#166 – Greenwashing²

One must pity the wealthy in Ontario. From Hydro One’s CEO only making a mere $4m last year to Wynne’s Chief of Staff Tom Teahen making more than Obama’s, how can we expect Ontario’s 111,400 people on the Sunshine List, which measures public employees making more than $100,000 a year, to possibly go green? Sure, we’ve paid Samsung $7B to brutalize Southern Ontario in the name of being green, but that doesn’t give those poor rich people any particular symbol of their excellence and wealth. We need a personalized, flashy way to wash the polluted consciences of Ontario’s wealthiest. What to do, what to do…

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(s) Almost. Could you make this as a hockeymans jersey?

I know! Help ’em out with buying a green Porsche! That should dry those monied eyes. There there, rich people. Can’t quite justify buying a vehicle that’s totally inappropriate for Ontario’s salty winter roads at Porsche prices? Why not get a Tesla? If you do, you’re special – fewer than half of a percentage point of car purchases are electrics, and the subsidy scales up with the price of the car to make sure that the government is doing its part to make you feel like you’re doing good in the world. Never mind that you’re going to need another, probably gas-powered vehicle or risk either running your sports car into a salted, slippery grave or getting kneecapped with shit range and no heat. Forget how toxic and eco-unfriendly lithium-ion battery production is. Pay no mind to the myriad problems associated with the technology and how it interfaces with utility companies. Consumption is green, and consumption by rich people is the most greenest of all! Were you idly considering buying another car that you might not need? C’mon and buy one, fucker!

My favorite justification for this comes from the pollution angle – that is, the negative externalities of the motorcar are no longer because pollution is bad. Certainly, pollution is one of the personal motorcar’s externalities. But it’s not as if electric cars don’t contribute to congestion, encourage low-density sprawl that requires more consumption to get around (versus, say, being able to walk from place to place as is the case in civilized, bearable built environments), or require choking amounts of parking. It’s a typical greenwashing attitude to focus on the tailpipe and ignore the car’s role in prohibiting or otherwise damaging walkabilty. Walking, once again, neither requires consumption nor is restricted to wealth. Even I got legs when I started life.

Oh, and for the record – wheelchair and access for folks who have trouble walking is important too, and that doesn’t have to default to the motorcar either so long as you plan with all parts of a society in mind rather than making sweeping and untrue assumptions. Har-har, it’s the bad word so it won’t happen in Canada because planning is for heathens.

Those negatives are conveniently ignored in favor of helping the rich buy toys on the government dime. Obviously ensuring that the rich can drive with a clean conscience (but not in New England where electrics are actually more pollutive than gas-powered cars because of how power is generated there) is more environmentally-friendly than actually designing cities with far superior transit that avoids these other externalities – walking, biking, mass transit. The hated AmeriKKKans are even thinking that way! But we can’t not sprawl when developers are funding our municipal elections and those poor wealthy developers need to squander farmland en masse if they’re going to get the funds to buy an electric car!

The problem of regressive subsidy is a known quantity in the world of greenwashing. The fact is that rich people are more likely to be able to afford expensive, cutting-edge products while the poor aren’t. If you’re driving a `96 Corolla to your warehousing job you probably have more pressing demands on your funds than buying a Volt. Like, say, paying your power bill. But fuck those poor people, right? I bet they aren’t working hard enough to earn a green environment.

 

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#161 – Good Things Grow in Ontario*

*if you consider power costs a good thing, that is.

Indeed, good things could grow in Ontario soil, at least if the farmland wasn’t instead built over so as to grow shitty Milennials in boring suburban tract housing. But instead of being useful Ontario elected the walking victim complex Kathleen Wynne to the Premiership and ensured that their government would be shit. After overbuilding the power grid and forbidding cities to speak out against the hare-brained idea, Wynne then opted to sell Hydro One to reduce the debt that they just can’t seem to stop adding to.

In effect, Wynne has spent Ontario’s money to encourage the overproduction of power in Ontario, then sold the utility that collects that money and expected things to be fine. Of course, they aren’t fine – Ontarians are now in a position where they’re paying more for less power. The stated reason? We aren’t using enough power. I wish I was joking. Nothing to do with overproduction, nothing to do with privatization, nothing to do with mismanagement, nothing to do with the above-market prices that weren’t watched properly, and certainly nothing to do with subsidizing non-starter caker business. No, friends. It’s your fault for not buying enough overpriced power.

The attitudes of this are absolutely incredible. The government is closing reviews of energy projects, the whole power system was described in December as “broken” by the Auditor-General, and we’ve been eating higher power costs seemingly by the month as various confounding subsidies and rate mechanisms appear and disappear. Oh, and did I mention that a worthless caker is getting $4 million a year to “control” this disaster? Obviously the solution to this political thorn was to privatize and thus to stop listing Hydro One salaries! Disclosure laws on perhaps the single most price-inelastic item most consumers buy as delivered through a virtual monopoly aren’t needed, right?

That’s not even beginning to explore the hideous disaster that was the smart meter, a shambolic excuse for a program that effectively masks the amount of power a user has actually consumed. In exchange for this lack of transparency, you’ll get some amazing deals! Like fire risks, which forced the Liberals to disconnect 45,000 of the damnable things. Just think of all you can do with a box that dictates how broke you are this month by way of an unreliable signal that forces yet more to go offline! And you could get hacked, which could damage the entire grid! All this for a system that cost $2 billion and that didn’t work for 1 in 6 on its first go-round.

That Canada’s shitty Internet impinges on implementing a shitty, shady system is raw comedy, but it’s far from the icing on the caker Liberal’s make-believe green dream. Think of all of the money handed to shitty caker businesses – make-work solar farms like Eclipsall Energy paid their workers just 20% more than minimum wage in 2011, shitty crony companies taking 90% of the provided subsidies for wind turbine production, violating international trade law, paying anywhere from two to four times the market price for solar and wind power, converting a coal plant to a biomass facility that apparently needs Norwegian wood chips despite Northern Ontario being fairly well-known for being near a small tract of land called the Boreal Forest (I bet those wood chips magic their way here – no way is shipping biomass a source of pollution!), and on it goes. Endless handouts and handups to ineffective and shitty business – that’s the Queen’s Park way.

But we’re supposed to cheer because it’s green energy you guys! Feels trump thought! Don’t think about it! In no way does this colossal fuckup make people less willing to accept and agree to future ecological reform, no way. People tend to dislike getting burned twice; the logic on Ontario’s streets is not “when Ontario tried this the power bills got jacked faster than a roids-riddled hockeymans – let’s do it again!” No sir, the endless and mindless construction of turbines is creating nothing but fans of green energy out of the Ontarian populace.

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“(s) And they’ve scored another rate increase! We’re at 17.5 cents/kWh on-peak here at halftime! The crowd goes wild!!”

I can’t wait for #RealChange to follow Evil Orville’s crackling, brimstone-stinking footsteps!