Clean tech, green jobs, and disruption

workers in a wind turbine factory

by Bruce Mason

There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s solar powered and unstoppable. Fossil fools, who still have their heads buried in tar-sands and other 20th century technologies, can’t see it and risk being totally blind-sided. But for those who “get it,” the bozone layer is lifting around the world, particularly in places where new, common-sense, but revolutionary, vision is promoted and nurtured.

One way to grasp the inevitable and transformative nature of this powerful emergent force is through the term “disruptive technology.” It refers to new approaches that overturn traditional business methods and practices. History dubs these pivotal times as ages, such as stone, bronze, iron and information. We’re taught how the industrial age quickly displaced agriculture and how steam speedily overpowered previous forms of harnessing energy. In our lifetime, we’ve actually witnessed, first-hand, the Internet overtaking snail-mail and the virtual disappearance of video rentals and industries, from media to music, which have been forced to cope, in desperation, with changed and challenging realities.

Just five years ago, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) completed its first survey of renewable energy jobs. In 2012, five million people were employed in the sector worldwide. In their just released report, that number doubled to 9.8 million for 2016.

The countries with the largest renewable jobs are Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan and the US. Remember when knuckle-dragging “Drill Baby, Drill” advocates rationalized turning their backs on reducing emissions, citing that China and India, highly populated and underdeveloped, weren’t up to the task so why did they have to be? Well, coal-rich China, which now has the largest share of renewable energy jobs – 3.5 million – is home to the world’s largest floating solar farm.

As Donald J. Trump touts massive job growth in something called clean coal, India cancelled plans for that form of filthy energy in favour of plummeting solar prices. In fact, 62 percent of the renewable jobs are located in Asia where much of solar panel manufacturing is taking place. And IRENA predicts renewable energy jobs will number 24 million by 2030, outpacing the loss of fossil fuel jobs.

Closer to home, where we don’t make the top renewable job list, Justin Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan with the statement, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.” That’s news to oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, which just launched a $50-billion investment in renewable energy.

In Vancouver, IRENA director-general Adnan Amin explained the massive global transition to renewable energy: “They’re doing this not because they’ve suddenly become climate advocates or they’re against oil, but because they see the future in a very different way and they know that energy in the future is not going to be what it is today.”

So-called “leaders,” from presidents and prime ministers to governors and premiers, are tone-deaf if they think voters are torn over the transition to clean energy. In BC, for example, the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” mantra is now discredited oligarchy propaganda. A new poll from from Abacus Data indicates that two-thirds of Canadians favour prioritizing economic growth in ways that don’t involve fossil fuels. And Americans don’t lag far behind in the recognition of the urgent and essential need to tank fossil fuels.

A leading light in analyzing and predicting the impact of clean disruptive technology is Stanford economist, Tony Seba. In a jaw-dropping, comprehensive, two-hour viral video , he dramatically illustrates our future in the first few minutes. From a photograph of a New York’s Fifth Avenue, taken in 1900, he asks his audience to pick out the automobile in the packed crowd of horse-drawn vehicles. Then, in a picture from 1913, in the same location, it is just as difficult to spot the one horse amidst the automobiles that materialized in just 13 years. The experience is highly recommended.

New York City, 1908
New York City 1908. Where are the cars?

Seba earned his reputation through his spot-on predictions of the solar boom. His current projections, based on technology cost curves, business model and product innovation, include: 1) By 2030, all new energy will be provided by solar or wind. 2) All new mass-market vehicles will be electric and autonomous (self-driving) or semi-autonomous. 3) The car market will shrink by 80%. 4) Gasoline, natural gas and coal will be obsolete (nuclear is already obsolete). 5) Up to 80% of highways and parking space won’t be needed. 6) And not only will the auto insurance industry be disrupted, car ownership and the taxi industry will be obsolete.

Streets of Detroit, 1910
Detroit 1910. Where are the horses?

Not fanciful when you consider expensive automobiles now sit idle, on average, 20 hours a day and electric vehicles are price competitive, especially when you factor in maintenance. Just before going to press, Common Ground had a conversation with Guy Dauncey, an author – his latest book is Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible – and activist. Dauncey has developed a positive vision of a sustainable future and he is translating that vision into action. “Guess how many people in the Lower Mainland have joined the handful of car-sharing opportunities?” he asked. “The answer is 120,000!”

Dauncey had another question: “What if BC and Canada – like Norway – had governments that not only subsidized the purchase of electric vehicles, but also provided HOV lane access, free parking and free charging (from street light lampposts)?”

