Who would benefit from a universal child care program?

As announced in the April 19 federal budget the Liberals will try, once again, to implement universal child care across Canada.

image: HuffPost Canada

They have been promising it for decades but never delivered. In 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government pledged to start a program worth $5 billion over five years. Never happened.

This time, Ottawa is pledging $27.2-billion over five years. The catch is that the provinces, having jurisdiction over child care, must cooperate.  If they do, that would make them partners in a 50/50 sharing arrangement.

The difference between then and now is COVID-19. The Liberals, determined not to waste a pandemic, are back into big government and on a spending spree.

A strong federal government contrasts both Liberal and Conservative governments of the last three decades when balanced budgets in vogue. In his budget speech in 1995, then Finance Minister Paul Martin said:

“We are acting on a new vision of the role of government in the economy. In many cases that means smaller government. In all cases it means smarter government.”

The new Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, isn’t much worried about the size of government. In her budget speech, she said the COV ID-19 pandemic has “brutally exposed” something women have known for a long time: “Without child care, parents – usually mothers – can’t work.”

A universal child care program across Canada would be modeled on Quebec’s. The goal would be to bring child care down to about $10 a day.

It worked in Quebec. Before the child care program was put in place, Quebecois women’s participation in the workplace was below that of the rest of Canada. Now it’s above the rest.

So, who would benefit from a universal child care program? Not younger women aged 15 to 24. Relatively few women in that age group are mothers. Their participation in the workforce has been hit by woes of the retail sector. Child care wouldn’t be a big factor in getting them back to work.

Participation in the workforce for older women in the 25 to 54 age group wouldn’t be affected. Participation rates for them have recovered, and are even slightly higher than before the pandemic hit.

Those most affected are parents, mainly mothers, who when the pandemic hit were forced to work from home at reduced hours and to care for children not in daycare or in school.

Statistics don’t capture the stress of parents still working but juggling the care of children who are at home and learning online.

As Quebec’s experience has demonstrated, a universal child care program can pay for itself over time in two ways. It would put people to work, not only in the child care sector but by allowing previously unemployed parents to enter the workforce. Those workers will now be paying taxes that contribute to the cost.

Also, Canada can pull out of the massive debt just as we did after World War II by “growing out of debt.” As the economy grows, the debt burden relative to the GDP shrinks.

Bold government initiatives define what it means to be Canadian. When we describe the differences between ourselves and Americans, Canadians proudly point to our universal health care.

Universal child care could also be a defining feature of what it means to be Canadian –compassionate and concerned about the good of others.

A stronger federal government makes a post-pandemic Canada stronger

Two developments have strengthened Canada by making the federal government stronger.

The first was a Supreme Court ruling that determined the fed’s carbon pricing to be constitutional.

image: OECD Development Matters

Opponents of carbon pricing like to call it a “carbon tax” but, of course, it isn’t. A tax is a levy for public services rendered. As in B.C.’s case, carbon pricing simply means that burning fossil fuels costs more and that it’s is revenue neutral: total revenues collected remain the same. To emphasize this point, P.M. Trudeau said that if provinces couldn’t come up with a carbon pricing scheme, he would collect it anyway and return it directly back into the pockets of citizens of the affected province.

Because of the Supreme Court ruling, Canada is stronger much to the chagrin of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario who claimed that the feds were encroaching on their provincial rights.

A friend of mine in Alberta is very upset. He told me that Alberta should separate because the feds could now “do whatever they liked” to the provinces.

Well, not quite. The Supreme Court ruling was exceptional. The ruling was based on Canada’s obligations under 2015 Paris Agreement and the real threat of climate change.

 “Climate change is real,” Chief Justice Wagner wrote in his reason for the majority decision. “It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future. The only way to address the threat of climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The feds can’t do whatever they like. Under our federation, provinces have considerable powers that cannot be arbitrarily overturned.

Canada is also stronger because of the leadership role of the federal government in saving the economy from certain collapse because of the pandemic.

In 2008, the feds bailed out the financial sector. In 2020, they bailed out the entire economy. Had leaders followed supply-side economists, the pandemic would have unravelled the economy worse than the 1930s Great Depression.

Canada’s federal government provided extraordinary leadership during the pandemic.

