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The Madness of King Stephen

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 08:44

As excuses for war go, claiming a conflict to be "noble" is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.  It's something you resort to when there's simply nothing left to pull out of your ass.  "Squires, attend your Lords.  Summon the Heralds. To the jousts! Ah, there's a noble scent to the air."

Perhaps Harper had to call our adventure in Iraq noble because the default option would have been "insane."  Insane in the popular sense of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  It's that sort of insane.

Over at Foreign Policy, Harvard international relations prof, Stephen Walt, serves up an op-ed, "Uncle Sucker to the Rescue," in which he explains that Obama is repeating the same mistakes that have plagued American excursions in the Middle East for decades.  While Walt focuses on Obama, his views do help make some sense of Harper and his Quixotic quest for a noble war.

Ever since the first Gulf War, U.S. leaders have routinely exaggerated the threat that the United States faced in Iraq and/or Syria. ...Why is threat inflation a problem? When we exaggerate dangers in order to sell a military, we are more likely to do the wrong thing instead of taking the time to figure out if a) action is really necessary and b) what the best course of action might be. When a great power gets spooked by some grisly beheadings and decides it just has to "do something," the danger is that it will decide to do something unwise.

A recurring problem in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been the insistence that no problem can be solved if Uncle Sam isn't leading the charge. By portraying IS as a direct threat to America and by rushing to attack it, however, we are telling the Iraqis, Kurds, Turks, Saudis, and everybody else that the cavalry is on the way and that they don't need to do much themselves. No wonder we can't get the Shiite-led government in Baghdad to be less corrupt, more inclusive, and more effective; no wonder we can't get Turkey to focus on IS instead of the Kurds; and no wonder we can't get the Saudis to do more to stop the flow of money and poisonous ideas to extremist groups. Simple equation: The more Washington promises to do for them, the less our local partners will do for themselves.

...Frankly, after all the resources we've poured into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the meager cooperation we got from our putative allies there, I would think America's "staying power" wouldn't really be an issue. Instead of pouring good money (and possibly U.S. lives) down that particular rat hole, I'd like to see the people who are most directly affected start fighting this one for themselves. Unless the Turks, Jordanians, Kurds, and other Iraqis are willing to get their acts together to contain these vicious extremists, even a protracted and costly U.S. effort will amount to little.

Sorting Out Conflicting Priorities

...the neoconservatives in the Bush administration hoped that toppling Saddam would be the first step in a campaign to transform most of the region into a sea of pro-American democracies. Once it became clear that Iraq had no WMD program, the goal of spreading "liberty" throughout the region took on greater salience. This objective led U.S. officials to focus more attention on holding elections than on achieving genuine reconciliation or creating political institutions that actually worked. Plus, we had no idea what we were doing.
A similar problem afflicts our efforts in the region now. Is it more important to defeat IS, remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria, or keep Iran isolated and halt its nuclear program forever? Because these goals are inherently contradictory -- weakening IS helps Assad, cooperating with Iran against IS might require compromising more on the nuclear issue, etc. -- it is almost impossible to pursue all three simultaneously. But I can't tell which of these (and other) goals the Obama administration regards as most important. And if we keep trying to pursue all three, we probably won't achieve any of them.
Today, the Obama administration seems surprised that the Turkish government is more worried by Kurdish nationalism than by IS, and that many Sunnis in Anbar think Baghdad and various Shiite militias are a greater threat than IS is. The reality is that other states, tribes, sects, and groups have their own interests, and those interests don't conveniently coincide with the prevailing orthodoxy in Washington, D.C. That doesn't mean their view is right and that U.S. politicians are wrong, but successful diplomacy has to start by recognizing that no two states see things exactly the same way and others sometimes understand their own interests better than we do. Then, you have to work to find whatever common ground might exist. And if there isn't enough common ground to make the strategy work, be ready to walk away.

