Canadian Premier League Or Bust! #CanPL


It’s coming…. Eventually. A full fledged pro soccer league in Canada (Or rumors of it).

Last February, an article from the Hamilton Spectator leaked suggest the 6-8 team league would feature a mix of Canadian Football League and National Hockey League ownership, would kick off by 2018.

Once this league is a go, it’s going to be a dream come true for Canadian soccer fans, who have been craving for a full time, top-tier professional soccer in the Great White North (except for Major League Soccer in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal).

Remember the last experiment? The Canadian Soccer League between 1987-1992? Remember the Sunday night game of the week on TSN featuring Vic Rauter and Graham Leggat? Those were the days. Eventually, the league died, with the Winnipeg Fury winning the last championship in 1992.

Now, nearly 25 years later after the CSL’s demise, a Canadian pro soccer league has a much better chance of succeeding now, than in 1992. Why?

Globalization has changed how we perceived soccer in some aspects of North American culture. While the big four leagues dominate (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA), MLS is growing. Market analysts suggest millennials, and the Latino‘s as key demographics in soccer, its easy to understand why “The Beautiful Game” just keeps growing.

However, I don’t think this will be a slam dunk for the Canadian Premier League to capture the hearts of all 35.16 million Canucks, right away. Hockey remains the dominant sport in Canada, and likely will for the foreseeable future. A lot of work is needed to ensure a successful start, and for a prosperous future.

  1. A national television contract announced on Day one. Yes, you need television. It’sI would predict TSN, to be a major partner in this. TSN recently signed on with the Canadian Soccer Association to show national team and Amway Cup championship games. I would expect a TSN-type broadcaster to show perhaps 1-3 games a week. Ideally, it would be great if the CBC, could sign on as well, and do a “Game of the Week” during the summer time when the NHL is in summertime hibernation. Nonetheless, just having these games streamed online is not enough. If this league credibility among the media on day one, a major television contract is needed.
  2. Second key point is creating a supporters club culture. It took years for MLS to understand this, and now it’s starting to pay off. Clubs including NYCFC, Portland, Montreal, and Seattle have vibrant supporters sections, which add flavor to a soccer game. Look, it’s good to target suburban soccer moms, but at the end of the day, a league without its supports sections is a dead duck.

People are more accepting about this great game here in Canada in 2016. It’s going to be a grind starting on day one. Collaboration between league management, owners, fans, will ensure success. Getting the message out to the Canadian mainstream media, (who despite becoming warmer to soccer, still is blind sometimes) about why this league is the “Real Deal”, will help to build on positive vibes. Look, this is the best shot we got in making professional soccer a success. Once the announcement drops, let’s all get down to work and make this the best league possible.

What do you think about the Canadian Premier League’s chances of survival when (or if it starts) in 2018. Connect with my on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

An Inconvenient Truth: Ten Years On


Ten years ago, Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, sending Italians into a frenzy. Yet, perhaps just as significant was the release of An Inconvenient Truth.

This documentary featured former US Vice-President Al Gore discussing on a slide show, about the consequences climate change would have on our planet in the future. It was a visual tour de force for the eyes, as Gore hit the point home, slide, after slide, after slide, about what will occur if we do not make necessary changes in order to avoid future damage. An inconvenient Truth won the 2006 Best Documentary Feature Oscar. It also became one of top grossing documentaries of all time, taking in $49.1 million, globally.

So what has happened since An Inconvenient Truth has come out?

A lot of things have happened. I won’t go into every crook and cranny on what’s happened since, but I will discuss some key points.

Weather events are getting more extreme: Ok, as much as I love watching a good extreme wrestling bout, the same can’t be said about extreme weather. There is nothing funny, nor pretty about flash flooding, droughts, and intense heat waves.  In, fact it’s quite scary. Consider since 2006, six years have been the hottest globally on record, (2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015). There is a 99% chance 2016 will be even warmer (and it’s not even June yet). Climate analysts suggest these types of events will only increase in warming world, as we head into a “New Normal” of expecting the unexpected in weather. If that won’t get you, perhaps increased insurance rates in the pocket-book will from these situations.

