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TALES FROM THE DUMP: Thoughts on a baffling idiom

“There is more then one way to skin a cat.”

This is one of those baffling English expressions that a lot of people use but no one seems sure about. Why you would want to skin a cat is beyond me and the fact that there has been sufficient debate on the subject to warrant the birthing of this macabre idiom is baffling.

To make it more modern I suppose we could say, “there is more than one way to dial a cellphone.”

Still baffling but more hip I suppose.

Regardless of whether we're talking cellphones or cats, the expression means there is more than one way to do something or achieve a desired outcome. Personally, I think all options should be explored because some are going to be better and less disruptive then others.

You may have heard that the ruling party in Ottawa voted for a resolution and they have declared, “A Climate Emergency.”

They then all voted for a summer recess that will probably be three months long. I find the whole thing a little baffling.

Since they are all out of town and busy politicking for the fall election, I thought I would offer up a few suggestions on ways to skin the proverbial cat.

It would seem that everyone wants to reduce these things called greenhouse gases but they all zero in on carbon dioxide. The other gases are feeling a little lonely and left out.

I read that methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas, is 30 times more potent then carbon dioxide. If you bury organics in a garbage dump they produce methane gas as they rot or compost. If you compost these same materials properly on the surface and aerate the pile, they produce far less methane. That seems like a no-brainer, so let’s reduce the gases by not burying organics in landfills and let’s start composting properly.

Or there are ways to capture the methane, which is produced by compost and use it as a fuel source. That sound like a win-win-win. You reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you get a fuel to use and it reduces the amount of trash going into our garbage dumps and sewage lagoons. Years ago, I watched a documentary where some Canadians were over in Tibet teaching the people how they could compost human waste, collect the emitted methane and then use it as a fuel source. I have always wondered why we aren’t doing this here.

Here is another idea. Years ago, I read a book on urban geography. It had some interesting points. To a large extent politicians, urban planners and real estate developers have shaped our cities. And they have done it in ways that forces people to live long distances from work, stores and amenities. This forces people to spend a lot of time in their cars driving places. So, we could cut back a lot of car travel and usage by designing our cities better.

Just imagine what would happen if you passed a law that said people had to live within a half hour commute of their workplace. Granted, there would be a lot of yelling and screaming and angry people but why weren’t our cities designed better with that concept in mind?

And why are subdivisions designed so that you have to travel kilometres to get a loaf of bread or a jug of milk. A little thoughtful urban planning could cut down on the use of vehicles considerably. It could also solve a lot of our other problems as well because often the way cities are zoned and laid out create ghettos and high crime areas. Certainly, something for people and our leaders to think about.

So, as you can see there is more than one way to dial a cellphone. There is more than one way to cut down on greenhouse gases and there is more than one way to cut down on our overdependence on cars beside higher taxes. There many good ideas out there to chose from but our system seems to be too set in its ways to even consider them.

It's summer, so don’t forget to take a good recess, just like our politicians do.