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August 16, 2010

Ottawa is proposing to spend $16BN on buying & maintaining 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to replace the Air Force’s aging CF-18 jets. Never mind that this was a sole-source contract or that it is paying a great deal more than the US Air Force for the same plane or that the US government has found it necessary to spend US$7BN to extend the life of the US Navy’s F/A-18 jets because of delays in the rollout of the F-35s. Conceptually the whole idea of buying jet fighters of any kind is questionable. Canada has had little real use for its CF-18's for the past thirty-odd years. In Afghanistan jet fighters have been proven counter-productive in the military environment likely to hallmark the first half of the 21st century. In the fiscal environment going forward, money is likely to be scarcer for all purposes, incl. military spending, than it has been in the past & using it in the most cost-effective manner will become the order of the day. And jet fighters are all but useless in enforcing Canada’s souvereignty claims in the High Arctic; to do so effectively you need boots on the ground & boats in the water, not planes flying near the speed of sound tens of thousands of feet up in the air. 

Traffic patterns are changing in the city of Edmonton. In 2004 66.2% of those entering its downtown core did so by car & 33.8% by public transit while five years later this had changed to 61.5% & 38.5% respectively. Ditto for those travelling through the core : in 2004 74.3% did so by car & 25.7% by transit, while the numbers in 2009 were 72.5% & 27.5%.     


Many North American cities are having troubles making ends meet. Here’s how Edmonton, that for years has been raising property taxes at rates in excess of inflation plus population growth (this year alone by 6½%), is boosting revenue covertly. It is the 100% owner of EPCOR, a company 60% of whose profits are paid as dividends into the City treasury. Once EPCOR was purely a producer & distributor of electricity; but after the Alberta  government ‘deregulated’ the province’s electricity business, it spun off much of its power business in Alberta to & moved into a more promising growth area, the provision of drinking water- & waste water management services. As part thereof Edmonton last year contracted these activities out to EPCOR. And, as one reader pointed out in a local newspaper, in the seven months ended June 30th the charges on his monthly utilities’ bill have risen by 1.6% for water & 8% for waste water treatment, and the monthly “service charges” (for the privilege of using EPCOR services) by 4% for water, 7.8% for drainage & 12.6% for waste water. A neat & efficient  way to kill two birds with one stone : extract more money from taxpayers’ pockets without calling it a tax & augment EPCOR’s capital base.  

There is more to the uproar about governments threatening RIM to shut down its Blackberry operations in their countries unless they get access to their encryption technology. For that applies only to business-, not private-, traffic; so what these governments are after is to be able to peek into business secrets.     


No. 373SP - August 16th, 2010 


(G&M, David Rosenberg) 

    · Real economic (& political) power resides on Main Street which understands enough of what’s going on to realize the need to get balance sheets in order, if only because of the rapid approach of retirement  for 78MM ‘boomers’, the 25% of the population with real power in society. The balance sheet rebuilding process at the household- & public sector level will in the short run undermine economic growth potential. The seeds are already being sown for a radical restructuring of entitlements : across the nation public sector pension plan trustees & legislatures are pushing for higher contributions, later retirement ages & less generous cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. In the case of governments greater fiscal probity will involve fewer non-essential services & means-testing for entitlements, and higher taxes & user fees. Until the end of the balance sheet rebuilding phase, we are likely to see a lengthy period of price stability or modest deflation, and a deferral of strong GDP & earnings growth, and any return of inflation. 

Many politicians seem not yet to have gotten this message. 

U.S. DRAWS LINE IN SEA (UPI. com, Martin Walker) 

    · US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton infuriated her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at the recent ASEAN Regional Forum when she declared that the resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea was in the US “national interest”. There are three aspects to this issue. The military card was already played by Beijing when it established military outposts on the Paracel & Spratly islands, despite competing claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei & Indonesia, all of whose coast lines are hundreds of miles closer to these islands than China’s (on Hainan Island). The economic aspect is dominated by indications that the South China Sea may contain significant hydrocarbon reserves, and Beijing has already warned Western oil companies operating in waters off the Vietnamese coast that they risk their future prospects in China if they continue to do so. The cultural aspect arises from the fact that, while the US stands on principles of international law & the peaceful resolution of disputes,  freedom of navigation on the seas & free trade, free markets& free institutions, the Chinese model is based on state power, state dominance of the economy & the main industries, and state control of the media & the political system.

