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Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Last updated: 2017.12.13

Unlike the Daily Tips page, I'll try to organize the material here into categories. If you think I should have more categories, just let me know.

[ Electricity | Indirect Energy Use | Personal Transportation | Power Tools & Small Engines | Space Cooling | Space Heating | Water Heating | Water Use ]


How much greenhouse gas emissions are associated with your use of electricity depends on where you are in Canada. In Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, if you are using electricity from the main provincial grid, the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity ranges from zero to negligible. On the other hand, in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta, electricity is produced predominantly from the burning of coal. Ontario has stopped burning coal completely for electrical generation, but still burns some natural gas - mainly to meet peak demand. Therefore, in your attempt to reduce your carbon emissions by 10% in 2010, keep that in mind. Shifting from carbon based transportation or heating fuels to carbon-free electricity may be a worthwhile endeavour, if you live in the right place.

Until I get back to writing about electricity savings for this site, you can start with what I have written previously on how to reduce your electricity use and your electricity bill.

Indirect Energy Use

Coming later.

Personal Transportation

As most of us use gasoline, diesel or propane fuel for our direct transportation, even on public transit buses, finding ways to cut back on our fuel use is the biggest win. Start here to find ways to save on your fuel consumption.

Do you think cycling is the answer? The meat engine (human power) is not particularly efficient, and the story of how much energy we use to fuel ourselves is a nightmare. If you can source electricity from non-carbon sources, and figure out how to keep batteries alive (it takes knowledge and discipline), an electric bike might be a better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Humans doing work emit carbon dioxide. Human powered cycling may be great for your health and boast other advantages. But when it comes to reducing GHGs, an electric motor doesn't produce them, and is still quiet, takes up the same space as a regular bicycle, and is more energy-efficient.

Bitumen (Tar Sands)

The largest single CO2 emission point on the planet in 2012 was the Alberta Tar Sands. This sub-standard oil substitute creates more CO2 per barrel produced than any conventional crude oil, partly because of its inherent nature, and partly because it requires so much more energy to produce than conventional oil. For conventional oil, it takes the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil to produce anywhere from 15 to 80 more barrels of oil. The bitumen in the tar sands is so intractable, it produces only 4 barrels of output for each equivalent barrel of oil used. In fact, most of the heat energy for processing the bitumen is actually taken from a higher quality fuel, that produces less CO2: natural gas.

So, from a greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation perspective, we would all be better off just taking that natural gas to power our vehicles, and bypass the tar sands altogether. Oil refineries and extraction also use a lot of electricity. Turns out we could just use that same electricity to power electric cars instead of making oil into gasoline and diesel, and cover the same distance. All while leaving all that oil and CO2 in the ground, and reducing oil imports, financing terrorism and destroying the planet.

Why is this relevant to transportation energy use? Because virtually all the bitumen produced will be refined primarily to produce gasoline and diesel fuel to power our vehicles.

To make matters worse for the bitumen patch, not only is their operation a catastrophe for our environment, it isn't even a good economic proposition. If you are invested in, or thinking of investing in the Alberta 'oil' sector, you should read this paper I researched and wrote in March 2013.

Within 3 weeks of posting the paper on bitumen as a questionable investment (see link above), my forecasts regarding more pipeline failures and the questionable track record for transporting oil safely by rail were realized in the news headlines.

March 27, 2013: [dead link: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/train-cars-derail-minnesota-spill-crude-oil-18824677#.UV8w8leyJXM] Minnesota dilbit train derailment
Alternate source: 20K gallons of crude spill in MN train wreck MPR News
March 28, 2013: [dead link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/exxon-cleaning-up-canadian-oil-spill-as-keystone-debate-heats-up/article10588260/] Mayflower dilbit pipeline rupture
April 3, 2013: [dead link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cp-oil-spill-in-northern-ontario-larger-than-first-reported/article10781522/] Northern Ontario oil train derailment
(and these are just the dilbit spill events, multiple spills of regular oil, diesel fuel and gasoline are not included)

Maybe investing in green technology is beginning to look more attractive, say something that absorbs and binds greenhouse gases on a long-term basis.

