Archive | Environment

Ottawa, Gatineau reeling after tornado tears through communities

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

Parts of Canada’s national capital were still reeling Saturday after a powerful tornado carved paths of destruction through residential neighbourhoods – snapping huge trees, tossing cars and obliterating homes along its way.

The tornado inflicted heavy damage late Friday as it churned across pockets of Ottawa’s west and south ends, as well as densely populated sections of the neighbouring Quebec city of Gatineau.

The storm’s bite continued to be felt across a wide swath of the region many hours later, with more than 150,000 customers still without power Saturday afternoon. Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad compared the magnitude of the damage to the power grid to the debilitating ice storm of 1998.

The human toll was also significant. Authorities said dozens of people suffered injuries, however there were no reports of fatalities or of missing people.

The Ottawa Hospital tweeted that two people were in critical condition, one was in serious condition and two others were stable. Officials established shelters for those who couldn’t return home and they said crisis counselling would be available.

On the north side of the Ottawa River, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said more than 700 of his citizens were impacted by the storm and about 100 people took refuge in a shelter Friday night at a local college. More than 215 buildings suffered damage or were destroyed in his city – affecting a total of 1,686 housing units, he added.

In areas lashed by the tornado, scenes of the havoc were everywhere. The winds tore the roofs from numerous large buildings, bounced large sections of metal bleachers across soccer fields, knocked over hydro poles and cracked thick trees like twigs.

 “It looked like it was something from a movie scene or a war scene,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told reporters Saturday recalling what he saw in the area of Dunrobin, where some 60 buildings were wiped out or partially destroyed.

“Literally, it looks like some bomb was dropped from the air.”

Much of Dunrobin, a semi-rural community about 35 kilometres west of downtown Ottawa, remained cordoned off by police Saturday afternoon.

It was eerily quiet inside the police perimeter of one of Dunrobin’s most-damaged neighbourhoods – and only a few trees were still standing. Personal items were strewn everywhere – a baby blanket, a life jacket, mattresses, lawn mowers, a fridge, a kitchen sink lying on the grass and even a love seat wrapped around a telephone pole.

A car, windows shattered, lay on its side in front of a house. Fluffy, pink insulation – sucked out of ravaged homes – covered the neighbourhood.

Looking at one house, the blue sky could be seen through an open door. Its roof had vanished.

Some houses had nothing left at all and lay flat on the ground, covering their vehicles.

Officials warned people not to re-enter their homes until they had been deemed safe as firefighters went door-to-door to determine whether structures were still sound. In Dunrobin, authorities said many buildings that had emerged from the tornado partially intact would likely have to be torn down.

Conrad informed people in the Ottawa area to brace for a multi-day power outage following what he described as a “cascading failure” of hydro resources.

 “Last night’s storm was devastating to our electrical infrastructure, arguably as bad if not worse than the ice storm in 1998,” Conrad told reporters.

He said there were 200 separate outages across the Hydro Ottawa network and 147,000 customers without power. Hydro Ottawa only serves some of the people left without power because of the tornado.

To put it into perspective, Conrad said the electrical load that comes into Ottawa on any given day this time of year is about 1,000 megawatts. The storm took away about 400 megawatts from the supply.

 “That’s what we’re working with – that’s why we are dark,” he said, listing off communities around the western, southern and some central parts of Ottawa.

Environment Canada confirmed Saturday that indeed a tornado struck the capital region. Meterologist Simon Legault said there was evidence of powerful winds between 180 and 220 kilometres per hour, which would correspond with an EF2 category tornado.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would be visiting the Ottawa area on Sunday.

 “We’re going to do whatever it takes to help them get back on their feet, Ford told a crowd gathered Saturday night for his annual Ford Fest barbecue in Vaughan, Ont.

“Tonight I want to let the people of Ottawa know that we’re all thinking of you,” said Ford, who also thanked first responders and hydro crews. “We want you to know that the entire province stands with you and is praying for you tonight.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter that he had spoken to the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau and offered federal help with the storm recovery.

 “We’re with you,” Trudeau tweeted.

In Gatineau, leaders of major political parties took a pause from the province’s ongoing election campaign to visit areas walloped by the tornado.

Setting aside their political differences, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard and Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee visited one of the most devastated parts of Gatineau together. Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault and Manon Masse, a co-spokesperson for Quebec solidaire, were scheduled to arrive in the area later Saturday.

