Kirsten Dahl at the Ride for Renewables

On Sept. 13th, I will ride along with scores of other concerned citizens from Ontario’s oldest nuclear power plant (Pickering) to its newest (Darlington). I hope that you, too, will join us.

We’re doing this to send a message together: Ontario Power Generation’s plan to spend billions rebuilding the Darlington reactors will lock Ontarians into nuclear for decades to come, and we need to seize this opportunity to embrace a transition to renewable energy instead.

I didn’t realize that I was living under the shadow of ten aging nuclear reactors when I moved to Toronto a few years ago. Escaping the extreme air pollution in Taiwan was my main impetus for returning to Canada, but it turns out I was swapping one hazard for another.

You see, living within a potential nuclear fallout zone makes me nervous. I find it incomprehensible that the government of Ontario thought it was a good idea to construct two nuclear power stations in a hugely populated area, next to the source of drinking water for 9 million people. But at 45 kilometers apart and on the shoreline of beautiful Lake Ontario, cycling between the two makes for a delightful ride.

It only took three little phrases in my email inbox to convince me to sign up for the last Ride for Renewables. “Love cycling? Love green energy? We need your help!” There’s something wonderfully empowering about collective action, which takes on a magical quality when bicycles are involved. I knew that we would be in good hands with Greenpeace, so I happily confirmed my attendance while congratulating myself on being a good little environmentalist.

In retrospect, I was woefully uninformed about the complexities of nuclear power. I had no idea where we were biking and was even less educated about Ontario’s reliance on an outdated and risky energy system.

A system that is expensive and unnecessary, operating with a shocking lack of concern for safety standards. A system that allows industry and government to work in apparent seamless unity, negotiating secret backroom deals with brazen disregard for public consultation or welfare. A system that has lied to us by claiming to be green while ignoring the trail of environmental destruction left in the wake of their production and disposal process. They bank on our ignorance.

But the nuclear industry is also bound by the ignorance of its bureaucrats. They can’t see that a climate-friendly and transparent renewable energy system is possible. And they don’t realize the power of people who unite (and bike!) in solidarity, refusing to stand idly by when our democratic process is undermined and our environment threatened.

I’m joining the Ride for Renewables again this year because change won’t happen if you politely wait for it. Sometimes you’ve got to hop on your bike and demand it!

Join us this September and add your voice (and bell!) to the increasingly vocal call for a global shift to a renewable energy future.

Sign up now at riderenew.ca!