David Macdonald, Senior Economist for the Canadian Centre for Alternatives says:

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has required government leadership on a scale that’s unprecedented in modern Canadian times. Including liquidity and unallocated funds, federal and provincial governments have announced almost $600 billion in spending commitments across 849 measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Of that $600 billion, only eight per cent is coming from the provinces on average. However, some provinces demonstrated greater leadership than others.

In his report for the CCPA, Macdonald found that B.C.’s contribution was the highest of the provinces -at 16 per cent of the total provincial allocation. The B.C. government stands out as providing the highest per capita individual supports, eight times higher than the next highest province, Quebec.

Albertans, on the other hand, are receiving the highest level of per capita COVID19 spending, worth $11,200 a person—93% of which is on the federal tab. Alberta receives $1,200 more support, per person, from the federal government than any other province.

It seems to me that Alberta is doing very well as a member of the Canadian federation and Alberta Premier Kenney would do well to shut up and cooperate on mitigating climate change.

B.C. denies the mentally ill their constitutional rights

“Unlike most of country, B.C.’s legislation does not provide a lawyer for people with mental illness facing involuntary detention,” says Jay Chalke, B.C.’s ombudsperson (Globe and Mail, September 2, 2020)

Image: In These Times

Unlike other Canadian jurisdictions, mentally ill people can be held indefinitely -B.C. does not have an automatic review of ongoing detention.

That means that people, who may or may not be mentally ill, can be held endlessly.

Detention of people under the guise of mental illness can have political overtones. The Soviet Union misused psychiatry to get rid of political opponents. The term “philosophical intoxication,” a pseudo-scientific term for mental disorders, was applied to people who disagreed with the country’s Communist leaders.

I don’t mean to suggest that the government of B.C. is detaining political opponents under the Mental Health Act.  But systemic paternalism and racism can play a role.

And I don’t deny that mentally ill people who are violent need be detained for their own safety and the safety of others. The forced detention of unstable persons under the Mental Health Act is not the issue.

Given the treatment of Indigenous people as wards of the state, the detention of First Nations persons presents a complicating layer.

Take the case of “A.H.,” a First Nations 39-year-old woman who was wrongfully detained for almost a year.

In a court case between A.H. and the Fraser Health Authority, the Supreme Court of B.C. learned that A.H. had been held against her will and that she was not even found to be mentally ill.

It wasn’t a simple case -A.H. suffers from cognitive impairments and mental health issues. She has a history of substance abuse, family violence and sexual abuse. She was also diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

A.H.’s mother sexually exploited her by pressuring her to drink alcohol and take drugs to make her compliant to sexual abuse. She did not have clean clothes or sufficient food.

After she was detained, authorization to hold her longer than 48 hours under the Mental Health Act expired. Despite that, she remained captive. She asked staff to provide a lawyer but staff said they couldn’t help. She was not told why she was being detained and tried to escape. On at least one occasion, A.H. was physically restrained with mechanical restraints that tied her to the bed. She was forced to take medications, including sedatives.

In her ruling of the case in 2019, Honourable Madam Justice Warren said:

“However, the procedures for Mental Health Act certification were not followed and there is no evidence that A.H. was certifiable under that legislation.

“The detention decision deprived A.H. of her liberty, the most fundamental of her rights.  The consequences could scarcely have been more serious.  It is apparent that A.H. did not understand the basis for her detention or the reasons for it.  She expressed, multiple times during the course of the detention, confusion about her ongoing detention, repeatedly asking why she could not go home.”

The detention of unstable mentally ill people under B.C.’ Mental Health Act is necessary for the protection of themselves and others. But the unjustified detention of people under the pretext of doing it for their own good smacks of paternalism, and in the case of First Nations people, colonialism.

Electric cars aren’t a solution; they’re part of the problem

Question: How do electric cars fit into the future of Canada’s pedestrian-friendly cities with more green space, shorter travel times, and a focus on communities?

Answer: They don’t.

image: AMA Insider

The problem with electrics cars is that they are . . . a car. Car culture results in the paving over of large parts of cites for roads and parking lots. They contribute to urban sprawl with its associated problems: poorer health because suburbanites don’t walk to work or for groceries; the cost of extended infrastructure to service suburbs is expensive; the loss of agricultural land to build houses increases our food dependency.

But if you listen to big electric car promoters like Elon Musk, you would think that buying an electric car is virtuous.