The final error -- sadly, one all too typical of recent U.S. foreign policy -- is that we are promising the moon and delivering moon pies. The Bush administration promised that the invasion of Iraq would be short, easy, and would pay for itself. Bush also told us the United States would eliminate all "terrorists of global reach." Trying to eliminate a particular tactic used by many diverse groups was a fool's errand, especially when U.S. military intervention tends to reinforce the extremists' narrative and helps them replenish their ranks with new recruits. The United States is still in Afghanistan today -- and so are the Taliban -- and it is congratulating itself on convincing the Afghan government to let us stay for a few more years. And now we are headed back into Iraq. Osama bin Laden may be dead and gone, but the endless war that he foresaw would sap U.S. strength and weaken existing Arab governments is still underway.
...Obama now promises to "degrade and destroy" IS. He is succumbing to the same tendency to overstate what U.S. military power can accomplish in this context. Air power alone cannot "destroy" IS, because it is too imprecise an instrument and because the extremists can blunt its effectiveness by dispersing its own forces and mingling with the local population, thereby producing an unacceptable risk of civilian casualties. We can try training the Iraqi army again and we can back various Iraqi tribes and militias, but our earlier training efforts clearly failed and our experience in Afghanistan suggests that this is more likely to lead to warlordism and renewed sectarian fighting than it is to produce a stable political order

The bottom line.  It's a regional war being waged, to the suiting of both sides, by Western infidels.  The people who could put a lasting end to it aren't there - the Saudis, Egypt, the Gulf States.  They've got soldiers and tanks right up the yin-yang sitting back in their barracks watching endless reruns of old Eurovision contests.   

The oil sheikhs and princes are quite content to see the West dragged into an indefinite skirmish in Shiite-leaning Iraq and Syria even if we may leave their latest Frankenmonster, ISIS, a bit bruised and battered.  We have demonstrated that our "All the King's horses and all the King's men" style of war-waging, the "noble" kind is never decisive, never yields a worthwhile outcome.

I wonder if they think we're mad?  I wonder if they're counting on it?



Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 08:26
Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Kershaw examines political parties' child care plans past and present, and finds the NDP's new proposal to achieve better results at a lower cost. The Star's editorial board weighs in on the desperate need for an improved child care system, while PressProgress focuses on the economic benefits. Nora Loreto notes that we should ultimately push for the "universal" aspect of the proposal to mean "free". And Trish Hennessy observes that there's reason to think a universally-available system will resonate with the Canadian public:
We wondered how parents in Canada would “sell” a universal national child care plan to fellow Canadians. The words came flying fast and loose:

“Free.”
“Affordable.”
“Accessible to everyone.”
“Good for families.”
“Everyone seems equal.”
“Quebec has it. How come we don’t?”

That was their sales pitch.
...
Everywhere in Canada, parents engage in a social and financial calculus to determine whether one of them stays home instead of working ‘to pay for daycare’, whether they work opposite shifts so that one parent is always home and to yield cost efficiencies, or whether they wade through a range of possibilities – from having grandma look after the children to placing the child on a child care waiting list immediately upon conception.

Parents displayed a tenacious resourcefulness, often patching together services and supports with limited means to pay for them. It’s like they perform quiet acts of heroism, day in and day out.

In the end, it was the economic argument that proved to be a potent force. They understood affordable child care as a service that would enable parents to work and contribute to the local economy and, in turn, contribute to the tax base – which they understood is how a country pays for a universal program that benefits everyone.- Jim Stanford writes that a free trade agreement with South Korea deserves to be subject to some serious questioning. And Philip Dorling discusses a few of the nastiest surprises in the Trans-Pacific Partnership - including the U.S.' demand that all participating countries agree to make reporting on damaging commercial secrets a criminal offence.

- Which is to say that anybody looking to expose, say, the role of corporate greed and neglect in creating gross risks to the public will have reason to think twice if the business lobby gets its way. 

- Of course, the Cons are well ahead of the game on the "stifling speech" aspect of the TPP - as evidenced by the latest CRA crackdown against Kitchener-Waterloo birdwatchers for daring to write to a public official about the impact of chemicals on bee colonies. 

- Meanwhile, Nicholas Hildyard offers up a presentation on how P3s extract wealth from the public on behalf of elites around the world.

- Finally, Citizens for Public Justice has released its latest report on poverty in Canada - with a particular focus on groups including recent immigrants, First Nations persons and lone female parents who bear particularly heavy burdens of poverty.

