Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Chris Hatch discusses the glaring contradictions between Canada's lip service to the fight against climate change, and its actions in pushing to expand dirty energy production for decades to come. The Globe and Mail's editorial board rightly recognizes that increasing the production and consumption of natural gas isn't an answer to our climate emergency. And Shanti Nair reports that Chevron and other major oil companies are accounting for a dim future for fossil fuels in their asset valuations.

- Meanwhile, Janet French reports on Jason Kenney's layoffs of agriculture and forestry workers - presumably in keeping both with his party's austerity and his hostility toward evidence-based decision-making. And Steve Thomas points out that Ireland offers one of many examples of the ill effects of the two-tiered health care being pushed by the right.

- Joseph Zeballos-Roig highlights how the U.S. has systematically transferred money from workers to employers by replacing corporate tax revenue with payroll deductions. And Dan Fumano reports on the predictable use of bundled individual donations to skirt British Columbia's new donation limits. 

- Finally, Sirvan Karimi notes that Canada's federal election saw yet another set of gross distortions between voter preferences, party support and seat counts. And Royce Koop discusses the opportunities to be found in a minority Parliament, while noting that they'd be far more regularly found under a proportional electoral system.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Musical interlude

The Stills - Changes Are No Good

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the most frightening aspect of the U.S. Republicans is the party's commitment to climate destruction for political gain:
My sense is that right-wingers believe, probably correctly, that there’s a sort of halo effect surrounding any form of public action. Once you accept that we need policies to protect the environment, you’re more likely to accept the idea that we should have policies to ensure access to health care, child care, and more. So the government must be prevented from doing anything good, lest it legitimize a broader progressive agenda.

Still, whatever the short-term political incentives, it takes a special kind of depravity to respond to those incentives by denying facts, embracing insane conspiracy theories and putting the very future of civilization at risk.

Unfortunately, that kind of depravity isn’t just present in the modern Republican Party, it has effectively taken over the whole institution. There used to be at least some Republicans with principles; as recently as 2008 Senator John McCain co-sponsored serious climate-change legislation. But those people have either experienced total moral collapse (hello, Senator Graham) or left the party.

The truth is that even now I don’t fully understand how things got this bad. But the reality is clear: Modern Republicans are irredeemable, devoid of principle or shame. And there is, as I said, no reason to believe that this will change even if Trump is defeated next year.
- Meanwhile, the Red Deer Advocate reports on the Blackfalds school dance which was shut down due to a petro-parent's threats against any climate-related education. Geoff Dembicki examines how Imperial Oil fits among the oil giants which has spent decades denying its own scientific research about climate change. And Carl Meyer reports on the federal environment and sustainable-development commissioner's finding of a lack of coordination on environmental policy.

- Charles Mudede offers a reminder of the large number of U.S. workers making far less than a living wage. And Heidi Shierholz and David Cooper report on the Trump administration's plans to drastically increase the size of that group by facilitating the abuse of a reduced minimum wage for workers who may receive tips. 

- Scott Sinclair examines the effects of the new NAFTA, with marginal gains for workers far outweighed by dangers to the environment.

- Finally, the Broadbent Institute charts the plummeting taxes applied to Canada's wealthiest people and corporations - even as we're told that basic needs such as housing, food and medicine are beyond the means of the federal government which has engaged in decades of giveaways to the rich.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

New column day

Here, on how the Libs' throne speech continues their pattern of paying lip service to climate action while using public resources to make matters worse.

For those interested in the calculations as to the climate impact of new pipelines, the numbers I've used are as follows.

Brian Jean called here for pipelines and port facilities to export an additional two million barrels per day of oil, representing 730,000,000 barrels per year.

The EPA calculates the effect of oil consumption at .43 metric tonnes per barrel - or an additional 314 MT of CO2 per year just from the consumption of the additional oil exports. And Natural Resources Canada references (PDF) the International Energy Agency's calculation that production emissions are about 25% of the total resulting from fuel consumed, resulting in another 105 MT generated on the production side, for a total of 419 MT per year. (I assume, probably too generously, that new oil sands production won't be any dirtier on the production side than oil generally.)

By way of comparison, the best-case scenario for a $50 per tonne carbon price is to reduce emissions by 90 MT per year. And even assuming a higher price results in the same incremental emission reductions (again probably too generous an assumption), that would leave Canadians to pay an additional $232.78 per tonne just to account for the effects of the additional two million barrels produced and consumed.