    · The economic aspect was given another dimension when the head of China’s biggest rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, told the Financial Times that “The U.S. is insolvent and faces bankruptcy as a pure debtor nation but the rating agencies still give it a high rating ...(and) the huge military expenditure of the U.S. is not created by themselves but comes from borrowed money, which is not sustainable.”  And yet the official Chinese news agency Xinhua published an extraordinary editorial on July 28th revealing high level alarm in Beijing over its economic prospects, as rapidly rising wages and a labour supply that is starting to decline combine with a housing bubble, saying that “If housing are not checked and land issues not resolved, they could threaten social stability and the national economy ... after seeing it how difficult it is to implement tougher property policies, the public has realized that the vested interest groups have become powerful enough to resist or tamper with the central government’s property-control policies.’ So China’s leaders are nervous about their own prospects  even as they bully their neighbours & claim America is in decline, and now the US has drawn a line in the South China Sea although it remains to be seen whether that line will hold & on which side thereof the Southeast Asian countries will choose to stand.      

While the US is a lot further away, this disadvantage could be cancelled if it can create enough credibility that it will remain firmly on the side of the other Southeast Asian nations through thick & thin; for then the appeal of possibly gaining control over large hydrocarbon reserves underneath the sea that they could exploit (for which there would be a ready market in Japan, India & China),& over the fish stocks in it, plus the scope this may provide for playing one off against the other, could outweigh their fear of their gigantic neighbour).      


(Reuters, Jon Hurdle) 

    · According to Green Century Capital Management this spring 12 energy companies faced shareholder resolutions, supported among others by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third-largest US pension fund, urging better safeguards against environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing, the key to producing gas from shale, that some fear contaminates groundwater. Of those four were withdrawn when the companies agreed to do so. And at ExxonMobil’s Annual Meeting - which last year spent US$30BN to buy shale gas player XTO Energy Inc. - despite the company urging shareholders to vote against the resolution because fracking was already highly regulated &’ less environmentally damaging than conventional gas production since it required fewer wells to be drilled’, investors representing 26% of its outstanding shares nevertheless voted for it. 

Given ExxonMobil’s track record, anything it opposes is likely worthy of support, and vice versa. 


    · While enriched environments have caused young Americans’ IQ scores to rise with each generation, the reverse has been true in recent decades for creativity : since 1990 their creativity scores, however measured, have been declining (while in China they have been climbing, due in part to a move in their educational system away from rote learning).  

Creativity rather than intelligence is key to economic progress. While computer games (a survey among Ontario students found 10% spend seven hours a day staring at computer or TV screens - boys more so than girls by 11.4% to 7.8%) & education get the blame, part of it likely also lies with ‘parachute parents’ who won’t let their kids be kids & explore their environment, who program all of their activities, and who won’t let them out of their sight & are over-protective. 


    · The installation this spring of bee hives on the roof of Toronto’s Opera House was the latest instalment in the growing trend towards urban beekeeping. The nearby Fairmont Royal York hotel, one of the eight Fairmont inns around the world with rooftop apiaries, has won awards for its honey. While the Ontario Bees Act makes it illegal to keep bees within 30 metres of a residential property line, such a rule no longer applies in Vancouver, last March beekeeping became legal in New York City, there is an abundance of apiaries in San Francisco, and there are bee hives on the South Lawn of the White House, Chicago’s City Hall and London’s food emporium Fortnum & Mason. 

Rather counter-intuitively, urban bee hives produce more honey than those in the country; for the heat retained by all its stone, brick & concrete allows bees to be active longer each day & extends their working season. Another benefit of beekeeping was experienced by the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver which has a few apple trees on its roof garden : it found that the addition of a couple of beehives increased their apple crop 10x.    

LESS STUDYING NOWADAYS (Boston Globe, Keith O’Brien) 

    · Research by Prof. Philip Babcock at the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus & Prof. Mindy Marks at its Riverside campus found that while students at four year colleges studied 24 hours a week in 1961, today they do so for only 14 hours. 

Small wonder there has been a meteoric & technology-facilitated  rise in cheating.  