Irresponsible Government

Northern Reflections - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 07:27

                                             http://thechronicleherald.ca/

Brent Rathgeber's book, The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada is seminal. Frances Russell writes:

Canada’s parliament is now a damp squib, a meek handmaid to power. Parliament is ruled by the prime minister and the cabinet , not the other way around. Conservative MPs see themselves as obedient servants of the party, cabinet and prime minister, not representatives of their constituents.
You could call it “executive or presidential democracy.” It certainly is the polar opposite of parliamentary democracy.
Certainly, Rathgeber has witnessed that decline -- particularly in the last eight years. He writes:

“The current government prefers to govern by order-in-council and executive edict as opposed to having to answer to an occasionally meddlesome Parliament,” Rathgeber writes. “As a result, the executive has so neutered the institutions of Parliament as to render them nearly impotent, practically unable to fulfill their constitutional duty to hold the executive to account…(T)o the greatest extent possible, it prefers to run all aspects of Parliament rather than be accountable to it.”
Living next door to the United States, we have adopted a presidential model of leadership:

The most corrosive and dangerous development in Canada’s fully Americanized parliamentary system is the highly centralized power of the PMO and cabinet with a majority government. Add the now-complete stifling of the rights of ordinary MPs to say or do anything on their own, and Canada has degenerated into a virtual dictatorship.

And that’s without including the ability of the prime minister to prorogue, recess and dissolve parliament at whim.

And no one can claim that the trend is present in all parliamentary democracies:

Compare this sorry state of affairs to the parliamentary system in place in Britain and Australia, Canada’s sister parliamentary democracies. “(British Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher was deposed by her own caucus, and twice in the last four years the Australia Labour Party has rejected a leader (and prime minister) and then rejected the replacement on the will of the caucus,” Rathgeber writes. “This is normal; this is parliamentary democracy as it should be, where the leader leads the caucus but does not dominate it. The aforementioned Westminster democracies, which have not fallen prey to creeping presidentialism , are thought to be much more functional by academics…”
It's quite clear that Stephen Harper would be quite comfortable with the monikers "Mr. President" and "Commander-in-Chief." And that's precisely why he needs to be thrown out of office in the next election.


We'll be in Montreal for the next couple of days. My plan is to resume blogging on Monday.



Big Brother Harper and the Gentle Birdwatchers

Montreal Simon - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 05:08


First he came for the environmentalists and the activists. Then he came for the scientists.

Then he came for those who fight poverty, and help the poor.

Now he's come for the birdwatchers. 
Read more »

a war resister connects the dots: canada, is this the war you want to fight?

we move to canada - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 03:30
A U.S. war resister in Canada writes in this NOW Magazine.
Very soon you will begin to hear about Canadian planes sending “humanitarian aid” of food and medical supplies to those affected by the fighting. . . .

And now ISIL is touted as the new enemy from the darkness as if their emergence was not foreseeable. In reality, ISIL is just the latest incarnation of a very old xenophobic sect of Islam, the Wahhabi movement, finding new breath in the aftermath of yet another war. Our bombs have only made them stronger, just as they always have.

The Harper Conservatives are hoping you are not engaged enough to notice its hopes of attaining a new casus belli for Canada. But if Harper gets his way, you’ll soon be spending money you don’t have on a war that’s making you less safe, not more.

And what about the long-term costs for the soldiers who do come home? How will Canada be able to take care of them? Large numbers of Canadian veterans from the war in Afghanistan have already become homeless, jobless or committed suicide. They have yet to receive care from a resource-strapped Veterans Affairs Canada. How will VAC be able to meet the needs of even more veterans?

Please understand that I don’t mean to forgive the barbarity that ISIL has clearly committed. As an American soldier, I witnessed first-hand how war makes monsters of us all. Everyone with a gun in a war zone thinks themselves “one of the good guys,” but the idea that anyone in a war acts in accordance with international law is a myth.

Once I realized this, I decided I could not participate in a war of aggression (the Iraq war of 2003) launched against people who had not committed any crime. I found taking part in this war a violation of both international law and basic moral behaviour, to such a degree that I could not have any further part in it.

Many others made the same choice I did, and a good number of us came to Canada seeking refuge. We have experienced first-hand the lasting effects of a war in Iraq started under false pretenses. We would implore you to be thoroughly informed, Canada. If you decide to go forward into this war, you should at least do so with all the facts.

Almost all who desert the U.S. military are simply administratively discharged without jail time. But without exception, every American war resister in Canada deported into U.S. military custody has faced significant jail time when evidence was presented of how we spoke out to people like you. The American government wants to jail me not just for leaving the military, but for having the audacity to shed light on war crimes we were asked to commit.

Is this the kind of war you truly want for Canadians? If you do, I will leave quietly.
A number of resisters living in Canada have seen recent movement in their cases after years of silence from the government. The immigration minister’s personal attention to our cases is made clear by Operational Bulletin 202, directing all our files to his desk for review instead of using normal procedures.