Increased investments in renewables and cleantech investment: While doom and gloom abounds about climate change, one positive has occurred, which is more investments into renewable energy and clean technology. Renewable energy and clean technology has seen revival, thanks to reducing carbon emissions, but also thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which poured $31 billion US into new American clean energy projects. Since then, global renewable energy investment reached a record in 2015 with $329 billion US, with emerging market countries leading the way. Electric vehicles are also finding their way, as they are becoming more affordable, as Tesla Motors has taken already 373,000 pre orders for its affordable ($35,000 per car) model 3 vehicle, and is considered a “game changing” event within the automobile industry due to the amount of rapid sales for an electric vehicle.

Ten years on. An Inconvenient Truth, if anything got more people talking about climate change and began a serious conversation in mainstream society. It’s been used in universities, and schools about what needs to occur about taking climate action. Sure it has its detractors.  Yet at the end of the day, it’s a discussion that needed to be out in the open. Look, I love talking about money (I prepare income taxes, and took economics), but we can’t continue to beat up our planet Earth day in and day out in the sake of maximizing return. There is no economy with no planet. Today we have to technology to move forward, with wind, solar, biofuels, battery storage, and electric vehicles.  The Internet of Things will help to ramp up renewable energy through smart grids, as smart cities will help to ensure improved energy efficiencies in major urban centres.

We owe it to ourselves. If not to save our Earth, but in the very least to upgrade our outdated 20th century infrastructure into the 21st century, and save ourselves future costs from extreme weather events.

So watch An Inconvenient Truth again. Discuss what has changed since. Debate with your friends and neighbors. Be inspired by it. But in the very least come out of it with something new, and take action. Because there is No Planet B.

 

Moving Forward After the Fort McMurray Wildfires


It’s really been a trying week for Canadians, after a wildfire forced 80,000 residents of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray Alberta (which is located in the heart of the Alberta oil sands) to evacuate the city on May 3rd.

Fort McMurray pic

Fort McMurray Wildfire via Wikipedia Some Rights Reserved Under The Creative Commons

 

There was many factors which contributed to this “beast of a wildfire.” Limited snowpack from a dry winter, from El Nino, along with a lack of rainfall and a hint of a warming climate help spur the tragic events.

University of Alberta told Climate Central what occurred in Fort McMurray, Alberta is on par with how human climate change effects wild fires in Northern forests.

While the fire rages, there has been a firestorm of controversy about if climate change should be even mentioned. Some on both sides of the climate debate have taken it to extremes, ranging from glee seeing Fort McMurray facilities burn down, to a Calgary Sun op-ed telling environmentalist Tweeters to screw off.

Personally, I am not a fan of either of these tactics. Fort McMurray residents have been through plenty, and my heart goes out to them, and may God bless them. Those who tweeted early this week they were happy that Fort McMurray was burning down need to learn appropriate manners when dealing with such tragedies, and only make things worse.

Now having said that, what occurred this week in Fort McMurray may not be a one-off? Slate.com climate reporter Eric Hothouse said discussing what occurred this week in Fort McMurray this past week “Isn’t natural.” He goes onto say further:

Talking about climate change during an ongoing disaster like Fort McMurray is absolutely necessary. There is a sensitive way to do it, one that acknowledges what the victims are going through and does not blame them for these difficulties. But adding scientific context helps inform our response and helps us figure out how something so horrific could have happened.

Holthaus is right. There is a way of mixing the scientific context, while respecting those who have suffered through these horrendous events, and not figure point at Fort McMurray residents. After all, many of them worked in Fort McMurray in search of a more prosperous future away from bleaker economic conditions.

However, now we must look forward. We owe it to ourselves, as Canadians to prevent these sorts of future disasters as much as possible, whether it’s Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, or even Winnipeg.

So heading forward, let’s have a discussion on how we make future development more environmentally sustainable. Newer cleantech industries like wind, solar energy and biofuels can play a role in this development, and helping to retrain those from the oil patch becomes very critical.