Things just keep getting worse with regard to tar sands and dilbit as an investment.

June 1, 2013: The British Columbia government has determined that the Enbridge-led consortium's oil spill response plan is not credible. As the Kinder Morgan pipeline likely has a carbon copy of that plan for its proposed expansion, that initiative may also have problems now - beyond the public resistance to putting more tankers in Vancouver Harbour.

In late April 2013, the U.S. EPA called the State Department's environmental analysis of the Keystone XL proposal inadequate, putting that route for exporting dilbit out of Alberta at risk.

Alberta dilbit proponents are so desperate that they are now proposing to reverse an existing Canadian pipeline to carry dilbit east, instead of carrying imported light oil west as it has done for 4 decades. However, that proposal is also meeting stiff resistance, despite the NEB's attempt to stifle public participation in the review process.

As of May 31, 2013, the WCS (Western Canada Select = tar sands crude) discount to WTI (West Texas Intermediate is approximately US$20 per barrel ($93.61 - $73.82), or about 21%. North American crude oil inventories are high, and the Canadian dollar is dropping agains the U.S. dollar as a result.

By way of contrast, the purest electric car play in the stock market - Tesla Motors (TSLA) - has seen its stock price rise from US$34.65 to US$97.76 (282%) in the past 3 months (March 1st to May 31st), reaching as high as US$110.33.

July 6, 2013 brought tragedy to Lac Mégantic, Quebec in the form of a small train pulling 72 cars of North Dakota Bakken shale oil rolling unattended into the town. Five of the oil tanker cars caught fire and two exploded. That was enough explosive power to level much of the downtown, kill at least 47 people, and injure uncounted others. A month later, the clean-up and recovery effort continues. The idea of moving even more crude oil by train across the continent likely blew up with Lac Mégantic. For certain, it's going to get more expensive as the rail companies will have to revamp procedures, likely start upstaffing the trains for safety reasons, and start replacing ancient, unsafe tanker cars with newer, safer units or retrofit existing rolling stock as inquests, investigations and various commissions study the incident and start making recommendations.

July also brought news that there are at least 4 major leaks of bitumen from a Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) from their project near Beaver Lake (Cold Lake Alberta area), that they are uncontrolled, have been leaking for weeks, and the company does not know how to stop them. Of course, there is no spill response plan for this, and reports to date indicate that response efforts are cloaked in secrecy, limited and largely ineffective.

Recognizing that the routes for dilbit to the west (Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway) are effectively dead, and with President Obama hinting hard that the Keystone XL pipeline is not going to be approved by his administration, the folks that used to say 'let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark' now see eastern Canada as their salvation to sell the glut of dilbit they are producing. However, in the aftermath of Kalamazoo (2010) and Mayflower (2013) dilbit pipeline ruptures, residents along the path of the antique natural gas pipeline that TransCanada Pipeline proposes to repurpose to carry high-pressure, high-temperature dilbit are already forming groups to oppose the proposal - and it's not even a formal proposal yet.

Oh, and Tesla Motor Company stock rose above $130 per share in July. The WCS discount is about $22.

End of September update. More railway oil spills in August and September. More seeps discovered above ground near Beaver Creek. The Canadian federal government is now sending cabinet ministers to B.C. to arm-twist provincial politicians to back away from their pre-election stance on safeguarding the environment, and First Nations elders to withdraw their opposition to the pipeline proposals. This has not been well received, and the increasing level of desperation by the bitumen industry and their lackeys in the PMO is pretty transparent. Prime Minister Harper has stated publicly that Canada will ship bitumen out of the country (to the U.S. and overseas) no matter what, by tanker truck if necessary. The Energy East pipeline proposal is doing a full-court advertising press, pretending this oil is for eastern Canada (which has its own off-shore production already) and not primarily for export, while remaining evasive on the environmental impacts and over-stating likely employment benefits (sound familiar?) Meanwhile, Tesla Motors stock price is over $190, and the WCS spread is about $32 for November futures, or about a 31% discount from West Texas Intermediate (WTI). In other words, bitumen-based oil is now selling for $70, barely above the break even point (estimated at $60-65/barrel), but the industry and CPC government are hell-bent on expanding the extraction rate (which will force the price down). The spread is growing in both dollar and percentage values.

