Monday, November 16, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Canada's Mental Health Radar

Opinion: Science can help those that suffer, so, let's do that.

The Government of Canada is wasting no time plugging the holes in Stephen Harper's dysfunctional Government. I'm looking forward to seeing how Harjit Sajjan will make Mental Health of veterans and troops a top priority. It is a relief having moral leadership back in Ottawa.

When does Canada get our first Minister of Mental Health?

I'm glad that veterans were successful in their anti-Harper campaign. I hope our troops and veterans can rest a little better knowing that Canada has their 6. The helplessness endured, by some, isn't an option for our veterans, troops and also our first responders. I'm impressed with Trudeau for making these strong announcements quickly. 

I'm sure the Canadian Psychological Association is very happy to see the return of science-based policy. I wonder how many mental health specialists are smiling in Canada now. Mental health, as we learn more about it, is becoming more of a growth science. Being able to support Canadians and enable them to flourish will lead to growth in other areas, as well. The past 10 years have revealed many new answers to how our brain works.

The mental damage of war is very real. I consider myself very lucky to live in a peaceful nation. I can't begin to understand what our veterans and troops endure. My grandfather served. He told me that he fought so that I may never know the horror of war. Grateful. So if we have the tools to reduce veterans suffering, shouldn't Canada serve them? 

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and it will be a little heavier remembering those who were victimized by Stephen Harper. Some didn't survive, when they may have. A shameful truth and lost opportunities.

Having spoken with a few veterans, our Government already studied the best ways to serve those that serve(d) Canada. The experts already determined that Canada should deliver timely and compassionate service to our military team and veterans. 

Our military is trained to act as a team, without question. Canada needs to serve them, without question, lest we forget them, again.

Thanks, troops and vets!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

RIP KeystoneXL

Opinion: How can subsidized pipelines compete with future green energy?

After Barack Obama gave the thumbs down on Keystone XL, the accusations, now flying, were to be expected. The analysis delivered by the media never really touched upon the biggest factor in the viabililiy of Keystone XL. The media has also failed to recognize the same risk in the Energy East Pipeline, as well.

No, I am not talking about the Kalamazoo and Nexen pipeline failures, I am talking about the viability of the product these pipelines transport: dilbit. It can't compete. That is an important fact, especially in a "free market".

What most journalists don't seem to realize, nor have I expected them to ever understand, it the evolution of technology. While the cost of oil is driven by market forces, the cost of technology is also driven by innovation. Innovation is a tricky business, stand still and you lose.

In 2003, I predicted that the cost of both solar energy and wind energy would be cheaper than fossil fuels in 2015. I was correct. No, I don't have a crystal ball, I understand how manufacturing science innovates products. It's one of those things designers need to learn since the wheel has already been invented. It's also one of the biggest killers of businesses. Slip behind the curve and you are finished.

By charting technology manufacturing costs, we can establish rates of innovation. If we look at the different technologies versus fossil fuels, we can see that some technologies will be about 10 times cheaper than fossil fuels energy in 2025. It doesn't take an economist to figure out that fossil fuels can't complete in future markets. In fact, removing fossil fuel subsidies now would make most fossil fuel products too expensive to sell.

As a designer, I can tell you that no pipeline company can remain solvent when folks can buy a superior, and ethical, product for 10 times cheaper. Did I mention carbon tax? No, no need.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Climate of Paris

Opinion: An atmosphere of positive change for Canada at COP21.

First, a climate poem

Seeing our new Government of Canada act on climate is an impressive start. Justin Trudeau has turned the lights back on in Parliament and is showing the world that his team means business in Paris. I'm impressed with the choices for Cabinet and think they could do very well. Time will tell. Justin Trudeau has also engaged the Premiers and bonded with Elizabeth May.

Will Canada win The Fossil Fuel Awards again? Perhaps, changing government doesn't change the dirty businesses creating the problems. I'm impressed with Justin's leadership and the world is starting to notice. I see many Canadians excited to see our democracy begin healing. In many ways, this moment reminds me of post-Bush. Can Justin help Canada's dirty ways?

Watching the leadership of Barack Obama continuing to advance the conversation on climate and policy is also impressive. What Barack did, Justin now faces. The good news is that rebuilding can bring new opportunity for Canada. If Justin can boost research and development for our future green economy, Canada can begin to heal and grow again. Barack enjoyed many consecutive months of positive jobs growth and higher innovation and green manufacturing economic activity.

Should Canada continue to subsidize fossil fuels with over $34 billion per year? Who will buy this dirty energy? How can fossil fuels compete when green energy is 10 times cheaper?

Well, spoilers, until nanotechnology can extract oilsands energy with very high efficiency, and no pollution, the World Bank is correct, oilsands are stranded assets. The free market will do more for Canada than Justin Trudeau can. It's called evolution, watch and learn.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Politics of Science

Opinion: In a knowledge based economy, ignoring reality is dangerous.

