Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carbon Tax? Spend it where it will have some impact: China.

If you really want a carbon tax - because it can do us some good,
if you really want that carbon tax to have some real benefits,
then think outside the box. The box being BC.

That’s right. Spend the money where it can really do us some good.
Spend it where the problem is. China.

In China they are building coal-fired electricity generation plants at the rate of two a week.
You heard me – TWO coal burning, sulfur dioxide, CO2 spewing plants each and every week!
And guess where they buy their coal?
BC. British Columbia.
We are selling them the coal to burn and the wind blows the pollution right back at us.
Studies in California show that 1/3 of the daily smog in LA is produced by China.
(We have done no such studies to date.)

So, what can we do about it?
Clearly cutting back on diesel burning transport trucks at the rate of 2% is a pathetic and useless response. And that is what the Campbell carbon tax has done. Cut 2% of trucker’s jobs. Compared to China’s daily greenhouse gas output that is the equivalent of blowing out one candle in every restaurant in BC and expecting the skies to clear.

Here’s my suggestion. Use the carbon tax collected from BC residents to buy a nuclear powered electricity generation plant – a Candu reactor, say, and give it to the Chinese.

Designed by Canadians, powered by uranium mined by Canadians – which China will buy from us (part of the deal, to offset loss of coal sales) and while we’re at it we insist that it is to be built by Canadians – paid from our tax dollars.

We say to China, “We want to give you a nuclear electricity generation plant. We’ll design it, build it and train your guys to run it. You buy our fuel rods and dispose of them properly when they’re done. That’s it.

The result will be a carbon credit the like of which we could never accumulate by cutting 10% here and 15% there and it helps our 2nd largest trading partner.

You can thank me later,

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWriMo has begun

I have begun writing a new novel. This morning I put down 2k or so and enjoyed the 3 hours I spent at the keyboard.

It is set primarily on an island in Mexico where I went on vacation last February for two weeks.

Everywhere I go I am studying the environs for a setting for a novel of some kind, maybe a suspense thriller, maybe a love story, maybe SF, I never know at the time, but it makes me pay attention to details like the boats, the people, the vegetation. The latter is a problem for me because the names of plants always escape me and it is hard to research them from a distance.


Monday, October 20, 2008

New Monority Government

Okay, the conservatives got re-elected as another minority government and the world didn't end, not yet anyway.

The dollar is falling, the price of oil is falling as are other fuels, natural gas, gasoline, but diesel is in short supply in some locales in Canada and trucks are sitting idle. Our food chain is 3 days to a week in Canada. If the trucks don't roll the food doesn't arrive.

I remember reading Paul Ehrlich's book in 1978 or thereabouts: The End of Affluence. It rings eerily true still in light of some recent developments.

Ehrlich pointed to various problems, the one week food inventory and the vulnerability of the banking system to a credit crisis being just two of them.

I await further developments, while I think about gathering some nuts and berries for the larder.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian Election Tomorrow

Looks from the polls like another Conservative government for the next 4 or 5 years.
The Greens & NDP are squabbling over who cares the most about the environment. Voters seem to be leaning towards whichever party thay think will protect their money the best. The urge to self-preservation for the short term, the immediate future, is the strongest motivation.

It irritates me no end that they twitter about a carbon tax and a cap & trade program as if this is a realistic solution The irritation stems from their attitude that Canadian voters are too stupid to know the difference or that neither plan has a hope in Hell of succeeding. And that they are probably right about how ignorant your average joe is. The government ought to know since they were part of the conspiracy to keep the masses poor and ignorant in the first place.

Deplorable efforts at making the schools effective or maintaining conditions where teaching professionals could make them more efficient, miserably low expectations of performance and shocking rewards system for underachievement all resulting in masses that are too incompetent to compete on a world stage, & too stupid to realize that they have been duped by the elite & betrayed by their elected representatives at the expense of the well-to-do classes.

I probably won't bother watching the election results sham tomorrow, since Canadian TV is banned from reporting the results in the East before polls close in the west, but American stations will carry the news anyway, besides isn't there the internet? We will read election results in Newfoundland immediately the polls close on some Newfy's Blog 3.5 hours before polls close in Vancouver.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Any carbon tax in Canada is a waste of time..

as long as gas flaring continues in the oil producing industry.

"Gas flares emit about 390 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, and experts say eliminating global flaring alone would curb more CO2 emissions than all the projects currently registered under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism."

- from

Should I stop driving my 3-cyclinder Suzuki hatchback to work even on cold, rainy days, instead riding my bike 25kms one way to cut down the size of my carbon footprint, and pay a carbon tax of 2.5 cents a litre of gasoline to my provincial government while they do nothing about the gas flaring going on around the world "because there is no local demand for the natural gas to make it economical (read "profitable") to the oil companies?