February 2014 brings more bad news for the bitumen patch. A Nebraska court has ruled against the Governor's illegal actions in favour of TransCanada Pipelines and the Keystone XL pipeline. While it seems likely that money will eventually overcome a minor inconvenience like rights and laws in the United States of Exxon-Mobil, it will certainly delay approval of the pipeline.

Or perhaps the blow is more devastating than that for the KXL pipeline. Enbridge has been spending money like water in B.C. to try to sway opinion in favour of their Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal, but it doesn't seem to be having the desired effect. A poll shows about 2/3's of British Columbians remain opposed to the scheme; essentially no change in 2 years.

A train carrying dilbit has derailed and spilled in Pennsylvania, keeping the unsafe oil trains story on the front pages.

While world oil prices have risen, the WCS/WTI spread is still over 23%, and the imploding oil exports have driven the Canadian dollar down 10% since the start of the year, driving WCS below US$80 per barrel. The Cdn dollar is expected to continue to decline further against the U.S. dollar in months to come (per Bank of Canada governor, Canadian Prime Minister, and Canadian Minister of Finance). When Canadian oil stocks are paying about 10% annual returns, taking a 10% haircut on the currency exchange (so far) has to hurt. By comparison, Tesla Motors stock is trading at over US$200 per share and continuing to rise (a nice return if you were smart enough to invest at $35 less than a year ago).

2014-05-28 - Update
If you have financial interests in the Alberta bitumen play, I recommend selling now. Things are getting worse.

Multiple rail derailments and explosions, mostly related to Bakken shale oil and not bitumen, have increased public awareness and concern to the point that even the Canadian federal government has found it necessary to do damage control on the file, requiring all rail companies to take all DOT-111 tanker cars out of service completely - no matter what they are carrying - by 2017. That will increase the cost of dilbit carriage by rail. The various pipeline proposals to all points of the compass from Fort McMurray are now effectively stalled by a combination of public opposition, First Nations opposition, court cases launched and in the works and political paralysis at provincial and municipal levels. However, the biggest threat to the bitumen patch right now is a little-known investigative panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Commission for Environmental Co-operation (CEC), which is investigating the extent of leakage from bitumen extraction operations of toxic chemicals into local waterways that contain fish (presumably leakage from tailings 'ponds' into the Athabasca River). If they find the operations breach the Fisheries Act (before or after the Act was gutted by the current Canadian federal government), the implications for the bitumen extraction industry in the area could be severe.

Clearly, this has the industry's biggest supporter - the current federal government - scared. So much so, it has started efforts to undermine the CEC investigation. The [dead link: http://www.hazmatmag.com/news/canada-questions-authority-of-oil-sands-pollution-investigation/1003081154/30sslyW42vwv682rM2vx/] legal grounds cited by the federal government appear weak, if not hypocritical, and the government has no jurisdiction over NAFTA bodies. Ironically, it has to do this via Environment Canada, a federal government department so eviscerated by targeted budget cuts it is no longer considered functional by critics.

Further, the main Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) operator still has not resolved its issues with eruptions of bitumen at the surface.

And here's a paper that explains that the current discount on bitumen-derived 'crude' oil is not because of surplus oil in the North American market, but because the product is inferior. So, building pipelines west, south, east and north is not going to improve the quality of the product or raise it's price. Putting all this inferior product on the market by increasing transportation channels for it (which can also carry higher quality, real crude oil) could actually create a supply glut of the garbage 'oil', forcing the actual price down. Oops!

If you are looking for a better place to park your money, look at renewables and cleantech - the real emerging markets today. For example, Tesla Motors (electric car maker) is trading at over US$200 today.

As expected, the Canadian federal government announced its approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project on June 17th - the last possible day for it to announce its decision. The Prime Minister and Natural Resources Minister then ran for cover and refused to answer questions on the announcement. All 209 conditions set by the NEB remain in effect per the federal announcement. Response from residents of BC, the BC Environment Minister, First Nations representatives and others were immediate and in opposition to the announcement. This approval is indeed a hollow victory for Enbridge and its pipeline that will never be built.

