Suzuki’s No Slave To The Economy

I hope we see meaningful changes in our economy, in time. There’s not a great understanding in our society that the economy is a system of resource distribution. We’ve enshrined it, even creating a phony holiday today when our retail gods go into the black.

It’s not that Canadian oil patches use slavery (don’t seem to, and they pay workers well), but an economy shouldn’t thrive on creation of injustice. An economy is supposed to create the conditions for prolonged success of people participating in it. When it’s found to be causing harm, it must change to adapt, or the harm grows and creates threats to societal success.

Yet Suzuki did offend people.

“People caught … working for the fossil-fuel industry will have to make a transition, they are not the target of my ire,” he reportedly said.

“But who would say today that the economy should’ve come before slavery?” Suzuki said.”
He could have said the same about child labour, or the factory disaster in Bhopal, India that killed tens of thousands of people. It was 50 years ago that #Nader held an industry to account for a product that was unsafe when used. Today, it’s fossil fuels.
“People dare to say it’s more important to make money?!” – Suzuki
Yes, people dare say it, just as they did when justifying child labour too.

Is seeking an analogy with which to compare an industry presently essential to our economy, yet undeniably harming our atmosphere, destined to cause offense? There are fainting couches ready all over the Saskatchewan Legislature, lest someone mention a reduction in fossil fuel output in the presence of Brad Wall. Some of those couches are staffed by the media with great big feather fans at the ready while asking if people want to “nuance” their message opposing a growing fossil industry. Does that mean we should never bring up the subject about how he’s going to meet the increase in renewable energy by 2030, if he doesn’t reduce fossil fuel dependency?

Suzuki also understands the urgent importance in reducing pollution.

About having Suzuki on his show, “Because I’m a shit disturber” – Suzuki
“The twerp in me loves it!” – Solomon
Continue reading

SaskPower’s Plan Isn’t Ambitious

SaskPower’s new target, announced by the Premier last week, is out.

Saskpower mix by 2030 vs 2015

That’s more wind power than we produce with coal or with natural gas today. Sounds impressive, until you realize that North Dakota did this already:
As of the end of 2014, 1,886 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity had been installed for wind power in North Dakota.

SaskWind also says this is “unambitious”.

1) As noted: Wind energy is cost competitive with natural gas, half the price of coal with carbon capture and significantly cheaper than nuclear. It is the cheapest form of new renewables on the market today.

2) Saskatchewan has a world class wind resource – which is substantially better than the average in both the US and Europe.

3) The European Union and the US expect 23 percent and 20 percent respectively of ALL their electricity to be generated by wind in 2030.

Alberta is heavily dependent upon coal electricity. By 2030, according to their #ABclimate plan, there will be no coal burning for electricity in 15 years. In Saskatchewan, SaskPower promises up to HALF of our electricity will STILL come from fossil sources like lignite coal. That’s a disgrace. We’ve got to stop using, and subsidizing fossil fuels now.

Solar All Over California

Train station

Pawn shop

On our Amtrak trip through southern and central California, I watched the dry and irrigated fields fly by me at 133km/h. We stopped for the night in Bakersfield (the most conservative city in America, some figures show), and it was 41 degrees even with the sun down. The cement around the pool at night warmed my feet as if the hot sun was beating down on it only a moment earlier.

Large #solar farm north of Wasco CA
This large solar farm appears to be the one mentioned in this story about a Hanford Dairy.

Bridge and plane


Oil in L.A.
Los Angeles oil production. You can see how dry it is there.


Hills covered with wind turbines north of Oakland.
Hills filled with wind turbines in California

Metal tends to rust near the ocean:
Rusty beach cruiser

The Baseload Mistake

One of the hangups some of my friends have about converting the electrical grid to renewable energy, has been the difficulty in storing electricity generated for use when energy input is reduced. Tesla Energy should help with that logistical problem.

