Boy, the fuel cell industry must be simply overjoyed to have this perennial scarecrow on their side :-)
Virginia Postrel wrote in Reason magazine a couple of years ago,
"When theorists like Schumacher, Rifkin, and Sale write books celebrating a world without trade, specialization, or industry, they presumably intend for their ideas to be taken seriously."
More about Rifkin, including a few "Rifkin riffs" below, after the TS excerpt.
Note especially the item about a previous book : "Mr. Rifkin's oeuvre includes The End of Work, a 1995 book in which he claimed technology was creating mass unemployment -- just as the United States was setting job creation records because of technology."
Its probably a good bet that in his new book, Rifkin dreams up some sort of low-tech hydrogen utopia where everyone's got gas bags in their homes, cars, backpacks, you name it.
Hmmm - wonder why NASA spends so much money on hydrogen safety technology on its rockets and launch facilities.... If you thought the occasional natural gas explosions we put up with now are a bit of a nuisance, you ain't seen nothing yet....
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Canada is blowing lead on fuel cell energy
David Crane Toronto Star 17 October 2002
THERE'S A PROFOUND change underway in the energy world but Canada, which started out as one of the early leaders, is in danger of ending up as a marginal player. This is the hydrogen-powered fuel cell revolution that could displace polluting coal and oil, and give the world truly clean and widely available energy.
The promise of the hydrogen revolution is set out in a new book, The Hydrogen Economy, by Jeremy Rifkin, an American author who is also president of the Washington-based Foundation on Economic Trends. Rifkin has discovered the enormous potential of fuel cells and hydrogen.
Making the transition to a hydrogen economy may take longer than he expects but it's clearly the right direction if we care about the future of the planet and the need to address the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Tuesday, January 25, 2000
I marched against GMOs
Terence Corcoran National Post
MONTREAL - The organizers expected thousands, but only hundreds showed up at the Berri Metro station for a march to save the world from genetic engineering. It's one thing to want to shut down an evil industry that threatens human health and global biodiversity, but apparently it's quite another to brave minus-40 wind-chill degrees to do it. Those who did show up at noon on Saturday were an entirely pleasant group of people, mostly young, a rag-tag collection of Greenpeace activists, students and worried souls who carried hand-made signs and tried their best to shout, "Hey hey, ho ho, GMOs have got to go" in something that resembled unison.
From the Metro station just outside the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, the troupe of 300 demonstrators headed -- through streets that were mostly deserted by a Montreal population avoiding the Everest wind conditions -- to a hotel where delegates from 135 countries were beginning negotiations over a Biosafety Protocol. The objective of the protocol is to set international standards for trade and movement of the products of genetic engineering and biotechnology.
The march was largely pointless, except as a vehicle for media coverage. Before the group began, they had been warned that the march should be a peaceful one. "We want these talks to succeed," said an amplified voice from the front of the crowd -- in contrast to Seattle, where Greenpeace and others believe demos and violence actually caused the World Trade Organization meeting to collapse. I marched with the group for 20 minutes or so, until the cold drove me into a restaurant, convinced that sticking with the march for another hour would produce nothing more than frostbite.
On Saturday night, many of the same demonstrators jammed a university auditorium for a round of demagogic speeches from their intellectual leaders. Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians, told them she was a "critic of corporate crime," and that they are all at the forefront of a movement to "bring down" genetic engineering.
The star of the night, however, was Jeremy Rifkin, the Washington-based author and biotech alarmist who has an uncanny ability to make a rambling, disjointed rant seem like a scholarly presentation. If the world could be transformed by slick, charismatic performers who roam through an audience clutching remote mikes, and who can speak non-stop and in perfect rhythms for an hour or more, Mr. Rifkin would be high on the list of saviors.
Rifkin riffs include: We will have wars over genes just as we have wars over oil. No farmer will ever own a seed again if Monsanto has its way. Genetic engineering will allow companies to own the blueprint of life. All the corn stalks in the world will be toxin producers that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Monarch butterfly is just the beginning. Whoever controls genes controls the 21st century. Human genes have already been inserted into a mouse embryo to produce mice that grow twice as fast as regular mice. Other mice have been fixed with firefly genes and glow 24 hours a day. Bill Gates and IBM are forging the computer link with genetic engineering that will give corporations control over life.
But Mr. Rifkin knew there was an enemy in the house. Maude Barlow had waved to me earlier, and would have told Mr. Rifkin. I was sitting up front in the third row, right on the aisle, with a big yellow note pad on my lap and a pen in my hand. Just before he began his performance, Mr. Rifkin claimed he had developed "a little eccentricity," a "bizarre quirk" that he wanted to "share" with the audience. "I cannot tolerate note-taking," he said emphatically and with slow, deliberate cadence. He then walked toward me, with my big yellow pad and note-taking pen. But he went right past me and reached over my shoulder to a young woman sitting in the seat directly behind mine. Then, with a flourish, he took her pen, placed it on the stage so that she could not take notes, and told her she would remember everything he said.
