Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fog, Smog Part III

Smog Day #3. In October. Humidex in early 30s. Again. In October. The smog season started uncharacteristically early in April (see Fog, Smog and Fog, Smog Part II); it was the first thing I talked about on this blog. And here we are 6 months later, still having smog days.

I know this is an unusually long and hot summer, and the one good thing about it was that the temperature remained fairly even (relatively speaking) so that we were able to acclimatize properly to the heat. But the smog was an unwelcome hanger on.

Over 50 percent of it comes from the US, and the province is finally joining the bandwagon to sue the culprits, but what about the other 50 percent?

  • High gas prices have forced a short-term downfall in SUV sales, which pollute our air like crazy. Concurrently, more people are looking at hybrids and alternative fuel cars. But as James Bow points out, "The hydrogen car won’t take off unless fill-up stations are as ubiquitous as petrol stations." It was actually making petrol stations ubiquitous that gave gasoline-powered cars the edge early last century.
  • The government only provides a $1,000-$2,000 rebate (I've heard both) for purchases of hybrids, and you have to wait years for it. Meanwhile they're subsidizing the oil industry.
  • Politicians and bureaucrats and the media are fixated on landfills and incinerators, yet won't consider converting Nanticoke to clean coal tech. and Toronto isn't even looking at alternatives to landfills and incinerators.
  • What is the province and city doing with the methane produced by current and old landfills? Are they all just vented, polluting the air? Are any of them having their methane "used to fuel a hydro station and provide power to surrounding communities" as Eric Bow points out that Guelph and SUBBOR will be doing?
  • Why are Segways being studied in Quebec, but are banned here in Ontario, as pollution-free (well, locally -- using hydro to charge them does cause pollution but in less quantities than using a car) alternatives to cars? They're smaller than those lethal motorized scooters, which regularly zip along sidewalks at startling speed. I had to become part of construction hoarding to avoid being mowed down not too long ago. Segways aren't nearly as big, so it'd be easier to get out of the way in the worst-case scenario.
  • And don't even get me started on the pathetic subway system and overcrowded not-frequent-enough buses in Toronto; the overuse of long-haul trucks instead of trains; the abysmal passenger train service across Canada; still no high-speed trains in the Windsor-Quebec corridor; the hypocrisy of signing Kyoto and doing nothing to fulfill our obligations while the northern ice pack melts exposing our sovereignty to attack; and continuing development on farm land.
When I walk under a smog-clouded sky, I wonder what it will take for politicians to act boldly for the good of their constituents and country.

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