greenwash


John Droz Jr. has posted a couple of brilliant little videos on MasterResource highlighting some very pertinent questions about the efficacy of wind as a source of energy.

Part 1: Dick & Jane Talk Wind Power

I found the rejoinder “compared to what?” a very effective method of countering the green mumbo jumbo that is often spouted by wind supporters. Though well meaning, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that their simplistic arguments in favour of wind do not hold up to scrutiny. Nor do they recognize that they are mindlessly repeating the talking points of self-interested green promoters. In this, Big Wind is little different from Big Oil.

Part 2: Jane Speaks With Her Town Representative

In this video, I like the way Jane turns the tables on wind developers. It should not be up to the citizen to prove the shortcomings of a particular wind project, but for the developers to prove its benefits. Of course, in the absence of any objective scientific study on the costs and benefits of wind power, the wind industry is understandably loath to go down this path. But that should not stop citizens from demanding it.

Sustainability is a very nebulous and malleable concept. It can mean whatever one wants it to mean. Environmentalists use it to dupe the public. Teachers use it to dupe students. Politicians use it to dupe voters. Corporations use it to dupe consumers. And BP uses it to dupe investors. 

If you are a shareholder in a so-called socially responsible or sustainable mutual fund, you may also be an owner of  BP, the company responsible for the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

When BP’s oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April 20, the company was a major holding of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index–which calls itself an index of “the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.”

BP was also held by Pax World Funds (”sustainable investing is a better smarter, way to invest”), by the MMA International Fund, which is part of a fund group that is “guided by Christian values,” and by the Legg Mason Social Awareness Fund, which, as of March 31, had BP as its single biggest holding.

It is somewhat fitting that the environmentalists have fallen for their own rhetoric. But as in all things, caveat emptor applies. When you hear anyone claiming or advocating “sustainability” it is best to walk away.

ht: Newswatch: Energy

…unless they’re Irish.

The Guardian newspaper picked this up recently, and it also makes an appearance in the most recent issue of Conservation magazine: people who purchase green products might be, on the whole, more likely to steal and cheat when given the chance.

This claim comes by way two researchers at the University of Toronto, who were probing a more widely known psychological phenomenon in which people who pat themselves on the back for a good deed often feel entitled to a bit of selfishness later on.

And also be careful with leprechauns.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The recent announcement that Loblaws will be installing solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of more than 100 of its stores is not cause for celebration by Ontarians. Despite the green spin the company puts on it, Ontario ratepayers will see their electricity costs go up as a result.

“This initiative is part of Loblaw’s overall effort, through the use of renewable energy sources to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Bob Chant, vice president, corporate affairs, Loblaw Companies Limited. “We believe green energy production using innovative technologies such as these pilot projects, supports our commitment to the environment.”

[…]

Based on the success of the initial four pilot projects, Loblaw will then evaluate the next phase of roll outs.”These projects will create a new source of income for businesses while providing new clean and green electricity in Ontario — particularly on hot, sunny summer days when demand soars,” said Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. “With our new domestic content rules, these projects will also help create new green collar jobs here in Ontario as well as major economic investments in equipment and services here at home.”

Ostensibly, Loblaws is doing this to be “green.” Yet while Ontario households typically pay on average 5.7¢ a kilowatt hour for their electricity (current wholesale rates are a little over half that), Loblaws will be receiving 44¢ a kilowatt hour for any power it produces, the cost of which gets fed back into your electricity bill. (I guess that’s why they call it a “feed-in tariff.”)  So, the more power Loblaws and the other 509 fortunate companies produce, the more our electricity costs go up.

For Loblaws, this is just their latest greenwashing scheme. The company has a long history of involvement with WWF Canada, which their clients unwittingly support every time they shop there.

It’s long past time to find a new grocery store.

…is coming to this.

ht: Moose & Squirrel

Poor Brad Duguid. Three days into his new job as Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and he’s stuck with the blame for the $10 billion bill that his predecessor George Smitherman left behind for Ontario electricity ratepayers.

When government and industry talk about green energy, what they mean by green is the green stuff that will be going into the pockets of special corporate and government interests.

In a dramatic move yesterday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty struck a green electricity deal — allegedly the biggest of its kind in the world — that will transmit a subsidy worth as much as $10-billion into the hands of a Korean state enterprise and corporate giant Samsung.

Green economics is a wonderful thing, except for consumers.

The subsidy means that over the next 25 years Ontario electricity users will pay 50% more for the wind and solar electricity produced under the Samsung deal than they would buying the same power from conventional sources. In return for the subsidy, the only thing the average consumer will receive is a warm and fuzzy feeling for having saved the planet from global warming.

With a start like this, it is going to be hard to live up to his name and “do good” for Ontarians.

But not to worry, the Toronto Star is in your corner spouting nonsense.

What’s not to like about a $7 billion investment that will bring four new manufacturing plants and 16,000 jobs to Ontario, as well as supplying 2,500 megawatts of clean energy?

Plenty, according to the provincial opposition parties.

The Conservatives dumped all over the agreement signed yesterday between the Ontario government and a Korean consortium that includes the giant Samsung corporation. They called it a “sweetheart deal” and “a massive multi-billion-dollar giveaway to a foreign-based conglomerate.” The New Democrats described it as a “backroom deal.” The Greens said it was “shocking.”

If this reaction sounds overwrought, it is. As Premier Dalton McGuinty pointed out yesterday, the Samsung agreement is similar to past deals that lured foreign investors to Ontario and away from competing American jurisdictions. As an example, he cited the subsidy to Toyota to put an auto assembly plant in Woodstock.

The aim, said McGuinty, is to make Ontario “the place to be for green energy manufacturing in North America,” and the Samsung deal provides the “critical mass” to achieve that goal.

The horse has already left the barn on this one. Such reactive,  interventionist, industrial policy is doomed to fail.  Assembling wind turbines and solar panels using foreign technology is not the way to prosperity. This is simply bad public policy.

The City of Toronto is sending out the bureaucratic troops to advise the unwashed populace on how they too can live green like David Miller, the city’s “green” mayor. Miller recently jetted across the Atlantic to tell the world about all the wonderful things Toronto is doing to help the environment. Every little bit helps, of course, but offsetting Miller’s globetrotting ways will demand additional sacrifice on the part of the citizenry.

Arriving at COP15. Incredible buzz here. on TwitpicI found the Live Green Toronto information table (pictured above) inside the entrance to Sears at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Handing out pamphlets and advising passersby of various government incentives available to save energy seemed innocent enough. But I was somewhat taken aback by the invitation from one of the employees to sign a petition “calling for action on climate change.” In my view, Sears is treading on dangerous ground by implicitly endorsing such political advocacy on its property.

If I was to sign any petition on the subject, it would be something along the lines of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s “No carbon taxes or cap and trade” petition, which you can check out here.

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