Archive for the ‘ecology’ Tag

Canada Free Press – What A Joke!

Every now and then, I stumble across someone (usually an intellectually-barren right winger) who cited to support an argument. Even more amusing is that occasionally people seem to think that writing for this blog is some kind of journalistic credential.

When your tagline is “Because without America there is no free world…” I have to wonder what the “Canada” part is all about. CFP started as a print paper in Toronto, a right wing free birdcage liner, but it’s now rarely about Canada, and more a haven for American conservatives, and frankly, not good ones. There used to be a comedic value to it, but even that’s gone. Now it’s just… well… I can’t describe it. So let’s look at one of their articles, about the evil (well, if you grossly misinterpret it) UN Agenda 21) and its impact on the military, by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh. The article is here. Read carefully, because some of the hilarity is subtle.

The good doctor’s article is based on a US government directive about sustainability and designs for military bases – to make them more “walkable”, something that’s been, as I understand it, an urban planning concept for a long time. Most military bases I’ve been on aren’t, don’t offer much in the way of incentive for transit or ride share, and are thus often traffic nightmares. A base I spent a lot of time on has three gates fed by a series of collector roads, and it’s not uncommon to spend 15-20 minutes or more trying to get out at the end of the day, sitting in traffic. To travel a kilometre or two. That’s a lot of cars idling for no good reason. But I guess, if you’re a right wing moron, that’s not a big deal.

She wastes little time to turn an architect’s report on the community around the US Air Base at Aviano into a snipe at Italy – suggesting “they can defend themselves”. Which, of course, they do, which a fairly large and well-equipped military. I’m not entirely sure who or what the US base at Aviano defends Italy from, and would guess it primarily serves US and not Italian interests.

I particularly love this paragraph:

The military leadership explains that transit-oriented development reduces traffic congestion and accident rates while encouraging walking, bicycling, and overall healthy communities. This is a ridiculous excuse since a soldier, by definition, has to be healthy and fit in order to serve in the military. Walking and biking actually increase accident rates of hit and run. There are retirees, even young ones, who are handicapped, and biking and walking is not an option for them. We have thousands of soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Iran with severe, life altering disabilities.

I literally cannot make any sense of this. Where to begin? First, military communities don’t just include “soldiers”. Bases employ civilians. Military families use their facilities as well. And ultimately, that soldiers have a fitness standard that the general public doesn’t has pretty much nothing to do with this. Increased rates of hit and run? Okay, whatever. Conveniently, the Good Doctor offers no statistical support for this, and I somehow don’t think it’s particularly important. Biking and walking aren’t an option for lots of people, sure, but nothing in the ideas of better urban planning makes it impossible. Thanks to not right wing people, after all, we have laws about making sure that we accommodate disabled people. Of course, if you’re a certain class of conservative, you think those laws are an encroachment on your civil liberties and free enterprise, but we’ll try to leave Paultards out of this, shall we? I also love she says soldiers “returned from Iraq and Iran”, to help build the case that on basically the entire subject matter of this post, she has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. Iran? Really?

Another gem of a paragraph:

Because of drastic cutbacks in the military for cost-saving reasons, at a time when the world threat to our country is at an all time high, we do not have money to refurbish and modernize the military capability. We let soldiers fight in Afghanistan and Iraq with scarce resources and protection, having to duct-tape their body armor to non-armored vehicles in order to provide some level of safety.

Well, “we” sent soldiers to fight a way in Iraq without proper equipment because there wasn’t enough of it to go around. By invading Iraq, Afghanistan was neglected with victory declared early, and it was allowed to fester. And the war with Iraq was totally unnecessary. By the way, which political party has members that actually voted against better equipment for soldiers? Ooops.

The military is more concerned with rules and regulations, like a soldier being licensed properly to drive an un-armored SUV through a war zone. Those who make ill-conceived rules from the safety of their offices in Washington, D. C. do not worry that this soldier might be blown off by a roadside bomb because his vehicle is not armored.

Why are soldiers “licensed” to drive UP-armoured (not “un-armoured”) SUVs? In the case of some places, because they’re less conspicuous and easier to maneuvre around cities. Big convoys of armoured vehicles are juicy targets. Consider the attack on the Rhino Bus on October 29, 2011 in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was a big, heavy, armoured vehicle, and a vehicle-borne IED destroyed it and killed all its occupants. It was a clear, significant target. SUVs disappear into traffic, theoretically. Why are they “licensed”? Because they have to pass a driving test that’s a little more than what most people do – how to drive evasively, and maneuvres that increase the safety of the driver and their passengers. Not just anyone should be thrown keys and told to have at it.