I will go to the cell that awaits me in the U.S. for having spoken loudly about the injustices I was asked to abide. I do not believe I deserve to be punished for speaking out, but perhaps I do for not having spoken out loudly enough. Read the essay here. Then sign a letter to help stop the deportations.

Elisa Hategan's Race Traitor: Now Out In Paperback

Anti-Racist Canada - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:31
Those who did not have a KOBO or Kindle and were not able to purchase Elisa Hategan's Race Traitor or those who would rather own a physical copy of the book now have the opportunity to purchase the paperback edition of the book:

Race Traitor: The Story of Canadian Intelligence's Biggest Cover-Up by Elisa Hategan

We wrote about the book in March when Ms. Hategan first published the digital editions for KOBO and Kindle. All the members of the Collective have read it and very highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the history of the racist movement in Canada during the early 1990s, however more importantly the books is incredibly relevant in an era where the governments in ostensibly free and democratic nations have been caught spying on their own citizens. While set in the 90s, Race Traitor perhaps has as much to tell us about our future as it does the past.

We All have To Stand Against This Blatant Reign Of Intimidation And Tyranny

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:00



Although I have written many posts on this topic, each new incident once again evokes in me a visceral reponse bordering upon hatred for this government. The Harper regime is back at it again, using the CRA to intimidate people who are critical of its policies or in any way impede the flow of oil progress.

This time, the victims are birdwatchers, yes, that's right, birdwatchers - The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists.

CBC reports the following:
The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities.

Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group's website.

The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."It appears that the Harper-directed CRA has accomplished its goal, at least in part, inasmuch as officials of the group, whose revenues amount to a mere $16,000 per annum, are refusing comment, less they attract even more wrath.

But not everyone has succumbed to intimidation:
Longtime member Roger Suffling is speaking up, saying the issue is about democratic freedom and not about arcane tax rules.

Effectively, they've put a gag on us," he said in an interview, noting that the letter arrived just after the club had written directly to two federal cabinet ministers to complain about government-approved chemicals that damage bee colonies.

"You can piece together the timing," said Suffling, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. "The two things are very concurrent."The other 'sin' of this group, it would appear, is the fact that it
has also had a guest speaker to talk about the oilsands, and has publicly defended the Endangered Species Act from being watered down.Of course, the usual suspects, who I do not believe for a minute, deny any political direction or purpose:
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq's office ... denies there's any link, saying the agency operates independently.

Canada Revenue Agency officials say they do not target any one charitable sector, and are choosing groups impartially, without input from the minister's office.

The decision to launch an audit is also not based on any group’s position on the political spectrum, charities directorate chief Cathy Hawara has said.Those denials might work with gullible children, but not thinking adults.

I grow weary of the totalitarian tactics of this regime. I hope my fellow Canadian feel the same.Recommend this Post

E-Day in Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling

Creekside - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 13:49



Tomorrow, lone RoboCon fall-guy Michael Sona may find out whether he goes to jail for his part in the 6,000 illegal robocalls pretending to come from Elections Canada and wrongly telling voters their polling station had been moved.

Yesterday, the Alberta Party candidate in the Calgary-Elbow byelection reported being targeted in a fraudulent robocall campaign that used a fake caller ID purporting to come from the Alberta Party :
“We started getting complaints from people receiving multiple phone calls throughout the day and some suggesting we had called them at 3 a.m. "Sound familiar? It's not like this is going to get better on its own.
As Mulcair notes in the doc clip above, the Fair Elections Act (sic) is about "the Conservatives trying to put into law some of the cheating they'd been doing before."
Did you watch the clip? Wouldn't you like to hear Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor's reflections since their epic McMaher election fraud investigation?
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Peter Smoczynski : Election Day In Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling is an investigative documentary film which examines the sudden rise of voter suppression in Canada since the 2006 Federal Election to the Federal Election of 2011, its aftermath, Elections Canada investigations, court trials, its affect on Canadians and more recently the Fair Elections Act.He has thousands of hours of footage and is looking for funding to finish editing it. 
So far his site has only received 1700 Canadian visits and 43 funders but as he says : "if every visitor gave $20, within five days this film is back in production"
His first donation was $5 from a 13 year old girl.


