I’ve been concerned about keeping up with more, faster and bigger changes and challenges in the world. I’m trying to stay positive, trusting that people smarter than I am are working on solutions, and just this week I learned about some of them.

One is Ralph Torrie, who was guest speaker at a free public talk for Sustainable Cobourg on ‘A Low Carbon Future For Canada’, on April 22. He grew up in Cobourg, went on to Waterloo U for a physics degree, and has worked on energy and environmental issues for 30+ years, pioneering methods and conventions now used around the world for greenhouse gas analysis. He is an expert on Canadian energy supply and demand, and has kept abreast of the potential for conservation and renewable energy, which is so important now and going forward. Working with the David Suzuki Foundation, he did the first low carbon scenario analysis for Canada in 2002. Although he knows our challenges better than most, he is optimistic that solutions will be found, but we should all realize that time is running short.

Another dynamic champion of a cleaner, more sustainable planet is native Maritimer, Annette Verschuren. I heard about her through an April 21 interview on CBC’s The Exchange. Impressed, I followed up with a search on Google, and was amazed at her accomplishments – past, present and future.

After a distinguished career in corporate business (e.g. convincing Michaels to open stores in Canada, heading Home Depot Canada for many years), she has turned her talents and contacts to addressing the pressing need to educate, train and implement solutions for clean, reliable energy sources and distribution for the long term. Ms. Verschuren is results-oriented and has set up, and supports, the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia, with the mission of bridging engineering and scientific research into environmental, industrial and socio-economic policy contexts that will facilitate effective application of innovations.

More recently, Ms. Verschuren set up NRStor to find the missing link, or ‘Holy Grail’, of the power industry; long term storage of excess electricity, from wind, solar or nuclear, so that it is available whenever needed, day or night, summer or winter, and doesn’t have to be bought on short notice at higher prices, nor sold at huge discounts when there is a surplus, both to our disadvantage. The goal is to provide 1000 megawatts of electricity storage capacity over the next 20 years, and to have a flexible, green 21st-century electricity system for Ontario, competitive with electricity generated by gas turbines, potentially saving up to $8 billion. NRStor has also partnered with Opus One to bring Tesla Powerwall Home batteries to market this year, which will revolutionize homes by providing affordable, super clean, very reliable power using smart micro-grid technology.

I’m encouraged and grateful to these dedicated, hard working, forward-looking pioneers and stewards of our wonderful, one-and-only home, which has been suffering from neglect and abuse. As Mr. Torrie noted, we need to remember:

  • Everything goes somewhere (there is no such thing as ‘waste’)
  • Everything connects to everything else
  • Nature is an independent power we cannot negotiate with – the laws of physics and chemistry apply


Susan Nakamichi has been with Sustainable Cobourg for several years. She currently sits on the board as its Secretary. Susan has a particular interest in addressing pollution and its health impacts.