Wednesday Night #1344

Oh the weather outside is frightful
And the news is not delightful
The pundits’ll trumpet our woes
While the country is clearing the snows.

Pierre Marc’s at the meeting in Bali
And there’s taekwondo in Cali
(We had to reach for that)
Chavez is wiping his tears
While Putin’s stoking all the world’s fears

At home, rates and loonies are falling
And Asian markets are stalling
Iran’s not so bad it seems
But Schreiber’s haunting poor Brian’s dreams

So, the weather outside is frightful
But Wednesdays are delightful
Let the pundits trumpet our woes
While we review them in prose

And among the prose, but not prosaic, items, we suggest:
The Long and Short of It at Goldman Sachs (a tale of murky doings at the esteemed firm) – thanks to Tony Deutsch
Riots and hunger feared as demand for grain sends food costs soaring
The growing appetite of China and other fast-developing nations has combined with the expansion of biofuel programmes in the United States and Europe to transform the global food situation.
Sarkozy beat the mob (thanks to Ron Robertson)
The French president dared the unions to defy his popular agenda, then coolly divided and conquered the opposition
PARIS – Rocketing around France – and the world – like an unguided missile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy continues to blow up adversaries, startle audiences, and make neck-swivelling journalists earn their keep. A political genius with the stamina of the Energizer Bunny, “Sarko” believes in reforming everything at once, starting yesterday. Between agenda-setting trips to the U.S., Africa, Russia, China and anywhere in Europe you can think of, he did what no predecessor could: cripple France’s leftist street mobs who always “won” against elected governments. Keith Spicer in the Ottawa Citizen

The Report

While things appear to have settled down recently in the Republic of Georgia since the announcement of elections in early January, the people are somewhat demoralized given that their hopes for democratization were shattered by the violent repression of the riots and the imposition of a state of emergency.

Reasoned Accommodation
In the teaching of comparative vertebrate anatomy, the mantra is frequently repeated that the species climbs its own family tree. Unfortunately, this anatomical fact extends to the cultural and spiritual and we are occasionally reminded that we are not too far removed from our spiritual ancestors. By their nature, religions provide the moral rules that promise short and long term as well as eternal rewards for those observing them and dire consequences for those who do not. Unfortunately, the motivation of the interpreters of those rules does not always reflect divine intent. In the course of the last half-century Quebeckers appear to have evolved in adopting a secular religion which preaches that (with the possible exception of linguistic equality) equality and morality are their own reward. The vast majority of those Quebeckers whose local ancestry dates back two or three generations have embraced this secular religion, but many lack the patience required for the transformation to take place in newcomers. This is particularly true in instances where conflict and genocide currently occur in their country of origin, fearful, perhaps, that these maybe transmitted to our culture. However, the descendents of the interned Japanese Canadians, of the European-born concentration camp survivors, do not threaten our culture; the veiled Muslim women, the kirpan-bearing Indian children or the oddly clothed Chasidic Jews, their wives with their heads shaved, have not as yet challenged our secular values, nor have they succeeded in imposing their religious beliefs on us. We do not protect our secular values and belief in gender equality by attacking those who do not as yet accept them in their own lives. It is to be hoped that with the passage of time both will evolve. However, we must remain firm in our resolve to come to the aid of and protect those who seek the peace, tranquility, equality and justice that we enjoy, wherever they live.
The dilemma is that while maintaining our compassion and understanding of cultures that are foreign to our society, we must not permit the spread of violence by radical elements of those cultures, and while accepting of ‘different’ customs, we cannot accept the imposition of a single minority’s beliefs on our multicultural majority.

Climate Change
The debate continues over climate change, its cause and its effect. There can be no denial about the cyclical nature of our climate, from the biblical Egyptian seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine, to the ice age, to the current melting of glaciers and year-round opening of the Northwest Passage. Undeniable, too, is the third law of thermodynamics that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it is, however transformed, and when transformed to heat can have a domino effect on life on this planet. Climate change is undeniably a function of both the number of human beings on the planet and their rate of production and consumption of goods requiring the transformation of energy into greenhouse gases as well as consumer product. As the increasing population and energy demands of China and India (neither of which is bound to targets under the Kyoto Protocol) are major contributors to global warming, other countries, notably the U.S. and Canada are in effect saying, “Let’s you do it.” However, one should also consider the following;
— As flexible as the energy market is, at one point the price of energy will act as a deterrent to its excessive use.
— In terms of absolute amounts of emissions, the United States and China are tied as the largest contributors to global warming, while on a per capita basis, the United States is far ahead of any of the developing countries and inasmuch as manufacturing has been exported from the U.S. to China while consumption remains in the U.S., which country has effectively contributed more to emissions remains open to debate. While there is world-wide anger against the U.S. for not ratifying Kyoto, it is important to look at U.S. companies (also cities and states) which have essentially accepted the Kyoto targets. For example, Dupont has reduced its emissions by 70%, an astounding figure in comparison to countries that have signed on. There are other indications that Business is doing far more than the UN or individual countries, motivated both by recognition that consumer demand for environmentally friendly products is on the rise and energy costs are bound to increase.


