July 21, 2005
Smog too much*
There used to be a time, and not so long ago at that, when Toronto had incredibly clean air for a large metropolis. We have more cloudy days than many other places. But the thing was that the cloudy days made you look forward to the clear days when the sun would shine in a beautiful blue sky that extended from one horizon to the other.
Not any longer. These days, there are cloudy smoggy days and clear smoggy days. On some days, in fact, you are not sure which one you are looking at. Even on the clearest days, the sky is a grayish blue, with a band of pure gray around the horizon.
It all happened very gradually. A few years ago, we had our first experience of “smog alerts” issued by the weather people. We thought of it as a passing curiosity. More importantly, we thought it would send a clear warning to government and business that urgent action was needed. But very little was done, and the problem got worse with each passing year. What had begun as smoggy days extended into smoggy weeks. Still, we thought, “Oh well, this is just some problem associated with summer heat waves.” Then, last year, during some of the coldest days of winter, we had our first experience of winter smog. We could not believe our eyes, but there it was. I think we experienced something like what scientists feel when they encounter a phenomenon that contradicts every known fact.
The Ontario government has always, more or less, washed its hands of the problem, claiming that most of the air pollution comes from south of the border. Whether or not that is true, and I have my doubts about that, I don’t think it absolves them of the responsibility to do something about it right here in Ontario. And, by the way, one reason I have doubts about their claim is that a couple of days ago the smog blanket covered the entire southern half of Ontario, up to the North Bay area and farther north.
Be that as it may, the Ontario government’s inaction makes me wonder who is going to defend our interests and really do something about this problem, which is killing a large number of people right here in Ontario.
What is the mandate of a government official, as he/she sees it? Is it to fight for the people, so that they will live happier healthier lives, free of unnecessary suffering and exploitation? I don’t think so. Government officials are trained to think first and foremost of promoting business. They think of that as their function. They think greater business activity is synonymous with a better society. Government officials and their associated technocrats think there is a “fix” for every problem, and such fixes always involve awarding a contract to some business or other. Yet the nature of such business activity, as with the capitalist system as a whole, is to exacerbate problems in the long run, rather than to help solve them.
One looks around in vain for anyone who represents the people’s real long-term interests. Even many so-called environmental advocacy groups are in fact business lobbies. There is a well-known Ontario organization, which shall remain nameless, whose professed mandate is to research and advocate regarding issues related to pollution. The reality is that this particular organization’s actual motive is to reduce even further the measly amount of government action regarding this problem, and to advocate for the interests of the polluting industries. With friends like these …
*The name of one of the characters in a Monty Python skit was Smoke-Too-Much.
Sometimes pressuring major corporations work!
The original proponent of this was one George Gair, Minister of Energy who expressed the idea more as a regret - that the methane could not be captured and used for electricity generation. Newspaper cartoons the next day had George careering around cow paddocks in a 4wd trying to lassoo statled cows and other variations on the same theme.
One recent version had a bunch of young guys with their gas fuelled BBQ running out halfway through cooking their steaks. A brief pursuit with a long length of hose and "Daisy" was hooked up and the BBQ back in service - apart from the occasional flare.
Mario's comment is very interesting as it relates to other topics dicsussed here. Obviously Russia/Soviet infrastructure cares little about it's own or neighboring populations. Again leaves me wondering where this entire middle east mess would be if they retained control over Afghanistan. They were not very nice people to have in charge of much of anything.
This post is getting long, so bear with me plz:
Now this is a theory of mine of ONE reason why smog levels are rising in Toronto. I would strongly guess that as in most US cities, and also in Norway, SUV's are becoming more and more popular. It's should come to noones surprise that these cars pollute more, since they combust much more gasoline than smaller cars. This is doubtly the single reason, but a likely co-factor.
quote:"Smog problems do not entirely depend on the size of the city or the type of carpark it has."
qute2:"SUV's are becoming more and more popular"
Sorry about that. I guess what I want to say is that a city could have pollution problems even though there are quite few private cars driving in the center.
Does Canada / Ontario still use leaded petrol?
Does Canada have any vehicle emission controls?
Here you reach a great conflict of political interest, should you help stimulate the economy of northern norway, or should all extraction of natural resources in this region be forbidden, to conserve nature.
I believe this is a very though decision...
Despite the fact that NZ likes to promote its "clean and green" image not all goes that way. One would imagine that a city stuck on a narrow squeak of land between two major oceans and open to every little draught that zephyrs past would not have a pollution problem. Well I can sit in the traffic on my way towork in a morning and look out over the central isthmus area and not be able to see into the brown haze. We are not a "BIG" city, some 1.4 million in the region (of four cities).
NZ also has very high asthma and related health problems, but they are not restricted to the major cities. What is being shown in recent research (released within the last month or so) is a possible correlation between lifestyle and immunity based diseases. The connect (as I understand it) is between T1 immunity and T2 immunity. If I get it right the first is the primary system; defence against external bugs, bacteria, viruses etc. The T2 system is that which controls internal immunity processes - cancers, autoimmune processes, that kind of thing.
The connect is that in people with asthma the T1 immunity system is weaker than the T2. People without asthma have the T1 immunity stronger.
The T1 system develops during the first 10 years of life, so the cure for asthma could be as simple as letting the kids get dirty, eat some of the garden, a few worms, try the odd roach... you get the picture...
Hv a great day, and happy weekend.
enlightened after reading some issues. some of the stuff you say, lol you cldget arrested if you say tt in singapore. you're lucky freedom of speech is allowed in ur country. back in ours its merely a farcical facade.
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