Chris Turner (“Tilting at Windmills,” November) provides an interesting take on the failure of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, but he also twists the narrative. Despite Turner’s rosy tale, not all Germans were happy with massive artificial increases in power rates, raised to match the high costs of small, private power producers—and neither, understandably, were Ontarians. The GEA failed because of money, and I’m glad it did.
It’s not just the tech-savvy Germans that should have us rethinking our energy policies. Smaller, developing countries are adopting green initiatives, too—proving that capital-intensive hydro projects and coal-fired power plants aren’t the only means of keeping the lights on. With investment and proper planning, green energy can be produced on any scale.
Turner focuses on Ontario, but there are lessons here for other jurisdictions, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose leaders also want to eliminate coal-based electricity. More consumers will adopt renewables if it’s easy for stakeholders—including municipalities, First Nations, farmers, churches, and co-ops—to make money generating solar and wind power. The key point is that expanding renewable energy will require a “community power” model. Green energy will be secure when everyone gets a cut. That day can’t come quickly enough.
Club Super sect
Simon Lewsen’s article about a Montreal cult library contained a lot of needless fearmongering (“Life after Doomsday,” November). People conflate violent cults with eccentric but mostly harmless groups. I don’t doubt that the Moonies, Raelians, and Scientologists have wacky customs and beliefs, but they’re no weirder than most mainstream religions. Singling them out will lead to religious discrimination. If we want to do away with cults—and other, more popular forms of superstition—we should investigate what makes people want to join such organizations in the first place, and what that desire says about our society.
Kyle Carsten Wyatt (“Busted,” November) reveals the pervasiveness of academic cheating but leaves out a key part of the story: the rise of turnitin.com and other automated plagiarism-detection tools. Institutions should use whatever methods are necessary to weed out cheaters. If university administrators want us to believe their degrees have value, we need to know that their students have earned those degrees honestly.
David A. Basskin
I have caught a few students cheating, and, like the author, I think their workload is a significant factor. However, I also believe that students cheat primarily because schools don’t respect them. Increasingly, students are taught in huge classes and have little contact with professors. When you’re alienated by factory-style education, it’s much easier to justify bad behaviour.
The student who said that collaborating is okay—but copying answers isn’t—nailed it. As an engineering student in the late ’60s, you either collaborated on the assignments or the assignments crushed you. The professors knew, but they turned a blind eye unless it became blatant. In retrospect, it seems like good practice for real-life work: collaboration is essential to any career.
Wasaga Beach, ON
what’s at steak
Kudos to Jonathan Kay for investigating the real source of his food (“From Torture to Table,” November). However, I take issue with the notion that meat produced without suffering is ethical. What is ethical about taking a life? Most people could flourish on a vegetarian diet. As Plutarch wrote nearly 2,000 years ago, “for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that portion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.” In 2016, we can do better.
This appeared in the January/February 2016 issue.