Tuesday, April 10, 2012
AN ACADEMIC SAYS ONTARIO'S FUTURE IS GREEN NOT BLACK - AN EXAMPLE OF SILLY FEEL-GOOD COMPLACENCY - THE TOUGH CHALLENGES AHEAD
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY THOMAS HOMER-DIXON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
This is pure Dr. Feel-good stuff, not genuine analysis.
Several generalizations strung together with unwarranted conclusions drawn.
I don't see anything so special about Ontario's resources, human and natural, that guarantees a bright future.
And I certainly do not agree that windmills mean good things for our future.
Quite the opposite seems true: windmills are a costly dead-end technology, and investing heavily in them is foolish for the long-term.
And as everyone who understands the matter knows, you can't have lots of windmills without back-up base-load (on call 24 hours a day) generating plants.
Ontario has picked gas-fired plants, but cannot even get its act together concerning where to build them, backing down at the first NIMBY pressure.
Besides, gas-fired plants are not free of greenhouse gases.
Even more important, the heavy use of gas in the tarsands plus the opportunity to export liquefied natural gas from the west Coast mean that Ontario's long-term supply of gas is not all that secure.
When job-creators of any kind - hi-tech or industrial or food-processing - consider a place to establish themselves, competitively priced and reliable energy are of first importance.
A windmill/gas plant energy economy does not fit that description.
Europe has already discovered some serious drawbacks with windmills.
And you must consider that Europe started on windmills from a base of a much higher-cost energy economy (high taxes on energy) so windmill costs did not seem so terrible as they do in Ontario.
Also, very importantly, the education system, which is our most important investment in human capital, the writer thinks so highly of, I would never describe in his glowing terms.
We are not terribly competitive on a world-scale.
Most of our public schools are staffed with out-of-date teachers who do not even know how to use a computer or how to exploit the great resources on the Internet.
Our teachers are paid at rates which not only are not competitive, they are not in any way reviewed and evaluated: they have highly-paid jobs for life with no demands for performance.
We've had a generation of nonsense like social promotion.
And our kids go to school for only about half the year (170-odd days).
Our colleges and universities are admitting students now who should not be admitted, just for the money represented by bodies in seats.
Take just teacher education: 12,000 graduates a year for 7,000 jobs (and I doubt that). You simply could not be more wasteful and inefficient.
Ontario is a good place in which to live for many reasons, but, no, the future does not look all that bright.
The last thing we need is the kind of feel-good complacency this piece represents.
We need lots of tough-minded changes for a continued bright future.