Try ‘negawatts’ to reduce need for power plant, says prof

On Dec. 1, Premier Dalton McGuinty will be briefed by the Ontario Power Authority on how the organization thinks Ontario should be powered in the future, reported Canadian Press Oct. 7.  The province must decide what to build for a stable, self-reliant future. But environmentalists say there is another answer: negawatts. A negawatt is a unit of energy saved, measured in watts. When a light bulb is replaced with one that is more energy efficient, negawatts are earned. Not only is less energy pulled from the grid, less energy is needed in the first place. Ontario could start saving negawatts and reduce the need for another power plant, said Rob MacDonald, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. “The good news is, we’re so wasteful in Ontario, there’s a huge scope for saving electricity,” MacDonald said. “But a major policy effort needs to be undertaken by our government to encourage the move towards an energy-efficient society.”

Fix or float: a personal choice

The National Post asked Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, to weigh in Oct. 7 on the debate over whether to opt for a fixed- or a variablerate mortgage, as part of a series on the housing boom. It depends on the individual, Milevsky said. “Don’t try to speculate on interest rates because that’s not what this decision is all about. What else is going on on your personal balance sheet?” In April, 2001, he wrote a much-quoted report that came out strongly in favour of variable-rate mortgages. But things have changed since then, he says. “I’m not telling everyone to go out and float. I’m trying to get people to think in a more integrated fashion about the other liabilities they have, like a corporation does.”

Ambert’s report sets off columnists’ debate

Two National Post columnists are sparring over the findings of a recent study by York University sociologist Anne-Marie Ambert. The study shows that couples who co-habit instead of, or before, marriage have relationships likelier to end in break-up or divorce. On Oct. 5, Barbara Kay quoted Ambert’s study to bolster her argument against shacking up before marriage. On Oct. 7, Adam Radwanski countered after “having been informed by Kay in these pages that my lifestyle is one formerly the domain of ‘beatniks and other social scofflaws’; that next to others my forthcoming marriage is likely to suffer from ‘lower expectations of sexual fidelity’ (among other problems); and that many of my friends are hopeless losers, the females in particular plagued by ‘anxiety, lowered self-esteem, dismay at the dwindling stock of desirable marriage-minded men’.”

Radwanski conceded there’s nothing wrong with getting married after a few months of dating, as Kay had done. “But for Kay to pronounce that the only ‘practical alternative’ to this approach is ‘serial loveless hook-ups, open-ended cohabitation, late marriage often based more on age-related anxiety than love’ is simply wrong.”

Prof plans to take poll about religious holidays

A Toronto Star story about York history Professor David Noble’s plan to poll his students about cancelling classes on the major holidays of any religion – including Islam, Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism and Wicca – was picked up by Canadian Press and published Oct. 7 in the Windsor Star. Noble was also interviewed on “The John Oakley Show” on CFMJ-AM in Toronto Oct. 6.