5 Mins Subsidies for Nuclear Power (October 28, 2016)
The issue of subsidies is the ever-growing elephant in the energy room. And, it’s an already crowded room. The world is in a time of energy transition (the status quo is not an option, though utilities of all stripes with a 20th century attitude will tell you differently). Subsidies will be a key player in the speed and effectiveness of that transition. The energy playing field is not level when it comes to taxpayer subsidies. For the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, it is all you can eat at the taxpayers subsidies buffet. For the renewable energy industry it is a bowl of thin soup and a cracker from that same buffet. Now the nuclear energy industry is asking for more; a carbon tax “that’ll reward them for their zero-emissions power”. What this probably means is a tax deduction or the like. However, every jurisdiction has the same challenge moving ahead aggressively with the undernourished renewable energy industry, and governments and communities that reduce their carbon emissions without creating other harder to solve problems (like nuclear waste) should probably be a priority in terms of getting support or benefits. The big levelling of the energy playing field is coming, and we need to address the subsidies issue now. The world has no choice.
1 min Politics Meets Science in AB’s Wildrose Party (Nov 1 2016)
This article shares a shocking decision by the Wildrose Party to oppose Alberta’s climate action plan, and the carbon tax, despite the plan having received almost unanimous support, including from ENGOs and oil sands companies including Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Suncor, Cenovus, and Shell. We read this article while at the Changing Cold Regions Network conference in Guelph, ON. There we learned, at almost the same moment, from Dr. Shawn Marshall, a glaciologist and Canada Research Chair in Climate Change from the University of Calgary, that the science that indicates that almost all Canadian glaciers are on the path to fully melt as a result of human induced climate change no matter what greenhouse gas emission scenario scientists envision and model (from business as usual through to drastic and immediate cuts in emissions) is “robust”. This, within the lifetime of children alive today. How can political strategy can be so disconnected from what science is clearly telling us? Politics that engages in willful political blindness when it comes to science and the environment should disqualify it from consideration by any electorate in Canada.
5 mins Nation-to-Nation Diplomacy at Work? (Nov. 2, 2016)
The Dakota Access Pipelines in South Dakota and Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland. These are two separate situations involving Indigenous peoples protecting their rights, in two different countries, but with one major commonality: both incidents were defused, after initial escalation, by strategic thinking and diplomacy. The use of force typically condoned under the law and order approach was abandoned. As President Obama comments in the embedded video, when dealing with peaceful protesters, the authorities have the responsibility to use restraint. Instead of police, dogs, rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests wise leaders engaged in good political interventions that ended the stand offs, in a constructive way. This is an important lesson and one that can be extended to other challenges we face, in particular, building a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous governments. Diplomacy is a political art form, in its best moments practiced by nations as they work to maintain important relationships with other neighbours. These two situations are examples of a nation-to-nation response, on all sides.
2 mins Why Should we Care about the Steadily Dying Sierra Nevadas? (Oct. 27, 2016)
Why should a blog about the dying pine forests of California be important to Canada? Because – although we might seek to avert our attention to less sad and terrifying news – these stories are where we live and are all around us, signaling a worldwide shift, a massive transition to a very different and much less predictable world. An article that we didn’t curate from The Guardian this week reported the loss of 67% of the world’s wildlife populations by 2020…just over three short years from now. In 2014 WWF reported we had already lost 50% of the world’s wildlife due to human activities…so things seem to be getting worse quickly. These stories are all about habitat: direct loss due to humans converting it to farmland, cities, etc. and loss due to climate impacts that make habitats no longer able to support the wildlife and peoples that rely on them. This threatens to be our dubious legacy; yet, it is within our power to make the needed decisions. Back to the question of why, John Dunne comes to mind, “no man is an island, entire unto himself…”.