Solar’s sunny side

Re The Darker Side Of Solar Power (May 28): Do solar photovoltaics have any negative environmental impacts? Yes. But they pale in comparison to the global environmental damage left in the wake of the fossil fuel industry’s entire life cycle (e.g. exploration, extraction, distribution, refinement and especially burning), even when normalizing for energy output.
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Married, with kids?

Re: New book makes controversial claims about Jesus

It’s reported that a new book claims to have found evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was married and had children. How ironic that many people should consider claims of such banality to be “controversial,” yet endorse the claims that a solitary 1st-century carpenter and philosopher defied the laws of physics (by walking on water), chemistry (by turning water into wine) and biology (by being born of a virgin).

Note: This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Globe & Mail.

The pull of Islamic State

Re: Islamic State Is A Far Larger Problem For The Muslim World

We’re told young men are joining Islamic State because it provides “jobs, additional stipends and sometimes cars” and that Arab nations must offer “greater economic opportunities”. These thugs aren’t beheading people because of the allure of a pickup truck. Men from the West aren’t joining because of a career opportunity. Beliefs actually matter.

It’s not hard to see how their behaviour is the direct result of their beliefs about the contents of a particular religious book.

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail.

Oil and typewriters

Re: Will we ever be proud of our oil sands?

Konrad Yakabuski’s appeal for Canada to spend billions of dollars innovating in the 19th-century fossil fuel industry (with “a singularity of purpose and a sense of urgency”) rather than the 21st-century renewable energy and clean-tech industry reminds me of the U.S. Republicans’ rallying cry of “drill, baby, drill!” in 2008.

As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued at the time, absurdity of this kind is akin to someone on the eve of the Internet revolution calling for more typewriters and carbon paper. Similarly, all I could think about while reading Mr. Yakabuski’s column was “typewriters, baby, typewriters!”

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail.

More giraffe ethics

Re: Fed To The Lions

The public outcry seems to be less about the fact that the giraffe was euthanized and more about the way it was carried out: killed, skinned, dissected and fed to lions in front of a crowd that included children.

Fair enough. But I can’t help but wish that the same level of public concern were extended to equally wonderful creatures such as cows and pigs, billions of whom suffer their entire lives, only to be killed, skinned, dissected and then fed to us. Just because their plight is out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail.

Talking Point – The North

Fossil fuels are burned that spew carbon into the atmosphere, which accelerates the melting of polar ice caps, which opens up the Northwest Passage as a shipping route, which allows for quicker shipment and subsequent burning of fossil fuels which, in turn, accelerates the amount of carbon being spewed into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, companies and individuals who seek to profit most from this positive feedback loop are the very ones who obscure the fact that there’s any issue at all. Has there ever been a greater confluence of hubris and ecological ignorance?

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail.