February 14, 2010

1,700 Smog Deaths in Toronto

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - 1,700 doesn't seem like a small number does it? That is the average number of smog-related deaths that happen in Toronto every year. Its a mind boggling number when you compare it to Toronto's low murder rate (63 murders in 2009) or even its suicide rate (which is slightly up due to the American recession, about 900 suicides per year).
You are 27 times more like to die from smog in Toronto than you are to be murdered.
In December 2009 Toronto's city council finally approved a plan to drastically reduce Toronto's smog levels 6% by 2012, 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

However how will Toronto achieve this lofty goal?

#1. Cut down on coal power for electricity. This means Toronto needs to invest heavily in wind and solar.

#2. Increase public transit & make the TTC cleaner by using more hybrid or hydrogen powered vehicles.

#3. Increase recycling programs... but how does this reduce CO2? (It doesn't. Recycling is completely unrelated to CO2, unless you're burning your garbage in an incinerator.)

#4. Promote electricity for heating instead of natural gas.

The problem is from my experience things move really slowly. In the past 10 years Toronto has only introduced "half" of a new subway line (the Sheppard line in northern Toronto). They keep promising to connect the Yonge subway line north to Vaughn and make a loop down towards York University and Downsview Station, but they haven't even broken ground on that promise yet.

A lot of these projects really call for more electricity from solar / wind projects, something which is progressing slowly thanks to whining NIMBYs (Not-In-My-Back-Yards) who blame windmills for everything from headaches to radiation (we get radiation from the sun all the time, and even more radiation from the electrical devices in our homes so whenever someone complains about radiation they're just revealing their own ignorance).

The thing is however is that these NIMBYs would be better off just shutting the heck up. Nobody wants to listen to their complaints except other NIMBYs. The distant noise of a windmill is way better than having a coal plant next door.

Frankly Canadians don't have much of a choice. Our electricity needs keep increasing and we're either going to have brown outs, windmills or more reliance on dirty electricity or over-priced expensive nuclear.

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