Sunday, June 29, 2008

updating utopia



I wrote in January 2007 that The crazy weather has the environment on everybody's minds, and gov'ts will react. Whether (no pun intended) they react with vision remains to be seen.

Since then, they have reacted with some vision; the provincial Liberals have enacted a carbon tax of 2.4 cents per litre of gasoline, which takes effect the day after tomorrow. Is it too little too late? We got our cheques (and cashed them), but rumour has it that there is a fair bit of backlash, and Campbell is wavering. I'm not giving my 100 bucks back! The federal Liberals have also proposed a carbon tax, and are taking it as an election platform.

Personally, I don't understand all the crying - energy prices have sky-rocketed beyond imagination all by themselves (thanks to speculators?), and it is just going to get worse before, and if, it ever gets better. I figured out the other day that we spend 8.73% of our gross income on fuel for our vehicles. Ouch. We need the one gas pig for business, but my 17 year old 6 cylinder pig could use replacing with something of greater efficiency. Can someone spare me $40K for a Prius?

So what does that mean for the city? Less cars on the road (or more energy-efficient cars...), less pollution - lower insurance premia? It will probably mean more densification as people move back into the city and the emptying of suburbia. Back to small, self-contained towns. But what about employment? Vancouver has been hollowed out as far as jobs are concerned - fewer office buildings in the core as companies have moved out, and condos replace them. So what kind of economy will we have? Tourism is returning to the ambit of the affluent, so low-paying service jobs will be lost too. If it wasn't for the pending lack of employment, I would venture to say that property values would actually increase as people move into the cities.

Things are going to get harder before they get easier. With escalating food prices, more people will be turning to produce their own food in their gardens, so we may well see the end of manicured lawns, and litle-used streets may well be turned to food production, infill housing, etc. The only comment on that January '07 post was someone who said that my utopian view of the Vancouver of the future could not happen because of all of the sewers, fibre optics cables, power, water mains etc., that run under the streets, but those are quite deep for the most part, so tearing up the asphalt and planting corn will have little to no effect on that aspect. What about police, ambulance, fire services? We could keep the alleys as they are and tear up the streets for infill housing, gardens, etc. Condo dwellers are going to face a bit of a challenge to grow their own food, so maybe more community gardens in parks? Allotments are old hat in Europe, why not here? The skies will be quieter with much less air traffic (and less chemtrails?!).

It looks like the USA might not be wanting the dirty oil from the tar sands very soon, so it will be interesting to see what happens to Alberta, I suppose China may want to buy it though.

Speaking of China, with the rising cost of transportation, it will soon be uneconomical to import everything that we wear, computers and electronics, etc., so there will be opportunities to start producing what we use here, and that will recreate jobs that have been lost to globalization.

There is a time of transition ahead, and that will not likely be smooth, but in the long run, we will likely be better off, and living much simpler, and hopefully, more meaningful lives. I read a good book some years ago called The Fifth Sacred Thing. It was an interesting and idyllic look at how we would live post-oil economy. It sounded great.

From that January 2007 post, here is a link to some of the ideas for a more livable city. It is a good start, and was produced before energy prices went hay-wire.

19 comments:

finklebean said...

I'll take this opportunity to put in a gentle plug for CAN http://www.cooperativeauto.net/. It might be a suitable option to investing in another second car.
I routinely get discouraged by the current state of things so it's great to see good news stories like the country lane project. That lane is not so far from where I live, I plan to take a look for myself.
The rising price of fuel may have been enough incentive to trigger a major shift in lifestyle for many. The carbon tax is an added reminder that contributing to GHG emissions comes at a price. Let's hope the majority understand that the dollar cost is nothing compared to the potential future devastation that may result without some drastic changes.

Wolfey said...

Hello I believe with the increase in Gas prices will not add more maufacture jobs in Can. The increase shipping costs from Chiona and back will drice the US companies to either manufacture in US( Us Recession...need jobs) or manufature in Mexico, cheaper labour...remember they can still use trains. your logic is flawed. in that regards...there will be just more increase in retail coffee shop stuff

Anonymous said...

A little less hypocrisy would be a good start, my wife and I who walk to work have the great pleasure in watching the monthly cycle extravaganza that occurs on the last Friday of each month. e overlook Pacific Blvd and the Granville Bridge. That ride probably contributes 5 times the carbon emissions that normal rush hour does. By riding slowly and blocking traffic it generally takes an hour and 1/2 of snarled idling traffic to clear up. If the city is going to allow something like that then traffic in downtown should be banned for the whole day, then we can see if people are serious, many would not have to bike in as their business might close as well? :-)

solipsist said...

