Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: December 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's time for Geothermal in Canada

Tyler Hamilton of the Toronto Star and the clean break web site discuses the ignored potential of a Canadian Geothermal industry.

Canada is the only Pacific rim country to ignore this potential energy source.

With the technology largely developed elsewhere we can leap frog over other producers and achieve good efficiencies first try.

The 30 year old but mostly ineffective Canadian Geothermal Energy Association is trying to rebrand itself complete with a new web site and a donated theme song by Sarah Mclachlan. The group plans to lobby the Government and produce a white paper on Geothermal in an attempt to rekindle interest for both a provincial and federal Geothermal energy policy.

Alison Thompson, the Vice president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association believes that 3000 "easy" megawatts of Geothermal projects would be available in B.C. alone with a larger potential of 6000 megawatts. There is undoubtedly some opportunities in other regions of the country as well.

We have the technology, we have the resource but we don't have the political will. I suggest you check out their web site and contact your MP to demand this clean energy resouce be utilized.Recommend this Post

Peace and goodwill at Christmas- NOT!!!

You have to love what religion does to people.

Over the Christmas Holiday 80 or so Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Priests who jointly control the Church of the Nativity got into a broom swinging melee requiring Palestinian police to separate them.

Gotta love that Christmas spirit!Recommend this Post

Benazir Bhutto reported(confirmed) killed in blast

Pakistan moved one step further from stability today as a suspected suicide blast has wounded and as some reports claim may have killed Benazir Bhutto

While the original story claimed Bhutto was gravely injured a Pakistan military spokesmen claims she was killed, look for riots and more bloodshed should this report be true.

Just after posting this Bhutto's political party confirms her death
It now looks like Bhutto was shot in the chest and neck before the suicider detonated his bomb, I suspect we won't know for some time which actually caused her death.Recommend this Post

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is public transit an essential service?

It happens once every couple of years, citizens of major cities who have been encouraged to use public transit through claims of convenience, efficiency, environmental benefit or who are just too damn poor to do otherwise get held hostage by the likes GO or the TTC who threaten to strike.

In an age of global warming, smog, crowded roads and peak oil I think it's time we should open a debate on the status of public transit and whether it should be classified a essential service. I believe in collective bargaining, I belong to a union and despite the idiots who always take things too far, get away with too much and abuse the system they do have a role to play.

I also believe that reliability is one of keys to building a sound sustainable transit system. As long as transit can be disrupted over labour disputes there will always be a reason to build more and more roads, and a disincentive to adopt a car free lifestyle.

So is public transit am essential service? I'm certainly leaning towards thinking it is.Recommend this Post

Friday, December 21, 2007

Get out of debt

Sorry for the un-Gab like surge in videos but this one of my favourites and considering the credit woes and housing crisis in the states oh so appropriate for this time of year.

Enjoy it and follow it's instructions.

Recommend this Post

Sesame street in da ghetto

While this video is probably the rawest thing I have ever posted I just can't help loving the anti materialistic view point of Stinky

Recommend this Post

The Christians and the Pagans

The weirdest thing,

It might just be coincidence but shortly after my Happy Solstice post a co-worker (who I have no idea if he even knows I blog) sent me this song by Dar Williams and it seemed appropriate to play it as his comment.

It's really quite charming

Recommend this Post

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Solstice

I always feel a little sad for the Pagans around Solstice.

Like our native peoples they had a great deal of their culture and religion crushed or occasionally co-opted. If it had not been for Romans converting Northern Europe through witness and sword I would be celebrating Solstice and the Spring Equinox not Christmas and Easter. When I think about it logically the Pagans based holidays around the same kind of delusional stories about higher powers that Christians, Jews, Muslims do today but with one exception, they based some of their holidays on natural rhythms, measurable and predictable events that shaped their simple lives.

The modern faiths recorded the words of “Prophets and Seers” which were sometimes written down decades after the events and often had numerous versions that could be culled on a whim whenever it suited their religious leaders. Some were translated through several languages over centuries; others interpreted time and time again being warped and finessed to suit some personal belief or goal rather than a provable absolute.

The Pagans had their stories as well and while they did vary from region to region or tribe to tribe but they did have an absolute, each year as predicted and promised in their stories the days would grow longer after solstice, and each spring would bring rebirth.

As an outsider or visiting alien species which would be more irrational to you, Bronze age peoples basing stories on provable phenomena, or industrial age peoples who believe in the hearsay of long past miracles? True there was a darker side to some Pagan beliefs and practices but stoning, witch burning and animal sacrifices are the heritage of today’s enlightened religions, so where do we get off being critical?

While the true Pagans have been replaced with neo-Pagans, Wicca’s, and posers who can only try to mimic but never replicate the nuances of unrecorded Pagan practices, I still wish them all Happy Solstice in the memory of those lost astronomers from the past.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

War, famine, pestilence and death

A slightly dated article Dec 5, claims protests and hunger will be our future, brought about by increased demand for food and shrinking stockpiles.

