Sometimes writing a blogpost is somewhat akin to peeling an onion! I began writing this post during the afternoon of May 15. And as each layer of this particular onion exposed another (thereby delaying the publication of this post!), I did not know whether to laugh at the chutzpah – or cry about the sheer manipulative legislated lunacies being promoted by the oh-so-dedicated (or perhaps not) green-agenda activists and advocates – not to mention the
hysterical … ooops … sorry, “historic” election of one of their histrionic own to the provincial legislature – in British Columbia.
With this in mind, and setting aside the European Union’s very slow-dawning recognition of the failure of their Big Green Dreams and landscape-blighting faith in the power of wind turbines and solar panels, my post began …
Much ado was made last week of the super-scary milestone that the dreaded evil Carbon Dioxide (CO2) had reached 400 parts per million – which means that there are only 999,600 other parts per million that we might need to worry about.
So, this number, 400 parts per million, what does it mean? It’s the number of molecules of CO2 for every million molecules of air; 400 of them are now CO2. Just two centuries ago, that number was only 280 parts per million. So if we continue to add carbon to the atmosphere at current rates, we’ll reach a doubling of the pre-industrial levels of CO2 within the next few decades.
OMG this does sound very ominous, doesn’t it?! Perhaps I need to rethink my attitude towards reducing my “carbon footprint”.
But help may be on the way – or maybe not!
You see, it just so happens that earlier this week, the friendly people from “thinkgreen” Waste Management dropped off a whole bunch of pretty “organics only” food scraps receptacles at my apartment building:
The whole kit and kaboodle (including a handy-dandy fridge magnet [not shown]) was free! Well, sort of. If I want to replace that “small food waste bag” (lined with “cellulose” which looks like – but isn’t – “plastic”) I can do this … At a cost of $5.49 for 10 (although I’d get $1.00 off the first ten, thanks to the generosity of the Help the Earth Help Itself folks at “Bag to Earth“).
The helpful and enthusiastic young lady from Waste Management told me that these receptacles cost approx. $25.00 – $30.001 each (but they were “donated”). However, she didn’t know the cost of the Bigger bins into which I must dutifully place my small food waste bag approx. every four days. As I subsequently discovered, these Bigger bins have been placed in the ground level garage – an open invitation to rodents and scavengers if ever there was one!
This young lady and I ended up agreeing to disagree about (inter alia) her claim that the pin-head holes uniformly visible on the lid of this receptacle were there to facilitate air circulation downwards, which would (according to her) prevent the formation of odours in my kitchen. This seemed to be somewhat at odds with Bag to Earth’s claim that their bags (at $0.594 each) are designed to be:
Odour-free when sealed [emphasis added -hro]
At the end of our conversation, the young lady from Waste Management thanked me for engaging in respectful, constructive and helpful dialogue – and for not having thrown the mini-bin receptacle at her, as others had done, elsewhere!
But I digress …
Evidently, Waste Management Canada is a “subsidiary of Waste Management Inc” – a US company with a rather scandal-ridden history. And on Jan. 25 (of some year or other) Waste Management Inc. decided to “invest in Harvest Power to expand next generation organics recycling facilities across the United States and Canada.”:
The agreement with Harvest Power complements Waste Management’s comprehensive waste services in the areas of recycling, landfill, waste-to-energy and consulting services. This investment will also help move Waste Management toward meeting three of its sustainability goals: doubling its renewable energy production and tripling the amount of recyclables processed by 2020, and investing in emerging technologies for managing waste.
But I digress (again!) …
The plan is that the Bigger bins will be emptied by Waste Management and delivered … not to a landfill, perish the thought … but to Waste Management’s “partner” (as noted above), a US company called Harvest™ Power of We™, or Harvest Power for short, with a local (albeit, at times, a somewhat unpleasantly odoriferous) presence. Not that the nice young lady from Waste Management told me any of this, but Google is my friend. And when I asked about Harvest Power’s involvement, she confirmed it!
