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More Crude Thoughts

Web posted on March 09, 2017

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

It is obvious that we need to cut our dependence on fossil fuels for our energy needs. Let's face it there are only so many fossils (and I am not talking about some of our beloved politicians) out there, and not all of them became fuel. Sooner or later we will run out. We are doing an excellent job of cutting out the use of coal. That will leave more for my annual lumpy awards that I might not be able to afford because of "carbon" taxes.

We are getting better at cutting the use of oil for transportation, but no there yet. Electric cars that cost the same as gas powered ones are still a long ways off. Affordable battery technology to be able drive a thousand or more kilometres on a single charge at highway speeds isn't quite there yet. We are getting there, just not soon enough. The perfect vehicle would be one that could get all of its energy from the sun, or maybe some other source yet to be discovered, thus never needing to be refuelled or recharged. It would have Formula 1 performance, cost the same or less than a gas burning car, and not need a driver. Until then we are stuck with the internal combustion engine. Jet engines are much cleaner than they used to be, but still have a long way to go.

Unfortunately, all those mega container ships that bring us all our cheap goods from countries with very poor environmental standards use the cheapest dirtiest oil out there. The fuel economy of these things is measured in feet per gallon, not miles per gallon. They might as well be burning coal. From what I can gather there are very few if any controls over their emissions. According to some reports I have read, these ships combined spew more greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere than all the cars in the world combined. Think of all the stuff that falls back into the ocean. I would be thinking twice about eating any of the bottom feeders such as lobster. If this is true, why isn't anyone doing something about this? Nobody is going after these guys, yet our governments want to hit us with a "carbon" tax. Why are these ships not being hit with a huge emissions tax every time they dock? Think about this the next time you are shopping at the dollar store.

How about a serious tax on goods coming from countries that do not meet our environmental standards? These countries have been given decades to clean up their act in all the climate agreements, while we have to pay "carbon" taxes. This gives them very little incentive to do anything.

For other energy needs we need also need to wean ourselves from oil, coal and gas. Nuclear, yes. All accidents have been as a result of the human factor in some shape or form. Our CANDU reactors are probably the safest available. I would be far less trusting of other types of reactors. Hydro-electric, yes. Solar, yes. Tidal power, yes. Wind power, absolutely not. Too many unproven issues, they cause visual pollution, and kill too many birds. I would rather have a nuclear plant as a neighbour than a wind turbine. There are technologies out there that might be in the realm of science fiction today, but most of what we have today was science fiction 70 years ago. Maybe dilithium crystals do exist.

There are countless products that we use every day that come from petroleum. It is just not as simple as turning off the taps.

For the moment we have to balance a lot of very unpleasant realities. There are no miracle fixes, no overnight solutions. There are no magic devices that will give 100 miles per gallon. There is only so much usable energy in a gallon or litre of gas. The reality is that it is going to take time. The best thing we can do is conserve as much as possible. Drive as if gasoline were two dollars a litre, buy fuel efficient vehicles. Use more public transit or carpool if possible. I have not changed how much I budget for gas per week in at least 10 years. Any surplus goes into my car maintenance fund or to pay the outrageous price to renew my plates.

There needs to be more research and development done by all sectors. Governments must encourage industry with tax breaks. More incentive is needed for universities. Companies must rethink the process. The days where they owned all intellectual rights of employees must end. Those rights must belong to the individual. Yes, companies should be entitled to first right of refusal or a piece of the action at a fair rate. This would stop products and ideas from being suppressed. It would also give employees more incentive to come up with ideas. In the long run it would be more beneficial and profitable for all concerned.

What must never happen are a "carbon" tax, and the ultimate fraud: cap and trade. This system rewards the polluters by allowing them to buy credits to keep polluting, and gives free money to the clean companies who will take the money and run. Companies have had years to work on getting their emissions down, but for many of them as long as there is a way of getting around doing the actual work, why should they bother? There is absolutely no up front transparency about how the whole process works.

As for the so called "carbon" tax, the key word is tax, and we all know who pays for that in the end. We do, not the ones who are responsible for the problem in the first place. The end users who have no choice are penalized, while those responsible laugh all the way to the bank. Why should responsible people who don't commute two or more hours a day, and don't drive gas guzzling oversized silly urban vehicles be penalized? Rewards and tax breaks are the only way to go. For most governments, taxes are as addictive as crystal meth or nicotine. I do not believe for one minute that TAX LOVING governments can be trusted to solve the situation. Do you really think they want the end of oil? They just want the money.

It is so much easier for governments to tax the symptoms and not the disease. Polluting countries and companies who aren't willing to clean up their act must me held accountable. Right now consumers a choice, buy cheap goods from polluting countries (with questionable working conditions and maybe other human rights issues), or better quality goods made here. Consumers can make a difference. Choose your purchases carefully and wisely.

Recent news reports indicated that there was almost no change in pollution levels in Ontario after they shut down the coal plants. Most of our pollution comes from down south. We can keep cutting our emissions until the cows come home, but the pollution does not stop at the border. It does not take a meteorologist or a rocket scientist to figure this out. We are paying for this total incompetence through our inflated hydro bills.

Going on a diet does not work, but diet products and books make a lot of money. To really shed those pounds and more importantly keep them off, a change in lifestyle is needed. We need to change our lifestyle when it comes to energy.

It would be nice to be able to take 75% of the cars off the road. It would be nice to be able to get on a train and get to the international airport in Malton, or Union Station in under an hour. It would be nice to be able to get to anywhere in Guelph in less than half an hour on a bus at all hours of the day. It would be nice to be able to get on a bus and get to Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, or St. Jacobs. It would be nice to be able to take a train from Toronto and get to Ottawa or Montreal in a couple of hours. It would take a major change in lifestyle, and the will to make it happen.

Of course, She Who Must Not Be Re-elected has done what fiberal governments always do, take our money. They then say all sorts of wonderful things about how the money will be spent, but more than likely it will disappear into the black hole known as general revenue. From there the money will probably be used to try to buy our votes in the next election. The same holds true at the federal level. Thus giving us crude thoughts of another kind.

While on the subject of crude thoughts, do not be taken in by the latest hydro scam from She Who Must Not Be Re-elected. Yes, you will be paying less in the short term, but payments are going to be spread out over a much longer period of time, therefore in the long term we (and probably several generations down the road) will be paying more. It's just a side show shell game. With an election less than 16 months away the goodies using our money are just starting. She really needs to do the honourable thing. Oh, wait a minute, the word honourable is not in the vocabulary of any fiberal.

I wonder why there aren't all sorts of people camped out in front of the legislature protesting the utter incompetence of our failed fiberal provincial government. On the other hand, all sorts of people find the time to protest what may or may not be happening down south. Isn't there something wrong with this picture? Just some food for thought, hope you don't get mental indigestion.

For those of you who don't have a choice, don't forget to turn your clocks ahead by one hour Sunday morning. Sorry, no major rant about time travel this time around, but I am working on one for the next time they do this silliness. Enjoy your involuntary time travel, and be careful out there.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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