The risks of food riots and malnutrition will surge in the next two years as the global supply of grain comes under more pressure than at any time in 50 years, according to one of the world's leading agricultural researchers.

Recent pasta protests in Italy, tortilla rallies in Mexico and onion demonstrations in India are just the start of the social instability to come unless there is a fundamental shift to boost production of staple foods, Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, warned in an interview with the Guardian.
The growing appetite of China and other fast-developing nations has combined with the expansion of biofuel programmes in the United States and Europe to transform the global food situation.

After decades of expanding crop yields and falling food prices, the past year has seen a sharp rise in the cost of wheat, rice, corn, soya and dairy products.

"Demand is running away. The world has been consuming more than it produces for five years now. Stocks of grain - of rice, wheat and maize - are down at levels not seen since the early 80s," said von Braun, whose organisation is the world's largest alliance of agricultural researchers, economists, and policy experts.

So far, crises have been averted because states have eaten into national stocks, but this could be set to change because China, in particular, has run down its supplies.

"Over the next 12 to 24 months we are in a fairly risky situation. Large consuming nations, particularly China, will feel pressed to enter international markets to bid up prices to unusual levels," von Braun warned ahead of a speech today to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's AGM in Beijing.

Thanks to its manufacturing prowess China has huge foreign exchange reserves and could buy the global food crop several times over. But its consumers are already feeling the cost of food inflation. According to the local media three shoppers died last month in a stampede at a supermarket in Chongqing that was offering cheap rapeseed oil. The threat of instability has prompted prime minister Wen Jiabao to make the fight against food price rises one of his government's priorities. So far it seems a losing battle.

Economic growth - estimated at 11.5% in the first nine months of the year - has made Chinese consumers wealthier, while urbanisation and globalisation has changed their diet. In October the government announced pork prices were up more than 50%, vegetables 30% and cooking oil 34% compared with the year before.

The knock-on is felt across the world. In Britain and other rich nations it means a few more pence for breakfast cereal in the short term and a slightly higher cost for toys, clothes and other China-made goods. But for the world's poorest communities the rises will have a potentially devastating effect.

Bangladesh has had to ask for half a million tonnes of food aid - a severe blow to the pride of a country that had been trying to wean itself off international assistance. Bangladeshi officials say the price of cooking oil - of which it imports 1.2m tonnes a year - has almost tripled in the past two years because it is now valued as an alternative to diesel oil. More worryingly, their main staple of rice is hard to buy at any price because India, Vietnam and Ukraine have cut exports.

Added to this are the pressures caused by global warming, which have been blamed for the droughts that damaged crops in Australia this year.

The social tensions caused by rising food prices are already evident, says von Braun. "The first sign was the tortilla riot in Mexico city, where 70,000 took to the streets. I think that was only the beginning - there will be more," said von Braun. "For a year or two countries can stabilise with stocks. But the risk comes in the next 12 to 24 months. The countries that cannot afford to buy will be the losers, while those with huge foreign exchange reserves will bid up the world market."

Von Braun called on Europe to reconsider its biofuel policies, to provide more aid to poor nations, to keep markets open and to boost production.

The forces pushing up food prices

1 Rising consumption: The appetite of fast-growing nations, such as China, is rising as economic booms cause a surge in demand for meat and dairy products

2 Competition from biofuels: The cars of the rich are now rivalling the bellies of the poor for corn, cane and edible oils

3 Climate change: Global warming is putting pressure on water needed to irrigate crops

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Tuesday December 4, 2007
The Guardian

Our hair brained idea of turning food to fuel cannot be sustained and it seems obvious it can only lead to more starvation and unrest. Neither can the developing world adopt our high protine diets without pushing food supply to the limit. Famine and resource wars will be followed by disease and death, sound like the horsemen are mounting up.Recommend this Post

1 in 5 Americans will borrow to heat their homes this Winter

I keep telling everyone that the end is nigh and this story shows how close we are to the end

Imagine having to borrow money to heat your home or worse, having to put it on plastic as 9% of Americans plan to do.

This is scary shit children, our lives as soft, fat, decadent energy eating machines is soon to end and end badly.

Imagine this mall scene, child on Santa's lap.

"What do you want for Christmas little boy"

"Our heat turned back on!"Recommend this Post

Washington Fire!!!

A small fire broke out today at the Eisenhower Executive Office building which is just off the west wing of the White House. The building houses the Vice President's offices and the National Security Council.

The fire was centered around Cheney's offices but his apparent absence excludes "PANTS ON FIRE" as the cause of ignition.

