Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Watch Tonight - Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands

This new two-hour film by Edmonton filmmakers Tom Radford and Niobe Thompson will be shown on CBC's The Nature of Things, hosted by David Suzuki, tonight at 8:00 p.m.

The CBC touts the film as a visual tour de force which marks the "end of the age of innocence" for the oil sands.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"You Won't Have to Maintain a Long List of Passwords and User Names" LOL

Near unanimous opposition among comments to universal internet ID plan hatched in the U.S.

Highest common denominator words in descriptions: "Orwell", "big brother".

Addled: Smoking is Not a Health Issue

Now smoking, caffeine, sexual harassment and global warming are "political propaganda".

According to Adler, that is.

Well, make that Adler's rewrite of American talk show host Dennis Prager's similar rant.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arctic Sea Ice Extent at Lowest Ever December Level

The extent of sea ice in the Arctic hit its lowest December level ever in 2010.

While reports from the National Snow and Ice Data Center have shown low ice levels through all of 2010, the yearly low this past September was the third lowest ever.

Ice has been slow to form this year, particularly in Hudson's Bay and the strait that runs between Baffin Island and Quebec.

High Temperatures in the Arctic

High temperatures in the Canadian and Siberian north are cited as reasons for the slow ice build-up.

These results seem consistent with the predictions of a new Canadian study modeling effects of climate change on worldwide weather patterns over the next 1000 years.

Canadian Climate Study

The study, by researchers from the University of Victoria's Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis and the University of Calgary's Dept of Geography, predicts global weather turmoil, weather extremes and a four-metre sea level rise.

Canada and Russia fare relatively well compared to much of the world in the long-range scenario, as somewhat warmer temperatures would make much of the countries more habitable for people, even though existing ecosystems would be threatened. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, assumes "zero emissions" from human sources going forward.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Conservatives Consistently Reduce Share of Income Tax Paid by Corporations vs Individuals

The corporate tax rate in Canada is expected to be reduced in the upcoming budget as per previously scheduled reductions by the Harper government. This may seem like a random news byte. In fact, it is just another episode in the clear Conservative mission to enrich their wealthiest supporters at the expense of average Canadians.

However, as pointed out by Liberal finance critic Scott Brison and others, now is hardly the time for further tax reductions, especially for the corporate sector. The deficit situation is precarious. Interest rates sit with nowhere to go but up, meaning that the likelihood is high they will increase soon, (even if hopefully not as soon as rumoured) sending our country's finances into a near-irreversible downward spiral.

Nevertheless, Harper and stooge Flaherty appear determined to hand over this gift to their corporate cronies, benefiting corporate execs, officers and large shareholders exponentially more than average Canadians.

Furthermore, the Conservative penchant for secrecy, has led to statistics about corporate income tax rates vs. personal income tax rates that were once readily available on the internet, to be hidden from easy access.

So, here is a chart to shed some light on this:

Corporate Income Tax vs Personal Income Tax in Canada (Historical)

             C% C$       P% P$

2000      24  24        76  76
2001      23  24        77  80
2002      21  22        79  82
2003      24  27        76  85
2004      23  30        77  98
2005      24  32        76  104
2006      27  38        73  110
2007      26  40        74  113
2008      21  32        79  117
2009      17  22        83  108
2010      18  25        82  117

($ = in billions) (% = of total income tax revenue)
(C = corp. income tax) (P = pers. income tax)

These statistics are taken from a Globe and Mail article from this past March presented in a graphic, therefore not too readily searchable.

The new round of corporate tax cuts planned by Harper will bring the corporate share of income taxes in this country into line with the 13% or so that existed under Mulroney. Meanwhile, going back as far as Trudeau, Liberal governments have maintained corporate income taxes in the range of 20-25% of total income tax collected.

At the same time, by implementing such measures as the HST and GST, the Conservatives have hammered individual Canadians repeatedly, with non-progressive taxes that only serve to increase the gap between rich and poor over the long run, as has been the case.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Corporate Tax Cuts: A Lot of Good They Did Electrolux's 1000 Employees

Harper's corporate tax cuts are one of the time-tested anti-individual cornerstones of Conservative financial policy.