On June 18th, in an interview, Chief Na'Moks, the Beaver Clan hereditary chief of the Wet'suwet'en First Nations, said of the Harper-Oliver (formerly known as Northern Gateway) Pipeline:
"When they have an investment decision to make, they must realize, when we go to court, that their money will sit there and it will rot. The last time the Wet'suwet'en went to court with the federal government, we were there for 20 years, and we came out of there successful. And we have no doubt that we will be successful in this as well."

(Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada and cheerleader for all things bitumen. Joe Oliver is the former Canadian Minister of Natural Resources and current Minister of Finance, who is also an unabashed fan of subsidies and government support of all kinds for the Canadian oil industry.)

Well, if the bitumen boys want to keep expanding extraction capacity without a credible plan for how to move the gunk to market in the next 2 decades, seems to me that makes for the whole bitumen patch being a bad investment for the next few decades. Your money, your call. But before you make that call, take 2 minutes and read this article on [dead link: http://desmog.ca/2014/04/17/this-change-make-oilsands-no-longer-worth-developing] how razor-thin the margins apparently are in the bitumen patch. Is that still where you want to invest? (Tesla Motors now trading over US$230/share.)

As September 2014 draws to a close, the Canadian dollar petrocurrency is crumbling in value relative to currencies of countries with real, diversified economies, and Statoil announces it is fleeing the impending financial disaster that is the Canadian Tar Sands. WCS can only fetch US$78 a barrel on the spot market, while real oil (WTI) is still getting about $20 more. Major biofuels refineries are opening in the U.S. to supply the U.S. military, and apparently at delivered costs already competitive with refined conventional oil. Growing production from oil shales are going to ensure there is no market left for Tar Sands bitumen by the time, if ever, the product finds its way to market. China continues to be a leading market for renewables, to reduce their dependence on unreliable international oil supplies.

In August, Omnitrax withdrew its support for a dilbit by rail transportation route across the Canadian north to the Hudson Bay coast. The bitumen sector countered by proving dilbit demential is real, proposing the completely absurd idea of taking the dilbit north from Tar Sands territory to the Arctic coast (ice bound most of the year) along the Mackenzie River valley. If we're going to ship fossil energy out of Tuktoyaktuk, why not just liquify the natural gas in the area and ship it overseas, instead of sending it to the Tar Sands to make a substandard product and trying to export that?

While the Canadian federal government reached a questionable decision to not charge Suncor for multiple offences putting contaminated tar sands process water into the Athabasca River, the announcement included the revelations that Suncor failed at least 39 consecutive tests, and neither the company nor regulators could provide any credible estimate of how much contaminated water was actually released into the river which is a drinking water source for downstream communities. Expect civil lawsuits against the federal government, provincial government and the company for this breach. Eventually, even the bitumen boys are going to realize nobody wants their goop; just ask folks around Mayflower AK or Kalamazoo MI who have real-life experience with it. (Tesla Motors stock has pulled back in recent days, but is still trading at over U$S245/share.)


As world oil prices start their collapse due to another global economic slump due to incompetent management by the world's major economic nations and their inability to effectively regulate rogue multinational financial and energy corporations and continuing increases in supply due to shale oil and fracking in the continental U.S., price pressures forced WCS to roughly US$70. (The Canadian currency - now effectively a petro-currency due to federal government single-mindedness about favouring the tar sands over all other sectors of the Canadian economy - has fallen roughly 10% in the past few months as demand for the sub-standard crude oil product is also diminishing.) The $70 mark is important as it is generally believed that many of the tar sands extraction projects are uneconomic if the market price remains at $70 or below for a significant period of time (e.g., a month). Recent reports show that wind generation is now lower cost than oil or coal-fired generation. Natural gas remains competitive due to oversupply in that sector in North America.

