Friday, February 26, 2010

The carbon-trading shell game

In a recent Harper's Magazine article "Conning the Climate: Inside the Carbon-Trading Shellgame" Mark Schapiro provides a comprehensive look into the intricacies, vagaries and risks associated with the global carbon emissions market which is now at $300+ billion and growing fast. Jeremy Warner of the Telegraph writes an overview and comments:

According to Mr Schapiro, carbon trading is now the fastest growing commodities market on earth. Since Kyoto signatories bought in to the cap and trade concept in 2005, there have been more than $300bn carbon transactions, prompting several investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Barclays, to set up their own carbon trading desks. But that’s just the start. If President Obama and his supporters can institute a cap-and-trade system in the United States – and that’s a big if for this increasingly marooned presidency – demand could explode into a $2 to $3 trillion market.

And here’s the great thing about it. Unlike traditional commodities markets, which will eventually involve delivery to someone in physical form, the carbon market is based on lack of delivery of an invisible substance to no-one. Since the market revolves around creating carbon credits, or finding carbon reduction projects whose benefits can then be sold to those with a surplus of emissions, it is entirely intangible.

... The whole thing, though well intentioned, looks wide open to abuse and scams. Mr Schapiro’s account of the carbon trading market is obviously a sceptical one, and no doubt there are others that take a less cynical view. But I wonder what all the wide eyed climate change campaigners are going to say when the first scandals begin to break, still more what they’ll make of it when the whole thing turns out to be another giant asset bubble – if indeed the non production of carbon can be described as an asset.
The above is via FOS who note another potentially catastrophic problem:

The U.N. has authorized 26 firms to participate in the lucrative business of validating these promises world-wide. Due to irregularities the U.N. temporarily suspended the two largest validators - Swiss-based SGS and the Norwegian DNV. However, any questionable carbon credits are never revoked, because that could destroy the market. [Hmm. The U.N., of oil-for-food fraud infamy, overseeing validation of trading in the non-delivery of an invisible gas? What could possibly go wrong?]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Danny Williams: '... this is my heart, it's my health and it's my choice.'

Danny ("Big Mouth") Williams makes a good point - I especially like the "it's my choice" part. But his point runs counter to what he preaches for the rest of us.

It would be great if we all had Williams' "choice" in these matters. The problem is that Williams and his political ilk go out of their way to promote a government monopoly on healthcare for the rest of us - that is, they promote universal lack of choice.

As for Williams' specific medical problem (a leaky mitral valve) he says that in Canada he "wasn't offered" the treatment he received in Florida. That sounds a little weasely. Did he ask for it? If so, what was the answer? It's likely done in Canada but for whatever reasons it wasn't as good a choice as going south where, thanks to the American system, it's readily available.

Update (Feb 24): National Post editorial today:

My heart, my health, my choice. With those six words, Danny Williams neatly summed up the case for private health care. No matter how much the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier goes on to defend Canada's state health care monopoly, the damage has been done to the case for a single-payer system. He has exposed it for what is: a charade with often tragic consequences ...

... Together with North Korea [and Cuba?], Canada is the lone holdout that denies its people choice over one of the most important aspects of their lives: their personal health and well-being.

... Mr. Williams was perfectly within his rights to opt for his superior surgery. But all Canadians should enjoy this choice -- and they shouldn't have to show their passport to get it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger's sorry

Tiger Woods says he's sorry. And I believe him. It's obvious he has a lot to be sorry for, especially getting caught. But, since "... he has been linked to 19 mistresses ..." getting caught was all but inevitable.

The question remains: What is he not sorry for?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some good news for Conrad Black

From CTV News:
... The important development related to [Black's] chances of winning his appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court and it came from a surprising source. Falling just short of waving a white surrender flag, the same United State Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Illinois that launched Black's prosecution signalled its shaken belief that his fraud convictions might be vacated. ...

... The alarm bell has been sounded in prosecutors' offices across America that the honest services fraud statute may be on life support. ...

... If the fraud statute is ruled to be unconstitutional, Black's remaining three fraud counts will invariably fall. And what of the obstruction of justice charge that would remain? The court might be persuaded that if it isn't vacated, Conrad Black will be left with a single conviction for a crime committed in another country in relation to a set of circumstances that were determined by the court to be non-criminal. The absurdity of that logic leading to a dubious conviction could possibly lead the Supreme Court to vacate the charge of obstruction of justice as well.