“Which would you rather have? Would you rather spend $4 billion on Air Force Base solar panels, or would you rather have 28 new F-22s or 30 F-25s or modernized C-130s? Would you rather have $64.8 billion spent on pointless global warming efforts,  or would you rather have more funds put towards modernizing our fleet of ships, aircraft and ground vehicles to improve the safety of our troops and help defend our nation against the legitimate threats that we face?” (Sen. James Inhofe as quoted by Caroline May)”

I like the solar panels thing. I recently read an article about the US Marine Corps using them on FOBs in southern Afghanistan, saving massive amounts of fuel that would be needed for generators to power the installation. Not only does using less fuel save money, and hey, it’s good for the environment (particularly relevant when the US military is under fire for the air quality on their bases, generator emissions are not exactly good in that sense) – but it saves lives potentially because less fuel consumption means less convoys to transport fuel, means less vehicle movement on the roads, regardless of whether the vehicles are armoured or unarmoured.

Yet we spend billions to needlessly restructure military bases into global environmentalism compliance. It is more important for our executive branch to “sustain” the so-called endangered environment, and please the environmentalist wackos, than to defend our country.

Actually, as I understand it, the directives apply to new base construction and chages thereto. Environmental compliance not only is good for the entire world, it saves money, and in most cases, if you look at what sustainable communities are actually about, it makes them more pleasant places to live. Saving money on defence facilities (the massive of cost of which she references in her article, oddly enough!) leaves more money available for defence, or whatever else. There’s literally nothing bad I can see about that, at all. Unless, like The Good Doctor, you want to make a series of arguments from ignorance to hear yourself speak.

On My Views Of The Future

I think this may go a number of places and be interesting to try to tag when the time comes. I have a myriad of things running through my mind today, none of any real coherence but perhaps interesting fodder for the odd person who stumbles upon this blog. Let’s see what happens with it.

While I’m not a whinging hippie granola eater I am a fairly environmentally conscious person in many ways – I actually do try to make choices in my life that are sustainable – or at least more sustainable among other options. At the same time, I am a middle class North American and like the rest of us I live well beyond reasonable means. I can admit that. I enjoy a standard of living that most people on this planet not only do not, but cannot, because there simply aren’t the resources to allow it to happen.

There are numerous interesting writings on the topic of sustainability that I’ve read, and being interested in history I have always been fascinated by the fates of fallen civilizations. It was because of this that my friend loaned me Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, which talks about the factors in the collapsing of various civilizations. Diamond is cautiously optimistic in his writing at the end of the book, though I think it might be at least partially attributable to the grim outlook one is forced to consider.

Among the civilizations discussed are the Greenland Norse, the Maya, Easter Islanders, and various Polynesian societies, and a group of five factors in collapses are identified – most of which concern use of resources, or availability thereof. These are real crises to consider.

The rather pessimistic (some might even say nihilistic) side of me is inclined to believe that no matter what choices we make we are still basically doomed to a collapse. There are so many reasons to think so, sadly.

It makes me think of the scene in The Matrix when Agent Smith is describing his contempt for humanity and its similarity to virii for consuming all available resources and moving on. It is a sadly true statement in most cases.

I remember learning about Malthus in high school, probably in math class when we learned about exponential growth. His observation is that while the carrying capacity of the earth grows geometrically population grows logarithmically (or exponentially, or whatever it is), meaning we outstrip our ability to provide food for ourselves rapidly.

And food is but one resource.

We seem to have an uncanny ability to misuse other resources like freshwater, without which food production becomes rather difficult too.

When I lived in the Toronto area I was always rather staggered by the endless surge of growth in suburban sprawl, much of which was being built over some of the most fertile soils in Canada, land which is best suited to growing food. When I was a kid what was around much of where I lived was farms – mainly growing corn and some wheat, barley, and so on, also fruits and vegetables. The last time I was back there, the farmland was all sprawl, all tiny houses packed on tiny lots, full of commuters. And this is an expanding trend.

We are consuming non-renewable resources are unsustainable rates and not even really managing renewable ones now – things like soil fertility and erosion control are also huge problems that we are only now beginning to get a handle on and what’s fascinating is the role that played in many civilizations in Diamond’s book.

Then there’s the economy and the state of affairs of the middle class especially. I’ve been mystified by this for a long time, and have a privileged position from my day job of seeing what the financial position of the average middle
class family is. It’s terrifying.

