Category Archives: Uncategorized

Moving house

Blogsilence till the ol’ head’s above water again. Shouldn’t be more than a few days.

Involuntary pause

So much to write about — the open Northwest Passage, the Ontario Green party platform, more fussing about carbon taxes — but no time whatsoever in which to do it.

Back soon. Promise.

Time to fool around with themes

Does EcoLibertarian look funny this evening?

I assure you: It’s not you, it’s me. Thanks for your patience.

Update: I think that’s it. Any opinions? (Complaints, particularly?)

A pause

Just as I’ve built up a good head of steam and the numbers are on a marked upward trend, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off writing.


But I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do. You only get married once, after all. Inshallah.

Comments are all being held for moderation while I’m away, so you can write, but they won’t go up till I’m back paying attention here again. That should be on or about August 20.

In the meantime, why not subscribe to the EcoLibertarian RSS feed, so that you don’t have to keep coming back to check whether I’m posting again? Just click here.

Anyway, be back soon.

(Photo credit:Lover’s tree,” Flickr/robennals.)

Some kind of FeedBurner problem…

Working on it. For me, although FeedBurner assures me the RSS is fully validated and when I try to resubscribe, everything’s up to date, current EcoLibertarian content isn’t turning up in my reader. Working on it.

If none of that made any sense to you, don’t worry about it — it’s not your problem.

New FeedBurner feed

If you read EcoLibertarian via an RSS feed, you might want to switch to the FeedBurner feed I’ve just created for it. It’s just the same as the feed you’ve been using, with some fancy-pants features thrown in at the bottom, such as a little widget showing who, if anyone, has linked to the post you’re reading.

(If you don’t want to make the switch, the existing feed will keep working just fine, but you’ll be missing out. I’d switch, if it were me. Just click the link above and follow the directions.)

Gérald Tremblay’s got the right idea

While Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay was announcing his vision (PDF, en français) for reworking his city’s whole approach to transportation, it’s very possible that I was — at that moment — sitting in traffic on the Métropolitain thinking, “God, what this place needs is a congestion charge.”

We went to Quebec City for a few days, and to get there, drove Autoroute 40 through Montreal. A section of it is an elevated “expressway,” the Met. Depending on the time of day, it’s either a parking lot or a white-knuckle roller-coaster ride of terror. Six lanes of traffic on a road that’s really only wide enough for four, no shoulders to speak of, and everybody bumper-to-bumper whether they’re moving or not. At one point I was going 100 in a 70 zone, moving with traffic, and was aggressively tailgated by a jerk in a white minivan who turned out — when he passed me using a hole in traffic about six inches longer than his vehicle — to be a cop. A supervisor, indeed.

Not that I’m complaining about Montreal drivers. They’re awful, but predictably so, and I like that they give no quarter. You know where you stand with them, whether you’re sharing the road as a pedestrian, cyclist or driver. You get your chance when you take it, and not a second before — in certain other cities, look vaguely interested in turning a corner and everyone screeches to a halt until you’ve made up your mind. It’s awful.

But the Met is a road at the outside edge of its capacity. Even drivers fearless enough to roar along at 120 kilometres an hour in quarters close enough to touch the cars on all sides of them can’t keep the thing flowing. It can’t be made wider. Any redesigned interchanges would certainly just funnel more traffic on, particularly at the Décarie. It’s potholed and crumbling, too; repairs would mean closing lanes, since there are no shoulders to reroute traffic onto.

The Métropolitain is probably the worst road in Montreal — in strong contention for the worst in Canada — but almost every artery gets almost as bad at rush hour. The city can’t take more cars. There’s nowhere for them to go.

So Tremblay is proposing some gutsy changes. In a $5.1-billion proposal, he includes about $400 million for new and improved roads, but the vast bulk of his plan is for bike lanes and new buses and trams and expansions of the Métro (a staggeringly expensive proposition, taking up $3.8 billion of the proposed budget, but I’m not sure what the alternative is in a city already so dependent on its subway).