Our economy no longer provides what most of us, unlike Christy Clark, consider real, good jobs. Fighting climate change supports families, sustains communities and provides a more equitable distribution of wealth, which our current economy no longer provides.

In his most recent book, Just Cool It!, David Suzuki (co-author Ian Hanington) writes, “The economy is a human invention, a tool that can be changed when it no longer suits our needs. The environment is the very air, water, land and diversity of plant and animal life we cannot live without. Why not work to build a healthy prosperous economy that protects things?”

Drawing on new innovations such as grid power systems, biochar soil technologies and algae-based biofuels, the authors outline practical, forward-thinking solutions for not only resolving the climate crisis, but also to create more meaningful work to directly benefit more people. All that is missing is that people demand change and action, as they apparently have just done in BC. When finally this happens, the results will be monumental.

When looking for a new job, start by changing your mindset and searching for something society needs. And think disruptive. In the aftermath of the provincial election, it’s past time to demand that elected public servants not only take big money out of a reformed electoral process, but that they also take disruptive action in order to catch up and build a better, re-imagined, BC.

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola Island-based banjo player, gardener, writer and author of Our Clinic.

Lead photo: Inside a wind turbine factory.

The Powers of GO – The Green and Orange evolution

happy about green and orange

by Joseph Roberts

Sixty-five years is a lifetime without a minority government in BC. Now we have, just by the slimmest of margins, one! It is 41 NDP and 3 Greens vs. 43 Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly.

A blessed granddaughter was born the day of the election. And like a new born baby this relationship between the Orange and Green needs TLC and nourishing. We dedicate this edition of Common Ground to all of us finding common ground to grow a better democracy.

This is not the first Orange and Green agreement, but certainly the first here in BC.

The Irish tricolour flag (Irish: bratach na hÉireann) is Green White Orange. The green represents the older Gaelic tradition while the orange represents the supporters of William of Orange. The white in the centre signifies the lasting truce between the ‘Orange’ and the ‘Green’.

The Quare Fellas sang The Orange and the Green in 1960’s, later sung by the The Irish Rovers. The song’s lyrics tell the humorous story of a lad born into a mixed religious and political family.

“My father he was Orange and me mother she was Green” the son born of a Protestant dad and a Catholic mom. “My father was an Ulster man, proud Protestant was he. My mother was a Catholic girl, from county Cork was she.” It brought a smile to my heart, you can listen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=63m-6zxfUyE

Making peace and forming agreements takes courage, creativity and also forgiveness in order to make our lives better.

We have friends in both the New Democratic and the Green parties. Prior to the election there was a lot of friction and animosity. Suspicion and animus raged between the two parties now in agreement. A number of NDP’ers were troubled by the Greens because they saw them as splitting the vote and keeping them out of power against the neo-liberals. Some Greens disliked the NDP.

Both sides have their stories to tell, their blame games, and their personal pains. No person or party in this situation is perfect, but then perfection can get in the way of progress. To have a progressive, democratic, environmentally aware governance of BC things had to progress.

The Greens have a lot to learn from the NDP and the NDP have a lot to learn from the Greens. Rekindled appreciation and respect will allow this now.

For 16 years the extractive capitalist and the donor class of the ruling Liberal-Conservative-Socred coalition, renamed BC Liberals, had free-rein to feed the profits from our land to the 1% while the middle working class watched powerlessly as Gordon Campbell-Christy Clark governments sold our province to the highest bidder. Big money ruled the body politic. There was no proportional representation. 39% of the vote took 100% of the power from the people, leaving 61% with no real representation.

We had taxation and exploitation without fair proportional representation. The NDP felt the impotence of sitting across from a ruling party that voted down any progressive motion they presented, such as taking big money out of politics which was crushed by their first-past-the-post (FPTP) overlords.

The sting was personal for John Horgan and the NDP who previously voted against electoral reform when the Single Transferable Vote STV referendum was offered.

Since then, the NDP realized while sitting in opposition how FPTP condemned them to democratic poverty with no real power against a BC Liberal majority government who, with only 39% of the popular vote, pushed through egregious legislation and slashed health, social or education budgets.

After watching the Christy Clark train-wreck in slow motion, they have realized that in order to have a government for the people the system has to be unrigged from the infrastructure and process that served the Liberals donor class. Get big money the hell out of politics and instill a proportional representation electoral process.

The Greens had already built these two principles into their platform and so the common ground was in place for John Horgan and Andrew Weaver to cooperate in order to better serve the people of BC.