(Postmedia News, L. Stone) 

    · A national survey of 2,500 Canadian highschool & post-secondary students aged 17-29 by the Toronto-based Studentsawards Inc. found that today’s young adults are risk-averse. Their top priorities are spending time with family & friends, getting more education & leading a healthy life style. Few of them expect ever to become a millionaire, in contrast to the “me” generation of the 1980's. 

It might be interesting to see what results a similar survey among young Americans would produce.   

SEA ICE MELTING FASTER IN ARCTIC (CanWest News Service, Randy Boswell) 

    · The Colorado-based US National Snow and Ice Data Center on July 6th reported that,  after a record-setting melt in May, it melted faster in June than in any June since records started being kept 30 years ago, that, while the Hudson Bay usually holds significant ice in June, this year it was completely ice-free & that the Nares Strait ice arch  which normally blocks the flow of northern ice into the warmer waters further South, had disappeared in May.  

Climate change is all a hoax, isn’t it? Yes, and the world was created 6,000 years ago! 

DYING ALGAE A ‘GLOBAL CONCERN’ (Postmedia News, Carmen Chai) 

    · A Dalhousie University-based study, the results of which were published in the July issue of Nature, found that the microscopic marine algae known as phytoplankton, the basis of the marine food chain & the source of much of the world’s oxygen, is dying at an alarming rate &, due to rising sea surface temperatures & changing ocean conditions, has declined by roughly 40% since 1950. According to the study’s lead author, Dalhousie’s Prof. Daniel Boyce, “Phytoplankton is the fuel on which marine ecosystems run ... A decline affects everything up the food chain, including humans.”  

The scientists hypothesize that warming near the surface makes each ocean water layer more distinct, thereby preventing the nutrient-rich bottom layers from mixing with the upper layers. 

ASYLUM SEEKERS FLOCK TO CANADA (CanWest News Service, Peter O’Neil) 

    · According to the OECD, Canada in 2008 received 34,800 asylum seekers, a number only exceeded by the US’ 39,400 & France’s 35,400.  

Ottawa since passed legislation seeking to crack down on what the Minister called “waves of false asylum claims coming from safe democratic countries” like Mexico & the Czech Republic. But Tamils from Sri Lanka are testing it, successfully so far, creating a windfall for human traffickers.  

P.E.I. FISHERMEN TO SEEK BP DAMAGES (Charlottetown Guardian) 

    · With 300 licensed tuna fishermen among its 140,000 people, & many others supposedly benefiting indirectly thereof, tuna fishing is deemed important to the island economy. But the bluefin tuna on which this depends spawn in the Gulf of Mexico before migrating North for the summer. According to Mike McGeighegan of the P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association “The day might come in a few years where there is suddenly very few tuna around P.E.I. ... that could be the consequence of the spill ... Two or three years from now we might see half the size of the school of tuna that normally arrives around the island ... If we don’t file now ... we will have no legal grounds and could be facing terrific losses in the years ahead.”  

The average size of the tuna caught in the North Atlantic has declined dramatically in recent decades. Oil or overfishing, what’s the dif? 


    · Of the 9,112 Grade 7-12 students surveyed by the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 14% reported poor health, obesity & mental health problems vs. 6% in 1991. 

The average for girls was 18% & for boys 10%. 


    · Toronto-based Environmental Defence says Ontario & Quebec residents waste 58BN litres of water a year. Per  capita daily water use in Canada is 329 litres, twice that in Europe. Canadians flush toilets 7x daily & standard flow toilets use 16 litres per flush, vs. six litres for low flow ones; so  213BN litres could be saved each year, the annual water use of the City of Toronto, by getting rid of all old-style toilets. Getting rid of old washing machines could save another 162BN litres, & conversion to low-flow shower heads another 65BN. 

The solutions are often there, but the willingness to bite the financial bullet seldom is.      


(G&M, Gloria Galloway) 

    · On August 31st 2006 Doug Tipple was fired without warning by the Minister’s Office from his  job as  Special Adviser for Real Estate in the Department of Public Works, despite having exceed expectations in his budget-slashing job. The stated reason : he had missed meetings with senior officials on a business trip to Britain (although an internal investigation, concluded prior to his firing, had found that he & a colleague “appeared to have used their time [in Britain] in a responsible and productive manner”). 