I suspect that a candle fell over during a blood sacrifice, but what do I know!Recommend this Post

A Little Layton slamming to warn the heart

A touching little piece from the Ottawa Citizen's Susan Riley

Junkyard Jack

Susan Riley
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

They are overshadowed by a leader who is alternately decisive and abrasive, they appear to believe federal Liberals are the source of all evil and they are not going anywhere in the polls.

No, not Stephen Harper's Conservatives; Jack Layton's New Democrats. Generally they fly under the radar, sidelined in the battle between the traditional behemoths -- to their intense and understandable frustration. Lately, however, they have found themselves at centre stage, but not in flattering light -- victims of the self-inflicted blunders that often trip up the bigger parties.

NDP backbencher Irene Mathyssen's rash accusation against Conservative MP James Moore concerning his laptop preferences was more than an embarrassment: it was ammunition for those who will always regard New Democrats as smug, priggish scolds. Despite Mathyssen's apology, the remark will haunt her and her party. And, for once, Layton wasn't front and centre: he let his embattled MP dig her own way out.

Later, it fell to veteran British Columbia MP Libby Davies to apologize for false accusations, advanced by NDP officials, that a Liberal candidate in the last election tried to bribe his NDP rival. Again, Layton kept a low profile throughout.

That didn't protect him from accusations, from Liberal Ralph Goodale, of embracing "junkyard-dog" tactics -- not an unusual charge on the Hill, but an unusual target. New Democratic Party leaders usually try to float above the fray, not descend into it. But this is not your mother's NDP: it is muscular, mustachioed and, most days, pretty mad.

It is also increasingly hard to distinguish from its rivals. Last week, for instance, there were reports -- almost lost amid Brian Mulroney's star turn -- that Layton rejected two potential NDP candidates in Quebec for straying from the party line. It was not, party officials insisted, because one is transgendered. Interestingly, when Harper accepted the banishment of two Ontario Conservative hopefuls for ideological inconsistencies, he was accused of being a control freak.

New Democrats also accuse Harper of slavishly imitating U.S. Republicans, of importing neoconservative strategies from abroad. But they recently announced their own mission to Australia to study new Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's recent victory. Apparently when New Democrats shop offshore for tactics, it isn't a sign of political sycophancy, but evidence of ideological solidarity and organizational sophistication.

They point is not that New Democrats are uniquely hypocritical: all parties exhibit double standards on these and other issues. But no party is more deeply shocked by the shabby exigencies of real-life politics -- with that great Prairie exemplar of virtue, Manitoba MP Pat Martin, a leading case.

As for Layton's inability to crack the 16-to-19-per-cent range in polls, that may reflect ambivalence over his informal alliance with the Harper Conservatives. The alliance is purely strategic. Nor is it comprehensive -- New Democrats still criticize Tory environmental and social policies. But there has developed, for some NDP stalwarts, a disquieting pattern: a gang-up on the Liberals, when Harper poses a far greater danger to the country.

Others, especially Elizabeth May, are troubled by Layton's nasty tone towards the Green party. Some of his MPs accuse May of being a closet Tory; other cast her as a wannabe Liberal. She has been attacked, unfairly, as an opponent of a woman's right to choose and generally shunned by Layton, despite her repeated attempts to talk. If the NDP response to May is tense and the tone frayed, it is because she represents a threat. Gradually, unevenly, and despite the lack of a daily platform, the Greens are creeping up in the polls.

But, as Layton's supporters explain, he is in politics to win, not to help like-minded rivals. And he is right to mistrust Liberals: they talk a progressive line in opposition, but invariably govern from the right.

That said, Stéphane Dion is a different kind of Liberal -- the first leader in years not close to the world of big money. Whether he succeeds in creating a greener, more progressive Liberal party is an open question and Layton, sensibly, isn't inclined to wait for the answer.

Meanwhile, Layton is conducting himself like any other ambitious, strategy-minded, combative (male) leader. For now, policy seems secondary to strategy. That may be why the party was so slow to condemn the hysteria over veiled voters: it didn't want to risk support in Quebec. Indeed, its overriding goal -- sound familiar? -- appears to be to showcase its prize recruit, Outremont MP Thomas Mulclair, and make electoral inroads in Quebec.

As for the leader, he is both an asset and a liability -- intense, intelligent, volatile, convinced of his own virtue, prickly when criticized and not warmly engaging. No, not Stephen Harper. But similar.

Is there a problem?

If so what is it, the message, the dealing with Harper or Jack himself?Recommend this Post

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To Boldly go where no man has gone before

Voyager 2 has made an important first for mankind as it crossed the Termination Shock a boundary that separates the solar system's heliosphere from a region where the solar wind falters as pressure from interstellar gas impedes it.