For further reading...
- Aaron Wherry is far too kind in claiming Justin Trudeau is putting anything at stake in setting new targets for long after he'll be out of office - but his column at least gives a strong indication of the coverage the Libs want. And Adam Radwanski is closer to the mark in noting that Trudeau isn't prepared to do anything meaningful to alleviate the climate crisis.
- Chantelle Bellerichard reports on the demand from some Indigenous peoples for an updated cost estimate on the Trans Mountain pipeline. And Robyn Allan points out how the federal government has already misled the public by concealing updated information about the soaring price.
- The New York Times reports on the "super emitter" effect of methane leaks - which Jason Kenney wants to eliminate from any tracking and reduction regulations in Alberta. And Tzeporah Berman points out the climate damage which we can expect from the Teck Frontier mine which is also on Kenney's tar sands wish list.
- And finally, Climate Action Network International offers its latest review (PDF) of countries' climate commitments - with Canada ranking again among the world's worst offenders.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Laurie Macfarlane writes about the interconnected economic, democratic and environmental crises facing the UK - and the opportunity voters have to address all three in today's election. And a group of political and thought leaders from around the globe lends its support to Jeremy Corbyn and UK Labour as offering needed hope for the many.

- Isabel Sawhill reviews Binyamin Appelbaum's The Economists' Hour, and points out how the dogma of laissez-faire economics has produced intolerable human costs for no apparent economic benefit. And Jim Hightower argues that the moment has come to ensure that the richest few pay their fair share through higher taxes.

- Cassandra Szklarski reports on the connection between where a person lives and their likelihood of suffering an avoidable death.

- Finally, Marc Lee calls for social housing which provides needed homes without building in a layer of profit for developers. And Brittany Andrew Amofah and Rebecca Cheff highlight how a true universal pharmacare program would make life more affordable for the people who most need it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wednesday Night Cat Blogging

Poised cats.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- As affordability takes a central place in most Canadian election campaigns, Kofi Hope and Katrina Miller propose a definition based on public health:
Health is the great equalizer. No matter where we’re from, what our values are, what our age or our political beliefs, we all want to have a healthy and long life. And if we agree on that, then we can say affordability is about the amount and type of resources we need to live a healthy and thriving life.
To thrive means to be able to have time for family and friends, pursue a hobby and travel occasionally, along with covering the basic necessities. Individual income is only one component of a broader social safety net that supports a thriving population; employers, government and community all play pivotal roles too.

For example, if the government covers some essentials, like prescription drugs and tuition, and subsidizes others, like housing and recreation programs, its contributions would all count toward the resources needed to live a healthy life. Our government can play a critical role in closing the gap between the haves and have-nots, not only by making basic goods more affordable but also by expanding public services and supports.

Viewing affordability as a commonly shared and holistic goal of health provides stable footing to consider an important question: Is our government making a healthy life possible for the many, or for the few?
- Meanwhile, Andrew Coyne writes that the Libs' signature tax cut fails by any measure other than that of electioneering.

 - Kendall Latimer reports on Provincial Auditor Judy Ferguson's findings about the desperate need for improved mental health supports in northern Saskatchewan. Max FineDay and Doug Cuthand implore our governments to act in response to the crisis of Indigenous suicides. And Marcus Gee notes that a culture of toxic masculinity feeds into addictions and deaths for many workers.

- Yasmin Jiwani reminds us that the Ecole Polytechnique massacre represents just one example of the violence which confronts women every day.

- Finally, Alex MacPherson reports on the Saskatchewan Party's shoot first, ask questions later approach to illegal fund-raising tactics.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rachel Shabi writes that UK Labour's plans for universal social investments would be both more compassionate and more efficient than the Conservative-created tearing patchwork.

- Simon Jäger, Benjamin Schoefer and Jörg Heining study (PDF) the positive effects of worker representation in corporate governance. And Michael Laris and Ian Duncan report on the consequences of Boeing's obsession with short-term capital interests which led it to conceal defects on its planes.

- Fiona Harvey reports on the vast swaths of ocean facing oxygen deficiencies caused by climate change - as well as on the latest research from the European Environment Agency showing how incremental economic gains (to the extent they exist at all) are far short of being worth the destruction of a liveable environment. And Matt McGrath reports on the Global Carbon Project's conclusion that global emissions continue to rise even as the visible effects of carbon pollution become far more difficult to avoid. 

- Finally, CBC News reports on the increase in support for proportional representation in the wake of Canada's federal election. And PressProgress points out some of what's missing from the Libs' throne speech.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tom Blackburn writes about the UK's rare opportunity to elect a government which is actually committed to empowering workers.

- Don Pittis writes that an effective transition toward a clean energy economy will result in far superior outcomes for workers than an insistence on propping up a dying fossil fuel sector. But Wal van Lierop points out the immense amount of lobbying the oil industry carries out to ensure it receives handouts and policy privileges over sustainable alternatives. 

- Gary Mason discusses the dangers of putting the health and well-being of seniors in care in the hands of distant foreign corporations. 

- Dina Al-Shabeeb highlights the growing number of working people struggling to survive poverty in Vaughan (and elsewhere). And Michael Spratt points out how cuts to Legal Aid systems leave everybody worse off by denying access to justice to the people who need it most.

- Finally, Graham Thomson points out both Jason Kenney's desire to create a political environment of perpetual conflict, and his utter inability to handle any punishment of his own a once he gets his wish.