Contributed by Michelle Stirling © March 2020
Michelle Stirling is the Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society.
An op-ed in the Globe and Mail written by Avi Lewis, spouse of Naomi Klein, caught my eye. Lewis, son of NDP scion Stephen Lewis and media maven, Michele Landsburg, makes the case that in light of the convergence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and the climate crisis, the answer is to implement the Green New Deal.
For climate activists the Green New Deal sounds fantastic. Basically, you stop using fossil fuels immediately and just use renewables, relying on massive government spending to ‘go green’ on every aspect of society, thus allegedly solving the climate crisis, economic needs of all people in a fair and equitable way, and presumably stopping COVID19 as you stop climate change.
As you will see, this is magical thinking.
Lewis has deep roots in the climate change story. In 1988, his father, Stephen Lewis, hosted Al Gore and James Hansen, June 27-30th, at the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in Toronto. At the time, Hansen was fresh off his June 23, 1988, world-shaking appearance before the US Senate, wherein he claimed that he was 99% sure that man-made warming had begun.
In the recent Globe and Mail op-ed, Lewis claims that since C.D. Howe created 28 crown corporations to manage every aspect of the World War II effort, then it should be easy-peasy to do the same today on climate. Lewis claims such moves would create a ‘climate-safe’world and more equal economy, going on to say that Canada could “borrow hundreds of billions of dollars…at the lowest interest rates in human history…which it can lock in [at low interest rates] for decades.”
Basically, he is advocating for Canadians to become indentured servants in a socialist economy using other people’s money – for decades. Anyone who has ever run up a debt on a credit card can realize that this is a recipe for a disaster for a country. Even at the lowest interest rates, once you are talking hundreds of billions of dollars, you create the kind of challenges that Ontario and the near bankrupt/insolvent Newfoundland and Labrador are facing, where the interest rates on debts outstrip one’s ability to pay down the principal.
Lewis envisions a solution to these converging crises – Coronavirus, climate, climate justice – simplistically as well. His idea is ‘painting Alberta in public-owned solar panels’ and he naively believes this would create thousands of jobs.
Canada is a cold northern country, and while Alberta has some of the best locations for solar in the country, any solar installation north of the 35 latitude N is an ‘energy sink’ – meaning that the energy required to make the solar panel, will never be returned by the energy generated by the panel, because there is just not enough sunlight at the right solar insolation or azimuth, to pump out power. Solar panels can be a useful supplement for off-grid applications, but on-grid in Canada, they are more of an expensive nuisance than anything. Covered in snow half the winter when additional power would be welcome; over producing in summer. Green winter jobs in solar offer “brooms for all” to clear off the snow – no training required! I guess that’s a form of ‘climate justice’.
Lewis is in the dark on renewables. Wind and solar cannot produce enough energy return on energy invested to support even basic society.
They cannot operate on the grid without 24/7 conventional back-up (typically natural gas, which has the ability to quickly ramp power generation up or down, as renewables fluctuate with natures whims of wind and cloud). Lewis apparently doesn’t know that solar panels are made from vast quantities of fossil fuels. Yes, to get wind and solar you need….OIL! Lewis thinks solar panels are clean when they are toxic, almost impossible to recycle, and their lifespan is short, especially on the prairies where a good hailstorm or two could turn this effort of climate justice into a total waste of public cash.
In fact, Alberta and Canada have been economically powered by the economic might of oil, gas and oil sands for decades – and disempowered by white elephant projects like the Medicine Hat solar farm, recently closed because it just didn’t perform; the $13 million solar farm unable to generate even one megawatt of power.
Canada has been economically disemboweled by the Green Energy Act (GEA) of Ontario, detailed in Robert Lyman’s report “The Ontario Government’s Climate Legacy” of the McGuinty-Wynne years, that gutted the industrial heartland with high power prices. The GEA was avidly promoted by major foreign-funded environmental groups like David Suzuki Fund, WWF, Greenpeace and Pembina Institute. The GEA sees millions of tax dollars spilled south of the border when wind power over-produces. Under the GEA, either wind producers must be paid to curtail production, or the generated power is virtually given away to our neighbours in the US, but Ontarians pay for this power they don’t get to use. When the Ontario power system operator dumps the power to export markets south, it is at a cost to Ontario ratepayers that has averaged about $500 million per year. Green fat cat investors revel in the subsidies while taxpaying citizens struggle to make the rent, ever more of them facing heat-or-eat poverty. How is that climate justice?
Like many climate activists, Lewis claims pipelines are ‘relics of the past’. I asked Robert Lyman, Ottawa energy policy analyst, about that. Lyman wrote me that, “According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, global oil demand grew by 15% from 2008 to 2018, and global natural gas demand grew by 28%. As for the future, the US Energy Information Administration International Energy Outlook 2019 is probably the most authoritative and current source of data. The EIA projects global oil demand to grow from 2018 to 2050 by another 21%, and natural gas demand to grow over the same period by 28%. That looks more like a dawn than a sunset to me.”
While Lewis claims the Green New Deal will create jobs, evidence shows that 2.2 jobs are lost for every ‘green’ job created. While Lewis claims this is ‘climate justice’ to impose sweeping measures on all citizens and destroy essential, affordable, reliable conventional energy provision, how is it ‘just’ to legislate massive tax subsidies to renewables. These are often the favored investment vehicles of tax-free union pension-funds and tax-free foreign sovereign wealth funds. So, you pay taxes and these financial behemoths don’t. Climate justice, eh?
Ironically, Lewis invokes the name and legacy of C.D. Howe as the model for taking over the economy with sweeping changes, which Howe did, during the wartime effort. But post-war ‘the Minister of Everything’ devoted his efforts as “Minister of Reconstruction to oversee the transition to a peacetime free-enterprise economy, aiming to avoid widespread unemployment and inflation.”
A free-enterprise economy. The very thing that has kept Canada strong and free for decades.
Lewis takes a parting shot at Trans Mountain Pipeline, claiming it is a ‘white elephant’. Really? If the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, turns out to have been a white elephant, we will all know where to find the white paint – right in the hands of the British Columbia government and the foreign-funded environmental organizations that have used every tactic possible to block a legally-licensed piece of infrastructure and to hinder inter-provincial trade.
Perhaps no surprise that Lewis and his wife Naomi Klein are key parties in that “Regime of Obstruction” and planning a May conference at the University of Victoria. It’s too bad they are in the dark on renewables and misleading the public on the Green New Deal and energy. Too bad the media give the Klein-Lewis duo front and center stage while ignoring energy experts like Vaclav Smil, author of some 40 books on energy. He is Bill Gates’ go-to expert on energy. Or Robert Lyman, who cautions that “Energy Policy needs a Transition to Reality”.
We’ve got a few plain language reports and videos on these topics.
Video: Look Before You Leap
REPORT: In the Dark on Renewables
Video: In the Dark on Renewables
Robert Lyman assesses Canada’s “Prosperity Foregone” in this overview and power point:
Prosperity Foregone – “Canada lost $100 billion of investment in energy projects in two years, according to the C.D. Howe Institute. New planned investments in the energy sector fell from $146 billion in 2015 to $35 billion in 2018; this represents 4.5% of Canada’s GDP “