Archive for the ‘econotheism’ Category

Relationship(s)   Leave a comment

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Wendell Berry, poet, author, farmer, contemplates our human relationship(s) with the rest of creation in a thoughtful essay titled, “The Presence of Nature in the Natural World: A Long Conversation.” He writes that:

The great trouble of our age, involving the human economy from agriculture to warfare, is in our relationship to the natural world – to what we call “nature” or even, still, “Nature” or “Mother Nature.” The old usage persists even seriously, among at least some humans, no matter how “objectivity” weighs upon us.”

“We seem to have forgotten that there might be, or that there ever were, mutually sustaining relationships between resident humans and their home places in the world of Nature.”

page 77 in “A Small Porch”, Counterpoint publishers, 2016

Ontario’s chance to get more from green energy   Leave a comment

Ontario has decided to take a pause in its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) efforts, citing an electricity supply surplus and a need to reduce costs for consumers.

Which all sounds pretty reasonable, but the devil is in the details.  First off, why do we have a surplus?Not because of solar and wind energy, which still makes up only a small fraction of our electricity supply, providing less than 7% of our power last year.

We have a surplus because Ontario operates three gigantic nuclear plants (including the world’s biggest – the Bruce Nuclear Station).  Demand for electricity has fallen over the past decade in Ontario due to changes in our economy (less heavy industry), conservation efforts, and new technologies (LED lighting), but we have not reduced our nuclear production accordingly.  The result is a large surplus of power.

Second, will stopping renewable power development lower costs for consumers?  Not likely. Ontario Power Generation recently asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the rate it is paid for nuclear power by 180% over the next decade.  Contrast that with the rapidly falling costs of wind and solar power.  For wind, we have already reached the point where it is more than competitive with nuclear power costs.  For solar, that crossing point is only a few years away.

Benefitting from the green energy revolution

Which means that we are at a crossroads.  Old energy technologies such as nuclear are being quickly overtaken by more flexible, easier to deploy and – increasingly – less expensive options such as solar and wind.  Ontario can try to ignore this worldwide trend or it can work through the transition and come out the other side with a more dynamic system that it is a better fit for our changing needs.

That’s the challenge that should be at the heart of the province’s current efforts to revise its Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). And that revised plan also needs to strongly support the province’s climate change efforts.  Far from needing less electricity, we will actually need substantially more if we are gong to de-carbonize our energy use by moving away from sources like natural gas for things like home heating and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.  Counting on 50-year-old inflexible nuclear plants to fill this need is taking the wrong path – we will be throwing good money after bad.

The government made a commendable decision to kickstart a new high-tech green power industry in this province.  That effort has led to thousands of new jobs and has set the stage for the next generation of Ontarians to thrive in a world of electric cars, distributed energy and smart grids.

The community advantage

We know the people of Ontario still support green energy – recent polling showed that 81% think we should continue to develop renewable sources like solar and wind.  But the public is rightly concerned about how we are currently going about this task.  Too often, they feel left in the dark by processes like the LRP program or the LTEP planning cycle.

So this “pause” gives us a valuable opportunity to rethink how we are going about the business of building a modern, green energy system.  When renewable power systems are developed locally by co-ops, school boards, municipalities or community organizations, they keep dollars and jobs in our communities, provide revenue that can used for everything from fixing arenas to improving schools, and enable those communities to become more resilient and better able to ride out severe weather events.

Through its Feed-in Tariff program, Ontario has quietly developed a leading-edge community power sector.  This is the foundation we need to build on in creating a healthy, safe, reliable and cost effective electricity system that is supported by communities because it puts communities first.

Good News in the Forest   Leave a comment

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The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been decades in the making.   Photo by Jens Wieting.

Good news from Canada’s west coast arrived last week.

20 First Nations; advocates for the environment; government(s) and forestry companies all endorsed a land use planning agreement concerning the Great Bear Rainforest. Although negotiations took too much time, and there were countless protests by environmental advocates, the accord is an illustration of what good-hearted people can accomplish.

Read more about this agreement at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/02/01/Great-Bear-Rainforest-Deal/

Riding two horses simultaneously   Leave a comment

It is possible to ride two horses at the same time – provided that they are going in the same direction, and at the same pace.

