There have been many stories recently about how North America will achieve energy independence soon, and how the Peak Oil myth is dead (see: Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle). Peak oil is not dead, it’s just sleeping. Math doesn’t go away just because you don’t like the answers.
The scale of the problem dwarfs any possible combination of solutions including: fracking, oil shale, natural gas, tar sands and biofuels. Here is a graphic from the car insurance association advising everyone to start planning for a radically different future when gasoline is very expensive. The question is not IF Peak Oil occurs, it’s just a matter of when:
The pressing reality of living on an island is that land is a finite resource and eventually we run out of space to put our garbage. Transforming some of our garbage to fuel and soil is one step toward sustainability.
Quebecers have a growing garbage problem. Landfill sites are filling up, and the rotting garbage in them can leach contaminants into groundwater and produce a gas composed of methane and carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Quebecers produce about 810 kg of garbage per person every year, but the province wants to get that down to 700 kg by 2015. One of the biggest components of our garbage is organic materials. An estimated 44 per cent of the garbage we produce every year could be composted. As part of the garbage diet it has planned for Quebecers, the province has banned organic waste – including food waste – from landfills by 2020…
…Green waste can also be transformed into natural gas through a process called biomethanation, but no food waste is now being transformed into biofuels in Quebec, according to Récyc-Québec…
..After two years of scouting for locations, the city has chosen four sites it thinks are suitable for building compost-treatment centres. Under the city’s plan, biogas plants would be built in Montreal East and LaSalle, and composting centres in St. Michel and Dorval. They would handle organic waste from across the island, reducing the number of trucks carrying garbage off the island to landfills.
The plan is for compost collection to be in place for all buildings on the island with eight units or less by 2014, city officials said. Yard and food waste would be collected in the same bin on the western half of the island; on the eastern end there would be separate collections of food and yard waste.
On Monday, Ottawa and Quebec gave $215.1 million to Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and the South Shore regional municipality to build compost treatment centres. Montreal Island municipalities will add another $79.9 million for its centres, while Laval will kick in $56.9 million.
The question now is where the facilities will be built…
As for the Montreal Island, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay launched a preemptive strike against “not-in-my-back-yard”-ism Monday by reminding suburban mayors and Montreal city councillors that four potential sites were identified in the island-wide waste-management plan, which the agglomeration council unanimously adopted last summer. It called for four compost-treatment centres, two in the centre of the island, and one each in the west and east ends.
Tremblay said that towns and boroughs have until June to submit potential sites in industrial areas for four compost treatment centres – two closed facilities that will convert garbage into biogas and compost, and two semi-closed facilities that will create only compost.
Construction could begin in 2011, with all centres up and running by 2014, said city spokeswoman Valérie de Gagné. The first to be built will be located in the central part of the island, she said. Montreal will also set up a sorting facility in the centre of the island where regular garbage will be taken in order to remove any recyclable or organic materials before it goes to a landfill site.
“The challenge is going to be to convince people to use a brown bin,” Tremblay said, adding that it took years for people to get used to sorting recyclable materials out of their garbage. “We have no choice – we have to go ahead with this.”