Thursday, July 17, 2008

Want to fight Global Warming, put a value on carbon

One of the more interesting things about capitalism is putting a price on something will change behaviour but putting a value on something will change attitudes and beliefs.

At the moment, the best way to reduce ghg emissions is to put a price on those emissions. It is an imperfect solution to an imperfect problem. It is a necessary step because to do nothing is to march toward oblivion. However, make no mistake, it will not be enough to stop that march. It will just slow it down.

To really reduce ghg emissions and reverse GW we need to find a way to put a value on them. Right now we spew tonnes of the stuff into the atmosphere because it is considered a worthless waste product. If that were to change, if it became a valuable commodity, then you would really see a change as companies and entrepeneurs fell over themselves to develop ways to capture this commodity for exploitation.

There are examples. Technology is being developed to capture and utilize the methane created by city land fill sites. Someone realized that this stuff could make them a profit and letting it seep into the atmosphere is a waste.

The most pervasive ghg is carbon dioxide. Considering how much of the stuff we spew into the atmosphere on a daily basis the person or company that comes up with a process or product that puts a value on it will become very wealthy indeed.

Premiers Wall and Stelmach, selfish ...


The one substance on the planet that can light fires both literally and figuratively.

You would think from the statements of the two Premiers mentioned above that someone was going to take it away from them or at least prevent their provinces from exploiting the resource. Talk about a persecution complex.

One thing about fossil fuel is it is the only practical energy source we have. All other sources are either too expensive, even in these times of high oil prices, or hopelessly impractical to develop as a mass energy source. And by no means has the human species come up with a technology or process to replace fossil fuel as the primary world energy source.

Solar energy: Certainly it will have a niche market but it will not come close to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

Nuclear energy: Too expensive and then there is the problem of what to do with all of that waste, which remains lethal to humans for thousands of years.

Wind and tide energy: See my comments about solar energy.

Biofuels: Eat or drive. Hmmm, tough choice.

Hydrogen: Sounds promising but technology to exploit it has been under development for decades without a marketable breakthrough. Perhaps, because the best source of hydrogen is hydrocarbons, which brings us back to our dependence on fossil fuel.

All of this to say that fossil fuel is not going anywhere as our main source of energy any time soon. As well, there is no magic bullet to replace it because it was the magic bullet. There is nothing else on Earth that can replace it.

So why are these two Premiers in such a frigging hurry to exploit it?

One other thing about fossil fuel is there is a finite amount of the stuff. It will inevitably run out. So leaving aside the arguments about saving the atmosphere for our children and grandchildren should we not be endeavouring to save some of the most practical source of energy for our children and grandchildren?

For Premiers Wall and Stelmach, apparently not.

Listening to those two yahoos yesterday I am very happy that I am in my 40s and that I have no children. By the time the full effects of our wasteful exploitation and use of fossil fuels is felt, I will be in my dotage or my grave. And I will not have to worry about any children and grandchildren cursing my name and my generation for wasting their inheritance.

Premiers Wall and Stelmach, the bounty under the soil of your two provinces will provide for the needs and wants of your people for generations, provided you exploit them carefully and there are generations still walking around in a few decades or so. So stop with the persecution complex and get with the program of stopping global warming and climate change.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

More good news for the Green Shift, from the National Post?!?

There were two pieces in the National Post today that were good news for the Liberal Green Shift.

They released a poll on the Green Shift and Jonathon Kay published a column endorsing carbon taxes.

First the poll.

The National Post spun the results as would be expected from them and I have seen a few counter-spins on Liblogs this afternoon but both The Post and the Libloggers have missed a very important point.

Three weeks after Stephane Dion released The Green Shift Plan the National Post felt it necessary to sponsor a poll specifically about it and that poll indicated that a full one-third of respondents knew about The Green Shift.

That's huge.

It is the fate of all Opposition Parties that they will largely be ignored and any announcements they make will be forgotten within days if not hours of the announcement. The fact The Green Shift Plan has remained in the consciousness of that proportion of poll respondents this long after its release is more than the Liberals could ever have hoped for.

Half the battle in selling something is having your target market be able to identify what you are selling. So the Liberals are off to a good start.

Although many Conservative supporters have been pointing with glee to this poll today, I am reasonably certain that the professionals in the PMO are not too happy about the results of this poll.

Oh yes, the last Opposition Leader who managed to keep one of his announcements in the consciousness of Canadians long after the announcement was Stephen Harper and the announcement of the Accountability Act.

Incidently, the Liberals have Stephen Harper to thank for this happy turn of events. If the "chess master" would have ignored The Green Shift announcement instead of going off on it, using some rather inflammatory language, the Plan would have been forgotten very quickly. So, I hope Liberals everywhere will extend their thanks to Mr. Harper for his assistance.