The Labour Board adjudicator that ordered the government to pay him $1.4MM in damages, found that Mr. Tipple appeared to have been an “excellent & valued” employee who had saved the Canadian taxpayer $1BN over five years. But just imagine how many political toes he must have stepped on in traditionally such a patronage-ridden government department, and how many bureaucratic apple carts he must have upset & empire-building dreams squashed, in so doing. The truth is that Ottawa only pays lipservice to efficiency & the prudent husbandry of public funds.  


    · Canada’s Provincial Premiers unveiled plans on August 6th to set up a national agency that would be responsible for purchasing the $10BN in prescription drugs, and the medical equipment & supplies, their governments collectively purchase each year, in the expectation this will lower the cost of a major aspect of their healthcare expenditures. 

The Law of Unintended Consequences makes it almost inevitable that the resultant bureaucracy will eat up whatever savings might be generated.



    · According to CNRL President Steve Laut, due to the use of new methodology at its Horizon oilsands plant (that started operations in early 2009) using carbon dioxide (that all oilsands producers generate in making the hydrogen needed to upgrade bitumen) that changes the chemistry of its tailings “the amount of water we are withdrawing from the Athabasca River is only 13 to 14% of what we were expected to draw from the river ... on a daily basis.”  

This would seem to make more sense that capturing it to bury it deep underground (for which the provincial government has earmarked $2BN). 

GOV’T FAILS AT GOING GREEN (Postmedia News, Mike De Souza) 

    · A survey of 5,109 senior stakeholders in government, industry & academia conducted by McAllister Opinion Research, incl. 4,282 Canadians, found that 77% of them rated Canada’s efforts at addressing climate change as poor or very poor, and that almost as many had the same opinion about the country’s performance in developing a green economy. 

That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.   

CHINESE POLICE BEAT ‘WRONG’ PERSON (Postmedia News, Aileen McCabe) 

    · While police in Hubei Province thought they were just beating a pesky petitioner senseless, it turned out to be Chen Yulian, the wife of a top Communist Party official. And then officials from the public security bureau in Wuhan, the provincial capital, made matters worse when they sought to apologize by telling her they made a mistake when they treated her like an “ordinary” petitioner rather than an important “wife-of”. This prompted her to ask from her hospital bed, one month after the incident, “An official’s wife you can’t hit, but a commoner you can?” & the Party mouthpiece People’s Daily to observe that “the mistake of the ‘mistakenly beating gate incident’ is not about ‘beating the wrong people’ but habitual beating under the mindset of maintaining stability by violence.”

    · Petitioning to a higher level of government is the final recourse for Chinese who believe they have been wronged & are unable to get satisfaction at the local government level (often because its officials were the ones who wronged them), but officials will go to any length to stop them from doing so because complaints reflect badly on their performance. 

The interesting thing is that this event quickly became a cause celebre on the Internet. 


    · While torrential rains & flash floods have caused much damage, & killed many people, across Southern China, the 100,000 residents of the city of Ganzhou have been safe & dry thanks to two drainage tunnels built by a man called Liu Yi during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that proved far more effective than modern storm sewer systems. 

Despite being mesmerized with new technology, there’s often nothing wrong with old technology.  


    · In June property prices in 70 cities declined for the first time since February 2009 (by 0.1% MoM) but were still up 11.4% YoY. And bank lending, which has fueled property speculation, was down 5.6% MoM (& 50% YoY), raising the question if there will be a soft landing in housing or a US-style crash landing. Exports were up 43.9% YoY (vs. the 38% expected) but imports only 34.1% on a smaller base, boosting the trade surplus for the month by US$500MM to US$20BN. This came days after Treasury Secretary Geithner chose not to label Beijing a “currency manipulator” (since its pre-G20 announcement allowed more flexibility in the yuan, even though so far it had resulted in only a 0.9% change in its value).  

One key difference between the Chinese & US property booms is that the latter was far more leverage-driven than China’s (so the prospects of owners getting “underwater” is far smaller). 