And the magic happened. A minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power! The first time in Canada’s history. So, we stand before this amazing opportunity to bring real democracy and fairness into the governance of BC.

It has been said that when the people lead the politicians will follow. And the only real safe place for democracy is in the hearts and minds of the people themselves. So lets take out some life insurance for this new and fragile unity by getting to know each other whether you are Orange or Green.

We at Common Ground invite the members of the NDP Party and the Green Party to actually party together and meet each other face to face, share food and joy.

Of course, all are welcome who voted Green or Orange to come out and really get to know each other.

We really have more in common than we know. It is through connecting in person that friendship is built. With direct experience of each other we can develop the necessary trust to grow strong. Let’s be resistant to the divide and conquer techniques of the previous FPTP divisive electoral rules. Yes, we can move beyond hostile partisanship into a joint appreciation. We can cooperate together and better operate the levers of political power through a fairer, more democratic process to serve the 99% rather than just the 1%.

This may seem radical but at one time it was deemed radical to have women vote, or, it was unthinkable if one was a slave, to be truly free. Such is the moment we live in now.

But our effort did not end when we cast our single vote. Rather, the recent election has given us this golden opportunity. Now let’s solidify our goodwill. We can reverse the economic and environment damage done by former government’s controllers, who, being in power for too long, became arrogant, entitled and corrupt.

This is a new day for British Columbia and a beginning of a new era for Canada and what better time than on Canada’s 150th birthday. Just as UN-Habitat I and Greenpeace were born in BC and spread east across Canada, then across the globe, we at this time can stand for a truly people-focused democracy based on our shared values and common goals. And done well, this will be BC’s greatest gift to the rest of Canada on our 150th birthday. Implicit in this renewal is the honouring of those whose cultures were here long before the most recent 150 years, and to work together in the spirit of reconciliation with First Nations for the betterment of all.

Here is the opening section of the agreement signed by the leaders and caucus of both parties. Please do take the time to read the whole document on-line at the NDP or Green Party’s website, or at commonground.ca

2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC

Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus

This agreement between the BC Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus is effective [2017], for four years, or until the next fixed date election as set by the BC Constitution Act.

Section 1 – Foundation of Relationship

This agreement establishes the basis for which the BC Green Caucus will provide confidence in a BC New Democrat Government. It is not intended to lay out the full program of a New Democrat Government, nor is it intended to presume BC Green support for initiatives not found within this agreement.

Both the BC New Democrats and the BC Greens campaigned for a government that put people at the centre of their decision-making. Our policy proposals included many points of agreement, including:

1. Making democracy work for people

2. Creating jobs, acting on climate change, and building a sustainable economy that works for everyone

3. Fixing the services people count on

4. Making life more affordable for people

This agreement sets out a new relationship between the two parties, founded on the principle of “good faith and no surprises”.

Both parties agree that the legislature works best when all MLAs are able to put forward good ideas – and come together – to support those that advance the public good.

Remember, this is only the beginning. May we all find common ground and make our province, country and world a better place for peace and prosperity from this day forward.

Erin is a derivative of the Irish word for Ireland – “Éire”. Erin used for both sexes, is principally a feminine forename. Erin is also a name for Ireland in Welsh and one of the most popular girls’ names in Wales.

The baby mentioned at the beginning is named Erin.

So host a Orange and Green house party, block party, musical concert, improv flash mob, country fair, farmers market or any other place where people can gather together. Get creative and initiate you own celebration to bring both Green and Orange together. It is up to each one of us now.

UV rays and you

beach umbrella

People who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. And it would be unwise to stay inside if it would keep you from being active because physical activity is important for good health. But getting too much sun can be harmful. There are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays. Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day and it happens every time you are in the sun.

An obvious, but very important, way to limit your exposure to UV light is to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long. This is particularly important between the hours of 10AM and 4PM when UV light is strongest. If you are unsure how strong the sun’s rays are, use the shadow test; if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are the strongest and it’s important to protect yourself.

UV rays reach the ground all year, even on cloudy or hazy days, but the strength of UV rays can change based on the time of year and other factors. UV rays become more intense in the spring even before temperatures get warmer. People in some areas may get sunburned when the weather is still cool because they may not think about protecting themselves if it’s not hot out. Be especially careful on the beach or in areas with snow because sand, water and snow reflect sunlight, increasing the amount of UV radiation you get. UV rays can also reach below the water’s surface so you can still get a burn even if you’re in the water and feeling cool.

