A couple of weeks ago, a report was released that showed improvements in air quality in the province of Ontario between 2000 and 2009. Specifically, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been decreasing over those years. This is good news for the climate and everybody's health!
I'm sure this favourable outcome has a lot to do with the phasing out of dirty coal-fired power plants, scheduled to be completed by 2014. With frequent reports about China's and India's growing consumption of coal, I'm eager to celebrate every step taken in the right direction to clean our air. Ironically, about half of Ontario's smog blows over from the US (I'm looking at you, heavy industry in Ohio Valley), and that makes me wonder why we (the whole world) aren't trying harder to solve this problem together. After all, the atmosphere doesn't care for political borders. Sure, I'm proud that the province I live in is saying goodbye to coal, but I can't pretend the Alberta tar sands aren't my concern just because I live 3,000 km away - greenhouse gases are greenhouse gases, no matter where the fossil fuels are burned; the global climate is changing even if some countries aren't contributing to the problem at all.
The bottom line? I'm cautiously optimistic. More renewable energy sources are being used where I live, and cleaner technology is being developed for traditional electricity generation. The public is growing increasingly aware of and concerned about the environmental impacts of dirty energy, and many people are taking steps to lower their electricity use. But is it enough, or too little, too late? What do you think?