— In an unfortunate but sincere attempt to achieve cleaner energy, China’s Three Gorges Dam project has backfired.
Industry is doing better than governments in cutting greenhouse gases, more because it is economically advantageous in the long term to do so than out of a spirit of benevolence.
Alcan’s commitment to sustainable development and pro-active ‘green’ marketing is giving them a competitive advantage and business opportunity.
— While well-intended, the Kyoto Protocol has proven to be economically inefficient.

Climate change has always been with us, caused by such events as shifts in tectonic plates, release of CO2 and methane, however the rate of change over the last 200 years has accelerated drastically. Although there are still those who maintain that climate change is not anthropogenic, the body of scientific evidence strongly indicates that recent climate change is directly linked to the amount of fossil fuels burned. And no matter the continuing debate, the economic reality is that public opinion recognizes the problem and demands non-polluting products, legislation will happen, carbon caps will be a fact of life. A new economy will emerge and will spur development of new technologies and new products. The countries that recognize this early, imposing environmental controls will become the leaders. This, in the opinion of some Wednesday Nighters is where the Harper government is being short-sighted and working against the best long-term interests of a healthy Canadian economy.
Whatever the consequences, whether conventional energy sources become unavailable in ten, fifty or one hundred years, human survival on this planet requires thoughtful action in the near future.

6 Comments on "Wednesday Night #1344"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 4, 2007 at 11:37 pm · Reply

    From: Alexandra Tcheremenska
    Subject: Re: WEDNESDAY NIGHT SALON #1344 December 5 2007
    what a delightful version of the song!!! kudos to the song-masters!!!
    oh, how I wish we could attend!!
    Alexandra(and James)

  2. Son of Nichol December 5, 2007 at 1:01 am · Reply

    FANTASTIC!!

  3. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 6, 2007 at 9:16 am · Reply

    For more on Russia, see the blog Russian election 2008

  4. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 6, 2007 at 5:06 pm · Reply

    POPULATION: Awards Highlight Media Impact
    WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (IPS) – A U.S. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, a television news reporter from the Philippines and a radio show host from Cameroon were among the 12 recipients of the Population Institute’s 28th Annual Global Media Awards for Excellence in Population Reporting Wednesday.
    “These Global Media Award recipients have helped to create public awareness of population issues through their dedicated efforts,” said Lawrence Smith, president of the Population Institute. “We are hoping that these awards will direct much-needed attention to the importance of reducing rapid human growth and achieving a world population in balance with a healthy global environment.”
    Rapid population growth causes or exacerbates poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, economic stagnation, resource depletion, disease and illiteracy, Smith stressed.
    … The Best Editorial Support award was presented to The Sun of Vancouver … for its support of population, environmental and development issues. An example is the Apr. 18, 2007 editorial, “War against poverty shows some successes,” which convincingly links overwhelming poverty in the southern hemisphere with rapid population growth.

  5. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 8, 2007 at 12:16 pm · Reply

    Trucks Power China’s Economy, at a Suffocating Cost
    The 10 million trucks on Chinese roads, more than a quarter of all vehicles in this country, are a major reason that China accounts for half the world’s annual increase in oil consumption. Sating their thirst helped push the price of oil to nearly $100 a barrel this year, before a recent decline, and has propelled China past the United States as the world’s largest emitter of global-warming gases.

  6. Diana Thébaud Nicholson December 11, 2007 at 1:31 pm · Reply

    Who Pays for Carbon on ‘Made in China’ Labels?
    BEIJING, Dec 11 (IPS) China’s new focus on technology and funds has been boosted by recent studies, which say nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon emissions are created by goods manufactured and exported to Western consumers.

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