Some UV rays can also pass through windows. Typical car, home and office windows block most UVB rays, but a smaller portion of UVA rays, so even if you don’t feel you’re getting burned your skin may still get some damage. Tinted windows help block more UVA rays, but this depends on the type of tinting.

If you plan to be outdoors, you may want to check the UV Index for your area. The UV Index usually can be found in local newspapers, TV, radio, and online forecasts.

Protect your skin with clothing: When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to cover your skin. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective. Dark colours generally provide more protection than light colours. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.

Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too. Many companies now make clothing that’s lightweight, comfortable and protects against UV exposure even when wet. It tends to be more tightly woven and some have special coatings to help absorb UV rays. These sun-protective clothes may have a label listing the UV protection factor (UPF) value (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun’s UV rays, on a scale from 15 to 50+). The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.

Some products, which are used like laundry detergents in a washing machine, can increase the UPF value of clothes you already own. They add a layer of UV protection to your clothes without changing the colour or texture. This can be useful, but it’s not exactly clear how much it adds to protecting you from UV rays so it’s still important to follow the other steps listed here.

Use sunscreen: It’s important to know that sunscreen is just a filter; it does not block all UV rays. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. Even with proper sunscreen use, some UV rays still get through. Because of this, sunscreen should not be thought of as your first line of defence. Consider sunscreen as one part of your skin cancer protection plan, especially if staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing aren’t available as your first options.

Read the labels: Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.

Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection (although it says nothing about UVA protection). For example, when applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, one hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending two minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen so they get less actual protection.

Sunscreens labelled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people don’t understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely.

Sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 must now include a warning on the label stating that the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.

Broad spectrum sunscreen: Sunscreen products can only be labelled “broad spectrum” if they have been tested and shown to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some of the chemicals in sunscreens that help protect against UVA rays include avobenzone (Parsol 1789), ecamsule, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Only broad spectrum sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures.

Water resistant sunscreen: Sunscreens are no longer allowed to be labelled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because these terms can be misleading. Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant,” but they have to state whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, based on testing.

Expiration dates: Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it’s still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least two to three years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods, such as if they were kept in a glove box or car trunk through the summer, may be less effective.

Wear sunglasses that block UV rays: UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.

The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. Those labelled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Source: American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org

photo © Joao Virissimo

Canada’s democracy a convenient fiction

First-past-the-post unchanged

by Kelly Carmichael

Politicians hold up democracy like the gold standard although few would be able to define it. They affirm that expressing your will at the ballot box is key to a functioning democracy. Yet citizens have no power to effect change, despite the fact they fund the infrastructure of government through their tax dollars.

What many do not compute is that all policy decisions find their foundation in the way we allocate power through our electoral system. Winner-take-all majoritarian systems offer an illusion of choice, but are actually designed to keep the commons out. You can vote for a candidate, but your options to effectively elect an MP aligned with your political values is quite slim. In 2015, over 9,000,000 Canadians chose losing candidates.

The other problem with first-past-the-post voting is the system most often returns skewed results. When we say 39% ‘majorities,’ that illustrates the total amount of votes for a winning party, but the inconvenient truth behind that number reveals that half of those voters voted for the winning party in ridings where an opposition candidate won. Many would be surprised to hear that a mere 4.6 million Canadians elected the 184 MPs that hold all the power in our House of Commons.

Providing such a small minority all the power in our government makes accountability very precarious and illusive. For instance, it would appear the government is very busy consulting on a variety of issues: electoral reform, trade, climate change, etc. These exercises provide a slick semblance of transparency and government accountability.

Unfortunately, most of these consultations expose a well orchestrated political theatre and lack the proper mechanisms and outcomes for responding to the evidence or the will of the people.

When you drill down into the consultations set up by the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE), you find 88% of the experts who expressed an opinion on systems told the government to implement some form of proportional representation (PR). Additionally, 87% of the public who testified at the public hearings asked the government to move to a proportional system. The ERRE’s own online survey found strong support for both the principle of PR and specific proportional systems.

This consultation was the 14th of its kind in Canada. Each one recommended moving to proportional representation. Add this to the fact that 80% of OECD Countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) use PR and a body of research spanning 50 years suggests you get better democracy and governance through PR.

Alarmingly, the more the evidence and public sentiment pointed to proportional representation, the more the Liberals seemed to retreat citing they could not find ‘consensus.’

