians, themselves, use their earnings from the export of their oil to prepare themselves for more renewable energy to be locally used. Smart? You bet!
A powerful and wealthy nation like the USA with a host of problems might sometimes be too absorbed with its own issues to look at solutions in other countries. That said, I do think that it would be a mistake to ignore the Canadian example. Several experts have shown that it is well possible to generate 20% of the electricity that the USA uses from onshore wind. Use offshore wind and combined wind and tidal power both in the sea and off the Great Lakes and this percentage could rise even more. I've said this before and I'll keep repeating this as long as I can - everytime I walk along Lake Michigan, I am amazed at how violently the water heaves up and down several feet even on relatively calm days. All of that energy could keep the lights, HVAC systems and office equipment and home appliances running in most of the cities that dot the lake. In cities like Chicago and Milwaukee to name just two, it could also run cars.