February 27, 2019

Scientists Recommend Cutting Fossil Fuel Consumption Immediately

One way we explore places farther than our property line is by accessing web cams. This photo is a web cam screen shot of a sunrise on Digby Harbour, which is about a 24 km round trip by car from home. Being there in person is nice, but not without negative consequences for the health of the planet. I can ride my bike there, but it is a bit too far to push Linda in her wheelchair.
Since arriving in Nova Scotia in 2014 we haven't done much exploring in our van. 

In keeping with our "minimize driving" philosophy that we pioneered during our 9 years on the west coast, we usually only drive to pick up groceries, or attend the rare appointment. 

Why? Scientists have told us that continued use of fossil fuels endangers all life on Earth, and we are taking that message seriously. 

We are willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of all living things, many of which are faced with imminent extinction.

Another web cam we like to visit is at Belliveau Cove on St. Mary's Bay. It is about a 50 km round trip by car from home. This photo shows a sunset over the Maritime province of New Brunswick, which is on the other side of the Bay of Fundy. 

If the scientists are right, we are implementing the only logical solution, which is cut fossil fuel consumption now. If they are wrong, I guess we save a lot of money and create a cleaner world for nothing.

Either way, we don't worry. We are enjoying getting to know our immediate area well, since there is beauty to be found everywhere on this amazing planet. We are surrounded by it constantly, no matter where we are. 

Cutting out driving does not mean cutting out the enjoyment of place. You can explore your immediate location, whether by looking out the window, sauntering in the yard, or strolling around the neighbourhood. 

If you like to go farther afield, a bicycle is a great no-carbon mode of travel.

You really don't need to go anywhere to see beautiful things. The grass is plenty green right where you are, despite what car manufacturers and the travel industry want you to believe. 

The scientists might be wrong, but what if they are right? 

You can visit Nova Scotia web cams here.


  1. Anonymous2/28/2019

    What a coincidence! I just sent a reply to you with a link to a bunch of web cams in Oregon, before reading this post, and here you are writing about web cams! Those cameras are really nice, aren't they? And you can look at places around the world. As for the rest of the post about reducing fossil fuel usage, I need to do some more thinking...not that I don't agree, I do. It's just that I drive more than I should, and have yet to completely figure out a way not to drive that is safe due to our bad traffic. Lots to think on, and that is why your posts are so helpful. Thank you -- Mary

    1. Cutting down on driving is a tough sell in North America. Ever since the 1950s we have been pushed away from efficient shared transportation methods and towards private automobiles. There has been a lot of pressure from the auto and oil industries (also tire manufacturers), and investing in road building rather than rail infrastructure and public transportation didn't help either.

      Linda and I have certainly done our fair share of driving over the years. We would spend entire summers exploring back country roads and campgrounds. But all the while we thought about the harm that we were doing.

      We might enjoy driving again if we had a vehicle that did less harm than our 1997 van. An electric vehicle would be good (if we could afford one), but if the electricity it runs on is generated with coal, that doesn't seem like much of an improvement. There don't appear to be any easy solutions. So we stay home.

  2. We just visited this area last September and it was beautiful.

    1. It is a beautiful part of the world, and the people here are the most friendly and down to earth folks that I have ever met.

  3. I enjoy webcams a lot and often. It's a wonderful way to experience many places in a unique way. explorer.org has some magnificent ones. There are web cams all over the place. I can literally watch my kids walk their dogs on the beach via a webcam and they live 3 hours away. Amazing.

    As for travel, I don't drive near as often as I used to. When I travel, I'm careful to travel with a smaller footprint than most people do. I combined trips locally. I drive to my many side jobs, it pays for the shelter over my head which I wouldn't have if I didn't drive to the work locations. I don't live in a walking city and biking here is dangerous with little exception.

    I'd like to say my reduced fossil fuel travel is entirely for protection of the planet and in part it is. I travel less in part due to lack of money to go. I am not as committed to ending my travels as you two are. I am who I am because of the places I've been too. I think the way I think because of the variety of places I've been. I have a greater understanding of myself and life and a bunch of other things because of my travels. It is the essence of who I am.