In November of 2016, Justin Trudeau announced that perhaps electoral reform wasn’t as important since now he was Prime Minister. In February of 2017, the Prime Minister sent his newly minted Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, out to face the media and tell Canadians the government had chosen to kill the file. A few weeks later, addressing a room of citizens and reporters, Trudeau announced killing electoral reform was his decision to make. Most suspect the decision was made in the shadowy backroom of the PMO.

Trudeau has since admitted that he was, and remains, an advocate of the alternative vote system (AV) – a ranked ballot used in a majoritarian winner-take-all system – which is basically first-past-the-post on steroids, a phony reform that continues to guarantee that up to half of all voters in every riding remain unable to elect the MP they prefer.

The truth was the Liberals could not find consensus for Justin Trudeau’s preferred system so they killed it.

The Liberals are leaving the once condemned first-past-the-post scheme intact along with their own undeserved domination of the House of Commons. j

US may hit emission targets before Canada

by Tom Sandborn

As Jeff Rubin, former economist for CIBC World Markets and author of a number of books, including The Carbon Bubble and The End of Growth, prepared to speak to a full house of fund managers, bankers and NGO figures interested in responsible investment at a meeting sponsored by the Responsible Investment Association (https://www.riacanada.ca/) early on the morning of June 1, the room was buzzing with excitement and worry about whether Donald Trump would use a speech scheduled for later in the day to announce the US was going to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, also known as COP 21. Trump did make that tragically misguided announcement a few hours later.

But the well known and often controversial energy sector expert Rubin had other things on his mind. In fact, he told the packed ballroom full of fans of responsible investment that the US under Donald Trump was more likely to hit emission reduction goals than Canada under Trudeau!

(carbonbrief.org/paris-2015-tracking-country-climate-pledges)

According to this graphic posted on the Climate Action Tracker website (climateactiontracker.org/), without cuts more serious than those committed to in the Paris Agreement, global temperatures will spiral up to an average of more than two degrees higher than current world averages. Most experts agree that increases that high in global temperatures will lead to catastrophic climate change, melting polar ice with ocean level increases likely to drown many coastal cities.

Rubin said, “I believe that the US, despite Trump pulling out of COP 21, is better positioned to hit their emission targets than Canada.”

Steve Kux, Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, told Common Ground on June 5 that Rubin made good points in his Vancouver speech.

“Canada has made some positive moves on climate change,” Kux said, “but we need a cohesive and coherent national policy and our continued subsidies to fossil fuels and approval for pipeline expansion take us in the wrong direction. Given the positive steps being taken by American states and cities on this file, Rubin may well be right about Canada doing worse than the USA on getting emissions down unless we get our priorities straight.”

Meanwhile, Rubin says, BC has become a major conduit for highly polluting thermal coal from the US to Asia, and the recent federal approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion is not only environmentally dangerous, it also makes no sense economically.

Rubin said the often-voiced argument from fans of the fossil fuel industries that Canada needs more pipelines in order to “get a stranded resource to tidewater” for export abroad makes no sense to him as an economist. “It is, frankly, BS,” he said in an interview before his speech.

Most of the petroleum Canada exports is bitumen from the tar sands, he said, and that product is priced well below other oils in both the Asian and European markets, a reality that would leave tar sands bitumen stranded by economics and Canada holding the bag for the environmental and economic costs associated with building more pipeline infrastructure. He said Canada should build no more pipelines.

Kux also agreed with Rubin’s rejection of the argument that Canada has to build more pipelines.

“Tar sands bitumen is not stranded by the lack of pipelines to the coast,” he said. “Every barrel of bitumen exported loses money and more pipelines won’t change that.” j

Tom Sandborn lives in Vancouver and is interested in energy issues. Contact tos65@telus.net

Photo: Wind turbines near Goldendale, Washington.

Bob Bossin vs “Kinder Morgan”

Bob Bossin

by Bruce Mason

What history will refer to as “Kinder Morgan,” it will also record and judge as one of the most significant stories during Canada’s 150 years. The highly volatile issue will help define us and our role in the contemporary world, specifically highlighting if we are part of the problem or the solution.

But to fully understand it, one must experience Bob Bossin’s explosively effective 10-minute viral video, curiously entitled, Only one bear in a hundred bites, but they don’t come in order. (www.youtube.com)

The 100,000 or so folks and groups who have experienced it and shared it on Facebook – 12,000 on YouTube – keenly advised others to do the same, including the Green Party, Council of Canadians, former BC cabinet minister Rafe Mair, the Dogwood Initiative and myriad like-minded others.

