Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Today's Prediction: Mayhem

Later today, the Parliament of Canada will vote on extending the Anti-Terrorist Act sections regarding investigative hearings and preemptive detentions. I now summon all of my unholy powers of prognostication and predict the following:

1. The extension will not pass
2. The government will instantly launch into a tirade about the opposition being "soft on terror"
3. The opposition renew its demands that Harper apologize for his earlier smear
4. The media will eat this up and feed the frenzy more

And for the next two weeks, we will hear nothing but angry recriminations from all sides, with everyone painting the other guy as the most evil of evil.


Firstly both the Liberals and Conservatives have flip-flopped on this issue, both for political reasons. In October, during the hearings on this in committee, both agreed to extend the measures for 3 years, provided they were not used for past investigations and so long as they were to be used only for "imminent threats". But Stephen Harper and the government decided not to accept these recommendations, instead trying to keep the measures in place as is. For 6 months they did nothing, expecting this to be rubber stamped, despite not having been used since they were passed. The Liberals under Dion decided as well for political reasons, to ignore what they agreed to in committee and come out against the measures with only a few weeks to go, stirring controversy.

Now, I oppose the measures, and indeed the whole act on principle, but that makes me no friend of Dion in this. This seems more of a move designed to score political points and attack the Conservatives, than anything else. If he were truly principled, he wouldn't have supported creating the measures in the first place.

The fact is, both the Liberals and Conservatives are manipulating this for politics, not for policy.

As I have pointed out previously, in your lifetime you are in more danger of being hit by a car, or to drown or to die taking prescription drugs than to die in a terrorist event. But according to some, if you suggest that giving the state extraordinary legal measures and powers is too high a price to pay to protect us from something so unlikely, you are "soft on terror." How absurd. It is a waste of resources and does not protect us from anything. If thinking that erosion of civil liberties and vast spending on a security infrastructure is too high a price to pay for such a small threat makes one "soft on terrorism" than I am proudly "soft on terrorism" and "steadfast for liberty."

Likewise, at a time when crime is near a 30-year low, some feel it necessary to change the rules in order to get judges on the bench who will be "tough on crime". Of course overlooking that since crime is low and continues to drop, there is no crime to get tough on and no need to politicize the judiciary. Well if not buying into the "tough on crime" mythos when crime rates have been falling for 17 years makes me "soft on crime" than I am proudly so. There is no reason to "get tough on crime" when the crime rate is falling.

Its clearly no longer about the policy, or about the action or about honest debate. Its about who can scare us the most into voting for them. The Conservatives are using the terrorist and crime bogeymen to scare us. The Liberals are using the Conservatives to scare us, with their "hidden agenda". Both are taking turns with the environment, in a cage match for the bottom of the barrel.

Nothing of substance is getting done because the only thing happening is maneuvering for power using playground bullying and name calling. It the politics of fear and anger, rather than substance and action.

So watch my prediction. The circus will start in a few hours. And after its is all as said and done, nothing of substance will become of it all. Another election, another minority, slaking for that knockout punch that gives it the temporary dictatorship called a majority. More squabbling in order to get power for power's sake. On and on, possibly for years.

I wonder what it will take for people to refuse to vote for these politicians? Or to refuse to vote at all when they have no real choice.

Perhaps only time. Sit back and let the fun begin. it is going to be a very long time before there is any civility in parliament again, if indeed there ever was.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Things to do while watching the Oscars

First go to Lew Rockwell and read this.

Next, cut and paste "Bed-Wetting Conservatives" into a text editor (notepad, wordpad, word etc). Now use the "Find and Replace" function to find every instance of "Republican" and replace it with "Conservative". Replace "Democrat" with "Liberal". "President" for "Prime Minister". "White House" for "Sussex Drive". "Nancy Pelosi" for either "Stephan Dion" or "Jack Layton".

Well, you get the idea.

Now, read it again. Have a good laugh at how well it describes Canada and our political environment.

Laugh harder at the fact that this was written by someone you could not even remotely consider a "lefty" or a "liberal".

Go get some more popcorn and take bets on Best Supporting Actress...