The second piece by Mr. Kay was the second piece of good news. Of course, he started off by stating Mr. Dion would lose the next election (Did anybody expect anything else?) but then he went on to endorse a carbon tax. He then ended his piece by stating he did not agree with the Liberal Carbon Tax proposal because, well, it was a liberal carbon tax proposal instead of a conservative carbon tax proposal.

After I had stopped laughing I realized that his column indicates more good news for the Liberal plan. Leaving aside his endorsement of one of the central features of the Liberal plan what is really significant is that pundits are talking about the Liberal Plan. Even the harshest critics of the plan and the Liberal Party find themselves talking about it instead of talking up the government. This is further proof that so far this summer the Liberals have taken control of the political agenda.

Again, Stephen Harper took control of the political agenda with the release of the Accountability Act and he rode that to victory.

There is still alot of time to go but if the Liberals can maintain the control of the agenda, that these two articles demonstrate, they have they will be in very good shape going into the Fall.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Don't worry, it is OK to trash Muslims

Throughout the history of this country, and throughout the history of civilization, it has been socially acceptable to openly denigrate and generally hate specific groups.

For much of the 19th Century it was completely acceptable to trash and bash the Irish. It is interesting that English Canadians during that century disliked and distrusted the Irish more than they distrusted French Canadians. They had more time for people who descended from a country that was the enemy of England for more than 800 years that they did for people who spoke their language and had a shared history.

In the 20th Century is was the Blacks, the Jews, the Chinese and of course throughout Canadian history it was OK to trash First Nation Canadians.

Of course all of that began to change in the '60s. During that period it was no longer considered socially acceptable to hate people of different skin colour. It took a little while longer for that attitude to permeate to people of different religions but it eventually did.

So, by the '80s the only people that bigots could opening hate were homosexuals. Unfortunately, even they became off limits in the '80s when AIDS caused an outpouring of sympathy for the gay community, which gave the gay rights movement a big boost of support and which eventually culminated in gays being considered equal to straights including receiving the right to marry.

So, who were the bigots going to hate? After all, like all people with addictions they need their fix in order to function. Fortunately for them, Muslim terrorists began hijacking airplanes and the Ayatollahs in Iran came along. Suddenly it was OK to trash Muslim fundamentalists. Then 9/11 happened and it was mana from heaven for the bigotry crowd. It suddenly became socially acceptable to hate all Muslims.

We have seen that recently with the publishing of the cartoons of Mohammed in a Dutch magazine and a particularly vile story in Macleans magazine that is now a subject of a couple of Human Rights cases.

Of course defenders of both cite "freedom of speech" when defending both magazines and they have the temerity of stating Human Rights Commissions are trampling on those rights.

My question to them is, if Macleans would have replaced "Muslims" with "Jews" in their story would you be so forgiving? I think not. It they would have done so they would have been condemned from virtually every quarter of Canadian society. Politicians of every stripe would have stood up and condemned the story (and some would have really meant it) and the story would not be allowed to stand.

Of course, about 30 years ago such a story could have been published and it would have received the same reaction as the one Macleans published about Muslims. The community in question would have been offended and the organizations the represented them would have made alot of noise but it would have caused nary a ripple in the broader Canadian society.

We have come a long way in recognizing that hating people because they are different is wrong but we still have a long way to go.

The Green Shift Plan: So far so good

Decima released another poll today showing that the Liberals are still rock solid in their support amongst Canadians. That is the third one since the release of the Green Shift Plan to indicate that. The Liberals are not losing any ground but they are not gaining any either.

This is interesting because this particular poll was taken at or just after the much publicised objections of the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan and the three Northern Premiers. As well, it was taken after the small problems with Green Shift the company and the media's playing up of that story. It could have been expected that those events would have caused some erosion.

So what can we conclude from this. Nothing definitive. However, the preliminary conclusion we can draw from this is the Green Shift Plan has made a good first impression and quite frankly that is all Liberals could have expected or wished for upon its release. It is a great start for the Green Shift Plan. (Now build on it!!)

About the poll itself, Decima states that the Conservatives could gain support again now that the summer is here. Well, duh!! It is called incumbant advantage and I actually expect Conservative support to climb somewhat in the coming weeks. It will have nothing to do with anything they do or anything the Liberals do it will just be a factor of them being the government at a time when folks are not really thinking about politics. So, when it happens, Liberals please do not overreact.

As well, I found it interesting that the Conservatives have lost support on the 613 area code. Since the 2006 election they have had pretty good support in Eastern Ontario. When much of the rest of Ontario was turning their back on the Conservatives their support in Eastern Ontario was steady. The fact this poll indicates that support may be eroding could be significant.

Of course, the number of interviews for this geographic strata for this poll is probably between 30 and 50 respondents so we cannot put too much trust in the estimates for them. It would have a double digit MOE so you cannot read too much into the estimates for this area.