The gutsy part isn’t the wish-list, though. Everybody has one of those. It’s in how Tremblay proposes to pay for the thing.

Yes, he wants vast sums of money from the Quebec and federal governments, but he also wants to soak drivers. Tolls on the bridges onto the Island of Montreal. A $1-a-space tax on paid parking lots (generating $120 million from an industry whose total revenues, according to the City of Montreal’s information are only $193 million a year). Possibly tolls — congestion charges, really — for cars using the island’s highway network ( “Le péage pour les déplacements en voiture sur le réseau autoroutier de l’Île de Montréal serait également envisageable.”), which the Gazette‘s economics writer Peter Hadekel supports.

And specifically, Tremblay proposes a 10-cent tax on every litre of gas sold in Montreal, up from the current 1.5 cents a litre (unchanged, the city says, since 1996).

While I’m not sure it’s right to link driving charges to funding public transportation — tolls and other fees should simply be for services consumed, independent of the city’s other spending priorities — I like Tremblay’s honesty about the problem. People can’t drive into Montreal more than they are now. It’s wrecking the place:

Montréal reconnaît que l’automobile n’est pas un moyen de déplacement durable. La place occupée par le réseau routier et le stationnement, la pollution, les nuisances de la circulation, etc., en sont autant d’indicateurs.

Montreal recognizes that the automobile isn’t a sustainable means of transportation. The space taken up by the road network and parking, pollution, the nuisances of traffic, etc., are many indicators.

There’s a long way to go before any of this becomes reality (the Gazette reports deep skepticism on Montreal city council that Tremblay can get any of the money for this stuff), but the mayor is pointing out the right problem, and good on him.

A real proposal for bioenergy from beetle wood

Seems the other shoe is dropping on the idea that unmarketable B.C. forest products (lumber going to weak markets, timber damaged by pine beetles) might be useful for bioenergy projects. Reports the Globe and Mail:

Vancouver-based Nexterra Energy Corp. and Calgary-based Pristine Power Inc. have put together a proposal, expected to be announced Tuesday, to develop a network of plants that would generate up to 200 megawatts of electricity. (By comparison, B.C. Hydro’s Peace Canyon Generating Station on the Peace River has a capacity of 694 megawatts while most of the green projects, such as small hydro projects, under consideration by the utility have a capacity of 10 megawatts or less.)

The cost of building the plants, which would use Nexterra’s biomass gasification technology, is estimated at more than $500-million.

This gives a sense of the scale of bioenergy as an alternative to selling lumber in the usual way. If the B.C. government agreed to pay 50 cents a kilowatt-hour for the electricity — which would involve a truly awesome subsidy, the going rate for green power from commercial providers like Bullfrog Power being less than 10 cents a kilowatt-hour — it’d still only pay $2.4 million a day if all the plants were going flat-out, by my math. That’s a lot of money, but not going to make up for too many closed sawmills.

This blog has a new URL

I’ve rearranged things so that this blog’s public face is at instead of the déclassé Everything should work exactly as it did before, including existing RSS-feed subscriptions and links and bookmarks, but if you find something broken, this is probably why. You can also find your way here using

You forgot the funny

One strategic weakness many environmentalists, especially leftie environmentalists, display far too often is humorlessness. In that vein, I give you…

  1. A week’s worth (and counting) of preachy, utterly unfunny Adam@Home comic strips featuring Adam quizzing son Clayton about “current events.”
  2. A disruptive stunt in Second Life (pointed out by Planetizen).

I’m unexpectedly affronted by Adam@Home in particular. I’ve never much known it to be laugh-out-loud funny, but at least you can normally see the effort in its daily joke. I understand where it might give people a chuckle. But would any editor pick up a strip as thunkingly boring as these? Go ahead and try to send a message if you want to, but not by abandoning the thing that’s supposed to make you worthwhile.