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

For the Curious

I've been trying to come up with some explanations, but I think this says it pretty well.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

They Hate Us for Our Freedom

In a rare, but not unprecedented, unanimous 9-0 judgment earlier today, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the security certificate sections of Canada's anti-terrorism laws. The Court said that these certificates violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Every judge, man or woman, left or right, Liberal appointed or Conservative appointed, agreed.

Not surprisingly, the Court has essentially ruled that it is unconstitutional for the state to hold a person indefinitely, without charge or trial or being able to see the evidence against them. For those of us that value freedom and liberty, this is absolutely obvious. Those kinds of powers are usually exercised by totalitarian, fascist and dictatorial states like Cuba, the former Soviet Union, South Africa under apartheid, Saddam's Iraq and Pinochet's Chile to name but a few. Canada is not, nor should not be in this league.

The Court, in essence, has balanced the real danger of terrorism versus cost to our civil liberties of these draconian measures and civil liberties rightly won.

Let's put the "problem" into perspective:

In 2004, according to the US State Department, approximately 2000 people were killed world wide from acts of terrorism. In the past 20 years, about 5000 Western civillians have died "due to jihadist and Arab insurgent violence", including Lockerie, Bali, Madrid, London and 9-11.

Canada hasn't had a terrorist attack since 1985, when Air India was bombed. Last year, the "Toronto 17" were apprehended while possibly planning an attack (though the real threat may have been exaggerated and the 17 may have been coaxed into action by the government's own mole) without resorting to extraordinary police powers or judicial measures.

According to Michael Rothschild, a former business professor at the University of Wisconsin, your odds of being killed in a plausible terrorist attack in your lifetime are 1 in 1282:

Even if terrorists were able to pull off one attack per year on the scale of the 9/11 atrocity, that would mean your one-year risk would be one in 100,000 and your lifetime risk would be about one in 1300. (300,000,000 ÷ 3,000 = 100,000 ÷ 78 years = 1282) In other words, your risk of dying in a plausible terrorist attack is much lower than your risk of dying in a car accident, by walking across the street, by drowning, in a fire, by falling, or by being murdered.
Further, prescription drugs are 16,400% more dangerous than terrorism.

So in response to this minuscule danger, the government decided to allow the state to arbitrarily detain people without charge or trial indefinitely while not allowing them to see or challenge the evidence against them. Today the Supreme Court said "Not so much."

Now given this logic and the clearly totalitarian nature of the law, one would expect that most people who value freedom and liberty would be overjoyed at this development. Sadly, this isn't so. As Canadian Cynic points out, some are quite devastated by this:

  • Socialist Gulag: "For the second time in a week the Liberal elites in this country provided aid & comfort to those who wish us harm all in the interest of maintaining slavish devotion to that damn charter."

  • Civitatensis: "Friends of Osama?"

  • Canadian Blue Lemons: "Who will rid us of these pestilent priests and protectors of the enemies of our society?"

  • Dr. Roy: " Canadians are less safe today thanks to the fiberals and the fiberal supreme court."

  • mesopotamia west: "Court in Bed with Terrorism."

There are others. I am amazed that people still think that security certificates and indeed the other sections of the anti-terrorism act are necessary considering the (lack of) magnitude of the problem.

Are these people really so scared by the remote possibility of dying in a terrorist attack that they would gladly give the state - hell anybody - the power to throw them in a tiny prison, essentially forever?

Are they truly that cowardly?

I almost wish they were. I believe with these people it is something deeper and more sinister. As the Vanity Press discussed yesterday, I think it occurs because these people are projecting their own hatred of our freedoms outwards. They want to do exactly what they say the jihadis what to do - take away our liberty and impose their moral view on everyone, to use the full force of the state to make society in their narrow image of reality. How else can one explain people that on one hand, do not want the government to have the power to force someone to do their job when it comes to marrying gay couples, but are more than happy to grant that same state the power to detain and imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial, on the other hand? They agree with what they say the jihadis believe - that we are corrupt, morally bankrupt, promiscuous and on the verge of collapse. They propagate these things despite all evidence to the contrary, as demonstrated here and at the Vanity Press.