Even when I was a kid – not long ago – I grew up in the 1980s and I am just coming up on 31 years old now – it seemed like the idea of a two-income household wasn’t a necessity. It was entirely possible for a couple to raise a family on the man of the house’s salary. When I was a kid not many of my friends’ mothers worked anything like a full time job. Many worked part-time, including my mother, but only to an extent that it didn’t interfere gravely with looking after my sister and I. I didn’t know anyone well who was in any sort of “daycare” that I can think of – the whole concept was pretty foreign to me.

Today however that seems an impossibility. Having two incomes seems a necessity to be able to enjoy the kind of quality of life we grew up with. I have friends with kids who spend so much money on childcare that I actually fail to see why they bother to both work – one parent could stop working and look after the kids and the resulting pay cut it seems wouldn’t be huge. The idea of working just to pay for the childcare necessary to be able to work seems just idiotic.

I made the decision long ago I would be “child-free”. I have never had any interest whatsoever in having children, and despite the claims of some that “that will change”, it has never wavered and I am confident it never will either. I may eventually wind up eating crow but I find that prospect unlikely indeed.

I smirk and feel old when I look at teenagers and young people today and wonder if I was that ignorant and idle when I was their age – if I acted as stupidly as so many of them. I guess I may have and that of me my elders may too have thought if that is the future of our species, we are doomed.

That is the view nevertheless I cannot help but hold – that there are few generations left for us perhaps before our species manages to consume all the readily accessible resources and prosper out of existence as a civilization. It is then an interesting thought experiment to consider what will happen when cheap oil and gas are gone, when we realize we’ve landfilled so much of rare resources. In fact I wonder if in a few generations we will be mining in some form these dumping grounds to scavenge whatever might be extracted and reused.

I wonder what of this I’ll be around to see in the next 50 or 60 years that conceivably I will live given the best estimates we have – what the world I will leave will be like. I wonder how long we will be able to live the way we do now.

The interesting thing is that I’m calling this pessimism and it all sounds negative but I don’t feel bad in any way about it – it’s not depressing or anything, it is just the reality of our species.

On Human Costs of Disasters

We’ve all seen the atrocious toll that the Deepwater Horizon disaster has taken, the oil and tarballs on beaches, the pelicans coated in the sludge.  We all heard (though many complained, with some justification, not enough) about the fact that 11 men who worked aboard the rig were killed in the initial explosions.  I say with some justification, because I don’t actually know if they were all men.  The industry is dominated by men but not exclusively ruled by men…  We have seen ample evidence of the havoc that has been wreaked by our efforts to extract more precious petroleum, that resource on which we have an unbreakable addiction, from more and more inaccessible locations.

There’s been only little bits said about the ripple effects spreading throughout the region, as fisheries are likely forever poisoned, and the people who depend on the Gulf to eke out some sort of a life for themselves stare at a future more bleak than any they have likely ever known.  It’s not just this one thing, either – but a series of catastrophes, mainly natural, that blight the region.

I’ve never been to Louisiana, but sometime soon I want to go – I want to see as best I can what’s left of the place, to try to and imagine what it was like before all these messes befell the region.

The great encapsulation of the tragedy is the story I heard the other day of William Allen Kruse, the captain of a charter fishing vessel based in Alabama called the Rookie.  His business basically destroyed, he took work from BP as part of the cleanup, and according to what I can read about him, became utterly despondent at seeing the fact that what he had build his entire livelihood around lay in ruins around him.  After putting out to sea, he was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.  His story, I fear, isn’t particularly unique – the ending perhaps more tragic than many will be, but the cost on the mental health of the people impacted directly must be staggering in ways most people cannot even begin to comprehend.  There are a variety of sources (that I’m apparently just too lazy tonight to link) about increases in domestic violence, people seeking medical attention for mental health issues, etc in the region, because of the impact of the spill.

It’s not just fishermen and charter boat operators being trashed.  It’s the various companies that service drill rigs.  There is a company based not far from where I live that is big in this industry, and these are very, very good paying jobs that are vanishing.  From a purely economic standpoint, that impact too must be felt in places like Port Fourchon which is one of the main supply bases for drilling operations.  Companies that own the support ships, companies that supply the rigs, they are all basically grinding to halts.  That means less people having money to spend on virtually everything, the wonder of an economic concept called the multiplier at work, except in the reverse of the way we generally learn about it – the money flowing into these communities already drying up.

