The Zero Waste Countdown Podcast
118. Carbon Tax Problems

118. Carbon Tax Problems

January 15, 2021

 

 

Canadians pay a lot of taxes and have a lot of expenses. Far too many Canadians are struggling with poverty and have very high electricity bills, our phone bills are some of the highest in the world, and our internet is expensive. Our cities and towns were built in the spirit of American-style car culture that makes it difficult to walk anywhere. Much of these cities were designed as urban sprawl and we have to brave a 60 degree Celsius weather variation that goes from freezing cold to very hot in the summertime. It's expensive to live near our workplaces, in large part because our government allows for so much foreign real estate ownership and our immigration rates are so high, so many people get pushed out of city centres and need a vehicle to access food and employment.

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The last time I was in France, a bottle of wine was 1/4 the price of the same bottle purchased in Canada, and we have to import a lot of our fresh fruit, nuts, and berries from places like Mexico, Chile, Peru, and California because it's too cold and dark to grow a lot of food here. Transporting fresh food into Canada take a lot of fossil fuels, although we do have fresh food grown during the wintertime in massive greenhouses that require lighting and heating, and our prairie provinces are star producers of many grains. We receive giant cargo ships of goods in Vancouver and Montreal from overseas that are loaded onto trains and trucks and delivered all over our massive country. Not only is it expensive to live in Canada, but we are completely dependent on oil and gas.

 

 

Dan McTeague spent 18 years in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal Member of Parliament and is currently the president of affordableenergy.ca. He joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about the trouble with Canada's carbon tax that was forced upon unwilling provinces who didn't come up with their own carbon pricing scheme. The results have not been pretty. In fact, the argument can be made that the carbon tax takes money from the poor, and gives it to the rich. For example $12M from a "climate fund" was given to the 2nd richest family in Canada to buy new fridges, and the Ontario government used to hand out up to $14,000 to wealthy people who can afford the $137,900 Tesla Model X.

 

 

I mentioned in this episode a CBC article that says the carbon tax reduces emissions. You'll notice the title is "Scheer says British Columbia's carbon tax hasn't worked. Expert studies say it has". Many people only read headlines as they scroll through social media, but when you actually read this article, it shows one year of decreased emissions then uses the excuse that population increase should erase emissions increase. Juggling data around like this is how you can lie with statistics to say whatever you like.

The CBC article says emissions have dropped in other places that have implemented a carbon tax but fails to mention any increase in efficient technology. Further in the article the CBC repeats the tagline that "most" families will get back more than they pay in carbon tax, but the trouble with using obscure words like "most" is that there's no proof, no data, and no concrete evidence.

I claim it is false that "most" families receive a bigger rebate than what they pay to the government in carbon and fuel taxes, because the carbon tax on my transportation costs is more than double my rebate, without even considering the increase in food prices and propane prices (propane heats my water and while I have an electric heat pump to heat my home, propane is required for temperatures lower than about minus 15 Celsius). If you scroll down to the bottom of the article you will see CBC felt compelled to issue a correction that the carbon tax is revenue neutral, which falls in line with what Mr. McTeague is saying, that this is just another tax that fills the coffers of greedy politicians. When you compare the title of this CBC article with the actual content, it's misleading.

Here's an article from a trustworthy source that contradicts the CBC article claiming the carbon tax reduced emissions in BC: https://www.taxpayer.com/newsroom/b.c.-emissions-up-despite-carbon-tax?id=18615. They are quoting data from the Sierra Club who explains that due to cherry picking certain data fields, BC emissions are actually 4 times higher than what they're actually reporting, so if we aren't scrutinizing this data ourselves, how do we know the truth?

Personally I'm not sure what to think with all this contradictory and politically motivated information, but it seems that emissions in BC were higher in 2015 than in 2010, indicating that emissions in BC have increased despite the carbon tax. The BC government cherry picked data to show emissions decreased by purposely leaving out BC's energy exports (coal!), and their forestry industry, demonstrating how easy it is to lie with statistics.

 

 

There are many factors to consider for increases and decreases in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs), such as new tech, government policies, markets, international relations, immigration, and a worldwide pandemic. If you don't know which factors were included in the charts that show increasing or decreasing emissions, you really can't tell if the article you're reading is true or not. You can see here on BC's government site the different emission charts, and you can see coal mining does have a chart, but I doubt this includes the actual usage of that coal in other countries

 

 

You can basically say GHGs have gone up or down, depending on which information you want to cherry pick to make your argument. This is why we need to be weary of data, statistics, and even news sources we have grown up trusting, because they often have an agenda.

 

It's up to you, the listener, to look into the information you see, hear, and read, but I know that can be exhausting. I'm trying to uncover the truth on my show so that we can go forward making the greenest policies that work best for people, and not just line the pockets of wealthy politicians and their friends while plummeting honest working class citizens into poverty.

 

 

Extra references:

 

 

Billions could be missing from the new file of the previous Minister of Climate Change Catherine McKenna

 

Covid models have been wildly wrong, and so too can climate models

 

SNC Lavalin is very involved in Canada's nuclear industry, but remember the SNC Lavalin scandal even The Simpson's talked about?

 

 

SNC Lavalin has done some very unethical things

 

Trudeau fired our first indigenous female Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould when she questioned the government's ethics over the SNC Lavalin scandal

 

Is SNC Lavalin trustworthy enough to be handling our nuclear waste and nuclear reactors in Canada?

 

 

 

117. Solar Oysters

117. Solar Oysters

January 9, 2021

Oysters from Chesapeake Bay, Library of Congress

Oysters are little nutritional bombshells. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fatty acids, and particularly of note during Covid: Vitamin D and Zinc. More than 80% of hospitalized Covid patients were found to be lacking Vitamin D, and those with low zinc levels tended to fair worse with the virus than those with healthy levels.

Solar Oysters has designed a solar powered barge that will farm oysters vertically through the water column in the Chesapeake Bay area. Elizabeth Hines is the Vice President of Maritime Applied Physics Corporation engineering firm that's working on the design.

 

While solar panels aren't usually the best option for electricity grids, due to their intermittency and need for fossil fuel or nuclear backup, off-grid solar panels produce clean, free energy once built and installed. Oysters are a sustainable source of protein and nutrients that require little inputs.

116. Veteran Compost

116. Veteran Compost

January 1, 2021
 
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Justen Garrity founded Veteran Compost over a decade ago after his military service. The company focuses on two things:

  1. Employing veterans and their family members; and
  2. Turning food scraps into high-quality compost.

Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. That means that a combat vet has a harder time getting a job than the average person. Justen is not only compassionate about helping veterans, he's also helping the environment significantly by reducing landfill and making an eco friendly compost for healthy soils.

https://www.veterancompost.com/

115. Plastic in the North Sea

115. Plastic in the North Sea

November 23, 2020
 
 
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Susanne Khün holding up a fulmar

 
 

Susanne Khün has a Ph.D from Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands where she has put years of research into her thesis called "Message in a belly - Plastic pathways in fulmars".

 

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Tune in to hear all about Susanne's research on whether seabirds are ingesting plastic from fish, what's happening with toxicants from plastic once in their guts, and how ships are contributing to a fulmar's diet.

 

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There's even some really good news about plastic pollution in the North Sea you won't want to miss!

114. Endocrine Disruptors and Plastics

114. Endocrine Disruptors and Plastics

November 16, 2020

 

Scott Coffin has a Ph.D in environmental toxicology from the University of California Riverside and works for the California State Water Resources Control Board.

 

 

Scott has done many studies on toxicants in plastic that involve some fascinating scientific techniques. He found that estrogen receptors are being activated by many different toxicants in plastic, not just BPA, and discusses how this is not only worrisome for fish populations but also for humans.

 

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404660/

 

 

113. Holiday Shopping Ideas

113. Holiday Shopping Ideas

November 9, 2020

 

 

For this year's holiday episode I've collaborated with three sustainable Canadian companies with eco friendly gift ideas for the holiday season!

 

Dave O'Connor from Genuine Tea won best tea in Toronto in the Now Reader's Choice Awards and offers high quality teas without plastic tea bags, as well as a new line of ready to drink teas. 

 

 

Madeleine Tan (pictured below with her sister) from the Rose Company in Vancouver offers a number of sustainably packaged self care products and has offered the discount code ZEROWASTECOUNTDOWN for 20% off your online purchase. 

 

 

 

Kathryn Hogan is the founder of KMH Touches, a company offering silk and vegan dental floss that's plastic and PFAS free, so good for your body and good for the planet. 

 

 

 

 

112. Toxins In Bioplastic

112. Toxins In Bioplastic

October 25, 2020
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Lisa Zimmermann is a Ph.D researcher in the Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology at Goethe University Frankfurt and part of the PlastX Research Group.

She recently conducted a study that was published in September 2020 called: Are bioplastics and plant-based materials safer than conventional plastics? In vitro toxicity and chemical composition. 

 

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Lisa discusses what she found in the study, and the implications those findings have on our choices as a consumer when it comes to packaging. She was also featured on episode 102. Toxins In Our Plastic Products

 

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Further comments from Lisa after recording: 

 

1) On the question whether plants can contain toxins:

Yes, some plants naturally produce toxins, e.g., as a natural defense mechanism against predators, insects or microorganisms. In a usual balanced, healthy diet, the levels of natural toxins are well below the threshold for acute and chronic toxicity. For instance potatoes contain solanines and chaconine but especially in the sprouts and green parts, that are not eaten nor used to extract starch for bio-based plastics. Compared to these single natural compounds, in the production process of conventional and bioplastics many synthetic compounds are intentionally added (e.g. additives) or get unintentionally in the product (e.g. reaction products). Some of these might be toxic at certain concentrations.

 

 

2) On how the study transfers to human health:

The results of the study cannot be transferred on humans directly. Reasons include that in vitro tests were performed. Here isolated cells are used that can give first hints of effects but don’t reflect the complexity in the human body. Besides, the study examined the intrinsic chemical toxicity present in the products. In a next step, migration studies with food simulants are needed in order to identify the toxicity and chemicals migrating under real-world conditions and to estimate the human exposure to those.  Thus, the study is a first step and demonstrate that the chemical mixtures contained in the analyzed plastic product have the potential to be toxic to human health (if exposure concentrations are high enough).  

 
111. Nuclear Energy

111. Nuclear Energy

October 13, 2020

 

 

Paul Acchione is an engineer and management consultant in Ontario who has worked in the nuclear and fossil fuel industries for over 48 years and has a wealth of knowledge about how nuclear power works, how nuclear waste is stored here in Canada, and the benefits nuclear power brings to an electricity grid. 

 

Darlington Nuclear Power Station

 

We discuss how public opinion of nuclear energy has changed over time during his career, the current issues around renewables, and why it's unlikely we can save the Pickering nuclear station here in Ontario, which means one of the cleanest grids in the world is about to get a lot dirtier. 

 

110. Keeping Produce Fresh With Hazel Tech

110. Keeping Produce Fresh With Hazel Tech

October 5, 2020

According to Hazel Technologies, the U.S. wastes more than 25 billion pounds of post-harvest fruits and vegetables annually, which amounts to over $86B in wasted resources.      

 

 

Aidan Mouat is the CEO of Hazel Technologies, and they have developed small biodegradable packaging inserts that are dropped into boxes of avocados during shipping. By time-releasing temporary ethylene blockers, Hazel's tech slows the fruit's aging process. The USDA-supported solution is entirely atmospheric, does not touch the produce, and leaves no residue. Further, the technology has been tested by the country's top agricultural universities (UC Davis, Cornell, Oregon State).   

 

Hazel has more than 150 customers (across 12 countries) which include Zespri (the world's largest kiwi distributor, based in New Zealand), Oppy (Canada's largest produce distributor), and many more. Hazel's tech is projected to be used with 3.2 billion pounds of fresh produce in 2020, preventing more than 270 million pounds from going to waste.

109. Sharing During Covid

109. Sharing During Covid

October 4, 2020

The Olio sharing app from the UK is reporting record numbers of users sharing food and other items during the Covid pandemic. 

Tessa Clarke joins the Zero Waste Countdown to share food waste statistics and explain how her sharing app works with over 2 million users. 

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