On the pipelines front, the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines projects now both appear to be effectively dead. The pipe & rail connection to Churchill (Omnitrax) is officially dead. This leaves the Energy East pipeline as the last, faint hope for getting dilbit to international markets in a cost-effective manner. Ironically, as Energy East is primarily the repurposing of an ancient natural gas pipeline, their project schedule (2017 or 2018 for first flow to eastern terminus) may show up just as the world decides to turn its back on dilbit and have much higher demand for LNG to serve the European market (which can expect longer, colder winters as the Gulf Stream flow is diminished by climate change. Demand for heating fuel (natural gas) will likely rise as demand for transportation fuel (gasoline and diesel from oil) will likely start to fall signficantly as electric and hybrid vehicles become more common.

The continuing litany of train derailments carrying oil and petroleum distillate products has become so numerous, North American mainstream media doesn't even report them unless there is loss of life or the event occurs close to a populated area. Two major rail carriers have decided to fight the State of California in the courts rather than even develop a PLAN on how to prevent or respond to oil spills from derailments. As the State can shut down the ability to operate trains within its borders, that has the makings of a bad move. It also appears the railways are behind the curve on replacing or upgrading their old DOT111 tankers, which are now slated to be removed from service by law in Canada and the U.S., which will reduce their oil carrying capacity still further.

Suncor (the purest tar sands equity play) stock has fallen 23% from $47 in June 2014 to $36 now (just over 3 months). In the same period, the purest electric car play - Tesla Motors - rose 12% from US$204 to roughly $230.


The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil dripped below US$80 per barrel in recent days, and analysts predict the price will continue to fall - even in the face of Saudi production cuts - due to weaker international demand. With it, the price of WCS fell below US$65 a barrel, which definitely renders some bitumen projects uneconomic. Watch for more news of projects being delayed or cancelled in the Alberta bitumen patch. Suncor stock (as a proxy for tar sands bitumen) continues to be volatile but trend downward. Tesla stock has finally pulled back a bit (US$222), but still roughly double its price a year ago.


When Canada's national (business) newspaper runs an article about problems with the economics nd politics of the tar sands, you know the troubles run deep. The U.S. White House does not appreciate PM Harper's attempt to dictate U.S. foreign policy (we won't take no for an answer on Keystone XL statement during a public engagement in the U.S.). With the U.S. mid-terms out of the way, expect Obama to nix the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada in days to come. With U.S. domestic oil production continuing to increase, the U.S. demand for Canadian oil will continue to diminish, especially 'dirty tar sands oil'. To further erode the value of the Alberta bitumen megaprojects, the Saudis have decided to start dictating world oil prices again by increasing supply, with an apparent target price of US$70 a barrel. That's a blunt challenge to tar sands and shale oil production which is generally considered to be unprofitable at that price. The reason the Saudis are willing to play this game is becasue worldwide demand for oil is weakening as economic stimulus is being remmoved, and developing nations are adopting renewable energy - especially in China - at a rate double or more of that in the industrialized world. Everyone in the world - other than the Canadian federal government - realizes the tar sands 'carbon bomb' is a liability, not an asset. Unfortunately, as the Canadian government bet the national economy on the tar sands, and doubled down by continuing to subsidize it with taxpayers money, now the value of the Canadian currency is slipping in lockstep with the price of crude oil. In other times, the drop in the dollar against other currencies would allow Canadian manufacturers to be more competitive in international trade. Unfortunately, most of those businesses have gone under as a result of the 1-2 combination of global recession and national economic policy sacrificing manufacturing businesses to the government-staked bitumen boom. A business which has ceased operations cannot staff up when economic times improve. Investments in the tar sands will suffer double losses in the next few months and years: share prices will drop with the price of oil and bitumen; and the value of the currency the shares are traded in will also fall. Oil prices have fallen about 25% in the past year; bitumen oil play stocks have fallen about 40%, and the currency about 10%, for a combined loss of value of about 45%. Expect both sides of that slide to continue.


One month to Christmas, and if demand for coal keeps dropping world wide (Germany just announced plans to shut down 8 more coal-fired generating stations, and Russia is halting coal deliveries to Ukraine, China has announced a GHG emissions reduction agreement with the U.S., and India is trying to switch to biofuels in a major way in the next few years), Santa Claus may be the last market coal.