Musk and other electric car manufacturers will be rejoicing at the latest Canadian court ruling that makes carbon pricing legal.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the federal scheme of carbon pricing is constitutional. It was a defeat for some fossil fuel-promoting provinces, such a Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

With a price on carbon, electric car buyers might think they are eliminating the need of fossil fuels for their car but 18 per cent of Canada’s electricity still comes from burning coal and natural gas.

And electric cars require their own infrastructure in order to charge them. Office buildings don’t have the capacity to charge the electric cars, so wiring of those buildings will have to be upgraded.

Charging stations are expensive. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, the cost of a 150-kilowatt fast-charging station with two chargers is US$38,000. Roads would have to dug up to install the stations.

Electric cars could be charged at a slower rate at home but many homes don’t have a driveway or garage. For them, electrical cords will have to be strung across sidewalks, creating a trip hazard.

Vancouver recently addressed the problem of cords by requiring that they be strung through special ramps. For five dollars a year, electric car owners can get a permit. The ramp protects the cord but places a bump in the sidewalk that strollers and bikes have to manoeuvre. If someone is injured while going over the ramp, the city makes it clear that they are free of “all liabilities, costs, and damages resulting from an accident.”

Then there is the problem of demand on the electrical grid. It’s not a problem for B.C. with all the hydroelectricity we have but other jurisdictions barely have enough electrical capacity as it is.

Take Texas, for example. If Texans were to plug in 60,000 electric cars into fast chargers all at once, it would bring down the entire electrical grid. That number of electric cars represents just one-quarter of one percent of all the registered cars in Texas. If it seems unlikely that everyone would plug their cars in at once, so did the winter storm this winter that brought down the grid.

The problem with electric cars is the same problem with all cars: they take up public space that should be devoted to people.

The sooner we ditch the car culture, they better.

Non-fungible tokens could help artists make a living

I didn’t realize that my art was non-fungible but that was because I didn’t know what the word fungible meant. Until recently, fungible was rarely used outside legal circles.

image: Decrypt

Now, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become all the rage.

Fungible things can be exchanged for something else of the same kind: they are equivalent. A twenty dollar bill is fungible because it can be exchanged for a ten and two fives. A house is not fungible because you can’t exchange it for a garage and two sheds. They are not equivalent.

My art is non-fungible. One of my acrylic paintings can’t be exchanged for a charcoal sketch and two plastic-fork mobiles.

Tokens that are non-fungible raise the level of abstraction beyond that of abstract art.

A non-fungible token is entirely virtual. It’s a bit of information stored on a blockchain, the same technology used to record cryptocurrencies. Blockchains can be used to store indelible records about almost anything, from the grocery store produce in as it moves through the supply chain to medical records.

And digital art can be stored as a token using blockchain -a record of provenance that establishes ownership and authenticity.

Artists are reaping the rewards of the craze. Michah Dowbak from Thunder Bay, Ontario, never heard of NFTs or digital art a year ago. Dowbak, who goes by the name Mad Dog Jones, recently sold a piece of digital art for US$ 4.3 million. He was stunned at the sale:

“How do you describe making $4-million in five minutes?” Dowbak said a few days afterward. “My hands were numb, for one. I couldn’t feel my fingertips. My whole body was shaking.”

Even the old-school auction house, Christie’s, is riding the wave. It sold a work by the digital artist known as Beeple for US$69 million.

Making a living as an artist has always been a struggle. I wanted to become a commercial artist when I left high school but I quickly learned that would be tough.

After working for a year as an arts and crafts instructor for the City of Edmonton in after-school programs, it became clear that I needed to develop another career path.  That’s when I decided to study electronics and it became the story of my life.

I’ve never stopped being an artist. But because I don’t have to make a living from art, I exchange my art for donations to charity.

For artists who immerse themselves in their art, making a living is hard; especially when they are unknown.

NFTs could help artists bypass the middlemen -the galleries and agents who take a cut of sales- and allow artists to market their work directly to buyers.

NFTs could solve another problem that struggling artists face: resale. Artists often sell their work to art speculators for very little. Then the speculators sell the art for many times more than what they paid. NFT contracts could include a clause that requires a percentage of the resale price go to the artist.

With a background in art and technology, I take some satisfaction in seeing this marriage of art and NFTs. As a teenager, little did I know that technology could lead to digital art and that digital art could be owned exclusively as a token.

