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Changing Weather Patterns

The first tropical storm of the year is making big news as it approaches Florida. Of course, it probably won’t amount to much — tropical storms are common and not that damaging — but after the weather of last year, every extreme weather event will be in the headlines. Anyone who thinks that climate change is not impacting the American economy, or who thinks that Katrina is an old story and the area has moved on, should read about the pathetic insurance company payouts many homeowners are receiving for theirRead More

Reevalutating Priorities in the Green Movement

Alan Greenspan, the famous former head of the US Federal Reserve, issued a statement yesterday in which he warned that high oil prices were beginning to hurt the economy. He points out that the only way prices are going to go down is if demand for oil drops. Greenspan compares the current transition away from fossil fuels to “watching grass grow”. Beats watching paint dry, I suppose. The environmental movement — and in particular climate change — is often portrayed as a tradeoff between the economy and nature. The implicitRead More

The True Cost of Climate Change

One of the fundamental reasons why many people fight so hard against the concept of climate change is economic. There is a general understanding that to fight climate change will cost a lot of money. Many act as if there is a choice between proactively dealing with the climate change, and ignoring it. In reality, that particular choice does not exist. The real choice is somewhat more unpleasant. We can either 1) make reasonably small sacrifices now to minimize the effects of climate change in the long term, or 2)Read More

Canada’s Clean Air Act

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper today finally announced some details of the Conservative Party’s long awaited “made in Canada” approach to the environment. Since coming to power last year, the Conservatives have been in the bad books of environmentalists for a number of reasons, including backing Canada out of the Kyoto Accord, canceling programs such as EnerGuide that gave consumers rebates for energy efficient purchases, and cozying up to Oil Sands development in Alberta. This announcement focuses around something called the Clean Air Act, which will be aimed at combattingRead More

We’re Living in a Fantasy Land

Sometimes, when I see the number of news articles and television interviews about climate change, I think that the message just might be starting to get through. But then I hear other things that are much more discouraging, and remember that although the media might occasional pay lip service to environmental issues, in the “real world” climate is very low on the list of everyday priorities. Nasa has cancelled a number of satellite missions that were intended specifically to orbit the Earth and send back data related to our climate.Read More

Gas Prices and Globalization

A few months ago when oil prices were regularly breaking new highs, I repeatedly wrote about the oil crisis. It is only fair that I similarly acknowledge the recent drop in oil prices. I don’t want to be the sort of person who only gloats when he is clearly proven right, and then hides in a bathroom stall when he appears to be proven wrong. As I’ve written before, the recent drop in prices is not a sign that the oil crisis (or “peak oil”) was fake or has beenRead More

Even Slower than Usual…

Toronto transit workers are on an illegal strike this morning. There are no buses, subways, or streetcars. To make matters worse, this strike was sudden — there were only a few inklings in the news about it yesterday, so many people were caught off guard, standing confused at bus stops with no time to make alternative travel plans. “Who is it that suffers? It’s the people who can’t afford cars,” she said. “The message being sent is that driving is the way to go – and that’s ridiculous.” An underlyingRead More

Changes in Climate Change

Conveniently coinciding with our unseasonable Ontario heat wave — and Al Gore’s documentary launch — there has been a barrage of recent news about climate change. The IHT reports that ice core samples have revealed the Earth was much warmer 55 million years ago than scientists had previously thought. Temperatures were so high that the arctic was tropical. Since current modeling of even worst-case warming scenarios don’t end up nearly that badly, scientists are now puzzling over what unknown factor could possibly have caused such a scenario. Granted, 55 millionRead More

Tactics to Go Car Free

On September 11, 2001, terrorists killed 2,973 people, most of them Americans. Before that, the last American to die on home soil from an attack by Islamic fundamentalists was in 1993, when six people died when a car bomb was detonated in the garage of the World Trade Center. The horror of these deaths led to the “War on Terror”. Since 2001, close to half a trillion dollars has been spent by various Western countries to wage war on a handful of third world countries. In Iraq alone, the USRead More

Consume only Enough

Over the last few weekends, my wife and I ventured outside our downtown city neighborhood in order to visit our families. Both trips took us beyond the immediate suburbs, beyond the reach of Toronto transit, and into the Land of the Automobile. For one trip, it was a humbling and frustrating experience for an otherwise independent adult to suddenly find himself at the mercy of family to give him rides. For the other trip we rented a car, and put ourselves at the mercy of the car rental companies andRead More