Listening to great speakers is a treat. The ideas fly freely, each new bit giving the discussion a new interesting direction. I have always been drawn to the ability to communicate science, well. I just listened to Star TalkRadio Podcast, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewing Bill Clinton on politics and science.

It's fun listening to those that catch the science bug. Bill Clinton is a very curious man, and his impact, as President, on science and the economy is simply huge. Neil and Bill both talked about how the US should have a ?Secretary of Science? To help direct policy to make it smart policy. To invest in the science that will grow into opportunities.

Bill Clinton initiatives helped launch the World Wide Web, the Human Genome Project and launched the HubbleSpace Telescope. Sure Bill's smart, but he had a lot of help. He listened carefully to his science advisers on which knowledge would benefit America, and its citizens. 

Looking back, would a Republican America launched these projects, or just go to war to help stimulate the Dick Cheney economy? Where would America be without leadership in these areas? In my blog Freedom of Research, I talk about how science translates into things, sometimes decades later. Looking back, we can see the wisdom in Bill's decisions.

Bill Clinton just seems to keep moving. Jimmy Carter, as well. They know that real damage can be done using dumb policy. They also know how to build a winning team and a winning plan. It's a security threat and both Bill and Jimmy know it.

Science has to become a focus, fast, for Canada to flourish in on our third* industrial revolution. Jobs and security using one plan is smart. 

I hope that Kirsty Duncan, Canada's Science Minister, can help accelerate us past 2015 and Canada's dark decade.


PS - I also enjoy like listening to Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and Sam Harris.

* - Green Revolution ;) 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Canadian Wind Energy

A longer winded opinion:

As most journalists, in Canada, failed to recognize the absurdity in Stephen Harper Government wind safety study, our new evidence-based Government may start to make serious changes that will help our country, and our citizens. Journalists are not well suited to science journalism. Excellent science journalists seem even more rare than investigative journalists. Publications like Nature and Scientific American have some great ones, but in reality, how many newspapers in Canada could, or would, afford such folks? 

How many knew that both Nature and Scientific American both reported on Harper Government's contempt of science? Nature even wrote about Canada's new chance to restore reality in our Great White North.

It's quite draining having to watch important science stories get fumbled, or completely missed, by the Canadian media. Canada has the highest scientific literacy in the world, but our journalism is certainly lacking. Even the journalism at CBC didn't see the blip on their "science radar".

The anti-wind groups in Canada still publish, and purport, debunked claims, and the Canadian media eats it up and publishes it. What's most wind-damaging is delaying the transition to green energy and the real consequences of ignoring the reality of both climate change and air pollution. With some predicting that 100 million people will die by 2030 from climate impacts, it seems CBC's radar needs an upgrade. 

Stephen Harper's wind study actually accepted anecdotes as scientific evidence, there were no scientific measurements taken on health impacts. They actually used stories as evidence. Wow. So, no science, no science journalism, no worries ?!?!

Our new Government will need to quickly eliminate these agnotology-based delusions and get wind energy in Canada sailing again, to help build our green future and make it healthier.

Canada's new Science Minister, Kirsty Duncan, and Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, will need to clear these dumb-ALEC roadblocks fast. With Germany investing over US ~$66 billion in offshore wind, we see they are installing energy cheaper than nuclear, with less vertical cost. By 2020, the global offshore wind market will be worth US $40 billion. Canada needs to be part of delivering it, as well. Seems like we need to figure out What's Safe.

Canada has plenty of space for offshore wind. Ontario is still “studying” offshore wind? Seems a quick schooling from Germany should show which way the winds are blowing.

Breath deep, exhale, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What's Safe?

Opinion: Safety in Canada needs to be restored.

In my past few blogs: Greening Canada, Freedom of Research, and Protect Our Waters, I've been sharing some basic ideas on what Canada needs to do to restore Government, and our economy, after our Stephen Harper Government. One of the biggest targets that Stephen aimed at was science. Canada was a world leader, before it was quietly muzzled and broken. By oppressing reality, one can enable ideology. 

If we don't have the metrics to determine if something is “bad”, it must be “good”? Was that Stephens thinking? When Stephen Harper ignorantly eliminated the long form census, it wasn't to brand future libertarians on “small government” and privacy, it was to hide the truth, and nothing but the truth, from Canada.

As evidenced by Canada's blind faith in safety, and the magical self-regulating free market, there are many examples of risks our Government should not take with our future. It's troubling to see the results of this contempt of duty to protect Canada. We have unsafe infrastructure, unsafe oil trains, unsafe pipelines, unsafe mining operations, unsafe food supplements that are untested, unsafe & untested designer synthetic drugs delivered by untested e-cigarettes, unreliable population data critical to national security, etc. It's a mess. If we need safer streets, we need better science-based road designs.

Canada needs to control which companies can operate here, and which products are safe to sell. Today, I noticed a hashtag trending on twitter, #GreenEconomyON. Some corporations, touting green solutions for Ontario. The irony is that one actually polluted our Great Lakes with untested products. They themselves stopped producing the product, which is positive, but only after years of public activism. Shouldn't corporations and products be proved safe before we can let them operate or sell products? Shouldn't the Board be responsible? Shouldn't they take ownership of their activities?