Agreement with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs was either crafty or naive

Over a year ago, governments rid themselves of a political problem and passed it on to the Wet’suwet’en people of B.C.’s northern interior.

image: Globe and Mail

Governments had to “do something” when protestors in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs blocked railways and shut down freight and passenger traffic for several weeks.

In Kamloops, traffic was held up at the intersection of Summit and McGill by 30 to 40 protesters on February 7, 2020, by supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Bronwyn, 12 years old, told NL News:

“I just think it’s really wrong to be destroying Mother Nature with all these pipes and everything,” she said. “We were here, we were brought here and then we are destroying our world that we live in. We only have one world.”

From the perspective of colonial governments, the politics are clear. In a court of public opinion, given a choice between pipelines through indigenous territory and hereditary chiefs, the hereditary chiefs will win every time.

For elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs who agree with the pipeline, it’s not that simple.

The governments of B.C. and Canada drove a wedge through the Wet’suwet’en nation when they settled on a memorandum of agreement with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Governments excluded elected chiefs from the MOU.

You can hear the frustration in the voices of people like Maureen Luggi, an elected chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, one of the six band councils within the Wet’suwet’en Nation. She complained about the lack of communication with the hereditary chiefs:

“We’ve tried and tried and tried to get information with no luck. Really, things seem to have come to a standstill and myself and the other five elected chiefs and councils believe this whole process needs to be stopped immediately.

This is an agreement that regards our rights and title and we weren’t consulted on any of it and it’s still the case. We did not give our consent to the original agreement. We have no information to go on about what is being agreed to on our behalf. It’s been absolutely terrible (Globe and Mail, March 5, 2021).”

From the perspective of a member of a colonizing people, I find it hard to understand why popular opinion would sympathize with traditional, unelected chiefs. The closest parallel I can think of would be a reversal of the Magna Carta in 1215 in which the rights of the monarchy were transferred to citizens.

But that’s what our governments did. They bypassed negotiations with the elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs.

“I can tell you that any ratification of an agreement that [the hereditary chiefs] pursue will be met with objection by the elected councils,” says Luggi. “It will not happen.”

Did they governments of B.C. and Canada really think that unelected hereditary chiefs would bring the Wet’suwet’en people together? Or did they cynically hand over their political problem to the Wet’suwet’en?

Either governments were being naive in thinking that the hereditary chiefs had the necessary skills and authority in consensus building, or were they being crafty in ridding themselves of the problem.

One big grid is the solution to secure electricity

Professor Michael D. Mehta of Thompson Rivers University makes a number of good points in his article regarding a secure electrical system (Armchairmayor.ca, March 6, 2021).

However, he’s thinking in the wrong direction when he suggests that the solution is microgrids.

image: Student Energy

The recent electrical blackouts in Texas have focused the problem of electricity security. In a state that prides itself on independence and abundance of energy, it was the height of irony that they should suffer from an electricity shortage that left people freezing in the dark.

Texas’ problem was that its electrical grid was too small. In an attempt to avoid federal regulation, Texas constructed a grid that is a virtual island.  So when the cold snap hit, when wind turbines froze and natural gas generators quit, they had only themselves to rely on.

But not so for all of Texas. El Paso in eastern Texas did just fine, thank you. That’s because they were not connected to the Texas grid but rather to the much larger Western grid.

You see, there are three major electrical grids in North America: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid and the Texas (ERCOT) Grid, El Paso picked a winner.

The big problem facing green energy is storage. Wind turbines and solar panels are great when the wind blows and the sun shines. But they usually produce too much power when we don’t need it and too little when we do. Storage seems like the answer.

However, as Professor Mehta mentions, no affordable storage system exists with the capacity needed. A number have been proposed; batteries, small-scale pumped hydro, compressed air, and flywheel technology.

Mehta suggests that the solution is not a bigger grid but smaller microgrids: “A microgrid is a local network of generators, often combined with energy storage.”

“Such systems can increase reliability and drive down carbon emissions when renewable energy is used,” says Mehta. “When combined with smart meters that reconcile inflows and outflows of electricity, microgrids provide real-time energy data. When a microgrid goes down, it only affects the local region and not an entire state or province.”

With one big continental grid, there is no storage problem and no one has to go without electricity.

One big grid solves the storage problem by virtue of its size.

The demands on one big grid are predictable. Cold snaps can be are forecast. In that case, thousands of generators, from big hydro dams to small run-of-river, solar and wind generators can be activated.