One of Harvest Power’s “largest investors” is a company called Generation Investment Management LLP (GIM), “an independent, private, owner-managed partnership established in 2004 with offices in London, New York and Sydney”.
GIM rang a somewhat familiar bell; and, sure enough, when I followed the link I found that the (unprincipled) principals of GIM were none other than hypocrite-extraordinaire, Al Gore and his buddy, David Blood4 who, these days, are flogging a concept called “Sustainable Capitalism” – which may (or may not) be synonymous with Stewart Elgie‘s (almost all) Canadian “Sustainable Prosperity“.
[Sidebar Be sure to check out GIM’s About page. I got quite a wry chuckle out of the fine-print at the bottom of this page:
Although Generation seeks to provide superior investment performance, potential investors should be aware that this is an aspiration and there is no guarantee that this goal will be obtained.
So, reasonably certain that Harvest Power was not taking on this challenge of processing “organic waste” out of the goodness of its heart, I began to wonder about the chain of events and/or pronouncements that might have led to finding myself carefully separating “approved” food scraps from other waste … in order to line Al Gore’s pockets!
I started my search in BC’s 2007 150+ page “Climate Action Plan” – a document whose authors, as I’ve previously noted included Greenpeace propaganda peddler and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Lead Author, Andrew <we are the vote> Weaver!
This, ostensibly made in British Columbia, “Climate Action Plan” includes the following (p. 42):
Waste disposal accounts for about 5 per cent of B.C.’s GHG emissions. Most is from municipal landfills. The remainder comes from wood residue landfills, mostly run by forestry companies.
In both cases, decomposition of organic matter produces methane, also known as landfill gas. Proven technologies already exist to capture this gas and use it as a source of cleaner, renewable energy. [emphasis added -hro]
Excuse me?! A piddling five per cent?! For which a supposedly “proven” technological “solution” already “exists“?! Tell me again – while I may have some choice now, by 2015 I most certainly will not2 – why I shall be forced to separate my “approved” food scraps (the accumulation of which, in this counter-space hogging receptacle, may well create unpleasant odours in my kitchen) in order to line Waste Management’s, Harvest Power’s and Al Gore’s pockets!
But wait, there’s more!
As a leading jurisdiction on climate action, the Province has a legislated target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020 and achieve an 80% reduction by 2050 (from 2007 levels). The Climate Action Secretariat works with ministries and other jurisdictions to develop policies to support this goal. Through the suite of LiveSmart BC programs, British Columbians can demonstrate leadership addressing climate change as well.
Carbon Neutral B.C.: A first for North America, 2 years running [emphasis added -hro]
Hmmm … well, this Secretariat is entitled to blow its own horn, I suppose. But it would be nice if they corrected this part of their self-congratulatory epistle, to reflect the findings in the recent report of the Auditor General, in which it was specifically noted that, in addition to the fact that the Secretariat (and yet another invention of Weaver and his fellow green dreamers, the notorious Crown Corporation, Pacific Carbon Trust) was not doing its job. The Auditor General had clearly stated that:
this claim of carbon neutrality is not accurate [emphasis added -hro]
But I digress … It turns out that one of the “other jurisdictions” referred to by the CAS just happens to be the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). One doesn’t often hear much about the UBCM and its activities, except once a year when they hold their annual gathering, and the news media report on which provincial politicians addressed this confab of municipal politicians (and which did not!)
It seems that on September 26, 2007, the Government of British Columbia, the UBCM and “Signatory Local Governments” agreed to a (“not intended to be legally binding”) “British Columbia Climate Action Charter“. Here’s the … uh … framing of this Charter:
(1) The Parties share the common understanding that:
(a) Scientific consensus has developed that increasing emissions of human caused greenhouse gases(GHG), including carbon dioxide, methane and other GHG emissions, that are released into the atmosphere are affecting the Earth’s climate;
(b) the evidence of global warming is unequivocal and the effects of climate change are evident across British Columbia;
(c) reducing GHG emissions will generate environmental and health benefits for individuals, families, and communities;
(d) climate change and reducing GHG emissions are issues of importance to British Columbians;
(e) governments urgently need to implement effective measures to reduce GHG emissions and anticipate and prepare for climate change impacts;
(f) protecting the environment can be done in ways that promote economic prosperity; and
(g) it is important to take action and to work together to share best practices, to reduce GHG emissions and address the impacts of climate change. [emphases added -hro]
I cannot possibly imagine how – or why – these municipal representatives might have arrived at the conclusion that there is a “scientific consensus” – or that “evidence of global warming is unequivocal”. But perhaps someone decided to adapt a recipe from this “cookbook“.