WCS (Alberta's bitumen-based crude oil) is trading at US$58, which is an unprofitable level according to industry analysts ($70 to $80 is posed as the break-even range). OPEC is meeting shortly, and unless they volunteer to take a smaller piece of the world oil market 'pie' in order to make the oil industry in other countries more profitable, that price could fall further.

Keystone XL was voted down in the U.S. Senate last week, and if President Obama wants his legacy to include helping defuse the climate change carbon bomb - as he helped along with the recent GHG emissions agreement with China - approving KXL is presumably not high on his To Do list. Oil stock prices continue to slide as inventories grow and general economic mismanagement in the industrialized world prevents a recovery from taking hold. Canada is now on the cusp of falling back into recession.

Tesla Motors stock is trading over $248, up 12% in the past month. About 280,000 highway-capable plug-in hybrid and electric cars have been sold in the U.S. as of October 2014, and Canada is expected to pass the 10,000 mark in the next few weeks. Each of these vehicles represents about a 10 to 11 barrel reduction in oil demand per year. So, for the U.S., with its current plug-in fleet, that's about 3 million barrels per year. Five years ago, that number was effectively zero. Plug-in car sales continue to accelerate. New CAFE rules will mean new gasoline and diesel vehicles will also use less oil than their predecessors.


Normally I wouldn't post another update so soon after the last, but a couple of items prompt me to return to this topic early.

Kinder Morgan got smacked down in the B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, and the reasoning for the decision highlights the company's incompetence and arrogance so harshly, it has probably cost them the social license to build the pipeline. If you can't figure out where your worksite is (which can be done with a simple smart-phone app), you probably can't be trusted to drill a giant hole through a mountain or build a leak-proof pipeline. Kinder Morgan also lost on their request to extend the end date on their previously granted injunction, which implies the company also can't estimate work very well. In addition, the Mayor of Burnaby (where the work is happening), is unhappy and looking to protect his constituents and local jobs, which is not aligning with the Kinder Morgan plan. So, getting dilbit out of Alberta in the future just got harder for the bitumen industry.

The Ontario and Quebec provincial governments announced they have agreed that a real environmental assessment is necessary for the Energy East pipeline, and given the National Energy Board abdicated its responsibility to do so, the provinces will step up and do it themselves. Not good news for TCP.

World crude oil prices continue to slide, pushing WCS to roughly US$55 a barrel.

Finally, here's a plan for seriously reducing demand for fossil fuels which could work.


It appears the long-awaited oil price bubble correction which began mid-year is now well under way. Rest assured, it is not over yet, as the Saudi oil minister stated this week that OPEC will continue to defend its market share until oil hits US$20 per barrel. With relaxed oil products export rules in the U.S. taking effect tomorrow, there will be more oil and refined products on the world market, which should further depress prices. However, price volatility is anathema to big investors, so we won't see any significant economic recovery world-wide for at least six months, and probably more than a year.

My long-term bullishness on Tesla Motors and lithium battery production now as to be tempered as the shift to electric cars and renewable energy development and production will suffer some collateral damage from plunging oil prices. However, climate change concerns will continue to drive these markets, but at a reduced pace.

The bottom is going to fall out of the Canadian economy over the course of 2015. The Harper government bet the the Canadian economy on black (bitumen black) a few years ago, and now the roulette ball - in the form of the world economy - has landed on red (gushing red ink). In past cycles, the central Canadian manufacturing sector would benefit from a lower Canadian currency and start to bounce back to balance the impacts on the Canadian economy. Unfortunately, Canadian manufacturing is now largely a memory. Businesses were pummelled during the worst of the 2008-2013 recession, and closed Canadian factories. Actual manufacturing was off-shored to China, so there are a lot less domestic manufacturing facilities left to ramp up and create jobs to off-set the ones being sloughed off in the bitumen patch. The Canadian textile, pulp and paper, and forestry sectors have largely been sacrificed to the resource extraction sector via Dutch Disease. So this time, those historic core sectors for the Canadian economy likely are not going to bounce back as in the past. We also destroyed most of our advanced technology sector, and the banking sector - which has also been off-shoring jobs as fast as they can - can only do so much if the rest of the economy tanks. Incidentally, this is why the Canadian housing sector remains strong; Canadians don't have anywhere else to put their savings with any hope of them holding their value (let alone earning a real, safe return).

