Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Noah Smith writes that the renewable energy revolution is further along than was projected just a few years ago:
Each of these trends -- cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity -- is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So instead of thinking of solar and batteries as two independent things, we should think of them as one single unified technology package. Solar-plus-batteries is set to begin a dramatic transformation of human civilization. The transformation has already begun, but will really pick up steam during the next decade. That is great news, because cheap energy powers our economy, and because clean energy will help stop climate change.
- Roderick Benns interviews Jonathan Brun on the value of a basic income to ensure that everybody benefits from a society's economic development.

- But Dana Milbank points out that the Cons' Republican cousins are instead imposing ever more inexplicable conditions on insufficient social programs to ostracize the poor, while Emily Badger discusses the double standard being used to cause extra harm to people living in poverty. And Robert Reich exposes how non-profit organizations are taking orders from their wealthy donors to avoid discussing the inequality at the root of the problems they're supposed to ameliorate, while David Suzuki comments on the big money behind climate denial campaigns.

- The Star calls for updated employment standards to protect all workers, not only those in traditional employment relationships. 

- Finally, Shannon Gormley writes that the entire purpose of the Cons' terror bill is to normalize human rights abuses under Canadian law - meaning that secret oversight mechanisms would do nothing to solve the fundamental problem with the legislation. Michael Geist follows up on the theater of the absurd that was the committee hearings into Bill C-51. And Matthew Coon Come discusses how the combination of new secret police and increased surveillance threatens aboriginal rights.

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