I read not long ago several interesting articles about the severe environmental issues that already existed in much of the south.  I’ve always had an interest in these sorts of things, you see, and I’m the kind of person who needs the distraction of randomly reading up on something from time to time during the day.  I was drawn to the story of some of the small towns in Louisiana in the Lake Charles area, for example, that play home to huge petrochemical factories, factories that some argue only exist there because of the fact that the locals, who we’ll just say are generally part of a particular identifiable group, were so significantly disenfranchised that they couldn’t prevent them from coming, even if they claimed to offer good jobs.  Companies making things like vinyl chloride, generating toxic pollution on scales incomprehensible to most people, in flagrant violation of the law.  Go take a look on Google Earth – look at Lake Charles and then pan east and south and see the massive complexes there.

This is the lot that these people have had to contend with for years.  And it’s gotten dramatically worse since Deepwater Horizon.

When I heard about Mr. Kruse’s suicide, I was riding in to work with my wife, as we do, and the conversation was one of the more interesting ones, and one of the few tiems it seems we wound up vehemently disagreeing.  While I don’t condone Mr. Kruse’s choice, I think I can empathize to some extent, I can see why he may have found there was no way out.  I can’t imagine the stress of watching everything you’ve ever worked at evaporate because of corporate greed (if that in fact was the cause, but it does sound that way thus far), with no ability to do anything about it.  I can imagine the financial hardship, and can’t help but wonder how leveraged he was already – what bills he couldn’t even begin to pay.

It’s hard to find any sort of hope in a situation this bleak.  I hope that this will be the only story of it’s kind I hear, but I can’t say I’m optimistic.

The Oil Spill – And The Strange Impacts Thereof

What’s going on right now in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster.  Not that that’s a particularly insightful statement, but it’s true.  It’s a demostration of the very, very awful things that can go wrong in modern industry.  As much as companies will say that they plan for every imaginable contingency, the Deepwater Horizon disaster is proof that it’s impossible and unrealistic to assume that indeed we can handle anything.

What’s really shocking is that like so many other disasters, it’s been turned into some sort of perverse political football as well.  It shows a lot about conservatives/teabaggers who hate big government, but curiously have been pleading for government intervention.  Probably the funniest example of this was raving lunatic Michelle Bachmann.   Commandeer boats?  That sounds like tyranny to me. 

Then there was the world’s biggest moron, Sarah Palin, posting on her ludicrous Facebook page blaming “liberals” for offshore drilling, and trying to qualify that when she said “drill baby drill” she didn’t mean that.  Again, the media mocked her, and deservedly so.

These same people are the ones calling this “Obama’s Katrina” and demanding he do something about the hemorrhaging wellhead.  I don’t know what these people figure Obama could do.  I think the comparison to Katrina doesn’t work, either.  I got the impression – though I’ve not looked into it as much – that Dubya simply accepted the administrative incompetence of FEMA in dealing with the aftermath of that event.  In this case, the catastrophe is ongoing, but it doesn’t seem that no one is doing anything about it.  I’m sure BP’s engineers are working long hours trying to figure out how to handle the problems.

The laugh is that it all is coming down to these champions of the free market looking like complete hypocrites.  They’re basically calling for socializing the costs of the mess, when they should of course be advocating for BP, TransOcean, Halliburton, Cameron, and any other firms who might be found to have contributed to the disaster to pay up.  If they are bankrupted in the process, so be it.  Of course, they have to get around the ludicrous liability gap that was another great conservative gift to the world.  I hope that can be done easily.

It certainly seems as though BP’s got lots of resources to fire up the PR machine, and I have to say they are doing a pretty good job of messaging on the whole issue, Tony Hayward and his US subordinates have been visible, and it seems to me fairly candid.  I don’t think Hayward is a bad man, nor do I think anyone in the industry is necessarily intentionally a villain.  Accidents always happen, and it seems like BP is trying to come out looking the best they can and hopefully can do this thing right.

This morning, however, the Nova Scotian magazine that I get with my Chronicle-Herald had a small article about the Niger Delta, and the environmental disaster there.  The amount of oil spilled there annual rivals Deepwater Horizon, apparently, never mind that they flare tremendous amounts of gas, and the companies operate with relative impunity. One source suggested that the equivalent of around 40% of Africa’s total volume of natural gas consumed is flared in the Delta annually.  Never mind the needless air pollution this causes, the release of greenhouse gases, etc, that’s natural gas that could be used for proper, necessary consumption.  The trick is that AG (associated gas) is expensive to separate and put into production, it’s cheap to just burn it off and maximize crude oil production instead.

