Monday, May 17, 2010

The Sane Mind Cannot Contradict Itself

The human mind cannot hold two mutually contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Today I heard on the radio of a group that were beginning a running program. Their goal is to run 5kms after about 8 weeks, They are all still smokers. Of those who succeed in running 5kms in two months only 30% will still be smokers, or so I'm told. I can understand that. August 28, 2003 I paid $550 to enter the Ironman Canada Triathlon. I was a smoker.

I quit smoking Christmas Eve 2002 and I haven't touched a cigarette since, nor have I missed it.

Eight months later to the day, August 24, 2003, I finished my first Ironman Canada.Triathlon.

I have done it six times since then. August 29th 2010 will see my seventh Ironman Canada finish.

The key for me was simply deciding that I was not a smoker. It was inconsistent: smoking and running marathons, so I said: "I am not a smoker any longer." Either you are or you aren't.

To those who think it is more complicated or too difficult, I say, "You just haven't decided yet whether you are a smoker or not. If you can't make up your mind, then you are still a smoker. If you say to yourself that I want to quit but it's too hard, then you are confused. You cannot say "I want to quit" and then light up a smoke. Lighting up, says "I want to smoke." It's that simple."

My first run was about two blocks, then it became four blocks, then a kilometre, then 2K, soon it was, "how long could I run measured in half hours."

I'm not saying it was easy, just that it was simple, and simple because it was clear:
"I am not a smoker, therefore I do not smoke." No ambiguity.

I continue to run, bike and swim because it is fun and I want to be healthy. My ability to run a 10k at the drop of a hat or ride for two hours then do a day's work and ride home again, or go down to the lake and swim to the other side any day I feel inclined is my measure of good health. Try it. Do it. Enjoy it.

btw, I am 58 years old.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top 10 Countries Killing the Planet

Top 10 Countries Killing the Planet recently, May 11th, ran an article by Melissa Breyer called Top ten countries ruining the planet, wherein she stated that a country's wealth is the key factor in determining their threat to the planet. Makes sense. To generate wealth a country must exploit its resources, at least that has proven to be the case historically. Maybe in the future it could change but based on what I understand of human nature, I don't see that happening. When we have wealth we seek a "better" way of life, in terms of our enjoyment. We want better shelter, better food, water, air and of course, more security.

Only poverty seems to force us to accept a poorer quality of existence. We may speak (if we do) of having a more eco-friendly way of life, saving the whales, preserving bio-diversity, but it's human nature to want more food, better food, more leisure, more enjoyable leisure, more toys, more exciting entertainment.

The faint hope is that technology will help us do it. But the economic reality is that that's not what we want to spend our wealth on. The market determines what we spend our money on and market forces determine what governments will do. Governments exist to serve the dominant class in society, which according to John Ralston Saul is the Corporate Class. But that is not the core of my essay today.

“The environmental crises currently gripping the planet are the corollary of excessive human consumption of natural resources. There is considerable and mounting evidence that elevated degradation and loss of habitats and species are compromising ecosystems that sustain the quality of life for billions of people worldwide,” says Corey Bradshaw, leader of a new study by the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute in Australia that has ranked most of the world’s countries for their environmental impact."

quotes Melissa Breyer in her article.

The top ten countries endangering the planet are doing it by clearing forests, mining whole mountains, polluting air and water and destroying bio-diversity by endangering animal species.

They do all of this, not as a national program, but by the collective hand of its business interests, and this is of course in the interest of making a profit. No profit, no environmental impact. The corollary is: no market, no profit.

At the basis of this environmental exploitation is the market. The market is at it's simplest: people. There are nearly 7 billion people on the planet. In the first two hundred years since the Industrial Revolution market growth was achieved by colonizing. There were new countries to mine, harvest and to sell to. In the 20th century there were still new markets to sell to as Coca-Cola found out as they expanded into other countries. then followed MacDonald's Restaurants and every other corporation. Now in the 21st century as every country in the world has the internet and tv and is reached by any corporate interest that perceives them as a potential customer, new customers are achieved by birth.

Perhaps that's why there is no (or very little) discussion of population control. It may sound like a good idea for parlor room discussions but when dinner is served it is forgotten, yet as Paul Ehrlich warned in 1968 with his book The Population Bomb, everything else mentioned above depends on growth in human population. Stop population growth and you begin to limit environmental damage, species endangerment and climate change, also you begin to limit profits. Allow those 7 billion to become 9 billion by 2050 as predicted by the UN and the damage goes unabated.