Read just some of those posts above. They see enemies everywhere, in society, in different religions and even in other political parties. They want the power the state wields over all of us, in order to be able to change us to their liking, by force if needed. They abhor the idea that people can be different from them, live different from them and even think they are wrong. The Supreme Court saying 'no' to that power is what angers them, not the thought that the terrorists are under every bed. They abhor us being free, acting as we like. Each one of them want to be rid of the Charter in order to force upon us some fix for some perceived moral outrage in society - abortion, gay marriage, women's rights, non-white immigration or the lack of Christianity in our institutions as examples.

My liberty, freedom and way of life is not threatened by religious zealots on the other side of the world, who may hate us because of bad Western foreign policy decisions over the last 50 years, it is threatened by these people. They are here, right now fighting hard to get the power of the state to do to us exactly what they claim to fear from the terrorists. They are a far greater threat than terrorists will ever be. They are the terrorists best friends.

They hate us for our freedom.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beyond the Pale

Apparently there is nothing Stephen Harper will not say in order to try to embarrass and smear his political opponents. I used to think the "soft on child porn" press release from 2004 was an aberration, the work of some too-keen lackey that somehow got through. I'm not so sure any more, after the disgust display of partisan hackery and drive by smearing we saw in Question Period today.

Apparently it is okay for our Prime Minister to imply that, via guilt by association, that a member of another party is somehow implicated in the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history. That somehow, the Liberal Party is not supporting an extension to the anti-terror legislation because they wish to cover up for one of their members.

Navdeep Singh Bains, the Member for Mississauga-Brampton South, was 9 when Air India occurred. His father-in-law is a witness, not a suspect. Yet he and his family were singled out for a partisan attack. And despite a personal appeal from Bains, Harper has declined to apologize for dragging his family through the mud.

Point to consider, Mr. Harper - the RCMP has had 6 years to use the provisions of the anti-terrorism act to investigate the Air India attack. In that time we have had a verdict in a trial and a review by Bob Rae. The RCMP has been investigating this for over 20 years. To think that now the investigation is under threat because of the Liberals won't extend the anti-terror legislation is a lie. This too is cheap, fabricated political opportunism by the same government that is trying to keep evidence secret, contrary to what Justice John Major is ordering. If memory serves, this is how the Air India bombers got away with it in the first place.

Point to consider, Mr. Harper - the only time Canada has faced a serious terrorist threat since 9-11 (indeed since Air India) has been the "Toronto 17". They were caught with good old fashioned police work, warrants and a sting operation. They were reported by teenage Canadian Muslims. The new anti-terror measures are not needed, unused, and contrary to liberty.

It is quite clear that Stephen Harper will spread any myth, any lie, any outrageous conspiracy theory as long as he thinks it will get him his precious majority. God help us all then.

I challenge Stephen Harper to try and make that allegation outside the floor of the House of Commons. If he is so sure it is right, say it outside the House and see what the family of Mr. Bains and the Liberal Party do then.

Stephen Harper has demonstrated he has no honour, no morals, no ethics and no scruples. He does not deserve to be president of a student's council, let alone Prime Minister of Canada. Frankly, none of them do, but Harper most especially.

I tell you, I am more convinced than ever my recent change in outlook is the right one. After looking at that, how can anyone seriously think any of those power thirsty idiots has anybodies interests in mind by their own?


Harper is continuing to be a feckless bastard and continues to hide behind the Air India families. Predictable. Sad, disgusting and predictable.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Once again, its time...

...for a slightly delayed Blogger's Hotstove. Due to some 'issues' on Sunday we couldn't get together, but made up for it last night.

With the help of rookie Saskboy, we covered net neutrality, polls and the anti-terror legislation vote. Greg managed to get James and I prognosticating as to the possibility of a spring election and the possible outcomes of an election. With a few side trips into nuclear power, Kyoto and decentralized, alternative power, we all came to the conclusion that Dion is in a very bad spot right now.

As always, give a listen and leave a comment.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Its still me

It appears that I have "spooked the horses" with my recent change in outlook. If you peruse the comments of that post, you'll see some support but also a lot of confusion. So, in an effort to preempt Idealistic Pragmatist's post on me for leaving the NDP, let me say this:

Guys, its still me.