Bob’s compilation of seemingly endless, terrifying tank farm explosions and accompanying text gives voice to the widespread fear and horror on the west coast about the explosion possibilities. Green leader Elizabeth May has characterized it as “totally stupid.” It being the construction of a 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Edmonton to BC’s Lower Mainland (western Canada’s most densely populated area) to carry toxic diluted bitumen (300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day) through more than 100 First Nations mostly pristine territories. It will increase the traffic of massive tankers, seven-fold, smack dab in the Port of Vancouver (second busiest in the nation) and into the international treasure of the Salish Sea, for the sake of generating 50 permanent jobs, despite plummeting oil prices, and the fact that a spill can’t be cleaned. All of which seriously jeopardizes the global initiative to reduce the carbon emissions that are killing life on the planet (See commonground.ca/christy-justin-kinder-morgan-take-hike/)

May played a role in Only one bear in a hundred bites, but they don’t come in order. Bossin was asked to write a song for an Earth Day celebration in April. Instead, the “Old Folksinger,”created the video. It received a standing ovation from an audience, including May, who wanted to see it again and again. And so it was posted.

Bossin strives to show Canadians who support the foolhardy and reckless pipe dream why people in BC vow to fight to the death to stop it. But there’s not much reaction from Alberta to Ottawa where selfie-PM Justin Trudeau defies science by petulantly insisting that “Kinder Morgan” is “safe”, rejecting common sense and economics by claiming it’s in “Canada’s best interests.”

The late great dean of folksingers, Pete Seeger, once observed, “Not many people can write songs that are funny, informative and inspiring at the same time. Bossin does.” Pity Pete never lived to see the video. He was a big fan of Bossin’s Show Us the Length and he performed the hilarious, pro-feminist composition. He was also well aware of Bob’s anthemic Sulphur Passage, which helped save the Clayoquot wilderness and brought down the BC NDP government of Mike Harcourt. Bossin, co-founder of the legendary Stringband, pioneered crowd-funding and independent artist-controlled recordings with Canadian themes.

It’s entirely appropriate and just that he be part of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival’s 40th anniversary (July 13-16). He’s played there dozens of times in his 50 years of writing and performing. Folks who attend “The greatest show on Earth” (Rolling Stone) will enjoy some 60+ musical acts from 20 countries on seven beachfront stages. And we all have that video to share.

EVENT

See Bob Bossin at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, July 13-16.

Is BC Hydro’s Site C Dam “In Bad Faith”

… and does it uphold our concept of “Social Contract”?

An open letter to all parties:

Contractors
Acciona Canada
Samsung C&T
Petrowest
Voith Hydro
BC Hydro
BC Hydro Board of Directors
Government of BC

Contractors: You have knowingly entered into contracts with BC Hydro, the BC Provincial Government, and possibly others, to provide goods and services for the Site C power project.

At the time of your signature to these contracts, you were well aware of opposition to the project:

  • multiple legal challenges,
  • over 100,000 signatories , over 300 scientists and scholars, the Royal Society, numerous organizations,
  • the Union of BC Municipalities, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs,
  • no increase in domestic use of electricity for the past ten (10) years; no need for the project,
  • myriad alternatives: Columbia River, Burrard Thermal, upgrades to other BC dams and power houses, and electricity conservation – 2x the power at 1/6th the cost,
  • other renewable sources of electricity solar and wind and geothermal.

You were also aware that 1) The former Chair of the Joint Review Panel, Dr. Harry Swain, 2) a former CEO of BC Hydro, and 3) former Premier Harcourt all publicly opposed.

You were aware that First Nations Treaty rights were not being honoured, and that First Nations were strongly opposed to the project.

You were aware that the Government of BC 1) excluded review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission, 2) excluded land areas to be affected from review by the Agricultural Land Commission, and 3) excluded both the Columbia River Treaty and Burrard Thermal power from consideration.

BC Hydro, BC Hydro Board of Directors, and BC Government: You have intentionally created a situation which circumvents essential aspects of major project approvals. That approval process forms the basis of “social contracts,” being those developments that improve the standard of living while being “socially acceptable and desirable.” The aspects of project review and approval denied:

  • Review by government established agencies, such as BCUC.
  • Using legislation to exclude specific areas of review to enable projects to proceed.
  • Using legislation to facilitate approval of projects.
  • Ignoring legal challenges to projects.

Acting in Bad Faith?

Contractors, BC Hydro, BC Hydro Board of Directors and BC Government

Despite this knowledge, all parties wilfully agreed to proceed with signing contracts for goods and services to build the Site C project.

A serious legal question, is raised: “Did the various parties Act in Bad Faith?”