"Oil is a mainstay of Nigeria's economy, and the government acknowledges that the oil industry still flares 24 billion cubic meters of gas a year, enough to power a good portion of Africa for a whole year."

(or enough to power all of British Columbia for 5 weeks!)

Gas flares burn in Nigeria adjacent to houses that have no electricity. Why? because the residents are too poor to be able to buy the electricity in the first place. Why? because the oil revenues from the industry that is killing them are not shared by the citizens of the country:

"In the areas close to the gas flares, medical staff report treating patients with all sorts of illnesses that they believe are related to the flames: bronchial, chest, rheumatic and eye problems, among others."

Instead, the ruling junta lines their own pockets corruptly with millions from the profits of allowing the Oil Corporations to drill there, flaring off gas in contempt of Government regs. banning the practice.

The oil is shipped to Europe and the US market to power SUVs, power plants and generally to support the developed lifestyle of the first world.

What do I say? It's a dog-eat-dog world and we are winning the fight?

I don't see the green revolution succeeding, at all, ever.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Built at Last!

I rode my new steed 182kms to Oliver last Friday.
It lived up to expectations and performed flawlessly,
except for 3 flats in the city of Kelowna - none out on the highway.

Stiff and aerodynamic, she will undoubtedly be 10 to 15% more efficient, saving me time and energy come raceday.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

April was National Poetry Month in Canada

and to celebrate it in an active fashion I wrote 30 poems as part of NaPoWriMo on
This is the third time I have done this and I feel the results were worthy of the effort. I have many good drafts that can be worried into poem-like states. It was amusing and mind-expanding. I had a theme: poems on the variation of "She Stoops To Conquer."
It is a comedy wr9tten by Oliver Goldsmith. The idea came unbidden to me as I typed up my first poem April first and I wondered if I could sustain the theme and write meaningful poetry. The puns in the titles eroded considerably before long but placed in a list readers could at least see where the sometimes obscure titles came from, eg. She Swaps the Reefer - about a woman who wanted a mini-van like the other soccer moms but who was obliged to drive a refrigerated semi-tractor to pick up her kids, until one happy day..

Anyway, it provided some amusement for me and my fellows.
This summer I am training for my fifth Ironman Triathlon August 24th in Penticton. I have a new bike, stiff, fast, sexy - and currently in pieces on the ground. I have to build it. I have received contributions of parts: gears, aerobars, brakes, wheels from friends around the continent: CA, PA, WA, and hope to race it this w/e on a Century ride - a fund raiser for Cancer research I think.

The bike looks like this at the mo:

and should look like this:



Friday, April 25, 2008

Wanna cut the carbon? Cut the Crap!

Environmentalists are blowing smoke up the wrong orifices.

One truth is that “incentive based program” will not reduce the distance between Calgary and Edmonton or between Saskatoon and Regina. We live in a big country.

Better they should put their efforts into finding means to reduce world population.
There are a number of ways of conceiving this:

For example, a ten per cent reduction on a large amount is more effective than achieving a 10% reduction of a small amount. Specifically, reduce the emissions of the petroleum industry by 10% and you save a million tonnes. Reduce one person’s emissions by 10% you achieve next to nothing by comparison.


While not without benefits, personal carbon emissions reduction may induce hardships on individuals. Such reductions may increase costs without increasing income for individuals.
Whereas industry will actually benefit by becoming more efficient and even more profitable.

Secondly, a large polluter can more easily sustain a significant reduction than can a small polluter.
The petroleum industry can sustain the changes without blinking. An individual citizen would experience drastic, unpleasant changes in their lives by an equivalent reduction.
In human terms, the aggressive reduction of personal pollution may mean fewer family visits, living in colder houses, wearing old clothes rather than buying new ones, eating more expensive foods perhaps, generally having a poorer lifestyle.

Think Globally

Another truth is that there are only 33 million Canadians, while there are 2,500 million people in China and India, which are rapidly industrializing – something we cannot morally ask them to arrest.
Think globally not locally. Canadian emissions are trivial when compared to the total emissions of a country like China, despite the fact that Chinese citizens produce one fifth the emissions per capita.

The government has proposed reducing Canadian emissions by 50% by 2050.
One way would be to reduce the number of Canadians by 50% or 16 million people.
If each Canadian did nothing different, the result would be the same: 50% reduced emissions.

While fantastic, it reveals an interesting fact. Chinese per capita emissions are estimated to be one fifth that of Canadians. To match a population reduction of 16 million in Canada by 2050, China would only need to reduce its projected population in 2050 by 80 millions, a five to one ratio. As was demonstrated in Korea, the social experiment of giving young women a college education will, by itself, reduced the birth rate. If this were done in China (and India, and Africa for that matter) the reduction in population alone would achieve the intended goal.
Of course Canada is not able to reduce its 2050 population by 16 million people, but China can easily do it.