I still believe in human rights. A person should be allowed to do anything so long as then do not harm or infringe on the rights of another person. Indeed, this was probably one area where I have always been an open libertarian - albeit a civil libertarian.

I still believe in economic justice. I believe people should be able to live comfortable, earn a decent living and enjoy the comforts of our society without being exploited, enslaved and being made dependent on things they cannot control. This was one of the principles that led me to join the NDP in the first place.

I still believe in human equality, that no person should be judged or discriminated against based on who they are, where they are from or any other accident of birth. Same as when I was in the NDP.

I believe that people should be free to live their lives as they choose. Again, no different than before.

I have always believed that the market can work under the right circumstances. Giant corporate oligopolies, cartelized products and government granted monopolies all conspire to make sure that the markets aren't in fact "free" and do not work and are not the right circumstances. I have always and will continue to rail against the Conservative Nanny State, and consider places like the American Enterprise Institute and the CATO Institute to be vulgar libertarians - apologists for corporatism, not supporters of free markets. I am in favour of "fair trade" not the so-called "free" trade. Again, no different than before.

I have only changed in the way in which I think these principles and goals can be reached. I have given up on the state as an agent of this. I have always thought modern corporations could not do it. I am in favour of a highly decentralized model of local governance, as suggested by Jane Jacobs. I am merely looking at this in a different way.

In short, same goals and principles, different path to implementation.

Anarchism means, quite literally, "without rulers". I think we can do better ourselves, rather than depending on politicians and bureaucrats with other agendas. Perhaps the state can do some good, but in the end, I have come to accept that it is part of the problem, not the solution.

But your mileage may vary.

Its still me. I have probably surprised, disappointed and even angered some of you. But it is still me.

I will still bash the Liberals and Conservatives when they need it. I will still agree with whomever makes good points. I still like the NDP. I will still give my opinion on how things are working in government, even though I would eventually like it to disappear.

In short, its still me.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Focus

Earlier today, I quit the NDP.

Now, this has nothing to do with the NDP per se, but with politics, parties and government in general. I am most certainly not leaving to join the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Greens or any other party. These last few months I have utterly and profoundly lost all faith that working in government and via the state can affect any real positive changes in society. Indeed, I see that it can have the exact opposite effect.

Liberals lie to get in power and stay in power. Conservatives do the same. For all its good intentions, the NDP seem to have lost its direct active and cooperative heritage and is trying to play the other parties on their terms instead of its own. I think my frustration showed through quite obviously in my last post.

No, from now on I will concentrate only on non-governmental organizations, direct action and community organizations. I now honestly believe that the only way to affect change is at the personal, local level, between individuals who want to change and take control themselves, instead of taking orders from others or relying on their 'good intentions.'

Does that mean I am no longer a 'lefty' or 'progressive'? Of course I am. I still believe that every person has dignity and is free to do anything or live anyway, so long as it causes no harm or infringes on the freedom and dignity of anyone else. I will simply have a new and different focus, a focus that does not include using the state. I will look for solutions that do not require multi-billion dollar programs or circus debates in parliament, but that small, decentralized groups of like-minded people or groups of people can do. I will look for solutions that fight corporate power, not feed it.

What do these changes make me? A left libertarian. An anarchist. Whatever other label you wish. Apart from no longer accepting the state, I hold the same principles I always have. I merely wish to work for them in a different way. I'll still post my opinions on the politics of the day as I always have, but I certainly will not be partisan about it - I don't have a dog in that fight anymore.

I will leave it to my blogging friends to decide if that's something they can live with. I genuinely like and respect everyone as I always have, if that makes a difference.

I will leave it to Rob as to whether I will still be welcome in the Blogging Dippers.

Any questions?

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Time for Direct Action

It has become frustratingly clear that we cannot depend on the government to do anything about our GHG emissions or global warming. The research I did for my previous posts on the topic show this quite clearly.

The Liberals have a horrid track record of saying one thing when out of power and doing another when the get in. The Kyoto protocol and the environment is no different, just in reverse - they did nothing when in power for 4 years after Kyoto was ratified in 2002 and now are pressing a bill to force the Conservatives to do something in 60 days.

