Sunday, June 12, 2011

Soaking the public by "Soaking up the sun"

Ontario's microFit program received macroAttention in a two-page article in the June 11 Ottawa Citizen, starting on the cover of the Homes section.  The story focuses on a few homeowners who have installed large photovoltaic solar arrays on their roof or on a free-standing pole-mount system.  Allan and Shelley Shusterman are featured in the article and they call it a win-win situation.  Unfortunately, they have ignored the unseen and helpless victims in this arrangement that makes it a big lose-win-win.

The unwilling victims are the rest of the citizens of Ontario, who lose out because they must foot the bill for this madness against their will.  The fundamental problem is that photovoltaic systems are completely uneconomical except in the most remote situations, such as in the country far away from the electrical grid or in space.  If it actually made any sense to install these systems, then they would sprout up all over the place without the use of government force against innocent citizens.  I have had a small solar system for 20 years because my cottage is on an island not connected to the grid, and I know from personal experience how expensive each watt of power is to produce. 

I have not installed any solar panels at my home, even though I live in a rural area with a large, south-facing roof, because I would be stupid to spend all that money to produce electricity when I can buy it about fifteen times cheaper, even from an inefficient government monopoly like from Hydro One. It would be like buying an electric car for $300,000 instead of a regular $20,000 car. Like almost every Ontario resident, I have chosen NOT to waste money on solar panels, yet the Ontario government is forcing me to pay others to put panels on their property.  The Shusterman's say "it's all money in the bank", "it's the best investment we've got" and "better than my stock portfolio, and the risk is nil".  This is a deliberate ignorance of the fact that all the risk is borne by their fellow citizens and their windfall investment return that is better than owning the shares of the great companies of Canada and the world (stock portfolio) is paid for by the people who have enough sense to see that solar panels are a poor investment.  The Shusterman's are using the force of government to make the rest of us pay 80.2 cents per kilowatt for their scheme when we know electricity can be economically produced for only about 5 cents per kilowatt.

I can see several of these solar panel systems not far from my home.  Every time I see one, it makes me mad to know my family's hard-earned money is being taken against our will by the Ontario government and given to people who are only too happy to take the money from their neighbors.  Whether they are ignorant of economics or doing it deliberately, they are still doing it. 

Why I do not install my own solar array and get back at those who are taking my money?  Because I am fully aware of how immoral the microFit program is, and being aware of it would make me guilty of doing deliberate harm to others.  Make no mistake - I like solar photovoltaics!  I like how the technology is improving and in time will hopefully become as economical as the current mainstream energy sources.  I applaud scientists who discover new energy technologies and companies that make them available to consumers.  But all this takes place in normal, free decisions made by individuals in any case, absent government coercion.  Government interference serves to distort the proper market signals and twists the economy into directions people do not wish to go.  How's this for a political philosophy: "if people using their own intellect and money will not buy solar panels then we will force them to pay for others to do so"?  What do we call this type of political system, where the state overrides the wishes of individuals, supposedly for their own good?  We call it socialism. 

I have a message to all of you out there who are already using the microFit program or who are planning to do so - please stop hurting the rest of us!  Go ahead and buy your panels, but don't sign up for the microFit program to force us pay for your decision!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Green China

Financial Post Letter writer Mahmood Elahi makes fundamental errors of philosophic, economic and scientific thought in his letter praising China's so-called "green" efforts. 

Philosophically, he ignores the blatant fact that China's economy is still largely a military dictatorship with laws changed to suit the rulers of the day and the rights of millions of citizens violated in many ways every day.  To call the current status of China capitalist is to ignore the fundamental meaning and definition of capitalism: the system that protects individual rights.

Economically, he ignores the fact that the maglev trains, solar panels and many other projects are being forced upon the population by government use of power.  Few, if any of these grandiose projects would take place in the same way if the people were given the freedom to choose their own paths in life, own their personal property and spend their own money.

Scientifically he ignores the fact that carbon dioxide is not pollution but rather is an essential plant nutrient on which human life depends, drought is not caused solely by evaporation and certainly not by human progress while air pollution is a byproduct of a relatively poor society and decreases as a society becomes wealthy and can afford to address the problem.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Four dirty secrets about clean energy

Wow, Alex Epstein really does a thorough job of pointing out the dirty contradictions of and harm done by the "clean energy" acolytes.  In his article, Epstein points out

1. If “clean energy” were actually cheaper than fossil fuels, it wouldn’t need a policy.  What the greenies want is to ram their ideology down our throats.