On an ordinary day, demands on one big grid are even more predictable. As people rise and shine on the Atlantic coast and turn on toasters, heaters, air conditioners in the summer, the demands on the West coast are minimal.

As the sun rises across the four and one-half time zones of our continent, the demand follows the sun. While the demands are not exactly constant they are predictable.

Of course, Canada doesn’t have a cross-country grid and neither does the U.S. Most of our connections are oriented in the worst way: they are North-South, in the same time zone where demands occur at the same time.

As Professor Mehta says, transmission lines are costly to build and lose power. The power loss can be minimized through use of High Voltage Direct Current transmission lines.

The construction of lines is a political problem, not one of cost. When the Trudeau government decided that the Trans Mountain Pipeline was in the national interest, he bought it and built it.

Animals organize to take back cities

I’m sitting on the banks of the North Thompson River, not far from my house in Westsyde. People walk along the river, not far away, but they seldom notice me high on the river bank. I’m listening to music and not paying much attention. It’s a cool winter day and I’m wrapped in a blanket; enjoying my lunch and thermos of tea.

image: Government of Yukon

A dog wanders by, just five metres away, and I wait for the dog’s owner to follow. When no one arrives, I do a double-take and realize it’s not a dog but a lynx. The lynx doesn’t see me, or doesn’t seem to care that I’m so close.

This is the first time I’ve seen a lynx in Westsyde and I get to thinking “What’s going on?” There have been other sightings of lynx and cougars in the city, which is strange.

Then the thoughts start to swirl. These animals must be organizing to take back the cities. And they must have animal leaders: the New World Order of Animals (NWOA).

Later, I tell a friend about the sighting of the lynx and how the animals seem to be organizing. Are these animal leaders part of a New World Order of Animals? Something about them has to be special. They must be descendants of Noah’s Ark, she suggests. Yeah, that must be it.

Animals are not just retaking Kamloops, but cities and countries all around the world.

Wallabies, a smaller version of the kangaroo, are establishing themselves in the United Kingdom. Anthony Caravaggi, a lecturer in conservation biology at the University of South Wales told CBC’s Quirks & Quarks:

“The news reports are often accompanied by things like, ‘I can’t believe what I saw’ or ‘wondered what I was seeing. We do have some areas where wallabies have attained a kind of celebrity status. So they have Facebook pages, web pages, and people in some areas are not accustomed to seeing wallabies.”

The animal operation conducted by NWOA is clearer to me now.

The mainstream media is complicit in a conspiracy; saying that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. That’s just fake news.

The New World Order of Animals released the deadly coronavirus in order to clear the way for the return of animals. True, millions of humans will die but why would animals care when humans have killed many more animals by destroying their homes?

The headquarters of NWOA, the direct descendents Noah’s Ark, are closer than you think. They are located at the Centre of the Universe.

‘And where is the Centre of the Universe?’, you might ask. It’s at Vidette Lake in Deadman Valley, just 60 kilometres NW of Kamloops.

The Centre of the Universe was first located in 1980 by the Rinpoche, or Master Teacher, located in San Francisco. He sent a white-robed disciple to Vidette Lake to find the spot. Then, in 1984, the Master Teacher himself visited the spot and confirmed that, yes; this is the Centre of the Universe.

But don’t try to find it. It’s guarded by electromagnetic waves that project the illusion of pastoral landscape.

It’s amazing what revelations are spawned by just sitting by the river.

Facebook’s ham-fisted response to paying for news

While Google’s response to plans by the Australian government to force social media giants to pay for news has been nuanced, Facebook’s response has been provocative.

Imgage: MobileAppDaily

Facebook announced last Wednesday that it would block news-sharing on its Australian site.

I suppose Facebook hopes to generate outrage from Australians so that the government will change its mind, but it’s not going to work. The social media titans are facing similar moves by governments around the world, including Canada. Australia is the just the latest battleground. Google has reached deals with publishers in Britain, Germany, France, Brazil and Argentina.

News is vital to a functioning democracy and it must be funded. But How? We pay for news one way or another; either with our attention through advertising or by subscriptions. The news that you receive through CFJC Today and Kamloops This Week is paid by advertisers. The Globe and Mail requires a subscription.

As newspapers folded one by one, one laughable solution to the news drought was an army of “citizen reporters” who blog the news. What we got instead was an army of ill-informed bloggers with bull horns, each shouting louder to be heard over the din.