In a 2014 Supreme Court decision, there is a requirement that all contracts, to be valid, can only be agreed upon if all parties are acting in Good Faith. Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote, “…good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law of contract… recognizes obligations of good faith contractual performance… a common law duty… applies to all contracts to act honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”

This would apply to entering into contracts as well as contract performance.

Reference: http://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/supreme-court-of-canada-updates-common-law-to-make-good-faith-an-implied-term-of-all-contracts

Evidence of “Bad Faith”

Lack of project need, lower cost of alternatives and public opposition

It has been clearly shown that there is no clear need for the project. It has also been clearly shown that there are at least 10 lower-cost alternatives and very strong public opposition.

Given these compelling facts, it is probable that all parties “Acted in Bad Faith” and did not honour basic tenets of the”social contract,” that of BC Hydro providing electricity under socially acceptable conditions.

As a consequence and as a result of a recent election and impending change of government and management of BC Hydro, it is probable that the Site C project will soon be paused and or terminated. The consequences are: all work must stop and equipment orders delayed, renegotiated or cancelled.

To continue with further work may be greatly to your detriment. You are being asked to withdraw your services and goods at the earliest possible time, to prevent failure of payment, as such services and goods will not be necessary.

FURTHER – any contracts entered into beyond this date by yourselves, jointly or severally, will not be honoured by the residents of British Columbia.

Signed

Roger Bryenton, P. Eng,(former). MBA
BC Resident, 778-232-1326, Vancouver.

NAFTA change could limit digital freedom

photo of David Christopher

INDEPENDENT MEDIA
by David Christopher

We’re just over four months into Donald Trump’s presidency and there’s already a great deal of concern around his digital agenda. On privacy, Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has overseen a sharp spike in invasive digital devices searches at the border and is even threatening to force travellers to routinely hand over social media passwords.

Meanwhile, Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission, is aiming to overturn critical consumer safeguards, namely Net Neutrality, that hundreds of millions of Internet users depend on.

And if that isn’t enough to keep you up at night, a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) now looks imminent. First implemented in 1994, this trade deal is huge for Canada and the wrangling over whether, and how, it should be updated is sure to dominate headlines.

From a digital rights perspective, a number of big concerns come along with a renegotiation of NAFTA. Canadians enjoy significantly stronger protections for privacy and Net Neutrality than their US counterparts, policies that could be placed at risk in the upcoming talks. We also enjoy a more flexible copyright system than our neighbours.

Recent US legislation dramatically weakened rules governing the privacy of Internet users, enabling ISPs to track and sell their subscribers’ information, including their browsing history. In Canada, we have much stronger rules to prevent such abuses. Professor Michael Geist has warned the US is likely to use the NAFTA talks to force Canada to match its approach.

Canada also has some of the strongest pro-consumer Net Neutrality safeguards in the world, recently reinforced by the CRTC’s landmark decision to ban telecom providers from engaging in discriminatory pricing practices. In contrast, the US, under Trump, is moving to rapidly dismantle its own Net Neutrality safeguards; again, the concern is that they’ll use NAFTA to force Canada in line with an agenda that prioritizes the narrow interests of US telecom giants over the broader interests of Canadian consumers.

Perhaps most troublingly, the US looks all-but-certain to use NAFTA to try to impose draconian new intellectual property rules on Canada. In fact, as professor Geist notes, the US’ starting position for NAFTA looks very similar to their stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This is especially worrying given the TPP proposed extending Canada’s copyright terms by 20 years, robbing our public domain and costing our economy hundreds of millions.

With so many fundamental issues on the table, it’s fair to say Canada’s overall ability to chart its own digital policy direction is now at stake. Over recent years, Canada’s digital direction has diverged significantly from that of the US and this divergence has unequivocally benefitted Canadian Internet users.

That’s why it’s essential Canada’s negotiating team not only push back against US demands on the specific policy areas outlined above, but also that it make clear Canada will continue to shape a digital policy agenda that works for Canadians and not allow itself to be forced into line with America’s anti-consumer approach.

At OpenMedia, we’re watching developments closely. You can stay in the loop at OpenMedia.org

David Christopher is Interim Communications and Campaigns Director for OpenMedia, a non-profit organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free. openmedia.org

Work less and help the planet

photo of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS
by David Suzuki

In 1926, US automaker Henry Ford reduced his employees’ workweek from six eight-hour days to five, with no pay cuts. It’s something workers and labour unions had been calling for and it followed previous reductions in work schedules that had been as high as 84 to 100 hours over seven days a week.