As for adaptation, my favorite suggestion is boosting the Canadian military. Yes, I said INCREASE  Canadian military presence! With limited dollars being spent on one of Canada’s greatest institutions, and participation falling dramatically, it’s time to rethink our Armed Forces role and improve it. Given increased security risks from climate change. The Royal Canadian Armed Forces must protect Canadians from all security risks, including climate security risks in the 21st century. A larger military would ensure there is enough manpower on the ground to help those battling these disasters, while comforting those who have lost everything.

So let’s talking and work towards rebuilding.

Earth Day: Futurism is the Driving Force for Environmentalism  


On this Earth Day, Futurism has to be the driving force for environmentalism. Yes, call me crazy, but without having futuristic thinking, environmentalism in its goals falls short.

After all, vision is what is required to set a plan forward. Having a vision ensures a plan. Having a plan in place can help get the tactics right required for success, and minimizing any failure. Getting the right tactics is important to ensuring success. This is what sports analysts talk about how teams are successful or an abysmal failure. Those who have the right plan and tactics are successful. Those who don’t, fail.

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Red Tesla Model 3 via WikiCommons By  Steve Jurvetson, Some Rights Reserved

Now put those same principles with climate change and environmental issues. While it’s important to focus on the problems which climate change will cause, including extreme weather events, and increased costs, the importance of environmentalists shifting, and gazing towards what the future can be, rather than what it may be, is where the train must go, while giving us a sense of hope, and excitement.

Futurism gives us an idea what to build. What sustainable energy we will use. What are cars can drive on. In fact, we are already starting to see those glimpses of futuristic ideas starting to take shape.

Consider, the increasing use of renewable energy capacity, and cleantech globally. US solar installations will reach records in 2016. Electric Vehicles are starting to gain traction within the automotive markets. Tesla has sold nearly 400,000 Model 3’s since starting to take orders in late March. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts 35% of all new cars sold by 2040 as electric. Smart grid market value is expected to reach $400 billion US globally by 2020, according to a 2013 GreenTech Media report, while microgrids and battery storage is beginning to take off.

Smart phone use increasing exponentially, and yes, the rise of the Internet were earlier signs futurists had the vision to see the potential of what society could look like

Sustainability expert Alex Steffen, in recent years has put more emphasis on futurism, in order to move sustainable development forward and provided this tidbit of wisdom, almost a month and a half ago on futurism:

Once futuristic concepts like smart cities, the Internet of Things (which are now becoming hot talking points) are making it easier to envision sustainable development within our times.

On this Earth Day, we need to think about the future we can create with the tools and skills we have now. Futurism gives environmentalists the vision need to realize what maybe impossible, possible in our uncertain times.

Adam Johnston is a Climate Reality leader and has written for MicroGridMedia.com, CleanTechnica.com, and SolarLove.org. 

Nevada Gov. Sandoval Sells Out on Solar Energy

Nevada Gov. Sandoval Sells Out on Solar Energy


Incase you have missed it, major US solar installer SolarCity is shedding many solar jobs in Nevada.

According to the Sentinel Source, 550 jobs are being scrapped in the state, as regulators have voted for new solar rooftop utility fees.

 

Obviously, SolarCity opposes such action, as they would see this as a major hindrance in solar’s growth within Nevada, making it not as attractive, despite having some of the best solar radiation within the US.

You think this smells like rotten cheese? You bet. Consider first, NV Nevada, is one of the state’s biggest utilities, and is owned by Warren Buffet’s investment group Berkshire Hathaway. According to the Sentinel Sourceis looking to regain lost revenue from decentralized solar, like what SolarCity offers. Recently, NV Nevada won, and is now charging an extra $17.90/month as of this January to its solar customers.

Second, Nevada appointed Paul Thomsen, as Chairman of their Public Utilities commission last fall. Thomsen, was past director of business and policy development of Ormat Technologies, in Reno Nevada, with facilities in Israel. While Ormat Technologies does invest in solar, its big stake is within geothermal. Smell something wrong here? Perhaps a case of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval falling to entrenched interests?

