Let there be light

March 29, 2014

Tonight some people will be celebrating Earth Hour by turning off their lights.

Some won’t because they don’t have lights to start with.

Others could but won’t.

Among the latter group is Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph.

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores.

Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely
impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating
stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I
celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance,
poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off
there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature . I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks. I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Let there be light and heat and all the other benefits electricity brings us and let those who wish to make change a reality find a more positive and useful way to do it.

Celebrating Human Achievement Hour could be a good way to start.

Hat tip: Carpe Diem

 

 


Word of the day

March 29, 2014

Hygge (Danish) – complete absence of anything annoying, irritating or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle and soothing things; a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and being unhurried.


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

Getting started farming in your own right can be a challenge and leasing is a great first option. Rebecca Harper investigates how it works and what you need to know about leasing.

David Skiffington has five lease blocks and has developed his own philosophy and system for leasing, building up to a viable farm business for him and his young family.

He got his first lease block in 2008 and is now leasing land from four Maori trusts and one private landowner in Manawatu, with about 100 hectares all up.

David is dead set against paying market price for a block. “I feel like the market rate is often set by the guy next door who has an advantage. Market price is set at a price where not much is economic.” . . .

Dairy prices may dip as record payouts prompt farmers to boost milk production

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices will probably decline over the last few months of the New Zealand season as farmers ramp up milk production to benefit from record payouts.

Prices generally hold up on lower volumes heading into the end of the season in May, however volumes will be higher than normal this year as farmers had favourable growing conditions in the lead-up to the main producing season and bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, said ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny.

Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, last month raised its payout to farmer suppliers to a record level on the back of strong global demand. New Zealand dairy farmers will probably produce 11 percent more milk this season than last season, which will equate to around a 9 to 10 percent increase in volume for Fonterra, ahead of the dairy group’s forecast for a 7.5 percent increase in volume, ASB says. . .

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel – Mad Bush Farm:

The cows know I have a bag of feed just inside the door right now. It’s not theirs to have of course; it belongs to the old man. Sometimes, though, I do give them some of it, even though right now they don’t really need feeding much more than some hay.  Trouble is they’ve cottoned on that I feed the old man twice a day. They have it all figured out, along with how to muck up my recently cleaned windows (forget that now!) . . .

Apples and applesauce – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s apple season here on CTF. I am steadily working my way through mountains of apples. OK ‘mountains’ might be a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly quite a few kilos!
Here is a big box of delicious ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples – a French heirloom apple – that I picked yesterday. This variety is great for cooking, but it can also be eaten as a dessert apple. We usually cook it.


Some of these apples get quite big. The biggest one I picked was 500g (18 oz)! . . . 

Good as green for top crop:

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return based on its production of Hayward green in the 2013 season.

Last season it produced an average of 15,109 trays per hectare with size 33 fruit, with an orchard gate return (OGR) in excess of $90,000 compared to the industry average of $43,000. It was the highest OGR recorded for 2013 by the orchard’s management company, Direct Management Services (DMS).

The orchard is owned by the Owen St George Family Trust and managed by Matt Greenbank of DMS. Owen’s daughter, Jackie, also works on the orchard.. . .

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

The East Coast Regional Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is set to be held in Hastings next weekend Saturday 5th April at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of a $14,000 prize pack including products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

There is a wide range of competitors for this round of eliminations, with a variety of backgrounds, ages and skill sets. . . .

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

Wattie’s value added products are the first to benefit from the company’s 77th annual tomato crop, which is just passed the mid-point of the harvest.

In producing the country largest tomato crop Wattie’s carefully selects tomato varieties to meet and thrive in the Hawke’s Bay climate.

Wattie’s agronomist Jonny La Trobe who is responsible for the tomato crop, says the season is going well, and with half the harvest completed, the fruit quality and yields are good.

“While we may not pip last year’s exceptional volumes, favourable spring weather – which also benefited our peach crop – gave us an excellent start on which to build.” . . .


Saturday’s smiles

March 29, 2014

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate
that her name is Patricia Whack.

“Miss Whack, I’d like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday.”

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name.
The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is  Mick Jagger, and that it’s okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, “Sure. I have this,” and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she’ll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and  says, “There’s a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.”

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. “I mean, what in the world is this?”
The bank manager looks back at her and says.

“It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

 


Waiting at the alter

March 29, 2014

Cartoon of the week:

 

waitingW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberation has more on the dotbomb issue here.


Reverse Midas touch working again

March 29, 2014

Labour spent months telling us manufacturing was doomed and look what’s happened:
Photo: Crisis? What crisis? Stats NZ says manufacturing is sparking. Read more at http://tinyurl.com/mmqv6vz

 

They’ve also put a lot of energy into telling us the regions are going backwards but the reverse Midas touch is working here too.

They hold only two general seats outside the main centres which means they’re out of touch.

Their MPs swan into the regions,  tell us how dreadful things are and go back to the city.

Those of us who live in the provinces know the story they tell doesn’t match the reality we live.

This picture shows the true story:
Photo: Regional New Zealand is leading our recovery from the GFC. Find out more at www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43489

 


Saturday soapbox

March 29, 2014

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse, amuse or bemuse.

:) kindest, Boris


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