Ford wasn’t responding to worker demands; he was being a businessman. He expected increased productivity and knew workers with more time and money would buy and use the products they were making. It was a way of spurring consumerism and productivity to increase profits, and it succeeded. Ford, then one of America’s largest employers, was ahead of his time; most workers in North America and elsewhere didn’t get a 40-hour workweek until after the Second World War.

Since standardization of the 40-hour workweek in the mid-20th century, everything has changed but the hours. If anything, many people are working even longer hours, especially in North America. This has severe repercussions for human health and well-being, as well as the environment.

Until the Second World War, it was common for one person in a household, usually the oldest male, to do wage work full time. Now, women make up 42 percent of Canada’s full-time workforce. Technology has made a lot of work redundant, with computers and robots doing many tasks previously performed by humans.

People get money from bank machines, scan groceries at automated checkouts and book travel online. Many people now spend most or all of their workdays in front of a computer.

Well into the 21st century, we continue to work the same long hours as 20th century labourers, depleting ever more of Earth’s resources to produce more goods that we must keep working to buy, use and replace in a seemingly endless cycle of toil and consumerism.

It’s time to pause and consider better ways to live like shifting from fossil-fuelled lifestyles with which our consumer-based workweeks are connected; it would have been easier to change had we done so gradually.

The UK think tank, New Economics Foundation, argues that a standard 21-hour workweek would address a number of interconnected problems: “overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.”

Beyond helping break the cycle of constant consumption and allowing people to focus on things that matter – like friends, family and time in nature – a shorter workweek would also reduce rush-hour traffic and gridlock… And it would give people more options for family care. (David Suzuki Foundation employees enjoy a four-day workweek.)

Economic systems that require constant growth on a finite planet don’t make sense. The fact that the world’s richest 62 people now have more wealth than the poorest half of the world’s population is absurd and tragic.

It’s time for a paradigm shift in our economic thinking.

Excerpted from “Long work hours don’t work for people or the planet.” David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington. David Suzuki’s latest book is Just Cool It!: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do (Greystone Books), co-written with Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

The high cost of a lie

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. – Albert Einstein

I had an interesting experience recently that got me thinking about honesty and integrity. I called a local nail salon late afternoon on a Saturday to make a Sunday appointment. I was actually trying to google the number of my regular salon when this new one popped up. It was a little closer to home so I thought I would give it a try as the web page looked pretty good.

I booked the appointment and the lady called me right back. She asked me to bring cash explaining, “My bank is closed on Sunday.” Of course I was puzzled and did not want to make an extra trip to a banking machine. I told her I did not have cash and she said,” Okay this time, but next time bring cash.”

When I arrived the next day, she was very friendly and put a lot of energy into promoting her business. She had just finished doing pedicures for a young couple in a long-distance relationship. He was returning to the US later in the day and his girlfriend had treated him to his first ever pedicure. She wanted to do something nice on his last day here.

When they went to pay, she said “cash only.” The woman did not have the cash and became quite flustered. She offered her Mastercard only to be told they don’t take Mastercard. In the end, the guy ended up paying with his Visa while the woman assured him she would pay him back. It was a very awkward ending to what was meant to be a special time.

I felt very uncomfortable witnessing this. Then, with a bright smile, she came to me and began my pedicure. She explained why her salon was different from others and how she was so much more conscientious about keeping nails healthy. In fact, she did an excellent job. So good, in fact, that I thought of switching salons. When it came time to pay, she accepted my Visa, but reminded me, “Next time cash.”

As I returned home, something weighed heavily on my mind. Each time I looked at my lovely nails, I could only think of how she lied to me right from the start. I thought about how bubbly the woman was about treating her boyfriend and how the whole cash business soured their experience.

I won’t be going back. I wonder how many others have never returned having seen or sensed this side, which is ego driven and out of integrity.

Years ago, I knew a woman who was into online dating. She was in her late forties or early fifties. She was beautiful, intelligent and good company. She looked somewhat younger than her years so she posted her age as somewhat less that her actual age.

She may have shaved off a bit too much because the man asked her how old she really was. When she told him, the first date was over. He said, “If you lied to me about that, what else will you lie about?”

Both women lost out on opportunities that could have been good in the long run. Perhaps people think others cannot see through their lies. Even if they are fooled, the relationship is still based on lies. If we lie to another, we are disrespecting them and ourselves. A lie is a manipulation of another to serve our own ends. It can never be a win/win. It is always a lose/lose.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.