However, it isn’t possible for us to simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint, as we agreed to at COP 21 in Paris (2015), AND enable additional “development” of Canada’s tar sands in northern Alberta. Even David Suzuki is confused about the actions of Canada’s new federal government. He wonders why we are still talking pipelines.

Read Suzuki’s blog on this at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2016/01/paris-changed-everything/

Photo: Paris changed everything, so why are we still talking pipelines?

(Credit: Shannon Ramos via Flickr)

How to make an earthquake   2 comments

Fox Creek, Alberta

Fox Creek, Alberta: ‘Location of earthquake consistent with being induced by hydraulic fracturing operations,’ says Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson.

Did Alberta Just Break a Fracking Earthquake World Record?

Regulator says drilling likely triggered 4.4 temblor.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, – originally published in The Tyee

Hydraulic fracturing, a technology used to crack open difficult oil and gas formations, appears to have set off a swarm of earthquakes near Fox Creek, Alberta, including a record-breaking tremor with a felt magnitude of 4.4 last week.

That would likely make it the largest felt earthquake ever caused by fracking, a development that experts swore couldn’t happen a few years ago.

Fracking operations in British Columbia’s Montney shale generated similar seismic activity of that magnitude last year, and earthquake scientists at Ontario’s Western University are still analyzing the two events to see which is the largest.

 The full article is at:http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/01/29/Alberta-Fracking-Earthquake/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=290115

Canada will not meet its emissions targets: audit   Leave a comment

IMG_2156On October 8, 2014, Julie Gelfand released her first report as Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. As her predecessor had done in 2012, Gelfand warned that Canada “will not meet its international greenhouse gas 2020 emission reduction target”—a 17% reduction from 2005 levels—and “does not have an overall plan that maps out how Canada will achieve this target.”

Furthermore, the commissioner said: “Canadians have not been given the details about which regulations will be developed, when, nor what greenhouse gas reductions will be expected. Finally, the federal government has not provided the necessary co-ordination so that all levels of government, working together, can achieve the national target by 2020.”

The sustainability audit drew several opposition questions in the House of Commons, with Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq responding that Canada’s emissions are lower than they were before the Conservatives took office in 2006. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even got involved, stating, “Under our government, we have lowered greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, been able to grow the economy.”

The Canadian Press tested these responses in an edition of its regular Baloney Meter, assigning a rating of “a little baloney,” or mostly accurate “but more information is required.”

The article quoted David McLaughlin, former head of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, who said these and other recent federal statements on emissions reductions are “a classic example of accuracy versus veracity.” In other words, it’s “accurate without being true—in the sense that it’s accurate the numbers show that, but it’s not true in showing we’re on a path to reducing overall emissions and to meet targets.”

McLaughlin explained the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession did more to lower Canadian emissions (by reducing demand for all goods, including Canadian resources) than any federal regulations. It is also due to the government’s unwillingness to go after major emitters while leaning on provincial success stories, for example Ontario’s elimination of coal power from its energy grid.

On launching her first report, Gelfand pointed out that “regulations in the oil and gas sector—where emissions are growing the fastest—are still not in place eight years after the government first indicated it would regulate this area.” There is also generally not enough consultation outside the oil and gas industry, she said.

“Given its commitment to be a world-class regulator, Environment Canada should publish its plans for future regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the oil and gas regulations, with sufficient detail and lead time, so that consultations with interested and affected parties can be transparent and broadly based, and the parties can plan effectively.”

—The Monitor

https://www.policyalternatives.ca

This report is taken from the CCPA Monitor, November, 2014, page 21 – a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Lima – an African Perspective   Leave a comment

Reducing carbon in the atmosphere

Reducing carbon in the atmosphere

An article written by Rehana Dada presents an analysis of the agreement recently reached in Lima from an African perspective – somewhat different than that of the corporate-controlled media in North America.

Dada writes that, “The Lima text is mitigation centric, weak on finance, makes adaptation optional, excludes loss and damage from the commitments, and does not include an ex ante review. Not only does it have a low ambition on mitigation commitments prior to 2020, an unresolved technical issue in the Kyoto Protocol means that ratification of the second commitment period is likely to be pushed on a year. ”

http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=27478&ThisURL=./ecology.asp&URLName=Ecology