Print publishers complain that social media giants make money on their news.   Facebook and Google respond that they only post stories that publishers freely distribute and that publishers are the ones who benefit through increased circulation. But postings by publishers are a loss-leader: they hope that readers will be attracted to their sites and eventually subscribe to their news.

You’d think that this would be a win-win situation. Facebook and Google make money from news posted on their sites and publishers reap the benefits of increased exposure.

Facebook argues that that the Australian government is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Facebook said that the proposed legislation “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between itself and publishers, arguing that news outlets voluntarily post their article links on Facebook, which helped Australian publishers earn about $400million in 2020 through referrals.

The trouble is that the traditional business model for news publishers is broken. Paying reporters to dig up relevant news is expensive. Facebook and Google don’t pay for the news and yet get they receive revenues from it.

However, Facebook has a point: they are doing news publishers a favour and if they didn’t post reliable news stories, fake news would fill the vacuum. But their response has been ham-fisted compared to Google’s. Even though their complaint is the same, Google reached a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal and two-thirds of Australia’s major city newspapers, to develop a subscription platform and share advertising revenue.

The difference in approach mirrors the culture of the two social media titans. When Mark Zuckerberg said of Facebook, “Move Fast and Break Things,” it reflected the provocative culture of the company.

Google’s original motto was “Don’t be evil” which later became “Do the right thing.”

Canada is watching as the battle unfolds globally. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault will be introducing legislation that will require Facebook and Google to compensate news publishers. Will the response of be one of retaliation or cooperation?

(NOTE: Since this column was published, Facebook has reached an agreement to pay news publishers)

The new climate deniers

The new climate deniers no longer deny that climate change is happening. It’s become too obvious that it is.

It used to be that climate change deniers could ridicule the notion that the Earth was warming by pointing to cold snaps like the one in Texas where thousands of cold temperature records are being broken.

Saskpower’s Carbon capture plant

But climatologists have said all along that global warming will mean more chaotic weather: hotter, colder, dryer, wetter, stormier. The obvious makes it hard for climate change deniers to dismiss wildfires, droughts, and loss of arable land to deserts.

Instead, climate deniers have surrendered to fatalism, wishful thinking, and individualism.

Sure, Big Oil hopes that we continue to dump C02 into the atmosphere but the new climate deniers are not disingenuous. It’s just that the problem seems insurmountable. People of goodwill have come to believe that it’s too late to do anything about the problem.

Not true, climatologist Michael Mann told CBC’s Quirks and Quarks:

“That’s very dangerous because first of all, it’s not true. The science indicates otherwise. The science indicates that if we reduce our carbon emissions dramatically, we can avert the worst impacts of climate change. For example, this idea that global warming is now unstoppable, that warming is going to release so much methane from the Arctic that it will warm the planet beyond habitable levels. There is no scientific support for that contention.”

The new climate deniers are not anti-science. On the contrary, they look to technological solutions. Count me in. I wish it were true, not just because I hope that science and technology will come the rescue but because my fossil-fuel lifestyle is comfortable and I wish it would continue. If only there was some way to fix the problem without inconveniencing me.

Carbon capture is wishful thinking. The plan is to keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere but pump it back into the earth where it came from. But the future of carbon capture doesn’t look good.

Look at Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam carbon capture plant that cost $1.5 billion to build in 2014 and still hasn’t reached its target to store 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide due to technological problems. Even if the technology worked, we would need 38,000 such plants. And that’s assuming that CO2 emissions remain low because of the pandemic.

Another way in which otherwise well-meaning climate deniers can paralyze global action is to advocate individualism. It’s a popular notion in the “me era”; that if we change our habits individually we can collectively accomplish great things.

But what did we, as individuals, do to remove lead from gasoline and paint -a toxic element that was causing neurological development in children delays? What did we, as individuals, do to reduce the chemicals that were thinning the Earth’s protective ozone layer? Nothing. We accomplished these things through our governments and international agreements.

The idea that individual choices and technology will save us is wishful thinking. The actions of individuals, no matter how heroic, cannot accomplish what we can collectively do through our governments.

Don’t despair. We can still keep global temperate increases less than two degrees Celsius through international cooperation. Now that the U.S. is back in the Paris Accord, there is hope that cooperation will work.