Readers write: April 26, 2021 issue

April 21, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 9
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

The value of solar power
Avoiding an environmental shipwreck,” March 29, page 4.

A few comments related to Tim Wiebe-Neufeld’s feature on reducing his carbon footprint by using solar panels.

Before people run out to buy solar panels in the rest of Canada, they should be aware that Alberta is one of the only places where doing this would result in a positive environmental outcome. The rest of Canada overwhelmingly uses non-emitting energy sources for electricity generation (82 percent for the country as a whole).

According to the Natural Resources Canada website (, Quebec is 98.9 percent non-emitting, with 93.9 percent generated by hydro power and 5 percent by wind power.

By my calculation, someone using solar power in Quebec, believing that they are improving the environment, would actually be generating almost four times the greenhouse gases during the lifecycle of the solar panels (created in the manufacturing process) than they would by just using the clean energy produced in the province.

This concept is true in most provinces in Canada. Ontario and British Columbia are 90.7 percent and 91.2 percent non-emitting, respectively.

So although Wiebe-Neufeld would improve the overall environmental situation in Alberta, I encourage others in Canada to do the research before using alternative power sources, such as solar and wind, solely to reduce greenhouse gases.

Living in Ontario, I myself have some small solar panels, but I am using them as a small source of backup power if the grid is down. I’m under no illusion that I am doing this to protect the environment.

—Hermann Ens (online comment)


The encouragement to consider the full costs of solar power fits well with the concept of researching the full costs of our actions. I encourage consideration beyond a financial bottom line and seeking out ways to reduce negative impacts over the life of a product or activity.

Research shows that not only do solar and wind power emit far less carbon per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels, they also emit far fewer greenhouse gases than sources like hydro electricity, if emissions from constructing dams are included. See the article, “Solar, wind and nuclear have ‘amazingly low’ carbon footprints, study finds” at

—Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (online comment)


Mennonites urged to contact local officials to take climate-change action
Avoiding an environmental shipwreck,” March 29, page 4.

In response to Tim Wiebe-Neufeld’s Earth Day feature, I want to add my amen along with an emphatic “and.” Mennonites need to do all the things that Wiebe-Neufeld suggests and one more thing: We must call on our elected leaders to make systemic changes.

Mennonites, both individually and collectively, must be much more vocal with our elected leaders, who have the power to make fundamental changes to institutions and infrastructure, and bring about the rapid transformations required in these crucial years.

Wiebe-Neufeld notes that we “often find ourselves stuck between options that seem either too little to matter or too much to take on.” This is an elegant summary of a common quandary, but there are ways out of it that the author didn’t delve into.

Organizing thousands to march on Parliament Hill is not the only way to have real political impact. Municipal governments have authority over activities that account for 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. With their powers to influence transportation systems, land-use planning and building codes, our local governments are an excellent focus for advocacy efforts.

Reaching out to local elected officials is also easy. In my experience, local councillors reply personally within a week. Furthermore, local governments have their own advocacy networks, such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which, in turn, put effective pressure for change on provincial and federal governments.

I encourage all readers to contact their local elected officials and ask for a meeting to discuss how your community can help to address the climate crisis. Organize with others in your congregation and community to meet as a delegation (Zoom works very well for this).

—Scott Morton Ninomiya, Kitchener, Ont.
The writer attends St. Jacobs (Ont.) Mennonite Church.”


Author of Russian history chastises CM and letter writer
Fascism by any other name” letter,  March 29, page 7.

We are surprised that Canadian Mennonite would publish a letter so filled with undocumented and defamatory statements. The writer of this diatribe is to be encouraged to read some accurate Russian Mennonite history.

—Anne Konrad, Toronto
The writer is the author of
Red Quarter Moon: A Search for Family in the Shadow of Stalin (University of Toronto Press, 2012).


‘I am gladly getting my vaccination’
Reader calls on Mennonites to reject COVID-19 vaccines” letter, April 12, page 7.

I am deeply saddened—and even angered—to read the comment by Steve Martin.

I am gladly getting my vaccination, and so is my family and everyone I know. The risks of the vaccine are less than the risks of COVID-19, which has killed many.

I do love my neighbours and will do all I can to help keep them safe. This includes believing scientists and medical experts!

—Nancy Ellen Nafziger (online comment)


Another look at Mother’s Day

The traditional Mother’s Day program did not take place in our church last year. Inwardly I was relieved. If motherhood is truly the ultimate fulfilment and happiness, why would God deny that to some? There had to be another answer.

In my searching, God led me to a book by Kari Malcolm, a child of missionary parents who was raised in a tradition where serving the Lord was teamwork, where the mother was not accountable first to her husband but to God. In tracing the milieu of role models in society in Women at the Crossroads, Malcolm’s treatment of Jesus and his relationship to women caused me to stop in my mental tracks. When a woman interrupted Jesus in the middle of his sermon in Luke 11:27, saying, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked,” Jesus’ answer contains a truly revolutionary concept for the people who thought of women merely in terms of their biological potential: “Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

I’m glad Paul was led to some unlikely women who would eventually be the core of the church, women like Lydia, Dorcas, Phoebe, Priscilla, Julia and the elect lady addressed in Second John.

As women today, we need to capitalize on the gift of extra time afforded us by the many household appliances that cut our work to a fraction of what it once was, and use the surplus hours to engage in encouragement, intercession, counsel and evangelism, as well as the many other gifts listed in
I Corinthians 12.

Although it behooves those in church leadership to discern the endowments in the Body of Christ and exhort them to “stir up the gift” that is in them, a willingness to serve the Lord finds its own expression if we are filled with the fullness of him who called us, and our hearts are fervent in love for others.

—Elfrieda Dick, Winnipeg

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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