Over the past number of decades, each time the Canadian government has gone from Liberal to Conservative and back to Liberal, one constant has been the swing in the proportion of income taxes collected from personal and corporate sources.

Each time the Conservatives have gotten in for any number of years, they have reduced the corporate share of income tax revenues drastically. Whenever the Liberals have attained power, they have reverted to a higher corporate tax scenario.

The Conservative refrain is always about the famous "trickle down" effect. Yeah, that's the effect where wealth takes so long to trickle down that the gap between rich and poor never stops getting deeper and wider.

True to form, not long after Harper got elected, he announced massive corporate tax cuts graduated over a few years.

At this point in time, with the country running a huge annual deficit, the effects of corporate tax cuts are as follows:

* the annual deficit is increased, putting more debt on future generations
* immediate benefits go out to corporate shareholders; the richer you are - the more you benefit
* a larger portion of the tax burden is shouldered by everyday workers and the middle class

As for the trickle down effect: You need only look to our neighbours to the south to see where Bush-enomics got them.

Or, just ask the 1000 workers at the Electrolux plant in l"Assomption - soon to be former employees. Their jobs shipped out of the country anyway, in spite of Harper's already generous corporate handouts. Electrolux got even more from Memphis.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gatineau Residents Will Get Fined for Not Recycling

Consumers Criminalized - Garbage Producers Empowered...

You could see this coming a mile away. Bigger and bigger conglomerates compete for recycling tonnage and contracts. Negotiations with municipalities get hot 'n' heavy. Conditions and quotas come into play. Recycling trucks race around in early mornings and on weekends to make sure someone doesn't actually pick up some of this stuff and re-use it...

Don't get me wrong. Recycling is a wonderful thing.

But how about running our municipalities with a little sanity and humanity?

The fact is that any amount of the recycling on the curb is there as a result of excessive, unnecessary and impractical packaging being used for the unnecessary goods we consume. So let's not put the cart in front of the horse here. Step one is to reduce packaging, not criminalize consumers.

But rather than call for laws against gratuitous and excessive packaging, like individually wrapping every frickin' cookie one-by-one or two-by-two in the box, consumers need to create a market for products that are well and appropriately packaged.

As for municipalities, here are some suggestions:

1. Think outside the box to promote re-use of materials (like a reusable box depot)
2. Provide more detailed information on how to prepare recyclables
3. Refuse to be dictated to by multinational recycling conglomerates
4. Encourage farmer's markets, shop local and other activities that reduce packaging, storage and transport

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Biosphere 1 and the Art Biodiversity Workshop

Biosphere1 was the working title of a 2009 abstract painting by Tatiana Iliina that was actually sold to a private collector before its significance was fully established.

As time goes by, the artist reflects and certain trends and turning points in their work become more clear. Indeed, it is a given that the artist's ideas, work, creations and responses sometimes travel in different planes and directions, only to reconvene in different spaces.

In this case, we want to draw the reader's attention to the "Art Biodiversity Workshop" box that was added without comment to the sidebar here a few months ago. With the onset of a fresh, new year, and a chance to pause and reflect, the time feels right to bring up the Biosphere 1 painting and make the perhaps little evident connection between it and the Art Biodiversity Workshop.

As mentioned, no public explanation has been necessary, nor given, for the Art Biodiversity Workshop concept. We see only that it groups a few of our blogs, each of which features paintings from one of Co2-Art partner Tatiana Iliina's ecology-themed collections. These presently include, The Glacier Painter, Industrial Waste Art, Wetlands of the World and After the Deluge.

By bringing the painting shown here into the discussion at this time, the idea is to suggest that 2011 will be a year in which the Art Biodiversity Workshop comes into full bloom and, also, that the world's biospheres are going to have an increasingly vivid role to play as this work unfolds.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Questions Raised About B.C. Hydro's Financial Situation

From the Common Sense Canadian, the question, is B.C. Hydro intentionally being put in financial jeopardy so as to privatize it - or other even less palatable reason.

See for yourself - interview with retired economist Erik Anderson.

This post dovetails nicely with one of Co2-Art's top rated posts from 2010:

Teck Resources gets $825 million from B.C. Hydro for less than 1/3 of the Waneta Dam