Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's All Relative

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?

Photo credit.


  1. Three cheers for good news for a change!

    And say what you want about Dalton, but at least he's sticking (mostly) to his environmental guns. Which is a pleasant change. Here's hoping enough people recognize that come election time... I hate when the Conservatives (or Republicans) sweep in and mess up all the good work the previous government accomplished.

  2. Yeah... the recent regime change at the municipal level was a bitter pill to swallow.

  3. That is fantastic that all coal fired plants will be eliminated in Ontario by 2014! It is amazing really! I live in Alberta, and we are getting a brand NEW coal fired plant that is coming online in 2011. Ontario and BC are definately leading the way for Canada, and Alberta is definately acting like a doorstop. Boo.

    Interesting your last comment - I read about the new mayor in Toronto, and then I heard our new environment minister Peter Kent commenting how encouraging it was that he was elected... Grrr. I think Kent was promoted to help Harper get votes in Ontario... This was all happening as he was calling the Alberta oil sands ETHICAL. So I wrote him a letter! I am going to post it on my blog soon.

  4. That's too bad about the new coal plant in AB. I thought many parts of your province was really windy - wouldn't wind farms make more sense?

    Good for you for writing to Peter Kent! Definitely post that to your blog and let us know what response you get!