He never took my pen, even though I conspicuously took notes right in front of him as he began his performance. A little later, however, he did try to flush me out. "I understand," he said, apropos of nothing in particular, "that we have somebody here from the National Post. Where is this gentleman?" asked Mr. Rifkin, looking around the audience and up toward the back of the packed auditorium. At that point he was standing right beside me. "Where are you?" he asked again. "He's afraid to raise his hand. C'mon, we won't hurt you."
With no response, he changed the subject -- and I kept taking notes for the rest of the hour. You learn a lot as a journalist over the years. One of those things is never get into a public tangle with a demagogue who has control of the mike, especially someone who grips the mike with the determination of Jeremy Rifkin.
January 20 2000
The biotech brawl in Montreal
Terence Corcoran National Post
The masters of agit-prop - Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians, CBC Radio's Bob Carty, assorted purveyors of junk science and fear -- are gearing up for a week-long assault on genetically modified food and biotechnology. It won't match the World Trade Organization extravaganza in Seattle, but the agitators hope the Biosafety Protocol negotiations in Montreal next week can be hyped up into a major anti-GM food fight worthy of global attention.
The factual background and warped politics behind the Biosafety Protocol, a remote offshoot of the 1992 Rio Biodiversity Convention, would drive even the most ardent internationalist to terminal boredom. The main point to know is that the objective of Maude Barlow and her NGO associates is the opposite of the Battle in Seattle. While the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wanted to shut down the 135-nation WTO trade negotiations, the Brawl in Montreal is aimed at getting the same countries to approve a global biosafety agreement. If approved as promoted by these organizations, the protocol could halt the development of genetic engineering and biotechnology.
Actual negotiations begin on Monday, but Greenpeace et al have their events planned for Saturday, including workshops, demonstrations and a big finale Saturday night starring Ms. Barlow and Jeremy Rifkin, U.S. anti-beef activist, biotech alarmist and world-class economic crank. Mr. Rifkin's oeuvre includes The End of Work, a 1995 book in which he claimed technology was creating mass unemployment -- just as the United States was setting job creation records because of technology.
Whenever the Council of Canadians wants to spook Canadians, the first thing it does is call in an American fearmonger. A favourite last year was Samuel S. Epstein, whose theories on the causes of cancer know no bounds. The need to import talent from the U.S. is understandable, however, since the council has a hard time rounding up any experts in Canada who are as willing to twist fact and science as the likes of Messrs. Rifkin and Epstein.
A good example of Canada's junk science brain gap is the Council's release on Tuesday of a study that alleged Health Canada's approval of genetically modified crops was based on inadequate science. When the story of the study hit the newswires, it sounded authoritative. "A group of prominent Canadian scientists and academics," said a Southam News report, had formed GE-Alert, a research agency that had found flaws in Health Canada's procedures and logic.
While the study masqueraded as science, it was ridiculed as "silly" by one scientist, dismissed by Health Canada, and called "unethical" by the dean of Guelph University's agricultural college. Anyone who took the time to dig into the Council of Canadians' deliberately obfuscatory Web pages would also have a hard time establishing the prominence and biotech credentials of the scientists who signed the study.
The lead scientist was Ann Clark, an expert in pasture management whose expertise in genetic engineering is considered limited. Other members of the group include an animal nutritionist, an anthropologist, a film and television producer, a parasitologist, a biochemist and a philosopher whose field is ethics. All good people, presumably, but most of them unqualified to carry out any scientific assessment of Health Canada's approval proceedings.
Bad science has never deterred activists. Greenpeace, for example, is making the rounds of newspaper editorial boards and using its usual technique: If the science isn't there, then make it up! At a meeting with the National Post's board the other day, Greenpeace's biotech campaigner glibly said the U.S. Department of Agriculture had found that farmers who use genetically modified crops actually end up using more herbicides. One of the Post's board members had actually read the USDA report, however, and challenged Greenpeace. The USDA had in fact reached the opposite conclusion. "The net result," it said, "was a decrease in the overall pounds of herbicide applied."
Oh well, that's the Greenpeace credo: Misrepresentation in the name of the cause is justified -- and the only option when the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of genetic engineering. The USDA study found modified corn, cotton and other products produced "significant decreases in herbicide use" and "decreased insecticide use."
Over at CBC Radio, meanwhile, journalist Bob Carty -- Greenpeace's official media pipeline to the Canadian public -- yesterday repeated the Greenpeace version of the USDA study. Use of GM crops increases herbicide use, he said during an appearance on the network's national This Morning show. Mr. Carty fanned the flames of GM food fears, saying there was growing evidence that Canadians and Americans were growing increasingly concerned about the products. This has caught industry off guard, he said -- although he didn't acknowledge his own role in creating alarm. In reports last year, Mr. Carty and his colleagues compared genetic engineering to Nazi experiments, linked the industry to Agent Orange and nuclear war, called beef hormones "crack for cows," interviewed known kooks, and uncritically reported on the work of a British scientist whose study on modified potatoes had been dismissed by Britain's scientific community.
So that's what's coming over the next week in Montreal. Later, we'll get to the Biosafety Protocol.