Come on, people - and I'm looking at you, you glittering twitterati and facebookies - spread the word and donate. Let's get this doc out there to the public well before the shenanigans begin in the 2015 election.
h/t Saskboy.

Mein Gott, This Actually Got On FOX News?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:13
You gotta give it to Shep Smith.

The Big Question Now is When?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:57
Several years ago a non-governmental organization, the Global Footprint Network, came to my attention.  GFN's purpose was to monitor the state of the biomass around the world on a global, regional and national basis.

GFN published this annual report marking what they called "World Overshoot Day."  This was the date each year by which mankind was calculated to have consumed an entire year's worth of renewable resources.


As the GFN graphic shows, mankind is now consuming renewable resources at roughly 1.5 times the natural replenishment rate.  Some like to say that we're using one and a half Earths resources.  If we keep on our current growth path, by 2050 we're on course to be consuming almost 3 times our planet's renewable resources.

It's almost too much to believe.  How can we, just one out of hundreds of thousands of species, be consuming far more than the total renewable resources of the planet?  Easy, we're diving into the planet's reserves, mining our children's future, eating our seed corn.

The proof is everywhere.  It's observable, it's tangible, it's precisely measurable. It's visible to the naked eye from space.  It comes in many forms.  One is desertification, the exhaustion of once viable farmland and its transformation into barren desert through a variety of bad agricultural practices and the accumulated effects of excessive amounts of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Another is the resumption of mass deforestation - cutting down forests faster than they can renew.  Again, visible to the naked eye from the International Space Station.

And then there's water, the key to all life on Earth.  ISS crew members can also see rivers that no longer flow to the sea and inland lakes, such as the Aral Sea, that are now drying out.  But the loss of surface water is just part of the story of our hydrological overshoot.  It also takes the form of blue-green algae contamination of our lakes, coastal dead zones and surface subsidence caused by draining our groundwater resources, our aquifers.  Subsidence is not apparent to the naked eye but it is measurable by various satellite systems that can determine not only how quickly the surface is sinking but, from that, the volume of groundwater being extracted.

Overshoot comprises not only resources that we consume, either directly or in the production of products, but also the resources we contaminate, pollute, with the waste from our activities.  We rarely, if ever, think of it but our ecosystem does a terrific job of cleaning up after us.  If it didn't you wouldn't be sitting there reading this.  It is an absolutely life-sustaining function.  The atmosphere absorbs greenhouse gases. Plants absorb carbon dioxide as do oceans.  Rivers cleanse contaminants as they flow to the sea. Microbes in the soil likewise eat waste. Let's not forget earthworms either.

Just as the planet is finite so too is the capacity of the planet's ecosystem to process our waste.  Exceed that limit and we wind up with accumulated waste - pollution.  An excess of agricultural runoff can lead to the destruction of aquatic habitats from blue-green algae blooms.  Freshwater resources can become unfit for human consumption.  The acidification of our oceans is another example. There are several others.



When I first became aware of the Global Footprint Network, World Overshoot Day fell in late October.  That meant we were in overshoot for just over two months per year.  With each passing year, overshoot came earlier and earlier. This year we hit overshoot on August 19th.  What that signifies is that, for about four and a half months out of twelve, we're dipping into our planet's reserves and generating more contamination than the ecosystem can cleanse.


As the graphic above illustrates, as we enter overshoot, exceeding the planet's ecological limits, it results in a steadily degraded carrying capacity.  The Earth becomes steadily less able to meet our needs and clean our waste.  The red consumption line begins to plummet which leads us to yet another term, "collapse."  Our march toward collapse is measured in the steady progression of World Overshoot Day.

Most of what you've read so far I've written before.  I'm rehashing it now because of a recent report issued by the WWF, GFN and Zoological Society of London. The Living Planet Report, 2014, is an eye-opener.  You might prefer to begin with the ecological fact sheet.

LPR 2014 contains a wealth of information but the aspect everyone seized upon was the revelation that, over the past forty years, the Earth - our ecosystem or biosphere - has lost half of the planet's wild life.  Half, in just forty years, the blink of an eye in the history of mankind.

The point is not that we've lost half the planet's wild life so much as it is that we're now working our way through the remaining half.  Yet we maintain our slavish obsession with perpetual, exponential economic growth.  We keep questing for more and ever more - more resources, more production, more consumption, more waste.  At the same time mankind's overall numbers continue to burgeon even as our per capita consumption also rises.