[Via Mark Steyn at 'the corner']

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alberta's "Oily Dirt" and carbon capture & storage

Halfwise posts some interesting thoughts on the politics of Alberta's "dirty" oil and subsidies of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology:

... if anyone tries to tell me the Oil Sands represent Dirty Oil I respond "You are mistaken, it is actually Oily Dirt."

... In the provincial budget that was presented on Feb 9, the Conservative government included $100 million for this year's component of the CCS program, (down from $300 million previously planned)...

... the Wildrose Alliance has gone public with a critique of the budget that includes scrapping the CCS initiatives altogether.

... You could argue from ideology as to whether Hoover Dam was a make-work project or not, but the twin realities of its hydro power and Lake Mead's water management benefits are inarguable. CCS on the other hand involves a lot of real work to achieve climate benefits that are literally not measurable, if indeed they exist at all.

... If you were a politician, which side of this issue would come down on? Spend money you don't have? Or risk being tarred with the brush of AGW alarmist criticism?...

Go Wild Rose Alliance!

Oh, and don't miss this post on "Alert Levels Around the Globe". For example:
... The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ClimateGate: An exceptional interview on the BBC

Here's the BBC's Andrew Neil in a hard hitting interview with former IPCC chair Robert Watson (now Chief Scientist for the UK Dept of Environment):

Now that interview must be the exception that proves the rule on the MSM's uselessness in covering climate change. Could we expect to see anything like it on the CBC, or any Canadian network for that matter?

Here's some background on Robert Watson who was given the boot from the IPCC in 2002.

Video on BBC site.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Never mind prorogation, let’s do it Texas style

Texas has a part-time legislature of 181 citizen legislators who meet for 140 days every second year. Texans consider government a threat to liberty and prosperity:

Texans figure the $7,200 a year they pay their state lawmakers is plenty. "They've got more government in Texas than they want at $600 per month," [said] Texas Gov. Rick Perry ...

... "When you have a full-time legislature, they just feel pretty inclined to be doing something. So they are going to dream up new laws, new regulations and new statutes -- and generally all of those cost money," Perry said.

Texas has been hit by the recession too but it’s unemployment rate at around 8% is two points lower than the national average. And perhaps more important, it has one of the lowest debts ($50B compared with the nearly bankrupt California’s debt of around $640B).

Texas - population 22 million, GDP $1.2 trillion, income taxes $0
Canada - population 32 million, GDP $1.3 trillion, income taxes $big
While there’s more to running a country than a state, the Texas model would be worth aiming for. And the provinces should certainly take a close look.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Danny Williams’ (non) confidence in CanuckCare

Newfoundland Premier Danny (Big Mouth) Williams decided to go to the USA for his heart surgery. This recent story out of Victoria documents an example that illustrates the likely reason he did so:

... Jo Danielson is living on the edge with an abdominal aneurysm, a dangerous bulge in her aorta ...

... doctors have recommended ... endovascular aneurysm repair, in which a device called a "stent" is inserted into the diseased aorta...

... But she will have to wait until April ... The health authority has placed a cost-saving, yearly cap on the stent procedure because of the extra cost ...

... "We've literally had the rug pulled out from under our patients," said Dr. Jim Dooner, head of vascular surgery for VIHA.

... It's a form of accounting that Dooner says is "absolute lunacy and it is wrong."

In other words CanuckCare involves bureaucratic rationing based on the calculations of government bean-counters. [Note also how government health agencies like to call themselves "Authorities" rather than, say, "Services". They want to make sure the peons clearly understand where they fit in the pecking order.]

In the USA there is no government forced waiting (at least until ObamaCare comes along). So Williams’ decision to go to the USA was the wisest move he could make from a personal medical standpoint. However, Lorne Gunter makes an excellent point. Professional politicians like Danny Williams and his ilk are responsible for shoving a government health monopoly down Canadians’ throats and denying ordinary folks the level of care they insist on for themselves.

From the comments in Gunter's piece:

As Kate McMillan often says - "Tommy Douglas: Not Dead Enough".

Here's Ezra Levant, and;
Rex Murphy goes easy on his fellow Newf. Murphy makes the point that we're operating in a "vacuum of fact". There's some truth to that, and I can believe that Newfoundland may not have the treatment he needs. However, it's unlikely, whatever Williams' precise problem, that treatment is unavailable anywhere in Canada. If it is available here, then he's hypocritically jumped the entire Canadian queue by going south.