The Future We Choose: Welcome to Earth Day — 2050

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Continuing our “The Future We Choose” series, we’ve secured The Spec op-ed for Earth Day 2050 through the magic of time travel.

Hamilton and Burlington are great places to live in 2050 because we worked together to make it that way. Difficult choices have been made. We have finally weaned our economy and our way of life from fossil fuels.

In 2022, faced with a world in critical imbalance with nature, people have woken up and demanded a better future. We have clarified our expectations; we have ensured that our politicians listen and act. All levels of government have been fully engaged, resulting in massive plans to create green jobs, reduce poverty and meet the challenge of a low-emissions world.

By 2050, Ontario will provide green energy through the use of hydroelectric, wind and solar power. Widespread conservation has led to drastic improvements in the energy efficiency of our factories, homes, and appliances. We also learn to live happily with less.

Over the past two decades, all new buildings have been designed as net zero, producing as much energy as they consume. Most of the existing buildings required deep renovations which created many green jobs. Solar technologies and district energy systems have allowed us to meet our energy needs more efficiently.

The most noticeable change is in the way we move. Eighty percent of us live within walking distance of an urban center, main street or transit hub. We have made strategic public investments in affordable housing, residential care, early learning centers and community health care which, combined, have brought people, jobs, stores and other amenities closer together. Density is higher, but neighborhood planning has created vibrant public spaces and parks where people can gather and socialize.

Half of the trips are made on foot or by bicycle. Public transit has seen a renaissance with the LRT and electric buses. Fewer people own cars. It is easier to use carpooling for more difficult trips and out of town. All cars are fully electric with a two-way connection to the charging network creating a massive battery that handles peak demand.

There is not enough biofuel for aviation, so flights are reserved for essential long-haul travel. No more weekends in Vegas. We still travel a lot inside the country, but by electrified high-speed train. Most industrial goods also travel this way, not by road.

Investment in the reconstruction of our infrastructure has been made possible by the recently abolished carbon tax. It has brought in billions to remodel and rebuild our homes, schools, hospitals, and transportation systems. Our dynamic steel industry uses green hydrogen as a fuel source as well as electric furnaces. And all the work necessary for this reconstruction considerably reduced unemployment.

Much of our food is local, and our farmers sequester a lot of carbon through regenerative farming practices. In both cities and rural areas, reforestation helps capture carbon. We have improved our infrastructure and developed resiliency plans to protect against more extreme weather conditions. These efforts have helped instill a deeper sense of togetherness and purpose in our community – a sense that we are all in this together.

Overall, life is good. We have regained citizenship and abandoned consumerism. We spend more time with family and friends and less time commuting and shopping. We are healthier that way.

Time travel is amazing. Let’s speak up – loud and clear – to make sure life is truly better for Hamilton, Burlington and the rest of the planet in 2050.

Dave Carson lives in Dundas and hopes for a brighter future for generations to come.

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