Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dumb question of the day

"What's afoot with the metric system?"

Sunday, April 27, 2008



Just another bit of hypocrisy

Recently we have heard again about the possibility of bulk water exports from Canada to the US. There followed the predictable opposition from the usual sources.

Canada has 7% of the world's replenishable fresh water and 20% of the world's fresh water inventory once we start counting glaciers and icepack.

Let me clear something up: I am deeply skeptical about the anthropogenic global warming scam that so many seem to have fallen for, but I come down firmly on the side of conservationists when it comes to local water issues. Injecting usable surface water into a hydrocarbon reservoir, be it by water flood or steam flood, takes that water out of the hydrological cycle essentially forever. This is quite different than leaving your tap running or over-watering your lawn, where the result is a wastage of water treatment capacity but the water itself is still available to the long term cycle of evaporation and precipitation.

If we are lucky and the glaciers continue to melt (far from a sure thing, given the state of sunspot activity) there will eventually be less water in rivers fed by those glaciers. This would obviously be a problem, and it is the kind of problem that does not lend itself to Kyoto-style declarations and negotiations. You can't negotiate with or regulate a dry river bed the way you can chin-wag over carbon credits.

But if we pull back from the local perspective and look at a regional or continental perspective, what do we see? Here is where the aforementioned hypocrisy jumps right up and shouts.

Who owns the water that falls from the sky? Why, if it falls on Canada, then one could suppose that Canadians own it, even though we did nothing to earn it. Had we done something to earn that water, our sense of ownership would presumably be even stronger. Fair enough.

But if we are not using it, and it is flowing away into the oceans that surround 3/4 of our country, what is the basis of our selfishness? I can only guess that it is the possibility that those awful Americans might be given the chance to use our water before it evaporates as part of its timeless cycle, rather than have it evaporate directly from our territory or from the ocean. If we could send it to sub-Saharan Africa and it cured AIDS, would we be as dogmatic?

And here is where I finally get to my point. These same hypocrites think nothing of calling for nationalization, confiscation or (at the minimum) punitive taxation of companies and provinces who risked their own money and talent on extracting and refining oil. Ownership of Canada's "free" water is somehow sacred, but real ownership of hydrocarbon resources and facilities is subject to arbitrary measures proposed by people who already benefit from the wealth it creates but who find industry distasteful.

Which way do you want it, Maude?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day

We were out on the west coast for the weekend, and attended my mother-in-law's Anglican church. The priest advised the congregation that the service had been adapted to Earth Day and things got under way.

It seemed odd that the Anglican confession was left out. Anglicans refer to our sinful nature in pretty unambiguous terms:
We acknowldege and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.
The concept of sin is having a tough time in churches these days, as it threatens to undermine self-esteem. So the fine words in the Book of Common Prayer were skipped over, even though the paragraph in question is not marked 'optional'.

Then there was a sermon, which was introduced with the comment that people out there were peddling fear, and we should not be fearful, because God is in charge. And after that, it was all downhill, because "clear-eyed scientists have peeked over the edge of the abyss" and, well, we're doomed... Turns out most of the sermon was cribbed from this post, entitled "From apocalypse to Genesis" and if anything is going to be called fear-mongering, this would be a good place to start. The sermon, and its source material, end with a poem by one Wendell Berry, who concludes with the decidedly un-Christian line "For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

So once again we get to return to our theme that there is a new religion out there, but this time I have evidence. We need not confess our sins to God, we need only confess them to the Earth, and receive her grace. Our real sins are eco-sins, not the general sins of "thought, word and deed, against thy Divine Majesty". And for grace, we need but rest in the grace of the world.

There is no more true power in this new god than in any of the old idols. But there is certainly the power to turn heads and hearts.