 Most people in the Delta haven’t got access to any uncontaminated water, and suffer ill health as a result of oil production, and get no real benefit of it.  The terrible story of Ken Saro Wiwa is just one example of the problem. 

That’s not the only story of the misery of oil production – virtually everywhere, it’s the same.  Huge pollution problems, suffering amongst the local population, and a curious absence of direct benefits to those who live in the area in production. 

The only real thing I can see as a solution has been the obvious one for many years – we need to start weaning ourselves off of oil.  We need to work harder to find alternatives and making better use of what we have.  The fact that we’ll have to keep going further and further offshore to find and produce more oil and risk repeats of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the best evidence of that, leaving aside climate change and all the other associated problems.  If we don’t start working at this now, we’re only going to see more problems – and we don’t even see all that are already here.

A Short Musing On Cheap Oil

Between the European fiscal mess, the BP oil disaster, North Korea sinking a South Korean Navy ship, and the fact that the weather in Nova Scotia is just finally starting to get nice, I’ve been unable to really focus on any particular issue or event in the world to really pump out good blog fodder.  (That, of course, assumes that I do in the first place, which may or may not be the case).

I’m on an environmental kick lately though, and I think I have always had that streak.  Right now it’s being fuelled by a few desires – mainly market signals, which are to someone who likes the idea of markets creating allocative efficiency, is good.  I made what I think is a very wise decision a while back to buy a diesel-fuelled car.  At the time I bought it, I had a fairly long commute and ideas about great long roadtrips, and the fact that it gets far better mileage was something I welcomed.  In fact, my biggest grip at the time (October 2005)  was that there were so few diesel models on offer in North America.  Europe has always been far ahead of us there.

Diesel engines, of course, are not really as clean as gasoline engines, litre for litre of fuel consumption – but the advantage comes from using less fuel per kilometre travelled.  I have two Volkswagens – a Rabbit and a Jetta.  The former is gasoline-engined, the latter diesel.  The Rabbit’s a little lighter in curb weight but uses about 50% more fuel for travelling.  I know this because I’ve been using an iPhone app to track it, just out of interest mostly, but also in the vain hope that I’ll be able to claim some of it as a tax deduction.

The whole thing about markets and what I was starting into last night is a belief I have that we don’t pay anywhere near adequate cost for things like fuel – particular petroleum and other non-renewables.  The simplistic solution is to use taxation to adjust the cost to something more realistic and then use the tax revenues toward remeditation.  Great idea, but I can already hear the more reasonable complaints, and I’d echo them – the funds wouldn’t go into remediation or alternatives, they’d go into general revenues and be squandered in the manner practiced so effectively by governments.

I saw the same thing living in Ontario with the Liberal Government’s “OHIP Levy” that “wasn’t a tax”, even though it was determined by income and collected by payroll deductions.  The money didn’t get earmarked specifically for healthcare, it just went into general accounts and disappeared with no real explanation.

Never mind that jacking up the price of a significant input without good alternatives would be economically very destructive and probably counterproductive in the end.  We need to have a little more complex and working solution that that – it’ll take thinking, something that some in the realm of politics seem woefully unwilling to do in any way.

The trick, I would think, lies in expanding the range of alternative fuels available, and alternatives to driving – rail and other mass transit infrastructure.  Until they become more accepted they’d need some subsidization or tax incentives to expand.  This is something that is being tried in Canada, where monthly transit passes attract a federal tax credit – but it’s on the lowest tax rate of 15.5%.  I’d like to see the passes attract a higher credit rate – maybe against the maximum federal income tax rate.

At the same time as this expansion happens, there then can be efforts to disincentivize driving – at least in areas where there’s effective mass transit.  The issue that I can see with the idea of promoting alternatives to driving is that they work well in urban areas, but in a country like Canada – or the United States, too – where there are huge amounts of people living in rural areas where transit simply isn’t an alternative, is that you’ll punish those folks – and the resentment will build quickly.

It’s not an easy thing to think through – how to get us off our addiction to cheap oil, when the alternatives are slow coming and not universally available.  It has to be something one feels in the wallet in order to create incentive to change – but how to make it happen without causing too much adjustment pain.  Or maybe, just maybe, we have to consider that the pain is necessary and just take the big shock at once, get it over with, like ripping a bandaid off – but I don’t think that’s possible given the amount of things that would change quickly.

