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Fri, Jun 20th - 9:10PM

Iraq's Oil Exports and Economy

Iraq's Oil Exports and Economy

Iraq's oil dominated economy is now booming largely due to American investment and the building of oil pipelines for transporting oil to Europe and Asia. Iraq's GDP grew 5% to $102.3 billion in 2007 and oil exports are growing due to demand in India and China. Record high oil prices in 2008 are expected to boost Iraq's GDP by approx. 20% in 2008.

84% of Iraq's exports is oil and 46.8% of their exports goes to the United States. Italy, Spain and Canada are Iraq's next biggest trading partners. Iraq's electricity grid is fueled by burning oil (renewable energy accounts for less than 1.6% of Iraq's electricity usage). Iraq's government is currently operating on $6.1 billion annual budget deficit and is borrowing from Chinese banks to make up the shortfall. A proposed oil pipeline from Iraq, through Iran and Afghanistan to China will do much to increase Iraq's oil exports in the coming decade.


Iraq's State of Civil War

The biggest change in Iraq is the civil war that has broken out between moderate Sunni and conservative Shi'ite Muslims with both sides attacking the other side with suicide bombers, car bombs, grenades, rocket launchers and highly planned attacks on civilians. The goal? Control of Iraq's religious and political future. Read more...

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Fri, Jun 20th - 2:21PM

Afghanistan: A Tale of Two Countries

Afghanistan: A Tale of Two Countries

Afghanistan has two governments currently in operation: The government of Hamid Karzai in the north, and the Taliban still operating in the south. Despite 6 years of war the Taliban still cling to power, they still collect taxes, the residents still pay the Taliban for their electricity bills and Taliban-hired police still walk the streets.


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Fri, Jun 20th - 10:38AM

Carbon Taxes

The would-be Canadian prime minister Stephane Dion is staking the next Canadian election on carbon taxes.

The tax will not effect gasoline or diesel fuels, but it will effect home heating oil, propane and coal. Home owners who heat their homes with oil or propane can expect to pay an extra $250 / year. Businesses and industries that use coal energy and other fossil fuels would be the hardest hit and the tax will be in the thousands or hundreds of thousands depending on how much fossil fuels they use.

To offset the new tax Stephane Dion will give roughly a $1500 tax cut to lower and middle income earners. So if you're in those brackets you will get an extra $1250.

Coupled with this is tax cuts and tax incentives for small businesses and a 1% lower corporate tax that will soften the blow on corporations.

So should Canada start taxing carbon?

The problem with this idea however is I think its phrased the wrong way. The real question should be "Why aren't we already taxing carbon?" or "Do you think its fair that polluters can pollute as much as they want and don't pay a price?"

The current prime minister, Stephen Harper, practically works for the Alberta oil industry. He would never even discuss bringing in a carbon tax, or setting heavy limits on carbon production (which is what the NDP and BLOC are proposing). He is thus vehemently opposed to such changes.

Now admittedly the NDP and BLOC do have a point. Maybe we should have absolute limits on carbon usage. But how would you regulate it? How would we determine which companies are allowed to burn carbon and how much?

The Liberal/Stephane Dion proposal follows the idea of taxing the product. The sale of coal and other fossil fuels would go up $40 per tonne (which isn't a lot technically, but for major corporations it will make them start thinking greener = cheaper).

Coal is really the center piece of this problem. According to Environment Canada coal accounts for roughly 34% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and is the direct result of factories that use coal for energy and coal-electricity plants. We could in theory simply tax coal by itself, but that would be unfairly targeting a single industry when other fossil fuels do their share as well.

Now I should mention that some other countries are already taxing carbon and Barack Obama in the USA is already discussing the possibility of a carbon tax as well. If a carbon tax becomes law in the USA what will happen in Canada? Well, we will probably get a carbon tax eventually anyway.

What will a carbon tax do for the environment however? Will it even make a dent in global warming and climate change?

Yes, but it will be a small dent. The whole point is that it will be a step in the right direction. The end goal is to stop using coal and other fossil fuels all together and switch to renewable energy, hydrogen cars and nuclear sometime between now and 2030.

Governments know we need to do it. The only disagreement they are having is the timing. Stephen Harper believes we should wait and procrastinate. Do it later. Follow the status quo. A do nothing approach.

Stephane Dion wants to start making changes now, even if they are only small changes like carbon taxes.

Ask yourself:
Do you think its fair that polluters can pollute as much as they want and don't pay a price?

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