There may be interest in the discussion, but could it happen at governmental level? The Canadian government is reluctant to include funding for abortions in their foreign aid budget because they are afraid of the contentious subject derailing their term in office and threatening their continued reign in subsequent elections. The foreign aid initiative concerns the perinatal care of third world mothers many of whom die in child birth. It is clear that they cannot accept that medical care professionals in third world countries, where women are routinely raped and may want abortions to save their lives, not to mention being saved the hardship of trying to raise and feed an unwanted infant in a war torn country whose netire population has struggled to survive below the poverty line for generations, may decide to terminate a pregnancy with the foreign-aid dollars. And if the Canadian Government cannot even entertain this discussion then there is little hope that they could survive the discussion of reducing environmental exploitation, including mines, forests, fisheries, and watersheds (where fertilizer pollution threatens our fresh water and food sources,) in the face of resistance from corporations who like their profits, and citizens who like their lifestyles.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Petroleum Gate

[i]This started as a Morning Electroshock piece but it rapidly got out of hand. heh.[/i]


[b]Petroleum Gate[/b]

Peter Johns-Houghton toyed with his English Breakfast tea, then sipped it delicately. Then he spoke. His voice was even, but his expression was deadly serious.

"Our government is chagrined by BP's response. Their actions reflect on us of course. Many of the Board are close friends with Cabinet Ministers and we enjoy a good chunk of taxes from them as well as the employment of many of our voters, but, I fear this will end badly," he said.

"How so?" I asked innocently. I had my suspicions of where this was leading but I wanted to get him on record.

"The drilling company running the rig when it exploded is a sacrificial lamb, nothing more," he replied.

"But its market cap is a hundred million easily. Pounds," I observed.

"Yes, and BP will spend another 50 million washing seabirds and otters as a PR campaign. That’s petty cash. You have to understand that the oil corporations have the best lawyers money can buy, and their primary purpose is to protect the Corporation. These people are a great deal sharper than the lawyers the government can afford. The Deep Horizon rig was funded by BP, but it is owned by the drilling company. It was set up that way as a buffer to protect BP from greater liability. They own the oil of course, but their liability stops there."

"Then who..?" I blurted, shocked to hear this revelation from his lips, though I suspected as much. It had the ring of truth about it.

"The US taxpayer will pay, of course. Obama has already come out and said they will clean it up. Perhaps he, or his advisors, have already checked with Legal on it, but they know what BP knows - they aren't going down over a bunch of herring and some whooping cranes. Of course the shrimp industry is gone, but it was doomed the day they anchored the first offshore drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. It's amazing it has lasted this long really."

"But Obama has been, albeit reluctantly, telling us that he will support offshore drilling to sever US dependence on Middle East Oil!"

"Ironic isn't it." Peter beckoned the waiter and indicated he wanted more hot water. “The price dropped precipitously after last summer's peak at $147 per barrel. You'd think they would have moved to take advantage. Look I don't know if I want to tell you this.."

The waiter interrupted and Peter paused until he was out of earshot. I was dry mouthed in anticipation of what he might say next.

"I'm not really into conspiracy theories but what I'm going to tell you might seem like that. This must be off the record. If it got out that I told you this I may be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, but I'll have to take that risk. I’m getting out of politics anyway, should have retired five years ago. The stakes are too high. None of this is confirmed officially but it may come out anyway. Some things are too big to hide."

"What are you getting at?"

“The Deep Horizon explosion may have been an act of terrorism," he said. His tea steamed until it cooled as I digested the implications of his words.
The dominoes fell rapidly as I followed the sequence of his thinking as I imagined it.
If offshore drilling went ahead and US oil independence was assured, OPEC would still sell their oil in Europe and to China, so they had no interest in a Gulf Coast disaster, except for the Islamic Jihad, but no one had claimed responsibility.


"CIA?" whispered Peter, looking around nervously.

"Why?" I queried disingenuously.

"Remember Dole pineapple and the Dulles brothers?" he asked.

I took that as rhetorical. I leaned in to hear more.

"Who else knows you're meeting with me today?" he said quietly.

"My Editor. My secretary, maybe my wife, if she listens to me anymore." Things with Gloria had deteriorated since I began following the Peak Oil crisis last year."

Peter pointed at the TV over the bar. CNN was running a banner that the DOW was down 900 points initially this morning, but had recovered to only 400 points down in the last hour.

"There is a play going on. Two actually. Big money is playing the Euro. betting the Greek-Portugal-Spain situation is going to explode. And Oil speculators are trying to push oil over a hundred again. Too much money was tied up in new operations last year when it went to $147, and they need it to get there again or they will lose big. Plus, Interests in the Canadian fields in Saskatchewan and Alberta want oil over a $100 again too."

I could fill in the blank.

"And stopping offshore oil exploration is a good way to push it over the threshold." I said.

"Exactly," said Peter.

My guts had turned to water as we watched the stock market ticker in silence and I fought back nausea. I knew I had a huge story here but it was classic conspiracy theory. No one would go on record and I had no proof that CIA had blown up a rig in the Gulf of Mexico, but damn, it made a cruel sort of sense. If they would let their own Trade Towers go down, would they balk at a few sea gulls and Louisiana shrimp? Then an inkling of an idea grew in the back of my mind.