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Things Are Good: Community-Owned Green Businesses Seeing Great Growth

Community-Owned sustainable energy companies aren’t new, but they are successful! One of the reasons Germany’s push to a sustainable energy grid has worked is that local community own and operate solar farms, wind farm, and so on. Now that citizen-empowering model is

According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there was a 31% jump in renewable energy sector investment across Canada in 2014 with $8 billion spent on developing green energy projects. Locally, community co-ops have developed over 75 projects in the Greater Toronto Area, including on rooftops in Toronto, Hamilton, Brampton, Vaughan, Markham and (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Connecting the Dots on Climate Change

One of the biggest failures in climate change reporting is the tendency to focus on particular aspects without considering the bigger picture.  What does sea level rise have to do with droughts or floods?  What is the role of changing ocean circulation patterns?  How do these impacts all factor into our rapidly changing jet stream patterns?

When we look at individual aspects we usually wind up with charts that reveal a linear pattern.  Sure, there may be dramatic increases on the curve, but nothing that appears wild or unpredictable.

Yet we’re nearing the point where climate change impacts will be (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: G20 meeting of world finance ministers too little too late

Posted earlier as an opinion piece for CBC. See original post here (this post slightly modified from original)

By Louis-Philippe Rochon

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon


Much was at stake earlier this week when finance ministers from G20 countries met in Istanbul to discuss Greece and the state of the world economy in light of recent downgrades in world growth expectations. But did they agree to too little, too late?

There is now no doubt that the world economy, not just Canada’s, has slow downed considerably and will slow down even more unless appropriate policies are adopted soon. To date, (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Conference Board illustrates folly of conventional economic metrics

Once again conventional measurement has painted a warped view of our economic well-being. Relying principally on growth in the GDP sense, The Conference Board of Canada applauds the oil and gas rich provinces—Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador—for being the country’s top economic performers.

In the short term they are: highest GDP growth, highest employment growth, etc. But the

The Disaffected Lib: The Cult of Living Large

2015, we’re told, is the year the developed world (that’s us) and the emerging economies (China, India, etc., etc., etc.) will close ranks to formulate an effective plan of action to fight climate change.  It’s going to be Kyoto on steroids, a true hallelujah moment, a meeting of minds, a global joining of hands, a flexing of collective muscle and sinew.

Yeah, right.

2015 is probably our final chance to reach some sort of meaningful, global consensus.  In case you haven’t noticed we’re already being overtaken by climate change impacts, and this is the ‘early (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Legislating a real raise: Minimum wages and real earnings growth

In a recent post titled, “What happened to the distribution of real earnings during the recession?”, Stephen Gordon presents a graphs that shows some significant growth in real (adjust for inflation) earnings in Canada between 2007 and 2012. In addition, plotting average annual growth rates in real earnings against the distribution of earnings, the graph has a U shape. That is, the growth rates of real earnings are higher for those at or near the bottom and those at or near the top of the earnings distribution, with a “hollowed-out” middle.

Figure 1. Stephen Gordon’s graph showing a (Read more…)


CAN CHINA INNOVATE ?     The immense weight of China dominates much economic prognostication these days. Will it overtake the USA and become the dominant power of this century ? What are its strengths and weaknesses ? In the November 18 edition of Time Magazine Michael Schuman looks at this question from the perspective of China’s need to learn innovation. Not simply to produce. This is one area in which it is well behind the USA, to the great comfort of American apologists.

      China is facing a period of transition and needs to adjust.

     “China is a victim of its (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Calgary—sprawl or planning?

During the recent Calgary election campaign, two visions of the city’s future development vied for attention. One, presented by Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, was about planning growth to ensure a sustainable city. The other, presented by a group of home builders and their hired gun, Preston Manning of the Manning Institute, was about leaving growth to the dictates of the market.

The latter was

The Disaffected Lib: "When Wealth Disappears"

The chief economist of HSBC. Stephen D. King, says we’re in for a dose of reality – the best days are no longer ahead of us.   Growth-driven prosperity, as most of us have known it our entire lives, has run its course.

From the end of World War II to the brief interlude of prosperity after the cold war, politicians could console themselves with the thought that rapid economic growth would eventually rescue them from short-term fiscal transgressions. The miracle of rising living standards encouraged rich countries increasingly to live beyond their means, happy in the belief that healthy (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: The need for a global no-growth agreement

Trade agreements are all the rage among nations these days. And that might not be a bad thing if they were principally about trade rather than about empowering corporations at the expense of workers and governments.

In any case, what the world really needs is not global trade agreements but a global no-growth agreement. Sensibly, we cannot continue to use up ever more resources when the planet

The Disaffected Lib: Living Within Our Skin

It’s a core tenet of our Western industrial/capitalist/democratic orthodoxy that something in the range of 3% annual economic growth is the benchmark of a healthy society.   That’s 3% compounded growth.

Now let’s take a span of 50-years, roughly one adult lifetime.  Let’s say the economy stood at 100X at the beginning of that period and grew at 3% over that interval.   By the end of that 50-years, what began as 100X would have grown to 438X.