Thanks for the link finklebean.

wolfey - I think that it is your logic that is flawed vis-a-vis trains. At least, until the trains go door to door. They run on diesel too.

the monthly cycle extravaganza

Yes, some of them (cyclists) are absolutely militant, and piss me off. Holier than thou crap.

What gets me is that there would be no nice, paved thoroughfares for them to ride on if it were not for the cars. And I often wonder if they would like to be transported to the hospital in a pedicab in the case of an emergency - like a pissed-off motorist running them down in frustration. I also wonder if they order in pizza, or Thai food, or if they realize how their precious bicycles end up at the store where they bought it.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with this picture?

China (a nation that just 15 years ago was a nation where no one had cars and everyone drove bicycles everywhere) now gets cars and Canada is supposed to go from cars to bicycles?

What's next? We plan on trading economies and becoming a third-world nation as China was decades ago and the US is nine-tenths on the way to becoming?

Something's VERY wrong with this picture. It seems globalization is merely going to be a situation of trading places, and not "equalizing" anything.

solipsist said...

What's wrong with this picture?

More to the point; what is wrong with the picture below?

Total energy consumption per capita
Units: Kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe) per person

Canada:
2003 8,300.7
1990 7,558.4

China:
2003 1,138.3
1990 791.7
source

Canada uses ~7.5 times as much energy per capita as China does.

So I suppose that we cannot afford to cut our consumption. Let those damned heathens remain heathens on bicycles and ox carts.

Our consumption was not restricted by price in 2003. 2008 is a very different story. The average Chinese will not be able to afford to reach our level of oil consumption at today's (and the future's) prices.

Most Chinese are driving 3 or 4 cylinder piss cutters, while so many North Americans drive over-sized gas pigs.

I picture the commentator as a 300 pound oaf who exits Starbucks with a couple of Grande Vente double mocha coffees and a few pastries, and tells the skinny, filthy pan handler asking for a quarter to bugger off.

Because we are all going to freeze and starve in Third World squalor by paying a couple of extra dollars on our 75 dollar fill-up. Yeah, right.

The US is not headed for have-not status because of energy prices, you can look to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the whole country living beyond its means for the answer to that.

Anonymous said...

I picture the commentator as a 300 pound oaf who exits Starbucks with a couple of Grande Vente double mocha coffees and a few pastries, and tells the skinny, filthy pan handler asking for a quarter to bugger off.

Because we are all going to freeze and starve in Third World squalor by paying a couple of extra dollars on our 75 dollar fill-up. Yeah, right.


That's funny, because I picture you as a skinny, un-bathed hippie leftist disciple of David The Anti-Christ Suzuki. You probably advocate needle exchanges for crackheads. You want government to steal even more money from me every time I buy gasoline.

Sincerely,

The Straw Man

solipsist said...

skinny, un-bathed hippie leftist disciple of David The Anti-Christ Suzuki.

skinny - yes. Caloric restriction for longevity y'know.

unbathed - no. I had a shower this AM, and even shaved and flossed my teeth. My wife shaves her armpits and legs too.

leftist discliple - no, I'm fairly apolitical. I govern myself. As such, I am a disciple of no one.

I do enjoy The Nature of Things occasionally, but Suzuki...who cares?

We are in a hand basket, heading for hell. 2.4 cents per litre is the least of our concerns pending. Life is going to change for every one, drastically, in the coming years.

solipsist said...

I was just talkin' with Mrs. while we enjoyed the evening airs (kinda thick), and I was musing that I do not know what the whole proceeds from the carbon tax will go to.

I feel that there is a lot of fancy foot work behind most of what any level of gov't does, and I'm not so sure about this one being any different. My whole point was that I am not going to suffer great injury from the tax; a) because as far as I can tell, we got 3x what we will pay extra in gasoline tax.

b) we are on electric heat, cooking, hot water.

c) we are fairly local in our eating habits. Haven't had a pineapple, or oranges, or kiwi fruit, or anything exotic for many years. We don't have highly consumptive lifestyles, and do not feel deprived thereof.

Anyhow, I thought of a great project for the proceeds of the carbon tax. How about geo-thermal wells in as many locations as needed to heat and cool every building in Vancouver? Maybe some grants to afford the less affluent to get hooked up. The result would be instant freedom from rising home heating/cooling costs in perpetuity, with a corresponding reduction in the dread GHG emissions. I guess that might tick off Terasen and Kinder-Morgan, BRK, etc., though. I have read too, that we only have 8-10 years of domestic natural gas left. What happens then?