Which is more achievable: Canadians reducing their carbon emissions by 50% or the education of women throughout the world?

World Population is projected to increase from 6.5B in 2007 to 9.4Billion in 2050.

Reducing our emissions today by 50% per capita will only sustain current emissions output by 2050!!!

All talk of carbon emissions reduction is crap without discussion of population control.

Some references:
Carbon Emissions per capita
Population Projections for 2050

Friday, March 21, 2008

Delta Blues

The world has run down like an old alarm clock and time rattles on towards dawn. Can't sleep no more. Three hours to go now. The wax drips from the lip of the saucer and pools on the table, twin beads polishing shins lying akimbo on the old school desk, adding a lachrymose finish to wood less than antique. I’ve mellowed like the wood in the time since that desk was in my old schoolhouse across the creek and down the road.

I remember hot dry afternoons when I found a cool deep pool under the willow on the way home from school. Hours passed slowly as I watched the flies on the surface of the pedestrian stream, hoping for that mystical moment to be watching just the right fly when a big-mouthed bass would surface and gobble it down, disappearing into the depths like some monster from the Pleistocene, lurking, idly threatening, choosing his moment to rise again.

Dust motes floated on sunbeams penetrating the thick canopy of boughs, and settled among the dead flies and twigs passing on the glassy highway meandering through the county to join the Mississippi and ultimately to flow out into the Gulf by New Orleans, a place I’d heard about in songs that issued from the roadhouse by the crossroads, a place where darkies went to dance, where legends came to play for food and beer and enough money to buy gas to get to the next township, the next roadhouse. all the way from Natches to Mobile, legends like Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy, Son House and Willie Brown, out-of-work black men who packed up their guitars and played wherever they could for any payment whatsoever, forced by the Great Depression to take to the road.

Some of us kids would sit in the shadows of the roadhouse in the dark of a summer’s evening, listening to the magic as it flowed through the high open windows, listening to the stomping of the dancers feet on the floorboards from beneath the building where in the daytime the dogs would crawl to sleep away from the heat of the day. We’d sit there slappin’ our thighs in time with the boogie-woogie back beat and trying to emulate the walking bass line of the musicians inside, while the sky filled with gimlet-sharp stars and clouds of fireflies.

Round the hardware store I heard the old men talk about how David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Johnny Shines used to come to the roadhouse to play and how the party would go on for days and nights, people falling over at work because they had stayed up all night dancing.

It’s been a long time since Charlie Patton, Sunny House and Willie Brown tore up the Delta night around Clarkesville when we were children in our early teens, but the rhythms never leave the blood and the heart is always hearkening home, to where the blues wasn’t just the rhythm of an impoverished populace but more the spiritual sustenance of a way of life, replete with its hardships, its sorrows and its joys, no less than the Gospel music we absorbed on Sundays, yet grittier and more meaningful for its visceral appeal and prurience. We didn’t intellectualize about it, we didn’t worry it this way and that trying to understand it, but we couldn’t let it go. We worried at it, like the tongue worries at popcorn kernels stuck between tooth and gum, irritated but wanting more. To quote Robert Johnson,

I mistreated my baby
and I can’t see no reason why
I mistreated my baby
and I can’t see no reason why
Everytime I think about it,
I just wring my hands and cry.

- 30 -

Robert Johnson, May 8, 1911 - August 16, 1938
Father of the Delta Blues

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke: Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke,
born 16 December 1917, Died Today at 90, March 18, 2008



* Prelude to Space (1951)
* The Sands of Mars (1951)
* Islands in the Sky (1952)
* Against the Fall of Night (1953)
* Childhood's End (1953)
* Earthlight (1955)
* The City and the Stars (1956)
* The Deep Range (1957)
* A Fall of Moondust (1961)
* Dolphin Island (1963)
* Glide Path (1963)[b]
* 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)[/b]
* Rendezvous with Rama (1972)
* Imperial Earth (1975)
* The Fountains of Paradise (1979)
* 2010: Odyssey Two (1982)
* The Songs of Distant Earth (1986)
* 2061: Odyssey Three (1988)
* A Meeting with Medusa (1988)
* Cradle (1988) (with Gentry Lee)
* Rama II (1989) (with Gentry Lee)
* Beyond the Fall of Night (1990) (with Gregory Benford)
* The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990)
* The Garden of Rama (1991) (with Gentry Lee)
* Rama Revealed (1993) (with Gentry Lee)
* The Hammer of God (1993)
* Richter 10 (1996) (with Mike McQuay)
* 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)
* The Trigger (1999) (with Michael P. Kube-McDowell)
* The Light of Other Days (2000) (with Stephen Baxter)
* Time's Eye (2003) (with Stephen Baxter)
* Sunstorm (2005) (with Stephen Baxter)
* Firstborn (2007) (with Stephen Baxter)

along with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, Clarke is considered one of the Big Three of SF.