This is all great stuff if only our world, our planet, our biosphere was as expansive and elastic that it could (Read more…)

The Scott Ross: How A Bad Economy Is Not Harper’s Fault

Canada’s economy is set to grow less than the government thought, but it’s not our Prime Minister’s fault.

True under Stephen Harper the World Bank has downgraded Canada from being the 4th most Business Friendly country in 2006 to 17th in 2013, but, as most Conservatives know, businesses have nothing to do with the Canadian economy.

Yes, Stephen Harper was Prime Minister when the World Economic Forum said Canada is becoming less competitive, dropping in global ranking from 9th place in 2009 to 14th place in 2013, but our government can’t be responsible for federal regulations,

. . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: How A Bad Economy Is Not Harper’s Fault

The Disaffected Lib: Achieving a Steady State Economy for Canada

What if the way forward isn’t?   What if it’s time for us to turn around, to go back?

James Lovelock said the future of mankind, if there is to be one, will require that we accept, not sustainable growth, but sustainable retreat.   We need to grow smaller.  It’s not a matter of choice either.

There are too damned many of us, each demanding an ever-greater amount of resources, and we’re far exceeding our planet’s ability to regenerate the natural resources we need.   According to research by the Global Footprint Network, we’re already using up an

. . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Achieving a Steady State Economy for Canada

Boreal Citizen: From the mouths of Muppets: Why climate solutions are “simply not done”

Last month, while reading and reviewing Too Much Magic, I came across a line in the latter half of the book that really stung: “Not even people who are preoccupied with climate change like to think about it anymore.” It hurts because it’s true. I’m tired, and disheartened by the snail’s pace of climate progress. Meanwhile, the malaise of a feverish planet is rapidly intensifying, each drought or extreme weather event unfurling a new set of problems, foreshadowing our own undoing.

Kunstler goes on to write,

The more you explore the problem, the worse it seems and the

. . . → Read More: Boreal Citizen: From the mouths of Muppets: Why climate solutions are “simply not done”

Things Are Good: Ontario Demands Less Energy Despite Economic Growth

The only region in North America that expects a decrease in power consumption is Ontario and it’s all thanks to energy conservation initiatives. This is really great because it proves that energy efficiency policies can make a difference in how much energy is required to power a growing economy.

What’s even better is that decrease in overall energy consumption will mean that the money that went to paying for electricity can be spent elsewhere, which should in theory propel the economy even further.

“This isn’t because economies aren’t growing and our population is not growing, and it isn’t because people

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Ontario Demands Less Energy Despite Economic Growth

The Scott Ross: Conservative Canada Is Closer To Crisis

Referenced IMF data can be found here   Canada’s increasing Debt-to-GDP ratio is a problem no one is talking about. While the country’s gross government debt (which includes all levels of government) is large, it is rising faster than our … . . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: Conservative Canada Is Closer To Crisis

The Scott Ross: The Conservative Economic Record

Sept 2012: Unemployment is up at 7.4%; it has been increasing since June while American unemployment has only gone down.

July 2012: Worst trade deficit ever in Canadian history at $2.3 billion.

2012: GDP growth rate is declining (PDF pg 22). Canada is no longer the fastest growing economy in the G7; it is now behind America and Japan, as well as other more comparable resource-based economies like Australia and Norway.

2007-2012: Growing debt-to-GDP ratio, now at 85%. Since 1996 Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio had been decreasing from a dangerously high 102% to an eventual low of 66% in

. . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: The Conservative Economic Record

Bill Longstaff: Europe’s shrinking economy—bad news or good?

Once again the news of a shrinking economy leaves me with mixed feelings. According to the CBC, the economy of the European Union shrank by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 after a flat first quarter.

Surely this is bad news. The EU is heavily in debt and suffers from record unemployment—grim statistics indeed. And all of this leads to increasing social dysfunction.

Yet we know that

Song of the Watermelon: On Growth and Its Limits

George Monbiot offers a fascinating insight in the wake of last week’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro. While rightly deriding the declaration adopted by world leaders for containing little more than meaningless fluff, he notes an evolution in diplomatic language regarding the environment over the years from “sustainability” to “sustainable development” to “sustainable growth” to, most recently, “sustained growth.”

This seems as good a time as any to launch into a topic dear to every environmentalist’s heart: the growth debate.

Intuitively, it does not make much sense to suppose that infinite economic growth

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: On Growth and Its Limits

Bill Longstaff: Anti-austerity mood grows for better or worse

It seems only weeks ago that austerity opponents were crying in the wind. Their words were blowing away unheard. No more. The Greeks flatly rejected austerity in a recent election and attention had to be paid. France elected a new anti-austerity president, François Hollande, and now he has been welcomed by the leader of the world’s most important economy as an ally in promoting expansionary

Green Assassin Brigade: Speculating in Misery

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard brings us an interesting article dealing with the speculation of agricultural land.Speculators like rich hedge funds and billionaires have been buying up large chunks of foreign agricultural land in order to speculate on the hunger that a growing and more affluent world population will bring. Combine this growing demand with the destruction of existing productive land by