What are we reading? November 21, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Blogger Dave Cournoyer has some yuks with Alberta bossman Jason Kenney’s $2.5 million probe of “anti-Alberta energy campaigns” – which has a mandate to prop up conspiracy theories so laughable as to be hardly worth the effort to debunk them – after its commissioner came in for some serious conflict-of-interest scrutiny over the awarding of a nearly $1 million sole-source contract to his son’s law firm.

Cournoyer suggests there might need to be a public inquiry into this public inquiry. Kinda reminds me of the long-kicked-down-the-road “Memorial to the Victims of Communism” (also Kenney’s idea, back in 2007), which finally got some shovels in the ground this month after so many delays and so much controversy that some suggested that there should instead be a monument to failed Tory monuments. – daveberta.ca



Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Electric vehicle advocates buoyed by predictions that the falling costs of lithium-ion batteries will soon put EVs on par with internal combustion engines had a bit of cold water splashed on them this week by the energy and engineering wonks at MIT. New research at MIT points out that cost and supply of the basic ingredients of these batteries– cobalt, lithium etc. – place limits on just how low battery prices can go. “If you follow some of these other projections, you basically end up with the cost of batteries being less than the ingredients required to make it,” says the executive director of MIT’s Future mobility Group. In other words, EVs may never reach price parity with ICE vehicles as long as they rely on Li-on batteries. The only thing that may put them on an even footing with ICE vehicles is higher gasoline prices. – MIT Technology Review



Brian Mulroney, the eminence grise of Canadian conservatism, is urging political leaders to take ambitious steps to address climate change. “Small, divisive agendas make for a small, divided country. It is not enough to simply please the base,” he says. One must wonder if he offered this advice to Andrew Scheer. – National Post



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

For more depressing evidence of the expanding scope of global corruption and bad behaviour at the expense of the planet's natural resources, troll through this compilation of the Fishrot files. Wikileaks 



Still perplexed by Brexit and the inability of Brits to find a satisfying end to the soap opera? Or do you still even care anymore? Regardless, here's an interesting guide to the political/economic three-ring circus. – Peterson Institute for International Economics



Glen Korstrom, reporter

Big change could be coming for single-use plastic items in Vancouver – including the phase-out of plastic checkout bags by January 1, 2021, with mandatory fees for paper bags.  Here's the staff report that council is expected to hear a presentation on next week and potentially use to create new bylaws – City of Vancouver


Rarely find myself reading TransLink's Buzzer, but its take on things to know about the Unifor job action has some good content, particularly answering why its executive compensation is compared with other jurisdictions – it has difficulty finding executives. (Something not in the buzzer, but TransLink's CEO, has said that it had about 10,000 applications for bus drivers in the past year, and hired 1,300.) – TransLink


Given so much ink spilled about how flying is bad for the planet, here's an alternate take: What if flying is good for the planet? – New York Times