    Of course, we need to all stop traveling. I agree with that. I don't know how food would get to grocery stores if people didn't travel to work the fields and deliver the food or how emergency services would get to people if we stopped use of fossil fueled vehicles. How would we have sewage systems, fresh drinking water, etc if people didn't go to work and provide those services. I know, there are answers, but it is going to take a massive move of incomprehensible proportion to stop the madness. There is NO ONE I know who really lives minimally, simply or even live with a small footprint, NO ONE. Some think they do, but looking closer when in their homes, hearing about their lives, it isn't low consumption like I live. I read about people online truly changing their lifestyles and living more minimally, but I see almost no evidence of change in my circle and vicinity. There is a clan of us here following NBA. It's always a breath of fresh air to hang out with the folks here. Thanks Gregg for this article, it gives me pause every time you write about travel via fossil fuel vehicles.

    1. Anonymous3/01/2019

      Thank you, Terri. So much of what you say fits my life too. I'm retired now, worked over 30 years, did some travel during those years but not much, and now my boyfriend (who is also retired) and I want to do some driving travel around the US. Our main hobby is birding, and we are well aware of the dichotomy of wanting to see/protect birds versus the fact we choose to drive to see them (at least any bird outside of our backyard and neighborhood). We live pretty simply, but not minimalist - our house way too big for 2 people and 4 cats. We have found a town in northern Washington that we'll move to in the near future. This town has great bike trails and is very walkable if we find a small home close in. Until then, we work toward buying little, using up what we have, and being smart about the travel we do. Thanks again for your post, Terri. -- Mary

    2. Thanks Mary. It sounds like you have a wonderful plan that includes downsizing and relocating to a place that will allow you two to move around more sustainably, walk and bike to some things. I appreciate your interest in birding. I find it meditative to sit quietly outside and watch the birds come in close. I lose myself watching birds go about the business of living. Most people, at least the ones I talk to in my local area don't give their footprint a second thought. At least people here on NBA are aware and doing small and big things that make a difference. I believe anyone who reduces helps even in the tiniest way. It contributes to the momentum. Thank you Mary.

    3. Terri,

      You give some excellent examples of things we can do to cut down on the impact of our driving. Simple things like combining trips are not hard to do with a bit of planning. Also things like riding a bike, or walking for shorter trips. If we all did those small things, the cumulative effects would be large.

      Like I said above, our system has been geared 100% toward private automobiles for many, many decades. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to conceive of how we could get things done now without individual vehicles. Newer, smaller, more fuel efficient cars help, but as you say, massive changes in how we do things is required. That is going to be very difficult to do, and some would say impossible.

      Travel has been a major enjoyment for Linda and I, too, over the years. But I do believe that the high mileage days of old are over for us now. Perhaps if Big Oil weren't such an impediment, we might have some sort of clean alternative by now. However, the laws of physics do put certain limits on us that just can't be worked around. There will be no magic bullet.

      We also see no evidence in the people around us toward living lighter lifestyles. If anything, it seems like many people are trying to get their kicks before the whole thing goes up in flames, like they know the end is near. It very well may be the end of such lifestyles.

    4. Mary,

      Northern Washington? That is almost Canada!

      Birding does require one to get out there, and a car is pretty much the only way to do it. And many people do wait until retirement to do their travelling. It sounds to me like you are mitigating any harm that would be done traveling by making good choices in other areas of your lives. I think that is a sound and intelligent way to go.

    5. Anonymous3/02/2019

      A nice town called Sequim, just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria. We chose Sequim for many reasons - little rain (in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains) great bike trails, nice parks, walkable downtown - and that it is close to Canada is a plus for us too! BTW - my father's family was from Quebec, so Canada is in my blood. - Mary

  4. Oh, I forgot, these webcam pictures of Digby Harbour and St. Mary's Bay are beautiful. Made my day to see such splendor.


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