(CanWest News) 

    · Rare earth elements like dysprosium, gadolinium & neodymium, but also the better-known tantalum & lithium, are key to much green technology, consumer electronics & high capacity magnets. Ninety-plus percent of their current supply originates in China which is planning to cut its export quotas for the Second Half by 72% YoY to 7,976 tonnes. According to Don Bubar, CEO of Toronto-based Avalon Rare Metals Inc., this “underlines the ... the need for new supply sources to emerge outside China”. And this has raised the ire of the US & other developed countries that depend on China for their rare earth materials, with the US gathering evidence for a formal complaint to the WTO. But while China cornered the market by keeping its prices low, there are many rare earth deposits elsewhere in the world that can be developed if prices make it worthwhile to do so. 

Demand is relatively price-inelastic since the amounts needed in various hi-tech applications are relatively small compared to the value of the end product. So China may be shooting itself in the foot by encouraging the development of other sources of supply.   


    · Electric car skeptics claim there won’t be enough lithium for significant numbers of them & some even that the US invaded Afghanistan to secure its massive lithium reserves. But according to the US Geological Survey the US has 2½MM tons in lithium reserves & the rest of the world another 23MM tons - enough for billions of electric cars. And existing non-Chinese producers have the capability to produce sufficient lithium to fuel the number of electric cars projected for the next decade (they are now only operating at 60% of capacity, & even so producing more than the market needs, and have the ability to expand output).  

While recycling it is still non-economic, that will change as more used batteries become available.   


    · According to Dr. Amatjeet Singh of the National Population Stabilization Fund India’s current population of 1.1BN will grow by 371MM by 2026, taking it past China’s current 1.35BN. 

The common wisdom holds the resultant low dependency ratio will result in high economic growth. 


    · On May 28th they signed an agreement for a US$7½ BN, 900 km gas pipeline to be built by 2014 between Asalooyeh in Southern Iran & Iranshahr, near the Pakistan border that will move gas originating in the huge South Pars field (in the Persian Gulf) to Pakistan. 

Originally this was to have involved India as well, but it withdrew from the project last year.



    · It said on July 12th that, despite the fiscal tightening plans in the June Budget, it’s keeping its negative outlook on Britain & that its triple-A rating remains at risk, since the spending cuts have yet to be made & the economy may grow slower than assumed in the Budget. 

This may actually play into the hands of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.  


    · The new Royal Horse Artillery barracks in Woolwich, Southeast London, will have its heating & lighting needs met by burning pellets made of its 111 horses’ manure & bedding. 

This kills two birds with one stone : use less traditional fuel & dispose of the manure. 


    · This major Canadian oil & gas producer is teaming up with Poland’s largest oil refiner, PKN Orlen SA, to drill for shale gas in that country which is estimated to have reserves of shale & ‘tight’ gas that could be as high as 3TR cubic metres (> 100TRCF). 

Talisman likely has as much, if not more, experience than most oil & gas companies with shale gas.  If this venture were successful it could be a major boost to the Polish economy, make it a net energy exporter & reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.  


    · Almost half the euthanasia cases in Belgium involved patients who had not asked their lives be ended, one fifths of the nurses interviewed by researchers admitted having been involved in euthanasia cases that involved an ‘assumption’ they would want to have their lives ended & half said they had taken part in “terminations without request or consent”. 

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002 but requires consent. 


    · In an op-ed piece published in The Star, a Johannesburg daily, former South African President Thabo Mbeki on July 1st accused the G-8 & G-20 summits (the latter of which was attended by his successor) of abandoning Africa & of conveying “a message of despair” to the world’s poorest region. He based this on the fact that, while the 2002 G-8 meeting hosted by Canada in Alberta (in which he had played a role) had created an ‘Africa Action Plan’ & adopted a statement about “the special needs of Africa”, the communique after the latest G-8 meeting in Canada had merely talked about a”responsible partnership” & the “global development challenge facing the world”, thus walking away from the 2002 Africa Action Plan & depriving Africa from its central place in the world’s development agenda. 

Mbeki was Mandela’s hand-picked successor as South Africa’s leader & its (under-performing) President for nine years until ousted in a palace coup by Jacob Zuma in 2008. While there is something in what he says, sub-Saharan Africa’s rate of economic growth has improved greatly in recent years, in part due to China pouring in money, but in part also to better & less kleptocratic governance & to a realization among younger leaders that foreign aid has been part of the problem, not of the solution, and that, to improve their lives, they’d better start ‘pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps’. It’s ironic that the West kept pouring in aid when much of it benefited kleptocratic cliques & is now cutting back when it actually could do some good (leaving a void that China will be only too happy to fill). 