In the meantime, we’re dealing with homes, power grids, and even an economy that cannot easily survive even short interruptions of constant energy input. That has to change to make our way of life even close to sustainable.

Is “baseload” power from coal even that important in grids of the near future?

“We all know that the wind doesn’t blow consistently and the sun doesn’t shine every day,” he said, “but the nuclear industry would have you believe that humankind is smart enough to develop techniques to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time human kind is so dumb we can’t figure out a way to store solar electricity overnight. To me that doesn’t make sense.”

Arnie Gunderson is right that it shouldn’t sit right with people.

Forbes wonders if nuclear power is now going to die. Not anytime soon, there’s too many billions of dollars already sunk into the technology and that industry is not going to go peacefully into the night as it runs out of money to manage security for all of the nuclear and industrial wastes it’s created.

Saskatoon Riding the Coattails of History

Acknowledging that an important feature in Saskatoon was constructed by the government, then bragging that construction of a future valued feature (a wind turbine) was avoided by the government instead of an opportunity seized upon, is a repugnant attitude. People like Sandra are not leaving a better world for our children, and Stephen Harper’s grand-daughter.

SaskParty Avoids Clean Energy Boom

Saskatchewan leadership leaves a lot to be desired. Many people here are excited about how “strong” Saskatchewan is, thanks to SaskParty propaganda. We’ve also the strongest carbon air pollution per capita in the world, but few tend to talk about that here. Times are good, they’re good for me, and most of my friends (the ones who’ve not recently lost their jobs, that is). So why don’t I just shut up and enjoy myself? Maybe I do enjoy myself, maybe so much that I have an iota of time and money left over to care about how others are doing too?

Why is over $1.4B of public money going into burning coal, while much less is going into harnessing wind power or our world leading solar resource and wide open spaces? The rest of the world is leaving us in the windy dust.

Global Wind Power Installations Increased by 42 Percent in 2014
March 26, 2015
Growth in China, Germany, and the United States led to a record year for wind installations, report concludes

The world is instead going to regard Saskatchewan as a pollution capital, not an energy capital.

3. SASKATCHEWAN TRAPPED IN THE 19th CENTURY: Absent policy leadership, clean-energy investors are largely giving the province a pass, the Star Phoenix reported. Despite abundant wind and sun, it has “put most of its money behind so-called clean coal.”

So Brad Wall’s SaskParty will brag about low taxes and “equitable” treatment of business (even though that’s not been the case for private e-waste businesses), while the rest of the world regards us as technological laggards. Cutting funding to Saskatchewan’s top universities isn’t going to help with that image either. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m about to own a renewable energy system, and I work at a university. Maybe my expectations for Saskatchewan are too high.

I’m not the only one dreaming.

Saskatchewan Needs a Real Change of Destination

Greg is making a good point in his latest column, but I had to throw in a Green campaign slogan into the title in good fun. The bottom line really is that the Sask Party is propping up the dying fossil fuels industry, while calls to divest from it are coming from around the world. There’s no stopping this change (for the better).

While the Saskatchewan Party remains bent on thinking small, any reasonable look at the world around us suggests it’s long past time for a big change in direction. And if if this year’s budget again fails on that front, then we should seriously reconsider who’s choosing our destination.

“study finds that the main barrier to achieving those goals is a matter of politics rather than technology or economic limitations.”

“We have the tools to transition to a clean energy economy; all that’s lacking is the leadership to put them to use.”
Greg is bang on, and I’m not saying so simply because I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

Given that there are about 410,000 households in Saskatchewan, we’d need about 3 Ivanpah style solar power plants to provide electricity to every home in the province. We can do it, and we should.

That’s me last year providing a real-world example of technology we could build in Saskatchewan to give every household renewable energy at a price we can afford. We can probably not afford to fail to build such a new system.

ADDED: Prebble and others show that Saskatchewan must turn to renewable energy to succeed in reforming our economy.