There was a good piece on CBC radio this day - talking of fuel efficiency. The gas pig that we use comes in two models in Canada - a 5 Litre gas, or 7.3 Litre (or such) diesel. You can buy the same van in Europe with a 2.4 Litre turbo diesel. Europe has had double he prices for fuel since the Second World War. Necessity is the mother of invention, wot? I had a 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel that got 63 MPG. I don't think that the modern Golf, or Jetta get anywhere near that. Remember that there were a couple of fuel crises in the 1970s.

We used to have a huge textile sector in Canada, and many other sectors as well, that provided a decent standard of living for anyone willing to try. That was all hollowed out by global economics. It became cheaper to have sweatshops in China, or Bangladesh, and to ship the junk here. Now it is cheaper to import food from China?

The fat cat bastidges will always be thus, and they will dispose of your way of life to further their own. They do not give a hoot if their drone bees are Chinese or Saturnalian. We are losing our way of life because we have not protected it. We have welcomed Walmart, and McDonalds, and all the other conglomorates. We consume beyond our means, and reality bites.

Anonymous said...

What you fools fail to realise is that the carbon tax is payed for by all, no matter what you do to reduce your supposed "carbon footprint". The project is about increasing taxes to solve the impending demographic problems so that we can pay for the entitlements for the baby boomers. The GST was a "revenue neutral" tax as well.

Anonymous said...

WHAT IF ONE HAS NO GARDEN?
Only 560 Sq ft living space surrounded by turbid water
along #3 Rd, Richmond
A/P $149K
Seller calls it a water resort :D

http://tinyurl.com/5cbvrc
http://tinyurl.com/5nkwzx
http://tinyurl.com/6k8fxh
http://tinyurl.com/6jn774
http://tinyurl.com/647jr3

solipsist said...

What you fools fail to realise is that the carbon tax is payed(sic)
no need to be insulting
for by all, no matter what you do to reduce your supposed "carbon footprint".
Use less carbon, pay less tax. What is so hard about that?
The project is about increasing taxes to solve the impending demographic problems so that we can pay for the entitlements for the baby boomers.
You sound bitter. Who let you in on the "real" rationale?
The GST was a "revenue neutral" tax as well.
You mean it isn't?




Anonymous said...
WHAT IF ONE HAS NO GARDEN?
Only 560 Sq ft living space surrounded by turbid water..
Seller calls it a water resort :D


My wise old Grandma always said "get some land, that you can grow your own food", and that "the first three letters of condominium are CON! What are those people going to do for food when things get bad?"

How about all of that melting ice that is projected to cause a 3 metre rise in sea level? Sorry Richmond, Delta.

The Aztecs had floating agriculture in Tenochtitlan, maybe re-adopting the old ways... Oh yeah, it's hard to grow food in salt water. Nevermind.

I'm afraid it really doesn't matter much. The poopy is hitting the fan, and the carbon tax is but a flea on a rhino.

I's just a ray of sunshine!

Anonymous said...

"My wise old Grandma always said "get some land, that you can grow your own food", and that "the first three letters of condominium are CON!"
It isn't a CON
but a "floating villa" of 560 sq ft :D
see the photos
may be he occupant can fish from the bedroom window :D
http://tinyurl.com/6h9dsp

Anonymous said...

Everything you buy is transported by truck or rail and will be taxed there is nothing you can do to not pay the carbon tax. I repeat there is nothing you can do. This is not about reducing greenhouse gases. I repeat this is not about reducing green house gases. The GST is not revenue neutral which is why there is a huge surplus every year. Please pass the dube.

solipsist said...

Everything you buy is transported by...nothing you can do to not pay the carbon tax.

I agree with you on that. The trick is to mitigate ones cost.

The GST is not revenue neutral

Self-employment (and a GST #) renders it close to revenue neutral.

Please pass the dube.

It's almost a roach - hurry! No tax on that (other than the price paid for its illegality).

I do agree about tax, tax, tax, but I try to look on the bright side; if it causes people to think more about energy consumption/alternatives, it can be a good thing.

Coco said...

Solipsist,

And..you wonder why I start a totally different type of blog where the subject can change.

Your blog, post subjects as you wish.

solipsist said...

I'm not sure that I follow what you are saying, Coco. Topics can change here too (and they do).

Do you think that I should not broaden the scope?

coco said...

No. I just saw that others only want you to talk about real estate all the time.

solipsist said...

only want you to talk about real estate all the time

One track minds.