    · Jackie Selebi was an anti-apartheid activist & a close ally of former President Mbeki, and  a former Head of the South African Police (& of Interpol, from 2004 to 2008).  On July 2nd, after a nine-month trial he was found guilty of accepting $158,200 in bribes for turning a blind eye on bad guys & providing them with inside information.  

He subsequently was sentenced to 15 years. His conviction, however, was as much as anything evidence of a split in the ruling ANC party between its pro-Mbeki & pro-Zuma elements. 

MOONSHINE OR THE KIDS? (NYT, Nicholas D. Kristof) 

    · While traveling through Central Africa we met a bright fourth grader who was about to be expelled from school because his school fees hadn’t been paid in three months. So we asked to meet his parents. His father makes straw stools that he sells for a dollar each & is obviously very  poor. He is eight months behind on his $6/month rent & in danger of being evicted, with no place to go. He says he cannot afford the $6 cost of a mosquito net although two of his eight kids have died from malaria, nor the $2½ monthly school fees for each of his three school age kids, explaining that “It’s hard to get the money to send the kids to school.” But both he & his wife have cell phones and between them spend $10 on call time, and he goes  drinking several times a week at the village bar which he thinks costs him about $12 a month, almost enough for his rent & the kids’ school fees.  

He needn’t have gone to Africa to find cases like this : in North America too there is a phenomenon referred to as “three day millionaires”, people who, on the day the welfare cheques come in, take a taxi to the bank to cash it while the taxi waits outside, then go to the liquor store to stock up, again while the taxi waits outside, & then go home to get drunk, and who a couple of weeks later come knocking on the door of the local Food Bank for food to feed their family.  

JAGGED LITTLE PILL (G&M, Carolyn Abraham) 

    · For every woman there is always a risk after a baby is born when the placenta peels away from the uterine wall, leaving a wound the size of a small pizza. If all goes well, the uterus will contract to close around the blood vessels; but if it doesn’t, as happens in up to 15% of the cases, the mother can bleed to death within an hour, and across the world an estimated 1,000 women die thus each day. Seventy-five years ago already drugs came along to stop post-partum bleeding but the cold storage needed to store them, & the technology to administer them, put them out of reach of many women in the world. Then, a number of years ago, it was discovered that a twenty year-old, 10¢ drug called misoprostol, originally developed as a gastric ulcer drug, that needed no cold storage to keep nor special equipment to deliver, could help save new mothers’ lives. But because it  can also be used to induce labour & abortions, it has ever since been mired in controversy to the point where some governments have outright banned it. In addition, because the manufacturer, US-based G.D. Searle & Co. has never conducted trials to establish safe dosages for use, it has become what one doctor called a “cowboy medicine”, often used in far greater amounts than necessary, or desirable, if only because the standard pill size contains as much as 24x the dosage required for some applications. As a result, the WHO “does not recommend distribution of misoprostol to community-level health workers or women and their families for routine or emergency use.”   

As one critic puts it, “Caution kills.” 


    · A report prepared by the UN Environment Program in response to a request to identify activities that cause the greatest pressures on the environment associated with a growing world population, and rising incomes & consumption, concluded that, since cattle & other animals are fed over half the world’s crops, meat consumption must be curbed to provide more food for people & reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. Furthermore, that agriculture, which accounts for 70% of all fresh water consumption & 38% of all land use, and is a major source of greenhouse gases and of phosphorus & nitrogen pollution, is in need of “transformational change” and that at the household level there is room for change in the way people use energy, travel and buy, & use, ‘mod cons’. 

Better husbandry of existing technology, rather than radical change, may well be the ticket. 


(CanWest, Margaret Munro) 

    · A report by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society says that under the right conditions planes can “seed” clouds by simply flying through them. For when they fly through air masses that contain “supercooled” water droplets, the action of propellers or jet turbines can cause them to freeze & drop to the ground.   

We often ignore the basic principle in physics that for every action there is a reaction.

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