and one of my childhood, and indeed lifetime, favourites.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Tar Sands - a Black Hole of greenhouse gases,

not in the sense of "nothing escapes it" but in the sense of colour and pollution.
In size and scope nothing on earth matches the Alberta Tarsands for greenhouse gas potential. IT covers a vast area of countryside and with global warming alone would begin to emit more methane, swamp gas. Warm the tundra and it leaks gas.

But we are Hell bent on extracting bitumen and refining it into gasoline. The threat to Middle East supplies has caused oil prices to top $100 a barrel this month for the first time in history. That value now makes extraction of expensive deposits like tar sands and oil shales, as are found in Colorado, viable investments. The US is looking to Canada to replace its dependency on certain OPEC sources to ensure that Americans can still drive their SUVs to the shopping mall, but more importantly that they will still have jet fuel to maintain their world air supremacy - which single force enables the US to be the world's greatest power.

Whatever the motivation, the oilsands will be developed and the gas emissions during extraction, and in burning the subsequent refined product will absolutely dwarf any and all actions of Canadian citizens aimed at reducing our carbon emissions.

We are going to become one of the world's greatest polluters by virtue of being one of the world's largest energy producers - and our neighbour to the south isn't about to let us turn off the tap.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Year Insights

Things that will affect us in 2008, too many to list but too important to ignore. The negatives are imposing but the positives are more pleasant. The US election is full of anomalies and a lot of heavy politicking. I will try to make sense of some of that later. Right now there is what's actually happening on the ground. Things like:

* Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire's plan to reduce her state's emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, and the 200% increase in green jobs it will bring to the state.
* The doubling of geothermal energy capacity once projects currently developing come online.
* Clean energy investment rising 33% in 2007 to $117 billion.
* The more than $20 billion in new construction planned for the North American liquid natural gas (LNG) sector.
* Goldman Sachs "strongly recommending" fund managers to overweight energy in the face of a looming recession.

Canada sells a lot of natural gas (NG) to the US from our Alberta and BC NG fields. Our NG utility in BC called Terasen was formerly BC Gas but was privatized and sold to Kinder-MOrgan who then sold it to the Carlyle Group (15% OWNED BY BUSH) and is now owned by Fortis. Most important is the major gas pipeline from Northern BC to Sumas on the border. It is owned by the American company and is held separately from the utility who services and installs local pipelines to consumers. There is also a similar pipeline from NE Alberta to Chicago which was built under NAFTA to give the US access to Canadian NG.

This could be trouble if they decide to impose tariffs on the flow, or to restrict Canadian consumers access by allocating flow to US cities first. If Canadians tried to fight this, there would be legal battles under NAFTA and the WTO would adjudicate. Canada would lose.

Worst case is the White HOuse would send in troops to "safeguard American interests."
Canada would lose. We would be like Afghanistan and Iraq -occupied countries fighting a resistance war against American troops placed there by a White HOuse trying to secure energy reserves for the American people. At the same time they would be safeguarding the assets of their Multi-Nationals and the Bush family's own fortunes, and those of their friends.

Which brings me to the most important point. I've been saying for months now that the US cannot afford to leave Iraq - Afghanistan - and thereby allow the Chinese and Russians to move in on the oil fields.
President Bush recently toured the middle-east and mooted plans for permanent military bases there. The Harper government has just tabled legislation to establish Canadian troops in the middle-east on a permanent mission, saying, "we cannot abandon the Afghani peoples"
Meanwhile security in Kandahar has not improved, the drug lords continue to run the place, poppies continue to be grown. The drug sales fund the Taliban / Al Quaeda in their resistance. The arms manufacturers get richer.

One effect of continued fighting in the middle-east is to push oil and other energy prices higher. $100 a barrel for oil two weeks ago - first time in history is a windfall for Big OIl, who are now buying back their shares with all the free cash thye have because they will own outright all the reserves in the ground on the leases
they control by 2023/4 Imagine, if oil is worth $300 barrel by 2024 and you own all of it, you don't need to drill for and find new reserves. If you own only a share of it, then you must find new reserves to increase profits, but if there aren't any new reserves? So Chevron , BP, Shell, Royal Dutch Oil and others, are buying back their shares spending Billions of dollars - instead of spending it on exploration. Why look for something you already know isn't there?

The era of cheap energy is over.