Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harper remaking Canada in his image..

"Harper remaking Canada in his own image" - scary stuff when you stop to think about it..

Why Haper suppresses environment science?

         Hidden costs of unsustainable development?? Global Warming theory predicts that, with a heated up Hydrological Cycle, there will be more extreme precipitation events. Data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada seems to confim this prediction. It will become harder to get insurance in the future and / or you will pay more. Like conservatives like to say: "there's no free lunch kid. You pay sooner or you pay later." Too bad they don't follow their own advice!

         The real costs of 2 centuries of unsustainable development (fossil fuel powered) are beginning to roll in. Deep pockets, anyone..


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Friday, July 27, 2012

From the Bureaucracy Sucks file

         Here's a beaueaucracy story that just happened. About a week ago I returned some books to the municipal library (big city). One book was not listed as returned ...and fines began adding up. Several emails were sent and received no reply.

         Today, I went to the library in person and talked to a technician. She explained in detail all the hassles I was in for. They would... have to do 4 searches before charging me about 50 bucks for the book and handling fees if they could not find it. In the meantime I would receive notices by mail, phone calls and might even have my account frozen, etc. The whole thing would take a month or so to fix, "but I shouldn't worry" (!!) she said with a smile.

          According to the technician, THEY HAD ALREADY CONDUCTED ONE SEARCH AND HAD NOT FOUND THE BOOK ON THE SHELVES - three more searches to go. So, being old enough to know how bureaucracy functions I went to the shelves and - guess what? - found the damn book IN THE RIGHT PLACE..

          This is an example of why, despite all the gaping horrors ahead, I find some reason for hope in the Peak Oil crisis. Cheap oil is finished and, with it, the globalized economy it built. It will soon be too expensive to ship junk from sweatshops in China to big box sweatshops in N. America or to grow food through industrial farming as we now do. The world will be forced to de-globalize productive, economic and financial activities. We will once again grow, manufacture, and consume locally and regionally. Bureaucracy will shrink.
            Do you hear that? Bueaucracy will shrink! Yesssss!
            Can Peak Oil be all that bad..

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CAVEAT EMPTOR: buyer beware

"We can't live in this grandiose U.S. fantasy world any longer, this pretense of our unlimited exceptional America that is the pinnacle of all evolution up to this moment. We are actually moving into a period of collapse nurtured for a long time by that hubris. Coming to terms with ourselves is a critical and urgent task of this moment so that we can learn how to encounter that collapse honestly, and then figure out how we are going to live from here on out as the world moves into deeper and deeper crisis.

Tell stories that reveal truth. Tell stories that reveal us to ourselves. Don't hold back. We need some real truth-telling now." 

               There is much food for thought in these two texts. One need not agree with them completely but they do point to an essential point: we are living through an epoch of unprecedented change and transformation which, inevitably for those living through them, have an apocalyptic tenor and appearance. Change IS, after all, unsettling, especially if it means the loss of the very things we defined ourselves by, like SUVs, cheap energy, the hyperconsumption society..)

               Another point for reflection: what does all this have to do with govermental transparency?

               Quite a lot, actually. Covering up the truth, lack of transparency, is a way for corrupt, ruling elites to hold on to power as long as they can. The public is diverted by "bread and circuses": pseudo-issues (gay marriage, abortion, islamofascism, "socialism", the president's citizenship status, Climategate), or mind-deadening / soul-destroying mass "entertainment" and spectator sports. When the public is no longer focused on real issues, the masters of the old order can hold onto power for a little longer..

                And when the fall comes, it will be all the harder..

                 Caveat Emptor

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blows against the Borg

 "For every dollar the organization spends, about $2.20 is generated for the host community" 

Q: If Katimavik is a $ maker and conservatives are all about making $, why the hell defund it? 

R: ? Ideology ? (What other replies make sense..) 

PS: Fed up with neocon clones in Ottawa? Strike back against the borg - sign the petition. And don't forget to share..


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Friday, July 20, 2012

RIP: The Death of Evidence

             Sadly for those who believe in transparency as a govermental ideal or objective, the "Death of Evidence" protest by scientists and researchers in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 received little attention. Their objective was to draw attention to the rather evident attempts by the probusiness Harper government to muzzle the voice of environmental concern in Canada.

              Canada is shooting itself in the foot with continued cuts to research projects whose goal is understand and monitor the effects of human economic activity on the natural environment. Health and long term economic impacts aside, Canada is now destroying institutions and programs that have won praise and appreciation from the international scientific community. Short sighted ideologically motivated cuts are destroying what little prestige this country has left on the international stage. (Maybe we just don't care..)

               From a Globe and Mail article:

"But the protesters also decried the Conservative government’s overall economic agenda, which they say puts the environment at risk for the sake of creating jobs."