2. Clean energy advocates want to force us to use solar, wind, and biofuels, even though there is no evidence these can power modern civilization.  Even after decades of massive state subsidies, these energy sources only provide a minute fraction of current energy needs, and are far more expensive.
3. There are promising carbon-free energy sources--hydroelectric and nuclear--but “clean energy” policies oppose them as not “green” enough.  The cleanies may talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk they run the other way. 

4. The environmentalists behind clean energy policy are anti-energy.  The cleanies not only want us to use their preferred energy sources, that are massively uneconomical, but they fundamentally want us to die and stop interfering with the rocks, dirt, wind, and bugs of what they describe as "nature".  Their version of nature does not include human life, so if we all died they would think that was just peachy. 

Why on Earth does anyone listen to the eco-fascists?  They have been lulled by decades of socialism to think that government and the favored elites know better than they do, and so are easily led to delegate growing parts of their lives to others.  Only a rediscovery and return to a philosophy of individual rights can reverse this trend.  Until and unless the leaders in society learn this, the same intellectual errors will persist.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The federal chopping block

Terence Corcoran on potential cuts to federal spending kicks off the discussion about how the federal government has not even begun to think about ways to significantly reduce spending.  Treasury Board head Tony Clement has talked about reducing spending by less than 1%.  Imagine if gas prices were studied at length, announced to be coming down, and then prices fell by only one cent?  Yawn. 

What is needed is a fundamental discussion and review of the proper and moral role of government in Canadian society.  Originally a mostly-free nation, our lives and economy have become choked with laws, regulations and rules about almost everything we do all day long.  Hundreds of thousands of government workers spend their careers either operating monopolies that prevent us from making free decisions or designing and implementing punishments if we make choices that do not meet their approval. 

What if you want to build your home your own way?  Sorry, thousands of rules prevent you from doing so.  Want to buy your food from the farmer or supplier of your own choosing?  Sorry, our food producers are strangled in red tape too.  Would you like to choose your own occupation?  Sorry, there are libraries of rules about who can do what for whom, how, when, and for how much. Wish there was a competitive market for electricity to keep your costs down?  No luck there since the government forces hydro companies down your throat and prevents competition.  Do you want to live your life unmolested by state functionaries and meddlers who think they know better than you how to run your life?  Lots of luck with that.

Stephen Harper was once outwardly in favour of the freedom of individuals to live life in peaceful pursuit of happiness, meaning a vastly reduced size of the state.  In minority governments any proposed changes could have been voted down at any time.  Now he has a chance to show greatness and live by the principles that once defined him.  Will he be just another politician who gains power and adopts the same old methods that have seen government ooze into every corner of our lives? Or, will he be willing to spend four years making human rights and freedoms the cornerstone of his term, lifting the burden of government from our backs? By clearly explaining the almost forgotten philosophy and principles of freedom to the public along the way and being willing to lose the next election if the voters cannot stand a rollback of socialism and the ensuing economic boom that would come with it, Harper could earn a place among the great politicians - one who is in it for the people and not for power.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gas about methane

So Ontario's Environment Commissioner (do we really have a Commissioner for this too?) Gord Miller says Ontario landfills like the one on Ottawa's Trail Road should not trap and burn methane emissions to produce energy.  His rationale is that the process of trapping gas releases gas faster than otherwise, and so because this is claimed to doom the Earth to burn up from the so-called "greenhouse effect", we should let landfills decompose more slowly.  There are some makor errors in his thinking.

First, trapping methane and using it for energy does not release more gas, it just changes the timing of the release.  Since this technology is relatively new (Ottawa started doing this only in 2007 and was ahead of the curve), any rational business would try to capture an increasing percentage of the gas created in a landfill, so escaping gas will reduce over time, not increase, hopefully to the point where almost all of it is capured and burned to produce energy.  If municipalities are operating the energy production facilities and are not improving their ability to capture gas, turn the job over to private businesses and they will certainly do so.

Second, there is a growing pile of high quality research findings indicating that not only is the planet not warming significantly because of man-made gas emissions, but that man's effect on the global temperature is completely offset by natural balancing mechanisms.  When one greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide rises, another, such as water vapour, decreases exactly enough to restore the balance.  Thus, changes in the global mean temperature are only caused by external changes in energy such as the solar cycles, Earth's core, planetary orbital mechanics and cosmic ray intensity.  The microscopic fraction of our atmosphere made up of carbon dioxide may change slightly, but does not cause climate change.  Thus, we don't need to worry about our emissions unless they are noxious, such as particulates, sulfides or other compounds proven to harm man's health.

If the government would get out of the business of science, get out of the business of handling garbage and get out of the business of producing energy, then the worries listed by the Environment Commissioner would be proven false by the population making their own choices in life and the government could get out of the environmental business too.