The Conservatives, for their part, spent a good part of their first year in power delaying on even bringing forward their much touted "Made in Canada Solution", while cutting and gutting the few good programs the Liberals did put in place. When we did see the "Clean Air Act" it is was a model of doing nothing for 44 years. Clearly the Conservatives only want to spin and maneuver to engineer a majority government, where we will see gawd-knows-what come out. It is clear they don't really accept that global warming is real and caused by human activities, they are using the issue to extort us for votes.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives happily continued subsidizing the Oil and Gas industry to the tune of $1.5 billion per year, totaling close to $10 billion so far. In other words, they are allowing the most profitable sector in our economy to make more profit because you an I reduce their operating costs - thus allowing them to pollute more, with our own money.

As for the NDP, clearly they mean well, but it is also clear, as Don Martin recently observed, that even when holding the balance of power, they cannot get the other parties to do anything constructive. The Greens and the Bloc are essentially, and sadly, in the position of irrelevance right now.

We simply cannot depend on the government - they will not (and indeed seem not to even want to) take care of this. They aren't answering to the people any more. We must take it upon ourselves.

So, for get the government, do this:

1) Act locally, as I stated in my previous posts.
2) Do some of those things that Robert talked about in his series of posts. Or the things Zorph has recommended at the Wingnutterer.
3) Support NGOs that help with Global Warming or GHG reductions, rather than hoping the government will do something.
4) DIY - Do It Yourself
5) Stop paying your taxes.

Yes, you read that last one correctly. Don't pay your taxes. Clearly the government is not (and has not for a while) spending our money wisely, on things that most Canadians support. We grumble and complain, we argue and yell, but every day and every year, we keep writing them a cheque to keep doing what they are doing. At the risk of sounding like a bad bank commercial, its your money, spend it as YOU want it - the government clearly isn't.

Now, I am not recommending doing something illegal, but using the tax system to your own advantage and taking control of the situation. Stop having the taxes taken off every paycheck. Use that money to either maximize your RRSP if you have the space, or to donate to charitable organizations that give tax receipts - The David Suzuki Foundation or Greepeace, for example. Do this to the point where your tax payable is zero, so at the end of the year, when you file, you are not owing. That way, YOU control where your money goes, not the government. YOU can change your mind about that, if you wish. And the government gets no money from you.

The effect of this is twofold. Firstly, those groups and institutions that deserve support, get it because you control the cash, not someone in a back office in Ottawa. Something will actually get done. Secondly, if enough people do this, its sends a clear and resounding message to whomever is the government in Ottawa that you do not agree with their policies and you are withdrawing your support and consent.

That is a message no politician can ignore.

I have applied this to the environment, but the same applies for almost any policy. Don't like that we are in Afghanistan? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that millions go into the coffers of Group Action? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that millions are being spent on unneeded military aircraft in a no-compete bid to Boeing? Withhold your taxes as above. Don't like that politicians give themselves a raise but refuse to help the lowest paid in society (which helps Walmart and McDonald's more than anyone else)? Withhold your taxes as above. Do it the way I suggest, within the legal confines of the Income Tax Act and you will have no issues.

Update: Damn it, it appears my scheme isn't quite as easy as I suspected. Chris Taylor set me straight over at BBG. Well, do whatever you can then. I stand by the rest of this post:

As the Conservatives are fond of saying lately, the time for talk is over, the time for action is now.

Screw the government. Act now and take control.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

More Hotstove Goodness

I wasn't expecting it, but at the last minute - literally - I jumped in to replace Stephen Taylor (and yes, we had to some quick re-arranging of the ideological chairs) on last night's edition of the Blogger's Hotstove, starring Greg Staples, James Bow and Scott Tribe. We had a long discussion of the current motion before the house to force the government to abide by Kyoto and what that means legally, politically and whether it was good strategy for the Liberals. We jumped into the semantics (fact! belief! theory! law!) of Global Warming and had a little taste of Net Neutrality near the end.

And for those who do listen, the site on climate change that I refer to is RealClimate, a site that is "climate science from climate scientists." Especially read their FAQ, where they present the facts (yes Greg, FACTS!) around ice cores, the "hockey stick", the "Global Cooling" myth, and answer how much recent CO2 increases are due to humans (hint: all of it).