               This statement begs to be deconstructed! "Environment" versus "jobs", right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the protesters themselves - educated as they are! - got sucked into the Harperites' twisted neocon "logic". Generally speaking, economic analyses that have looked into the job creation potential of green energies and energy conservation tend to support the following observation: green energies and energy conservation projects tend to be labor intensive versus conventional energy production systems which tend to be more capital intensive than labor intensive. To get more jobs for the buck, go green!

"The Conservatives make no apologies for wanting to focus scientific research in areas where money and jobs can be made."

                  Deconstuction: they focus on applied science where the "off the shelf" payback is quick. But in the long run, it is fundamental science - while admittedly more risky - what delivers the biggest bang for the buck. To simply a bit, applied science is a (nearly) sure bet, with little payback. With fundamental science you better expect to sink quite a bundle (thus have pretty deep pockets). But when you DO hit paydirt you hit it bigtime: think lasers, computers, solid state electronics, decoding the genome.. The Harperites think small - and for the short term, not the long term (as their environmentally suicidally politics have already demonstrated clearly enough).

"Canada has been lagging behind other nations in terms of applied scientific research and putting it to commercial use, said a government official who didn’t want to be identified."

                    Now THAT's transparency! (One wonders why, exactly, s/he doesn't want to be indentified.. Curious..)

"But the protesters said Conservatives policies weaken or abolish scientific institutions, in the name of making it easier to develop natural resources."

                     Boy, oh boy! This short article is a deconstructor's wet dream come true..

                      The Harperite neocon wanabes are not weakening or abolishing scientific institutions in the name of making it easier to develop natural resources but irreversibly deplete precious nonrenewal resources (minerals..) while failing to develop renewable energy and resources for future sustainable development. They are NOT "developing" natural resources but DEPLETING them. In addition, by lousy management of renewable resources (forests, fisheries..), these - potentially sustainable resources - are also being wasted and irreversibily depleted. Think: tragedy of east cost cod fishery!

                      One can sum up the environmental consciousness of the Haper government as "the environmental damage you don't see don't exist". This is an insane policy of willful blindness, like a man with gambling or drinking problem denying that ain't got no problem at all: Not me! I can control my drinking / gambling. What evidence do you have that I can't. I'm earning 6 digits a year.. (Yes bro, maybe you still are, for a while. And your wife pretends she doesn't see a problem. Kids are easy enough to ignore, they got friends - who sell dope and pimp.Eveythings just fine, bro.)

                             The final line of the Globe and Mail article is prehaps the most important to quote (and reflect upon):

"“We can restore evidence, but this will require an effort not only by scientists but by the general public.” Amen!


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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Court slaps down Turp's Kyoto withdrawal protest

               Last year Québec law professor Daniel Turp took the feds to federal court over Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Greenhouse Gas Emission Control Accords. The court's decision has just come down. The government was acting within its legally defined range of powers when it withdrew from the Accord.


                   Observation: notice how The Whig slants the article by insisting on repeatedly labelling Prof Turp as a "separatist". The dude is indeed a separatist - he wants Québec to become an independent nation. But that has nothing to do with his action in court against the feds' decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord. Many Canadians who are anti-seprartist are against the Harper governement's decision on Kyoto. One suspects that disparaging Turp is a means of disparaging his environmental stance (or am I being paranoid..) The reader poll at the end of the article is interesting. To the question, "should this be the end of Canada's involvement with Kyoto?" 79% (admittedly only 11 votes..) agreed with the response "Yes, it's dead". This is probably the response the Haperites were counting on.

                 However, regarding issues of governmental transparency, honesty and all that, it turns out that PM Steven Harper has it right this time. We'll leave him with the last word:

" "What made absolutely no sense for this country was a Liberal government that signed the Kyoto protocols, signed what I quite frankly think were stupid targets and then had no plan after 10 years in office to even implement those," he said at the time."

                    We concur! For once we concur with Stephan Harper. Will wonders ever cease - the End of World must be near. In effect, the bloody Liberals signed the accord - reflecting, we believe, the will of the Canadian people at the time - and then sat on their hands for 10 years while emissions just rose and rose and rose. And Scandinavian countries began to get a handle on things..

                    Not only is such behavior on the part of public servants non-transparent, morally dishonest and politically irresponsible, it should - in a sane world - be considered a criminal, indictable offense. The conservatives at least had the cojones to admit their opposition to Kyoto from the start; the bleedin' libs stabbed us in the back. And now the jerks moan over the "apathy" and political "cynicism" of the young. Give us a break, joiks! 

internal blog link: http://transparencycanada.blogspot.ca/2012/05/law-prof-takes-feds-to-court-over-kyoto.html