Canadian Government Think Tank: Renewables Win Over Fossil Fuels


When the Conservatives were in charge of Canada they didn’t conserve at all, instead they rallied behind fossil fuels to power Canada’s economy. That foolish gamble contributed to a lame economy (sent the country into massive debt) and a dying planet (even sabotaging global discussions about carbon and fossil fuel. Canadians are hopeful that the new government led by the Liberals will reverse the Conservatives anti-common sense approach to energy policy.

Last week, a federal think tank release a report on the near term growth of Canada’s economy and global influence. They project that fossil fuels will be less important to the global economy with every passing year and that the benefits of switching to renewable energy for the planet are obvious.

At the core of the report’s forecasts is a growing number of indicators that suggest growth in the world’s demand for electricity — particularly renewable-based electricity — will outpace other energy types, while the costs of its production and storage fall faster than previously believed.

The demand is expected to be driven largely by the emerging and rapidly urbanizing middle class in developing countries.

Wind and solar systems have the advantage of being “highly scalable and distributable,” the report states, making them appealing for communities of virtually any size, with or without an existing electrical grid.

As a result, emerging economies in Latin America and Africa may follow a different development path than the West and “leap-frog” directly to renewables as a primary energy source in a relatively short timeframe.

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Read the full report.

Economic Growth No Longer Tied To Increased Carbon Output

People used to (and some lacklustre individuals still) argue that environmental regulations will wreak economic havoc, hopefully we’ll no longer listen to such irrational arguments. For decades environmentalist and knowledgable people have used data to prove that economies can grow while also protecting the environment. Turns out, the data was right.

The International Energy Agency has announced for the last two years carbon dioxide emissions remain unchanged even though the global economy has improved. There is still room for improvement around the world so it’s even possible to see a decrease in carbon dioxide output while having an increase in economic activity.

“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a news release.

The change is because of the rapid adoption of renewable energy, especially for electrical generation, the IEA said.

Electricity generated by renewables accounted for around 90 per cent of new electricity generation in 2015, with wind alone producing more than half of new electricity generation.

The IEA’s conclusion that economic growth can continue without needing increased amounts of fossil fuels is preliminary, like its data, which will be explored in a more complete report in June.

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It’s Not Environment Versus Economic Prosperity

Amazingly, there are people who think that environmental protection will cause economic calamity (bankers seem to be good at causing economic collapse all on their own). This old way of thinking still impacts policy and other decisions made around the world. In order to put this archaic notion away, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s latest initiative is a year of blogging about how economic and environmental success go hand in hand.

Their first post on the matter is about how the perception of the environment as an asset to economic prosperity.

People often talk about “economic value,” “ecological value,” and “social value” as if they were separate things. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As the discussion above makes clear, the “value” or “benefit” we are talking about here is the contribution to sustainable human well-being. None of these elements (ecological, social/cultural, economic) are mutually exclusive; that is, none can make a contribution to that goal without interacting with the others.

What we can ask is: what is the relative contribution of, for example, natural capital to sustainable human well-being, in combination with other forms of capital (built, human, social), in a particular context?

We have to look at these things in context and as part of an integrated, whole system of humans embedded in cultures, which are, in turn, embedded in the rest of nature.

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Forget Burning Man, Go To Ephemerisle

Ephemerisle is a libertarian Burning Man on the ocean. It’s goal is like Burning Man’s insofar that it exists to explore new ideas while throwing a big party. Ephemerisle is really trying to figure out how people can survive on the ocean for an extended period of time while finding solutions to the logistical aspects of doing so.

Ephemerisle participants need to figure out many things from waste management to how to generate electricity. On top of that, because it’s libertarian, do it all while creating some sort of economy.

I’m not into the American libertarian movement but I do like the idea of finding out how to live on the open seas in a sustainable manor.

Seasteading’s proponents say it isn’t impossible, it just has a funding problem: existing solutions cost money to implement, and the solutions that don’t exist yet cost money to develop. But even they admit it’s a hell of a funding problem. The funding necessary to launch even the simplest floating city was in the billions, leaving most proposed projects dead in the water, so to speak.

Unlike Burning Man, where participants are still subject to the laws of the United States, Ephemerisle would offer attendants true autonomy from American government. Also unlike Burning Man, which bans cash transactions between participants at the event, Ephemerisle would embrace money and commerce, as a respected feature of society. And also unlike Burning Man, Ephemerisle would be unticketed, free to anybody who could get there.

If people liked the festival enough, Patri thought, they might start staying out there for longer year after year, and invite their friends. It would grow both temporally and in population. For that to happen, the island itself would have to grow, too. Over time, maybe these people would be motivated to solve a lot of seasteading’s hard engineering problems, so Ephemerisle could continue to grow.

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It’s Time to Rethink Capitalism

Capitalism favours the wealthy and what we have seen this entire millennium is that this is more true than ever. Inequality is on the rise pretty much everywhere, and this is a problem. In this TED Talk, Paul Tudor Jones II, examines the current problematic state of capitalism and how we can rethink it.

Paul Tudor Jones II loves capitalism. It’s a system that has done him very well over the last few decades. Nonetheless, the hedge fund manager and philanthropist is concerned that a laser focus on profits is, as he puts it, “threatening the very underpinnings of society.” In this thoughtful, passionate talk, he outlines his planned counter-offensive, which centers on the concept of “justness.”