Alternatively, as they did with the “Climate Action Plan”, perhaps the bureaucrats and green dreamers who drafted this “Charter” simply lifted the phrasing from that Nobel Peace Prize award-winning body, the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report – and dropped it into this “Charter”. How very, well, convenient, eh?!
Ventures in Wasteland certainly received honourable mention in this (cooked-up?!) “Charter”:
(2) (b) Local Governments have taken action on climate change, including […] implementing innovative infrastructure technologies including landfill gas recapture and production of clean energy
Here’s a potentially2 worrying caveat, though:
(5) (a) (i) being carbon neutral in respect of their operations by 2012, recognizing that solid waste facilities regulated under the Environmental Management Act are not included in operations for the purposes of this Charter.
Needless to say (not unlike productions of the exemplary IPCC and its “main client”, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]), this “Charter” includes provision for the establishment of:
(6) […] a Joint Provincial-UBCM Green Communities Committee and Green Communities Working Groups that support that Committee with the following purposes:
(a) To develop a range of actions that can affect climate change, including initiatives such as: assessment, taxation, zoning or other regulatory reforms or incentives to encourage land use patterns that promote increased density, smaller lot sizes, encourage mixed uses and reduced GHG emissions; development of GHG reduction targets and strategies, alternative transportation opportunities, policies and processes that support fast-tracking of green development projects, community gardens and urban forestry; and integrated transportation and land use planning
YMMV, but to my eyes and ears this looks and sounds like an awful lot of green-agenda driven interference and conformity – under the rather deceptive guise of environmental do-goodery!
I haven’t had a chance yet to dig up any minutes of meetings of this “Joint … Committee” – or any of these “Green Communities Working Groups”. But one thing I did stumble across during the course of my searches to ascertain the true cost of these initiatives was a “Draft” document that (according to the document properties) appears to have been authored by a Judith Cullington, for the Province of British Columbia. Here’s a screen-cap of the beginning of this masterpiece (yellow highlights mine -hro):
Excuse me?!! I’m supposed to “reduce my carbon footprint” by doing my part to divert “organic food waste” from ending up in a landfill (which amounts to a mere 5% of our greenhouse gas emissions – for which there supposedly already exists a “proven” process for dealing with the methane gas created) to comply with a future environmental regulation [pls. see footnotes below] that results in the “creation” of … the dreaded – and constantly demonized – Carbon Dioxide … all the while lining the pockets of Waste Management, Harvest Power and Al Gore!
Now, don’t get me wrong! I am not opposed to composting – or to those who choose to do so. Hell, some of my best friends are avid composters! But I do think there’s something rather off-key – if not inherently sour – about far too many of the notes3 in this Big Green choru$ and $ymphony. Don’t you?!
1 During a conversation with the primary contact person responsible for recycling efforts in the municipality in which I reside, I learned that the cost of these receptacles is closer to $5.00 to $10.00 each. This person also disclosed that the number of multi-family dwellings in this (relatively small) municipality in the Greater Vancouver Area is 20,500. So even at his lowest estimated cost, that’s $102,500 – for one small municipality.
And on the matter of other costs that will be incurred by this initiative, this person could not disclose the cost of processing by Harvest Power. However he did say that it is less than 50% of that which is currently paid for landfill treatment ($107.00 per ton). Well, there’s an incentive if ever there was one, eh?! Although I do wonder how long this very attractive price might last [see footnote 3 below].