Don’t get me wrong, I think geothermal is great, but it’s not just as cost of effective as solar in a region where sunshine is plentiful. Consider solar costs are becoming much more competitive with coal, oil, and gas. Geothermal costs, on the other hand, drilling to have geothermal energy in place can be pricey.

At the end of the day, decentralized solar energy makes sense. A disruptive opportunity, thanks to SolarCity waits in the balance in Nevada. Places like where I live in Manitoba, would love to have the choice of which SolarCity and solar energy provides in many US states. When the hearings begin tomorrow on Nevada’s solar future, protesters in front of the building should take this chant and yell it out loud and clear tomorrow as Gov. Sandoval has done this: You’ve Sold Out!

Corporations Leading the Way on Climate Change (Seriously)


Monday’s news from the United States regarding 13 major companies announcing they will invest $140 billion in renewable energy, to reduce carbon emissions, is proving big business is serious about climate change.

Wind farm US Ill.

Wind Energy By Jim Allen Via Flickr Some Rights Reserved

Some of the most well-known brands, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, WalMart, and Coca-Cola said in a statement from the White House they plan to add more than 1,600 MW of additional renewable energy. These 13 companies have promised their support for a climate deal ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris late fall.

Meanwhile, last week, Amazon added their voice in advancing the renewable energy agenda, when it advocated for renewable tax credits in US congress. Thank the world’s largest e-commerce store for purchasing a North Carolina wind farm, in championing both the Investment and Production Tax Credits.

Here are some driving factors why this is a trend that’s likely here to stay.

1. Consumers are voting with their dollars, not necessarily at the ballot box: Ok, I get this where politics is important and elections drive climate policy (including the upcoming Canadian Federal election this fall). However, consumers voting with their dollars has become a new way of doing politics outside the government realm. Ethical funds, consumer boycotts are some ways customers can voice their displeasure with how companies are doing business. Businesses, have a faster response time with consumers, rather than governments with their constituents on many problems. Case in point, Newsweek, recently highlighted Corporate America’s critical role in supporting same- sex marriage and other social issues:

Fortune 500 corporations are trying to appeal to (or at least avoid offending) the widest possible swath of Americans. “Inclusiveness” may not be good politics in this day of polarization and micro-targeting, but it seems to be good business. And that is making the business community the sort of “big tent” political force that neither major political party can claim to be.

While don’t expect the CEO of Suncor to be buddies with New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulclair any time soon, big business will have a bigger ear towards consumers going forward, or they will lose customers business.

2. The Carbon Investment Bubble is About to Burst:  Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking 2012 Rolling Stone article about how Earth could only burn 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere by 2050 before this planet can keep within the 2C limit, was the catalyst of divesting from fossil fuel investments. Now, fossil fuels becoming a more riskier investment. as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney noted these investments will become financially abandoned.

3. IT and Internet companies Are The Backbone for Renewable Energy: From Apple, who runs all their US operations on 100% renewables, to Google, who has bought 1.1 GW of clean energy, information technology and internet-based companies have been leaders in supporting renewables. Tom Friedman’s 2008 book Hot, Flat, and Crowded exemplified how information technology was going to be critical in moving green technology forward.

We are starting to see this marriage become a reality, with these companies investing heavily in The Internet of Things, and smart grid technology. Smart grid markets are estimated by 2020 to reach past $400 billion globally. Hence, there is real incentives for the likes of Google, Apple, Cisco, in reaping the rewards of strong climate change policy.

It’s not perfect. Sure, but corporations are becoming leaders on this issue. And it may very well be driving many Naomi Klein and Milton Friedman fans bonkers.

Zapped Out: The Cost of Video Games


Recently I went to EB Games to see what was out and upcoming in the video game world. Batman: Arkham Knight, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Rainbow Six Siege will all have us gaming fanatics on the edge of our seat very soon.