Now go back to the first chart.  Find the 1.0 point on the left margin.  Carry that across to the red line and then down.  You'll be at somewhere in the early 70s. Keep that in mind.

When I first found the Global Footprint Network several years ago I spent some time reviewing their considerable research and findings.  Back then I was a bit troubled to read that mankind actually reached the Earth's ecological carrying capacity around 1970 when our population stood at about 3.7-billion.  Thereafter, as our population grew and our individual consumption also grew, we entered Overshoot or ecological deficit.

The dates line up.  Since we ventured into Overshoot, global wild life has declined by half.  Current species extinction rates are said to be a thousand times normal.  From 3.7-billion in 1970, we've almost doubled our numbers to 7+ billion already and we're said to be heading to 9-billion, perhaps as early as mid-century and upwards of 11-billion by 2100.

As part of a recent course in global food security I read a report by three Chinese experts dealing with what their country faced in the decades ahead.  For me, it wasn't their discussion of food that was telling so much as their projections of Chinese GDP.  They foresaw a China which, in 2000, had a per capita GDP of about $1,800 that would see that figure grow to $16,000 by 2030.  In fact the Chinese are just shy of $7,000 already but to more than double that yet again by 2030?

Where would China find the resources to ramp up its production so enormously in such a brief interval?  How would China cope with the contamination or its already distressed environment and degraded water resources?  Take that exponential growth in GDP and multiply it by the 1.5-billion population China is expected to reach by mid-century and then inject it into a world already deeply immersed in Overshoot and you have a formula for global economic and environmental disaster within just a couple of decades.

Going back to the second chart, the Living Planet Report, 2014, reveals, simply from the fact of massive wild life loss alone, that we've already entered the point of significantly degraded ecological carrying capacity.  Spreading deforestation, desertification, the collapse of global fisheries, ocean acidification, etc. merely corroborate this.  Yet, as our biosphere's carrying capacity quite rapidly erodes, we're still increasing our production, consumption and waste, driving our global civilization ever faster toward chaos.

I think I've got a reasonable idea of how this ends.  The far more troubling question is when.


The Folly of Harper's Economic Emphasis

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:20


While no reasonable person would suggest that Canada should immediately turn its back on it resources, the folly of self-described economist Stephen Harper is the undue weighting his regime has placed on that sector for fiscal health. Other countries have been looking toward the day when our dependence on fossil fuels will be diminished and are therefore diversifying, and a strong case can be made for the economic benefits of renewable and other green energy projects. However, our Prime Minister has continued in a full-court press as if the Alberta tarsands were the only game in town.

The folly of that approach now becomes evident with the precipitous decline in oil prices, largely due to a slowdown in growth worldwide that, ironically, may very well be the key to curbing climate change. However, even if this a temporary blip, the warning should be heeded.

An analysis by Don Pitt makes for some sobering reading:
About a year ago, I read a report forecasting this would happen. It wasn't exactly top secret, and hardly from a subversive group. Titled, The future of oil: Yesterday's fuel, it was published in the right-of-centre Economist magazine.

The Economist article suggests that this is not going to be just a blip but more of a sea change, as global oil demand plunges permanently. The article quotes a study by Citibank saying that oil use is already falling in rich countries. Most oil is burned to propel vehicles, and increasing fuel efficiency, including conversion to electric and hybrids, means we are using less for that.

It rejects the argument that growth in places like China will push oil use ever higher, saying emerging economies will see the advantage of leap-frogging to new technology and won't pass through the first world's gas-guzzling phase. In the year since that report, an explosion of solar in India, and an analysis by Lazard saying renewables had become as cheap as fossil fuels, only made the case stronger.
The implication for job losses in Canada goes well beyond employment in the oil patch.
“Canada’s economy is now very oil dominated,” economists Rory Johnston and Patricia Mohr at Scotiabank said a few months ago as the Northern Gateway project was being approved by Ottawa.

Businesses based across Canada that feed into the sector, like railroads, engineering firms, construction companies and equipment makers will also be sideswiped if the decline leads energy producers to pull back production. Twenty-five cents of every dollar invested in new business plans goes toward oil and gas projects, Scotia estimates.

If exports and investment in the energy sector take hits, experts suggest the broader economy will feel the chill and begin to slow.It would be nice to think that these hints of things to come would have an impact on the monomania that the Harper regime is seized of. Unfortunately, past ideological performance suggests nothing will change under the current administration.Recommend this Post

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