Local gas store owner tries to go green

Ray McLennon, owner of the Gas & Go in Granger, is trying to be an ethical fuel retailer. He has been lending out copies of Al Gore’s…

Ray McLennon, owner of the Gas & Go in Granger, is trying to be an ethical fuel retailer.

He has been lending out copies of Al Gore’s video documentary An Inconvenient Truth for free.

The documentary explains the current phenomenon of global warming and climate change to the layperson.

The evidence presented in the film shocked him, said McLennon.

He watched the video four times in a row while he was working at the store and afterward he knew he had to do something.

“When I began to look at it and review it, I said, ‘OK, there’s something I can do as a video store and as a fuel retailer.’

“Giving it away for free, it’s my contribution to helping educate people to realize exactly what’s happening with climate change.”

A fuel retailer concerned about the environment may seem like a contradiction, but McLennon doesn’t care if the people who watch the film decide to drive less often or buy vehicles that consume less fuel.

“I am a fuel retailer and part of my business is selling fuel,” said McLennon, stressing that’s the very reason he feels compelled to get the green message out.

“If we drive less, if we turn one light in our home off, it all reduces the overall impact on the environment,” he said.

“It’s not an easy one to wrap your head around and if it was a perfect world we would be driving zero-emission vehicles such as electric or solar, but that’s not going to happen because the oil companies won’t let us do that.”

McLennon is referring to incidents of big oil companies buying environmentally friendly fuel and technology companies, then controlling the distribution of the fuel and the vehicles.

After watching the movie, McLennon investigated selling bio-diesel at his gas station.

But it’s not viable: bio-diesel, a clean fuel made from Canola oil, gels at minus 25 degrees Celsius.

With the Yukon’s cold winters, selling functional bio-diesel would be impossible most of the time.

Companies are looking into blending bio-diesel with other additives to prevent gelling in cold weather, but the cost of such blended fuel would be $1.18 a litre, said McLennon.

He doesn’t think Whitehorse citizens will pay that much for diesel fuel, he said.

He also noted that the trucks that would be used to haul the bio-diesel up to the Yukon would be burning regular, high-emission diesel fuel.

The point in Gore’s video that really hit home was the evidence of past ice ages from ice core samples in Antarctica said McLennon.

Scientists can monitor past temperatures on Earth by recording oxygen isotopes trapped in the ancient ice.

In past ice ages, there were 300 parts per million of the isotopes. The most current data shows that we are now up to 1,500 parts per million of the oxygen isotopes in core samples, which is well above the number needed to create an ice age, said McLennon.

He fears that we have entered a cycle of drastic weather caused by global warming that will, in turn, become the catalyst for the next ice age.

“Well, put it this way: if we hit the point where it tips over and we become an ice age, nobody’s driving anywhere,” said McLennon.

“At 140 degrees below zero, not a lot of people want to get out and start their car.”

McLennon estimates that he has lent out his five copies of the documentary more than 300 times.

People come to the store and become video rental members just to take home An Inconvenient Truth for free.

“I’ve had a lot of requests and a lot of people join up just so they could take the movie home, on Friday or Saturday nights usually the five copies I have are gone,” said McLennon.

“Some are grateful that I’ve provided it to them; some are actually shocked by the evidence they’ve seen so they’ve actually picked up some information that they didn’t have before and maybe that will make them go back and think about exactly what they’re doing.

“Overall I’ve only had one person that said, ‘You know it’s Al Gore doing his political thing,’ and I went, ‘Well put that aside — for one it’s an Academy Award winning documentary, and it’s the facts that you look at, not the politics.

“Yes he takes some shots at George Bush, but if you look at the scientific data that he presents — and it’s not his data, it’s data that’s been developed by scientists all over the world — it’s pretty hard to refute.”

During his time as a gas station owner, McLennon has seen many of his customers exchange their big gas-guzzling SUVs for smaller cars that use less gas.

“Obviously people are beginning to get a grasp of the problem, plus it’s a lot easier on your pocketbook to drive a smaller vehicle than it is a big huge gas guzzler,” he said.

“For me, yes, there’s a little bit of impact on my business, but my business isn’t solely gas so on the other hand if I lose a little bit there because people are driving less, that’s alright, I can accept that.”

Instead of cutting the fuel retail portion of his business, McLennon prefers to help educate people about global warming.

“Maybe, if I can get people who are coming in here to go home and watch it, that’s moved everything one step closer because those people will talk to 10 people and those people will talk to another 10 people.

“And who knows maybe in a year’s time everybody in Whitehorse will have seen the documentary and will go, ‘Hmm, maybe we can do something,’” he said.