Showing posts from June 5, 2014

Why we should abolish the GDP - The ubiquitous measure obscures the true costs of growth.

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[A good review of the reasons why the goal of continuing unlimited growth is suicidal, and introducing the concept of measuring genuine progress. *RON*]

By Sean McElwee and Lew Daly, Washington Post, June 5, 2014
Imagine this: your state is thinking about building a new coal plant. Gross domestic product measures how much money that project would produce. But it can’t account for the children who get asthma or the people who die from that air pollution. And that’s a problem.

What was once a highly technical debate about the failures of conventional economic metrics is fast becoming a world movement to unseat GDP and replace it with something better.

In America, many states are finding new, more holistic measures of progress. Already, Maryland, Oregon and Vermont have begun using the genuine progress indicator (GPI).

GPI takes into account 26 social, economic and environmental indicators. These include financial factors such as inequality and the cos…

Empire of Prisons: How the United States is Spreading Mass Incarceration around the World

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[The US is exporting its privatized, militarized prison system around the world. I think Stephen Harper's ears just pricked up. *RON*]

by James P. Jordan, Counterpunch, June 5, 2014

This article explains how the United States is exporting its model of mass incarceration and social and political control to at least 25 countries. This “prison imperialism” is rooted in the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System signed in March, 2000 by the US Embassy and Colombia’s Ministry of Justice. That program coincided with a rapid increase in Colombia’s prison population including a rise in political arrests and the militarization of the prison system. Other aspects of this experience are worsened overcrowding, human rights abuses and unhealthy conditions. Nevertheless, the US-Colombia collaboration has become the standard for prison imperialism around the world with Colombian training programs forming a major component. US involvem…

Canada's 500,000 Leaky Energy Wells: 'Threat to Public'

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[University of Waterloo study finds that badly sealed oil and gas wellbores leak emissions are barely monitored. *RON*]

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Today,

A new University of Waterloo report warns that natural gas seeping from 500,000 wellbores represent "a threat to environment and public safety" due to groundwater contamination, greenhouse gas emissions and explosion risks wherever methane collects in unvented buildings and spaces.

The 69-page report on wellbore leakage cowritten by three expert UofW professors outlines a longstanding and largely invisible engineering problem for Canada's oil and gas industry.

It also calls for dramatic reforms in monitoring and regulation including greater engineering oversight of the cementing of wellbores and "doing it right in the first place."

The scale of the problem? Ten per cent of all active and suspended gas wells in British Columbia now leak methane.

In addition, some hyd…

First Nations group questions Site C Review Panel conclusion in new study

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[“When compared with portfolios that make use of alternative resources, Site C is in fact the most expensive of the alternatives studied.” *RON*]
By William Stodalka, Alaska Highway News, May 27, 2014 (Reprinted in Business in Vancouver)

A study commissioned by the Treaty 8 Tribal Association is questioning the Site C Joint Review Panel’s recently announced conclusion that Site C would be “the least expensive of the alternatives” for new energy and capacity within British Columbia.

“When compared with portfolios that make use of alternative resources, Site C is in fact the most expensive of the alternatives studied,” said Philip Raphals, of the Montreal-based Helios Centre, in a statement.

The Helios Centre is a non-profit research group aimed at fostering strategies for “a sustainable energy and climate future.” They were commissioned by the Treaty 8 Tribal Association to examine the energy scenarios discussed by the panel.

According to a release p…

ECB cuts interest rate to 0.15%

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[Persisting in doing what hasn't worked to date. It will be interesting to see if the negative interest rate at the ECB has the effect of increasing the number of loans to businesses, although to date all the banks have done with their mountains of cash is buy back their shares and give themselves bigger raises. *RON*]

BBC News, 5 June 2014

The European Central Bank (ECB) has lowered its benchmark interest rate to 0.15% from 0.25% in an effort to stimulate economic growth and avoid deflation in the eurozone.

It has also reduced its deposit rate below zero, to -0.1%, which means commercial banks will have to pay to lodge their money with the central bank, rather than receive interest.

The idea is to incentivise the banks to lend to businesses, thereby stimulating growth.

The ECB is the first of the "Big Four" central banks (the ECB, the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England) to do this.

Howard Archer, chief UK and …

Study finds no scientific 'silver bullet' to save us from climate change

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[I haven't been able to locate this article, but I've bookmarked the site and will look for it again. *RON*]

By The Canadian Press in Huffington Post, 06/04/2014

VANCOUVER - A new study says science won't be able to save us when it comes to climate change.

A team of researchers has weighed the potential for geo-engineering approaches like ocean fertilization, carbon capture and forest management.

Team member Jonn Axsen of Simon Fraser University says they looked at the cost, feasibility, risk, ethics and public acceptance of each of those approaches.

What they found is that none — or even all together — compare to reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Axsen says the message for members of the public and policy makers is that there is no scientific "silver bullet" that will undo the damage of climate change.

The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Frontier in Ecology and the Environment.