Monthly Archives: May 2006

Our Poseidon Adventure

On the radio this morning I heard a film reviewer make an interesting observation about the new Poseidon movie. Apparently it’s almost identical to 1972‘s The Poseidon Adventure, except for two seemingly minor details. The first is that in the original, the luxury ocean liner (henceforth referred to as “the boat”) capsizes not only because it was hit by a huge tidal wave, but also because the boat was loaded so as to be top-heavy in an effort by it’s new owners to arrive at the destination sooner. In the new Poseidon, this detail is omitted.

The poor people didn’t do anything wrong. Evil nature just came out of nowhere and smacked them for no reason. How could they have seen it coming?

The second detail that’s changed? The main character now happens to be a former mayor of New York, who’s also a firefighter.

Save Your Money

Here’s a funny headline. I mean, not Jay Leno funny, but funny. “Energy-saving programs lose funding.” The irony being that an equally accurate headline could have been “Energy-saving programs save money (and the planet).” At least, that’s what I would have written. But maybe that’s why I still haven’t heard back from any of those headline-writing jobs I applied for.

Remember, this is a simple physics problem (if there is such a thing). Even if we forget how much money can be saved by using less energy and being more efficient (read, competitive), this world still only has one energy input. In other words, we get a finite amount of energy to use each day. And currently, we’re burning (literally) through 10,000 days worth of energy every 24 hours (by using up non-renewable, stored energy from the past).

Look at it this way. Imagine you had a large bank balance (fossil fuels), an income of only $40,000 a year (the sun), and annual expenses of $400,000,000 (cars, food from around the world, over-air-conditioned offices, etc). A friend might worry about you and speak up. “Hey,” they’d say. “Looks like you might be spending beyond your means there buddy. Think maybe you should cut back?”

“No way,” you’d have to reply, “that’s not realistic. I mean, I’d have to change my lifestyle! Don’t be crazy. And shave your sideburns, hippy.”

Or something like that. The point is, at the end of the day, conservation has to be the cornerstone of any responsible energy policy. And yes, that does mean we might have to turn off some lights. Sorry. On the other hand, we get to keep breathing. So, you know, there’s that.

The Status Quo Budget

You may have heard Greens refer to the other three national parties as the “old-line” parties. I’ve never been a big fan of this term since I consider it to be a little negative and mean-spirited (though I almost changed my mind when Peter Kent casually used it to refer to his own party in a conversation with me). Instead, I call them the status quo parties. The Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP represent business as usual, with their only differences being largely aesthetic. In the words of Christopher Waddell, they all “seem struck by a collective crisis of imagination.”

That’s why it wasn’t surprising to here Michael Hlinka (Metro Morning’s business commentator, and my neighbor) this morning (on the radio, not at my door) saying that this Conservative budget is almost identical to what we would have gotten from the Liberals. It even contains specific Liberal promises, as well as all the stuff the NDP negotiated to prop up the Liberals a year ago. (Makes you question all the time, energy, and money that went into the election, doesn’t it?)

The main difference, according to the Globe and Mail, is that the Conservatives are taking dangerous financial risks, hoping that the global economy will continue to outperform at an extremely unlikely rate. The Globe concludes by saying that the Conservatives have taken Canada “too close to the deficit brink…counting on their commodity chickens to keep producing. It is too easy for the perilous outside world to dash those forecasts, and spoil our collective party. And that is too great a risk to take for votes.”

And they’re only talking about a fiscal deficit, to say nothing of the social and environmental deficits which continue to build up. Either way, this budget takes is further down the same road. And that’s a bad thing, because this road ends at a cliff.