There will be an increase in the bill to owners for collecting this organic waste: $1.60 per unit per month. According to my calculations that’s $393,600 per year from the multi-family dwellings in this small municipality alone – much of which, one might reasonably surmise, will end up in the pockets of Waste Management, Harvest Power and Al Gore.
Will we see an increase in 2015, if not before? Who knows, eh?!
When I surmised that much is being decided by the green dreamers in the Big City of Vancouver, and made a comment to the effect of “whatever Vancouver politicos want, the rest of us get”, this contact person did not disagree.
2 During this same conversation, this contact person advised me that if I don’t like their receptacle, I could use something else – and that my participation, while hoped for and preferred, is entirely voluntary. However, when I pointed out that somewhere along the way, my research had led me to conclude that by 2015, my participation will not be optional, he did not dispute this. It all has something to with the provincial Ministry of the Environment’s “landfill” regulations, with which all municipalities are required to comply, but over which no municipality has any control.
Small wonder, then, that (5) (a) (i) was included in the wording of the “not intended to be legally binding” Climate Action Charter.
Perhaps the province of British Columbia has a “green police” force in the planning works!
3 In an undated Waste Management newsletter, one finds the following:
WASTE TO ENERGY BURNS BRIGHT IN WORLD’S WASTE PROJECTS
Waste to Energy projects have dominated the waste management category of KPMG’s latest global infrastructure report. Here’s a look at the report in more detail and an insight into what caught the judge’s eye about the winning projects.
The winning projects
The Energy Garden Project
Harvest Power’s 27,000 tonne per year Energy Garden in Richmond, outside of Vancouver received $4 million funding from Natural Resources Canada
Harvest Power’s Energy Garden in Richmond, outside of Vancouver, is Canada’s first high-efficiency system for producing renewable energy from food scraps and yard trimmings. The project uses a number of different funding sources including a $4 million grant from Natural Resources Canada (NR-Can) and will process more than 27,000 tonnes each year.
The BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN), a provincially funded, not for profit organisation supporting the acceleration of bioenergy development in British Columbia, has provided $1.5 million funding to Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre – a Harvest Power company.
The funding supports two components: a $1 million loan towards the commercial demonstration of a High Solids Anaerobic Digestion (HSAD) plant that will convert municipal green waste (food scraps and yard trimmings) to produce electricity under the BC Hydro Community Based Biomass Power Call.
Secondly is a $500,000 grant towards acquiring a pilot scale mobile HSAD testing unit – a ‘Mobile Energy Harvester’ – that will be used initially in Richmond and later toured throughout North America.
The biogas produced by the facility will be used to produce more than 6000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to power around 700 homes. The residual organic materials remaining after the digestion process will be further composted and returned to local farms and gardens as nutrient rich soil amendments.
So that’s $5,500,000 of taxpayer funding in Harvest Power’s (and its investors’) pockets. Some might wonder if these generous grants and loans are designed to “incentivize” participation by municipalities (such as the one in which I reside) by enabling Harvest Power to offer such an attractive price for processing “organic waste” – at least until 2015. But I couldn’t possibly comment.
[Additional Footnote 05/19/2013 05:21 PM PDT]:
4 GIM’s David Blood (aka David Wayland Blood, former CEO of Goldman-Sachs) in addition to being “Co-Founder, Senior Partner, and Managing Partner” of GIM, is evidently a Director of … Harvest Power (and The Nature Conservancy, amongst others), according to Bloomberg’s Business Week’s database. Gore is listed as “Co-Founder, Partner, and Chairman”.
For the record, GIM has a whole slew of “Partners” – and a five-member Board (including Chairman Gore and former Irish PM and UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson; but excluding Blood)
The “Companies in the U.K.” site also indicates that Blood is one of two directors listed for GENERATION INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED (a different company, evidently formerly known as “HURRICANEBRIDGE LIMITED” which seems to have disappeared without a trace. But, this new kid on the GIM block was registered in 2009)
Interestingly, none of the above is found on the GIM website. Some might find this to be considerably less than transparent. But I oouldn’t possibly comment.