Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Yes, the usual caveats about trying to predict future commodity prices apply. But Stephen Maher's warning about the effect of rising fuel and food prices is still worth keeping in mind:
That shift doesn't mean that North Americans are about to take meaningful steps to reduce the amount of carbon we put in the atmosphere, because politicians know that anything they might do to reduce carbon emission will hit consumers in the pocketbook.

Over the long run, though, if the scientists are right, we will have more extreme weather, food prices will go up and, in a reaction to the changing public mood, politicians will act to cut carbon emissions, which will increase fuel prices that are already being driven up by growing demand in China and the rest of the developing world.
According to Agriculture Canada, food prices have fallen steadily in recent decades - to nine per cent of income in 2005 from 19 per cent in 1961.

The era of inexpensive fuel and food — which drove a glorious, decades-long boom in North America — may be coming to a painful end. Our way of life may not be sustainable without radical changes, particularly to agricultural systems that have been sustaining high yields with ever-increasing inputs of oil, a big contributor to climate change.

There is no guarantee that things will continue as they have been, and every reason to pray for rain.
 - And if nothing else, it seems glaringly clear that our current resource distribution system isn't based on pricing in the costs of effective safety measures - with Enbridge's move to throw half a billion dollars at trying to push through its Gateway pipeline only serving as additional evidence.

- Meanwhile, Peter Whoriskey notes that thanks to the big pharma's efforts to push patent-protected drugs, we're also paying scads of money for prescription drugs which may be of little or no use.

- Finally, Ted Brader answers some myths about campaign advertising, with the following distinction looking particularly important as the NDP and Cons trade critical ads with the next election looming three years in the future:
An ad’s timing matters as much as its content. Spots criticizing an opponent tend to work differently early and late in campaigns. Before people have settled on a candidate, attack ads help them make up their minds. But these same ads depress turnout when seen later by voters who have already chosen which candidate to support.

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