Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Dana Nuccitelli discusses new research into the real costs of fossil fuels which aren't reflected in the sticker price for a dirty energy economy:
A new paper published in Climatic Change estimates that when we account for the pollution costs associated with our energy sources, gasoline costs an extra $3.80 per gallon, diesel an additional $4.80 per gallon, coal a further 24 cents per kilowatt-hour, and natural gas another 11 cents per kilowatt-hour that we don’t see in our fuel or energy bills.
Shindell estimates carbon pollution costs us $32 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted in climate damages, and another $45 in additional climate-health impacts like malnutrition that aren’t normally accounted for.

But Shindell also estimates that carbon emissions are relatively cheap compared to other fossil fuel air pollutants. For example, sulfur dioxide costs $42,000 per ton, and nitrous oxides $67,000 per ton! However, less of these other pollutants are released into the atmosphere during modern fossil fuel combustion.
The key conclusion from Shindell’s study is that fossil fuels only seem cheap because their market prices don’t reflect their true costs. In reality they are remarkably expensive for society, but taxpayers pick up most of those costs via climate damages and other health effects. Those who argue that we need to continue relying on fossil fuels – like former popular science writer Matt Ridley – just aren’t accounting for the costs of pollution.
- Meanwhile, Katie Valentine reports that Costa Rica has managed to generate all of its electricity through renewable sources in 2015 - and that even as it's still in the process of converting to clean power sources. But then, Justin Mikulka observes that the real effects of our energy choices bear no resemblance at all to the spin we're fed by dirty energy producers.

- The Canadian Bar Association, the Economist and Murray Dobbin all weigh in against the gross abuses of power which the Cons want to pass into law through bill C-51. And Scott Vrooman argues that we should be especially worried that so few Canadians actually know what's in the terror bill being rammed through Parliament.

- And in a related point based on the "lawful activity" standard already pointed out by Craig Forcese, Len McCluskey highlights the need for unions and activists to be able to break bad laws in defending their rights. Ralph Surette points out that we should expect to see even more activism in response to extreme measures aimed at suppressing opposition and dissent, while Elizabeth Renzetti comments on the importance of the power of protest. And Doug Saunders notes that the Cons' supposed commitment to the rule of law is rather selectively aimed at protecting the powerful from the public interest.

- Finally, Lana Payne duly slams the Cons for fanning the flames of intolerance. And Jeffrey Simpson wonders if the dog whistles which represent the Cons' sole message at the moment will be worn out by the time Canadians go to the polls.

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