Have fun and, as always, feel free to leave comments, especially on the quality of Greg's Ross Perot imitation ("Can I finish? Can I finish!").



Hat tip to Idealist Pragmatist for pointing me to a fantastic collection of the science for and refutation of all the arguments against Global Warming or Climate Change.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Don't like the plan? Give alternatives or STFU II

**Note: Updates and additions below**

Lately it seems we hear nothing but verbal barbs from the parties on the environment."Kyoto!" one bellows. "Not Kyoto!" screams the other.

It seems there is a competition for who is worse on the environmental file, those that failed to do anything substantial while they were in office, or those that have done the same thing for the last year (not to mention while they were in opposition).

Ok then, if its Kyoto, how do we do it? What's the plan?

Not Kyoto? Ok, what's the alternative to Kyoto you were working on all those years you were opposing Kyoto?

While I agree with Olaf that in principle "anti-Kyoto doesn't mean anti-environment", I need more than just a good word and a promise from a party that until mere weeks ago opposed it because they didn't think there was even a problem to solve. And I need the same thing from the party that had the chance and blew it, besides a feel-good "Support Kyoto" motion.

I want concrete plans and actions. Ideas of what to do, rather than the constant recriminations of what the other guy didn't do.

Here are some examples:

My example on acting locally to reduce dependence on cars.
Steve V.'s ideas about changing the auto industry over at Far and Wide.
Robert has an ongoing series about his plan to meet Kyoto in 2 years by tackling power generation, the biggest GHG producer besides the Tar Sands.
Zorph has some practical ideas each of us can do, with or without the Government.

So what are some other ideas and plans?
  • Carbon Tax
  • Carbon credit trading within Canada
  • Highly decentralized grids of alternative power - wind, solar, tidal, geothermal
  • Bio-fuels from sources other than feed grains or corn
  • Others....

I don't care if they help meet Kyoto or not, so long as they do something to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions. Create a post, drop a line, leave a comment. Tell me how this will help the environment, create a carbon neutral foot print, reduce GHG, create jobs, create a new economy, conserve fuel and power or any combination of these. Do that and I'll post the links and the ideas.

Put our money where our mouths are. Or STFU.

(PS. No sci-fi suggestions like magic cooling dust or space umbrellas - realistic plans we can do now).


Olaf gets the ball rolling with 3 of his previous posts: Using nuclear to reduce emission from power generation, an interesting piece on Carbon Trading, and how Carbon Taxes would be good for Alberta. Thanks buddy.

John at Dymaxion World weighs in with a good post about the silliness of being "Anti-Kyoto" and what it really means.

Robert jumps in with more, how unplugging appliances can save. Every little bit helps.

For the "intensity-based targets" fans that are posting: they are a no-go. Why? They don't work.

"The government intends to set targets based on the intensity of emissions of greenhouse gases per unit of economic activity. Unfortunately, intensity-based targets can be used to take credit for improvements largely due to better energy efficiency and not as a result of climate policies. According to this measure, Canada’s greenhouse gas intensity decreased by 14 per cent between 1990 and 2004 while in absolute terms, greenhouse gas emission have increased 27 per cent.7

Emissions intensity targets were used by the Alberta government in its 2002 position on climate change, underlining the fact that intensity-based targets are simply a way of deflecting attention from the real absolute increases in emission levels. So while Alberta’s intensity targets are a reduction of 16 per cent bt 2010 and 28 per cent by 2020, these targets would actually allow absolute increases of 34 per cent in 2010 and 38 per cent in 2020.8"

I appreciate the thought. Keep the ideas coming.

My buddy Ian Scott, while remaining skeptical, still thinks respecting nature is a good idea and offers his small advice to get plastics and other unnatural chemicals out of the kitchen.

Alison at Creekside and Declan at Crawl Across the Ocean provide some interesting facts about India and China's CO2 emissions, compared to ours.

And Dazzlin' Dino at the Blogging Party of Canada bursts forth with frustration and demands some action. Of course, he might just be having a mid-life crisis... ;-)

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