The trick is to find that sort of balance that allows us to wean ourselves off – the incentives to develop alternatives to oil, and to find ways to maximize what we have – the ways in which we have wasted the resources over the past 150 or so years – making lots of cheap plastic junk, burning off usable gas as a byproduct, building ridiculously inefficient cars because it didn’t matter, all of that has to end and be used as a base point from which to improve.  We’ve put people on the moon, we have to be able to solve this sort of problem, surely.

Climate Change Deniers – The New Truthers?

Nothing staggers and irritates me more than the ignorance of people who want to ignore climate change.  The folks who say “Hey, it’s snowing in Texas, global warming must be a big lie” stagger me because they’re just so stupid.  Never mind the fact that climate and weather aren’t the same thing, or the fact that bizarre weather patterns stem from unusual temperatures in parts of the oceans, it’s just ridiculous that these people have decided that massive heaps of peer-reviewed science are somehow “junk” because the contrived nonsense pumped out by deniers says so.

It’s funny, because one of the standard nonsense arguments that theists like to bring up when I get entangled with them is something called “Pascal’s Wager”.  The argument basically considered the possible outcomes of choosing to believe of not believe in god, against the possibility of god ecisting or not existing.  Pascal basically made the argument that if you believed in god and he didn’t exist, the consequence was basically nothing, but if you didn’t believe, and god did exist then the consequences were disastrous.

In a theological debate, the premise is a little ridiculous, it doesn’t hold any logical basis, though I’m sure for many people it’s reason enough to keep faith.

I saw a video a while ago which basically translated Pascal’s Wager to the climate change debate.  There’s four possible outcomes.  It’s either real or not real, and we either act or we don’t.  If it’s not real and we don’t act, that’s great.  If it’s not real and we act, well, we could still potentially benefit a great deal from developing new technologies and ideas that still conserve resources, make for cleaner air, etc.  If it’s real and we act, we could greatly improve our lives and possibly save ourselves as a species.  If it’s real and we don’t act – well, the results will be determined by just how severe the reality is.

The reality is that most of the changes we would need to make to address climate change would benefit us in the long run by conserving non-renewable resources like oil, natural gas, and coal.  The fact is that burning these fuels has a variety of negative environmental consquences besides CO2 production that we know to be altering the climate, as well as things likes the pH of seawater.  I say we know this because it is fact, supported with piles of research.  Burning oil releases sulphur and nitrogen oxides which create smog and acid rain.  Coal burning produces those, but also emits things like mercury into the air.

So what happens if we act to reduce those emissions?  Well, we have to come up with a way to do so – and cap & trade is one method suggested.  This sort of thing isn’t really new – I remember back in Costa Rica when I was there in 1998 that carbon offsetting and trading was being discussed then – primarily as a means to support ecologically-minded charities’ efforts to buy up rainforest tracts to preserve them.  There’s of course the argument that India & China won’t play along – but this to me is sort of a variation of the “tu quoque” fallacy.  They won’t play along, why then should we?

Ultimately, I don’t believe that not playing along gives a great competitive advantage.  Just because some other nations won’t play along right away doesn’t mean that there’s no point in trying to do so.  The fact is, as well, that the kind of advancements we can make to improve out ecological impact will likely lead to new job, new industries, to progress.  It is an inescapable fact that the “old” economy of much of North America, the manufacturing economy as we knew, is mostly done.  No longer can we expect to lead in manufacturing of simple goods – cheaper labour abroad in places like China have made that clear.  We can’t base an economy on selling hamburgers and haircuts to each other, either – so it’s clear at least to me that if we want to continue to enjoy prosperity we need to seek opportunities to strike out into new fields.

I’m looking forward to building a new home in the next few months, and putting much effort into using new technologies to make it more efficient.  As planned for now, we’ll be building an R2000+/LEED home, roughed for solar power/water heating (though I won’t be able to put it in right away), using a heat pump rather than conventional HVAC, etc.  My criteria is that the investments I make have to be ones that will actually provide a cost benefit – so no wind turbine as my research suggests that it’s not currently a benefit, but I think we’ll be able to do a lot of good.

I want this technology to be available – and I want to see my neighbours developing it and profiting from it.  That’s why we need to get to work on the problem, instead of trying to obfuscate and decate what is becoming more and more obviously fact.

Incidentally, if you’re a climate change skeptic, Canadian Senator Grant Mitchell, who’s an avid Twitter user, sent out this link from the Pembina Institute that inspired this whole post.  It’s well worth a read: