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Aug. 26: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Mirage or future?

Re Political Leaders Are So Often Fooled By The Mirage Of Green Jobs (Aug. 25): Anyone who reads The Globe and Mail knows that Margaret Wente hates the colour green. Sometimes I wonder if she was once kicked by a Birkenstock-wearing citizen.

In her latest article she dismisses the efforts to implement a green jobs scheme with a broad stroke of her white-wash pen.

If one carefully reads her column, she actually highlights some of the challenges facing the world as it transitions to a less resource-intense, destructive and growth-driven paradigm. She notes that one project was dropped because nobody used the product. Okay, well that does not mean that the product will not improve the future, it is just that introducing a new product involving a novel infrastructure is going to take a concerted effort. She goes on to say that one green jobs project failed because there was no real investment. Again, that is not a failure of the green dream, but of the commitment of policy-makers and the investment community.

Cheryl Shour, conservation programs specialist, Toronto


Margaret Wente sums up her diatribe against green jobs by stating that the new technologies are “risky, expensive and unproven.” Risky and expensive they may be, but for the most part, they have been proven to be effective alternatives to the health and environmental destroyers we are now using.

As far as electric cars are concerned, we should look to Israel, where recently, in response to drivers’ unwillingness to wait for their batteries to be charged, a new system of battery exchanges has been opened. You just drive into the station and, in a matter of minutes, your drained battery is removed and a fully charged one inserted, all for approximately the same cost as a tank of gas, but lasting far longer.

Sheila Dropkin, Toronto


Margaret Wente has done a good job of digging up stories on unsuccessful green efforts of government, all outside Canada. Why no mention of successful efforts, such as Ontario’s renovation grants or the city of Toronto’s green roofs project or the Deep Lake Water Cooling System, using water from Lake Ontario.

Frank O’Hara, Toronto


I was disappointed to read Margaret Wente’s column regarding clean energy in Ontario. The piece chooses examples that are the exception, not the rule. Any new industry experiences growing pains – but each day Ontario innovators and entrepreneurs are working to build and improve upon the latest clean energy technology.

I invite Ms. Wente to join me on the road and meet some of the thousands of Ontario workers already employed in this burgeoning industry.

The world is moving toward cleaner sources of energy – and Ontario is leading when it comes to clean energy development in a global industry estimated to be worth $240-billion annually. We need to stay on track and continue to create jobs here at home.

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Energy


Bravo to Ms. Wente for her excellent piece. She is absolutely correct in her analysis and commentary. I have been involved with the issue of green energy for more than 30 years. I worked for the government in policy development as well as a private-sector consultant.

The guts of the issue is that green technology does work from a technical point of view and it is very easy to convey dreams. It takes hard thinking to realize that the economics are not there, and they will never be attractive for widespread applications. All green technologies are niche applications and in this regard there is a limited future for them. But promoting them, at any cost, for widespread use in our energy-intensive societies is naive.

About the only “success” stories that I can recall are Denmark and Germany. In both cases the real reason is that they derive some industrial benefits by selling their technologies to the rest of the world. The real benefits are the export of technologies not the energy produced.

Stelios Pneumaticos, PhD, Ottawa


In a previous “green period” in Ontario, Bob Rae’s government created green communities in nearly 20 cities to evaluate the energy efficiency, waste and water practices in homes across the province.

The program was killed by the succeeding government in 1995, but it had set the pace for a national program with incentives that resulted in an average 20 per cent cut in energy usage by more than half a million Canadian households after 1999.

The success of the EcoEnergy Retrofit-Homes program caused it to be added to the Conservative platform last May, and who knows, it might continue past the new cutoff date of March 31, 2012, if evidence of climate change and job losses continue apace.

George Burrett, Cambridge, Ont.


Copyright conundrum

Re Heading Back To School? Hope You’ve Memorized The Copyright Act (Aug. 17): I agree with John Degen that the Canadian Copyright Act is excessively complex. With the tools to create and distribute creativity now in the hands (and pockets) of most students, the problem is getting worse.

Activities which many reasonably consider lawful are considered infringements under our outdated copyright law. This complexity and lack of clarity will induce students to infringe copyright.

While this is true, the policies promoted by Access Copyright and Mr. Degen have been in the opposite direction. Blanket licensing which makes copyright different inside and outside the classroom, and the lobbying by Access Copyright and allies to make copyright more complex, are all part of the problem. Educational institutions breaking away from Access Copyright appears to be a necessary early step toward longer-term solutions.

Russell McOrmond, Ottawa


An unhappy job

Clifford Orwin declares that “nobody is happy with Barack Obama, and nobody should be.” I would suggest a different view.

It has been said that the sign of a perfect compromise is when all of the participants leave the room unhappy. Perhaps President Obama is actually leading his country, rather than catering to his base. After all, he is the leader of all Americans.

John Overing, Lorraine, Que.


Flying pets

Make one flight a day to each destination pet-friendly. That would let passengers with allergies know they should avoid it. If long-haul flights don’t have multiples per day, pick a day a week. While we are at it, have baby-friendly flights too, so big people know when to board with patience.

Andrea Marcus, Toronto


Use a bike

Re Drivers, Want More Space? Push For Bike Lanes (Aug. 25): I have found it very practical, economical and healthy to pack a bicycle on a rack on my car. Driving in from the suburbs, I can park outside the downtown core where parking is expensive and ride the bike to my downtown destination. I get a reasonable amount of exercise, free parking and am indeed reducing my ecological footprint.

David F. Boehm, Gabriola Island, B.C.


Gimme a brake

Re Google Gets Behind The Wheel (Aug. 25): Your reporter remarks on “break lights.” Give me a brake. When Google fixes the spell check, I’ll let it drive my car.

Scott Strong, St. John’s

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