897595F5-CDBE-4BAD-B6CB-2FC13BB51FD9CEF23B88-92C8-4C6E-AC1E-CE4AE435453F

Image Credit: Adam Johnston

However, my mouth dropped. Not for the anticipation for these blockbusters. No, instead it was the prices which had me shaking my head. For example, it will take a small mortgage of $79.99 to buy Call of Duty Black Ops (which is due out in November, 2015) , $79.99 to get your kicks from FIFA 16 (will feature 12 national women’s teams and headed for a September, 2015 release), and $74.99 to get your hands on Rainbow Six Siege (coming out in October, 2015), all for Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

Many games still are $69.99 for these two systems. A few years ago new releases for when Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 were in its prime was around $59.99.

It comes down to three questions regarding video games pricing and costs related to consumers. What is pushing the costs of games up? Why is the price the way it is when you go to a video game store?  And are video games in general more expensive than in past years when factoring inflation and other factors?

First, let’s look at what’s pushing the costs up: Increased budgets. Video games today, are not like its 8-bit NES predecessors.  Technology today is far more effective and cheaper, helping push what gaming developers can do. Today’s video games resemble more like a big budget theatrical movie. It’s common for video games to have budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars today. This requires a lot more help to produce these games, including voice actors, and designers, The Economist noted:

As characters, items, levels and visual effects have become more intricate and detailed, developers have had little choice but to throw more and more artists at the problem. Another reason costs are rising is the increasing professionalism of the industry. These days, Hollywood actors are hired (and paid handsomely) to voice characters. The biggest developers market-test their products to destruction. Like political parties honing a slogan, they offer snippets of gameplay to focus groups. If anything is found to be too difficult, too obscure or simply not fun, it is sent back to be re-done. That kind of quality control costs serious money.

Expect budgets of your favorite video games to increase as the current next generations systems are starting to gain market traction said The Economist. 

Now question two, who sets the price of a video game?  It’s not the store where you buy it, but the distributor, according to a CBC article. For example, Activision will set the price of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, or EA Sports for FIFA 16 at $79.99 when it first comes out. Stores like Best Buy, EB Games do not have much of a say on pricing for when games first come out.

This is also created a debate on how much value gamers get in hours of play vs. the cost, which CBC argued about the short play time for The Order 1886 vs. its $74.99 price tag.  Expect this trend to continue as budgets rise and distributors need to maximize profits in order to costs.

Which leads me to question three. Are video games, in general, more expensive to buy now than in previous times?

The answer is muddled.

If you add inflation to this mix, according to IGN then no. For example, An NES game twenty-five years would cost you $50, would be $89.00 now. An NES system, which cost $199.99 in 1985, is around $434.69 in today’s cost.

Meanwhile, a Playstation 2 (PS2) game in 2000 at $60.00 a pop would set you back about the same now. A PS2 system in 2000 which was $299.99 is $407.44 now. Very little increase with inflation factored in.

In fact, Forbes technology columnist Erik Kain argued video game prices should cost more, thanks to massive budgets, and more realistic gameplay. He argues today’s gamers are getting a bargain, in compared to other times in history when inflation is added.

However, his argument is kind of flawed considering when you factor Moore’s Law, where exponential technologies have improved all aspects of technology, driving cost down. Does anyone recall laptops in 2000 being $2,000? Now you can get a laptop for around $300-$400.00.  You can argue this for video games which have brought technology costs down for this industry, and cancelling Kain’s ideas of increasing gaming prices.

Add constant bombardment of downloadable content (around $20.00 to $35.00), Internet costs ($65.00 a month for high-speed Internet with a local provider), yearly online fees ($49.99 for Playstation Plus) and headphones ($150.00 for high quality ones) to get the most interactive movie-like experience, and it’s not as cheap as you think.

Lastly, stagnant wages, plus a low Canadian dollar, stifles consumer purchasing power. Consumer may likely not want to spend on games, as they feel the pinch with increased prices. Hence, why it’s unclear as to why it’s cheaper to buy video games than in the past. Ironically, this may not deter millennials (one of the video game industries top demographics), as they are willing to spend more on entertainment, despite not having the wealth of past generations.

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Image Credit: “PS4-Console-wDS4” by Evan-Amos – Media:PS4-Console- via Wikimedia

Let me know what your thoughts are. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+