Without a higher standard, and quality science to measure safety, Canada will continue to play this dangerous, sometimes deadly, sometimes toxic, game with our future. If we want a safer Canada, we need to use a scientific approach.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Protect Our Waters

Opinion: Canada needs to restore and enhance protection of our waters.

Yesterday, in my blog Freedom of Research, I spoke to an important step in fixing Canada after our Stephen Harper Government. While the inner workings of how science is done, to benefit society, more critical facets need immediate attention. A top priority is water protection.

We must restore and enhance protections for our waters, and habitats, of lakes, rivers, wetlands and oceans. Clean water is critical to so many aspects of a healthy environment and public. With pending stresses from climate change and extreme weather events, Canada needs to plan for future requirements that will help protect our waters.

We need to also focus on clean drinking water and drinking water safety. The human impacts on water sources can't be ignored. Canada needs to enter a new era in water treatment. New innovations in generating green energy from waste, new innovations for eliminating toxics and human-drug byproduct pollution.

Water nourishes us. We have the tools to make our waters clean in the future. We will need new tools to help eliminate plastic. Our Great Lakes are more polluted by plastic than our oceans. This needs to change. Microplastic may enhance toxic algae blooms. More research is required.

Climate change will also have many impacts, especially droughts and lowered water quality. I would like to welcome Catherine McKenna as Canada's new Minister of Climate. She has quite the challenge. Good luck at COP21, Catherine!

Moving forwards, Canada must also respect our Treaties with First Nations. Clean water is a right, so let's make it right.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Freedom of Research

Opinion: Canada needs freedom in science research

Yesterday, in my blog Greening Canada, I talked a little about our nation moving past our Stephen Harper Government and fast tracking repairs to make Canada competitive again, with respect to green culture. How do we fix Canada? How can we optimize that repair? If we take smart first steps, our recovery will be stronger.

With all the environmental issues I outlined in my blog, of primary importance is fixing the damage that Stephen Harper did to our proud science history and core competence. Of most importance is freedom of pure science research. As we see, some research takes decades to become “amazing” when the Nobel Prizes are awarded. What I find amazing are the incredible minds that came up with these ideas, designed an experiment, picked the winning method, decades earlier. Asking why is a powerful tool. It can also power our economy.

Basic science research delivers tiny discoveries. In doing such basic work, new ideas or even other discoveries are often a result; inventing X that fails, but makes Y a winner and makes billion. It's complex, what seems like a useless idea my help unlock something bigger. More importantly, research pushes our understanding of critical questions.

Canada has a proud science history, even the highest scientific literacy rates in the world. Smart countries will evolve and adapt and improve. Science finds a way, when scientists are free to ask “why?”. Growing our knowledge benefits everyone, it can also make incredible improvements for everyone.

Our National Research Council & Health Sciences Research needs to be audited and restored to give Canada the tools we need to drive a smarter, less risk averse, and more profitable economy. Investing in dead horses won't win this race.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Greening Canada


On November 4th, Canada will end a dark story starring Stephen Harper, and start a new one with Justin Trudeau. It's no surprise that Stephen Harper has damaged not only the basic functionality of Government, but he also damaged our global “green reputation”. Various scientific bodies even wrote about the “politics” of Stephen Harper, unprecedented obstructionism with respect to anything having to do with the environment or the science that helps us understand it.

Many may feel that the battle is over, Stephen Harper is gone, that Canada is free to be great again, but the reality is Canada needs to be fixed. It needs to be retooled to complete in a modern economy. This is a chance for Canada to modernize its processes, to make them more green. We need programs that are focused on sustainable methods and programs that are focused on Canada's green security and prosperity.

Canada has many challenges to face, and we should approach them in a green way. Now is time for Canada to grow, but, let's make sure it starts correctly. Canada must plan for climate change, innovate green energy, start to address dangerous pollution issues, and safety issues, that can result in environmental disaster in the present and a future toxic legacy.

Many disasters happened under the Stephen Harper Government. The horrible disaster at Lac-M├ęgantic, Mount Polley, the Obed Mountain coal slurry spill, the Nexen pipeline spill, pollution from oilsands operations, the Toronto propane explosion, oil train fires, Banff National Park river spill, polluting an Alberta aquifer from fracking, and the list continues. The cost to humans, infrastructure, rivers, lakes and the environment can last decades.

Studies show that pollution from Exxon Valdez is still present and polluting the environment. The long term costs of these disasters are too big. It costs too much to pollute the Great Lakes with Dilbit. When will spending an extra million, to spare thirty billion, make economic sense to Government and insurance companies? 

The total cost of failure isn't an option. Dirty energy just isn't worth it. Will Justin Trudeau rebuild Canada smart, the green way, or the same old way? 

Now that Canada's “Green Lobby” is salivating for projects, will they be focused on the green future of Canada, or the present green in their pockets?