Voyager has now entered the heliosheath, an area of lessened solar wind and in a mere 7-10 years will become the first man made object to leave the solar system.(not including clothes and the loose change carried in the pockets of abductees)

It's sad to think that pollution, resource depletion, war or social upheaval could make this the pinnacle of man's achievement. I've always been a sci-fi guy but more an more it looks like we will self destruct in this gravity well and never reach beyond it.Recommend this Post

peak oil video: How will you ride the Slide

Recommend this Post

Monday, December 10, 2007

Paying $5000 to breed?

A recent article in the Australian Journal of Medicine recommends placing a carbon tax on breeding. The idea would allow 2 freebie kids, with a $5000 (Oz dollars) carbon charge on subsequent births and a $800/year/excess child carbon tax. The money would go towards the purchase and maintenance of land and the planting of trees to offset the expected carbon footprint of the children.

On the other side, you would receive income tax deductions for contraceptives or sterilization.

I actually like this idea in principle but it would not work.

Civil libertarians would scream that you were making breeding the prerogative of the rich.

By taxing breeding you could also impoverish children for the "Crimes" of their parents.

Would you repo children who could not afford their breeding tax?

For those who already pay tens of thousands of dollars for fertility treatments, $5000 would hardly make them blink an eye.

At the same time Australia like Canada has an aging population and is built on the constant growth model. What would be the point of discouraging citizens from breeding if you would just import replacement citizens from countries that have no such limitations.

Limiting consumption by existing people should still be considered most important in lowering our carbon footprint but the idea of limiting population growth or actually shrinking world population should be considered. This however cannot happen until we change the economic system from requiring constant growth to something less damaging.

I think a world wide move to supply free birth control and education should be a priority but the danger is it will only weed out the idealists and leave the more frenzied breeders to continue on their merry way!

I think peak oil will whittle down the population eventually anyways but if we started it ourselves we might save some of the pain.

What do you think the answer is?

Recommend this Post

Friday, December 7, 2007

Scientology unconstitutional

The global finacial crisis, global warming, and assholes in power all depress me but then the Germans come along and declare "that we do not consider Scientology an organization that is compatible with the constitution," and once again I'm happy and care free again, wheeeeee!!!

see full story

Scientologists believe all the wrongs of man are caused by evil spirits(body thetans) remnants from an earlier galactic genocide, that adhere themselves to our bodies and cause us all forms of grief. These thetans were created when the evil Galactic overlord XENU,(Not to be confused with Lucy Lawless) flew all his enemies to a prehistoric earth in space DC-8s, dropped them in volcanoes and nuked them. Sounds like overkill to me, why not open the airlocks of the space planes?, he had already captured them why not just shoot them? Wasn't a hot volcano enough to kill them?

The ghosts/spirits/thetans were then brainwashed to believe in religion and released to plague proto man. I knew that incident with the Nun and a quart of Tequila was not my fault!

Through years of analysis and hefty fees you can be cured (brainwashed) and become as normal and well balanced as Tom Cruise. Apparently part of the treatments include holding onto metal Phalluses hooked up to a machine. By the look of it Travolta really gets off on it.

The Germans however believe the whole thing is a money making scam which considering what L. Ron Hubbard said about religion seems like a quite reasonable assumption.

"If you want to make a lot of money, start your own religion" - L. Ron Hubbard

So while we have made no progress on Global Warming today the Germans have made some small progress on solving Global Stupidity, That makes it a good day!

Hail Xenu!!Recommend this Post

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What Will we Eat as the Oil Runs Out?

This is a must read article from Peak Oil expert Richard Heinberg.
Since it's long enough as it is I'm not going to spout off about it, until comments start.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This idea is the Pitt's

It seems Brad Pitt is flogging his “Make it Right” project in an attempt to build 150 “eco friendly” homes in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.

First I have to congratulate him for at least trying to do some good.

Second I have to say “ are you just STUPID or what?”

Don't get me wrong, eco friendly houses are a good thing, hell I'd love one. There are no designs for this project yet so it’s impossible to judge if these buildings are really sustainable development or not. The designs will be through a design contest and I'm sure the cost of a true eco house will make these less than perfect. In the end I suspect that a little recycled material and bamboo will be incorporated so they can "green wash" another foolish development.

So how do you make a house Flood Proof?

Well the easiest ways are to make it float like some of the barge houses in the Netherlands, or put it on stilts with the lower level being inconsequential parking, storage. Both of these ideas add additional cost to the buildings with no real utility. Neither of these options solves the real problem of people and the detritus of modern life including sewage, cars, pesticides, herbicides, Gas stations etc all being below sea level in a era of rising seas levels. Even if the houses survive the land below is recontaminated each time there is a new flood.

The money to make these houses flood safe would be better used making 150 houses on dry land, that are net zero homes. The only environmentally friendly thing to do in New Orleans is to naturalize all destroyed areas and allow the city to shrink. Building on a flood plain or even worse below sea level with today's realities is anything but Eco Friendly!Recommend this Post