As of the market close today - WCS was trading well below US$38 per barrel to finish out the year. Tesla Motors was trading at US$224 (up slightly over the past few days).


It's been a while since I have visited here to update (I have been busy trying to save the Canadian oil industry from itself, but they're not interested). Anyway, I have expecting the price spread between WCS ('Canadian dirty oil') and WTI to spread as U.S. refineries will shift to the lighter, more valuable crude as more U.S. oil production comes on line (e.g. Bakken). Just checking market prices today for WTI and WCS. Yesterday at the close, WTI (Cushing spot) was trading at US$57.97. (Recent increases in the WTI price are about conscious manipulation of the market by the oil cartels (not just OPEC) reducing production again.) WCS was trading at US$40.39 (about US$2.50 a barrel more than at the end of 2014, or 5% over 3 years), making for a spread of $17.61 or about a 30% discount; the spread is growing. And as for my usual comparator, Tesla is trading today at US$315.55, a gain of over 40% over the same period.


I had a few minutes today, so I checked in on oil prices. WTI price is up, trading on speculation that the Trump tax scam will make the rich richer in months to come (I'm betting against). Anyway, at the close last night, WTI price was at US$57.14 (down slightly from the day before). WCS was trading at US$30.65, or a 44% discount. If you have been betting on Canadian bitumen, that's got to hurt. Next risk on the docket: Enbridge's pipelines are basically at capacity, so if demand for moving more WCS shows up, running at over capacity increases the chance of another pipeline accident, creating a real bitumen bottleneck. Meanwhile, Tesla is trading at US$339 today.

Power Tools & Small Engines

Until I get back to writing about power tool options that don't use fossil fuels for this site, you can start with what I have written previously on muscle and electric-powered tools.

Space Cooling (Air Conditioning, Refrigeration)

Until I get back to writing about electricity savings for this site, you can start with what I have written previously on how to reduce your air conditioning energy use and the related costs.

Space Heating

We Canadians spend a lot of money burning a lot of fossil fuels to heat our buildings. Want to reduce the amount you burn and spend, and turn into GHGs? I have written quite a few tips on how to reduce your heating bill. This also includes tips on how to reduce your water heating bill.

Your tax dollars paid for this publication, Keeping the Heat In so why not read it and get your money's worth? Full of ideas on how to improve your home to reduce your energy bills. (If that link doesn't work, try this one.)

Water Heating

For now, refer to the link under Space Heating (above).

Water Use

Canadians typically undervalue fresh water. We are profligate in our use of subsidized drinking quality water. We essentially ignore the energy used to move it from sources to our taps, and all the processing of it to render it potable, and to treat the resulting waste water so it becomes less of an environmental hazard. Using less water means using less energy, and slows the depletion of the fossil aquifers that many of us rely on for our water. Interested in reducing your water consumption now? OK, how about if I mention that municipal water rates have typically risen by about 10% in Canada annually in recent years. Save water, save money, save the environment, reduce GHGs: here's how. [Disclosure: it's a commercial message (mine), but there is good information in there.]

More water-related information to come over the course of 2010; it takes time.

Availability of fresh water is going to be one of the leading issues in years to come as the global climate destabilizes. This McKinsey report on the future of water gives a taste of what is likely to come. As an example, consider the current situation in Australia. According to the video on the McKinsey report page, Australia now has only 30% of the water available for use that it did 10 years ago!
This Science Daily article is titled "Water Scarcity In Southeast Australia Started 15 Years Ago".
Consider this article on "The Big Dry" - the current drought in Australia, and whether it may serve as a blueprint for the Canadian western prairies if we continue ignore the water issue in that area.

After a summer (2009) of abnormally high rainfall in most of central and eastern Canada, it's hard to imagine this becoming an issue. However, too little rainfall or too much, they are both symptoms of changes to climate patterns that have been stable for millennia, recognizable in a human lifespan.


Did you find the information here helpful? Agree? Disagree? Looking for something more? Does something deserve more coverage? Please let me know, and I will try to help with future additions to the page.

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