“It’s so surprising and terrible to see the disaster the way it struck the homes,” said Couillard, as he toured Pontiac, Que.

Couillard added he was moved when he heard a story about a man in the community who had built his house with his own hands.

“And it’s completely vanished, almost completely vanished.”

Those with power were stepping up Saturday to help strangers with a hot meal, an outlet to charge their phone or a shower.

Shawna Tregunna tweeted a photo of pancakes saying she was cooking up hot meals all day.

 “Come shower, eat, charge your devices, I don’t need to know you, you don’t need to ask, show up (bring Tupperware and I’ll fill it up) and you will be welcome,” Tregunna tweeted along with her address.

She also offered to deliver food.

Tregunna wasn’t alone.

Another Ottawa resident, Erin Blaskie, tweeted out a photo of a pot of chili saying anyone without a hot meal could message her for her address.

In Kanata North, Karen Woods opened up her home to people who needed a shower or their batteries recharged.

On Saturday night, Ontario announced it was activating the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance program in areas affected by the storm.

Under the program, affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of the storm may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

“I want to assure the residents of Ottawa that our government is working closely with our municipal partners to activate the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance program where it will be needed,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said in a release.

 

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Ottawa looking into climate change impact for East Coast ferry ports, airport, bridge

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Ottawa has posted a tender asking engineering firms to assess how climate change and extreme weather will affect some of Atlantic Canada’s major ferry terminals, airports and the Confederation Bridge.

The tender posted last week seeks analysis on the vulnerability of the infrastructure to rising sea levels, harsher storms and changing waves.

It says the federal government wants to know how the sites may be at risk of “failure, damage and loss of service,” due to the climate events that could hit the region.

The report will look at six ferry terminals, including Nova Scotia facilities at Digby and Caribou; the Saint John, N.B., terminal, and the Prince Edward Island terminals in Wood Islands and Souris, along with the Cap-Aux-Meules terminal on the Magdalene Islands.

It will also examine the impact of climate change on the airports at Wabush and St. Anthony’s in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The federal advisory panel on climate change adaptation recently noted that average temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.5 C between 1950 and 2010, with higher rises in the north.

Average precipitation has also been rising, and both heavy precipitation and extreme precipitation events are projected to become more frequent.

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Authorities say 33 dead in Quebec as humidity and heat wave blanket Eastern and Central Canada

Posted on 11 July 2018 by admin

The number includes 18 in Montreal, which has been hit hard by muggy temperatures for several days

MONTREAL — Quebec health authorities say 33 people in the province have died from heat-related complications over the last few days.

The number includes 18 in Montreal, which has been hit hard by muggy temperatures for several days.

The officials gave the update at a news conference in Montreal this morning.

No deaths have been reported in other provinces.

The ambulance service that serves a large swath of the Montreal area has called on people to refrain from calling unless it is a real emergency.

Urgences-sante says it has been inundated by the volume of calls — 1,200 calls per day in Montreal and nearby Laval over the past four days, which is 30 per cent more than usual on busy days.

With the muggy temperatures expected to persist for at least another two days, authorities are urging people to remain vigilant.

Officials across the province advised people to drink plenty of water and check in on neighbours or relatives and, if need be, get them to a place where air conditioning is available.

Environment Canada says a heat warning remains in effect for an area spanning southwestern and northeastern Ontario through southern Quebec and into the Atlantic region.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted condolences to the relatives of the Quebec victims.

Police and firefighters continue to go door to door in areas identified as having people considered at high risk: those with chronic illness or mental-health problems, those who live alone and people without air conditioning at home.

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Green Ontario cancellation leaves homeowners, industry scrambling

Posted on 27 June 2018 by admin

Anxious homeowners were checking with their window installers Wednesday, after incoming premier Doug Ford announced he was cancelling the Green Ontario Fund.

Jimm Fox, marketing director for Nordik Windows and other brands sold in the Toronto and Ottawa areas, said installers such as his company had received phone calls from people checking to see if they still qualified for up to $5,000 under the now-cancelled rebate program.

The new Progressive Conservative government has set an Aug. 31 deadline for the installation of windows in order to qualify for the rebates, but some consumers will be left in the lurch.

The government will honour rebate applications that have already been submitted and those filed by Sept. 30 on work done no later than Aug. 31, according to the program’s website.

But the lead time for window installation tends to be 15 to 20 weeks, said Fox. If the government sticks to its Aug. 31 deadline, some customers who have planned for fall installation won’t qualify.

“We’re doing our best to encourage the government to extend the deadline,” he said. “We’re also doing our best to manage installations within the stated time period. It’s causing a huge challenge for us.”

The $377-million Green ON rebate fund was introduced by the Liberal government last year as a climate change initiative to encourage environmental building upgrades such as windows, thermostats, heat pumps and insulation. Ford announced Tuesday that the fund was being cancelled as part of the elimination of the cap-and-trade policy that was financing the program.

The fund has been a boon to Ontario’s window and door business, which is worth about $1 billion annually, but it has caused an “artificial bubble” in that sector, said Fox. Consumers, who are prone to delay a costly renovation like replacement windows, saw the rebates as an incentive to get the work done. So window companies have been swamped with demand from building owners wanting to take advantage of Green ON.

Rebate programs are always popular and Green ON was a particularly rich one. But rebates also disrupt the normal flow of sales, said Fox.

“They cause a bubble and then you get a corresponding trough after the program ends,” he said.

Fox did not rule out job losses when Green ON expires. But the fund was always going to end, he said. Likely, it would have been cancelled in the fall when the funds ran out.

Windows were among the pricier items that qualified for rebates, but other upgrades such as thermostats, insulation and heat pumps were also boosting the Toronto region’s $5.9 billion annual renovation business, said Samuel Lapidus.

Lapidus is president of Keystone Ridge Developments, a renovator and customer builder, and chair of the Renovator and Custom Builders Council of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

The cancellation of Green ON “really just takes away tools to achieve higher energy-efficient homes,” he said.

Consumers will make up the loss by turning to less efficient windows and other products.

“The homeowner will go with the cheap, seven-day programmable (thermostat), but not the one the one that monitors your activity and reprograms itself,” he said.

The fund has not created new projects, but it has extended some renovations, creating employment, said Lapidus.

“It kept me on the job site weeks longer. It meant I was putting food on the table of many people because there were more people involved in the work,” he said.

The province could put that money back in consumers’ pockets by enforcing the deadlines for building permits in renovations, said Lapidus.

“A residential renovation (permit) must be issued within 10 business days and the municipalities are not living up to that,” he said.

Steve Dyck, president of Guelph Solar, said he is “thrilled” that the Green ON program is being eliminated because in created instability in his sector.

The Liberal government announced that it was going to include solar panels as part of the Green ON rebates. So consumers waited for that to happen, but it never did, he said.

“It was incredibly damaging to our industry to announce something and they didn’t actually have anything figured out,” said Dyck.

The Star was unable to get confirmation from the government by deadline whether rebates have been issued for solar panel installations.

“People can now decide if they’re just going to continue paying their electric bill or they can say, ‘I’m going to stay connected to the grid but I’m going to generate my own electricity and use the grid as my battery,” said Dyck, who has installed panels in about 500 homes since he started the business in 2009.

He said the government should price carbon and return the proceeds directly to consumers. Low-income residents could use the money to live; middle-income people could decide to make lower carbon choices, and affluent people and businesses would be incented to change their habits to avoid the expense of carbon pricing.

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Expect more hot, sunny weather in Toronto this week

Posted on 30 May 2018 by admin

If you haven’t pulled out the fans or cranked up the air conditioning yet, this might be the week to get to it.

Torontonians are in for a humid, sunny week ahead with occasional rain.

Monday starts off with a hot high of 31 C. Environment Canada says UV rays will be strong so don’t forget the sunscreen. It’ll cool down at night to 18 degrees, but it’s still going to be humid.

Plan on Tuesday being the perfect summer day with a tolerable temperature of 24 degrees and clear skies.

The rest of the week will gradually cool down. Look forward to temperatures between 23 C to 26 C for the rest of the week with a mix of sun and cloud.

Environment Canada is calling for showers from Wednesday night through to the end of the week.

 

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Frigid temperatures expected to continue for first week of 2018

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

Minus double-digit temperatures will stay for another week in Toronto. Some relief from the cold is in the forecast next week.

Toronto won’t be feeling any relief from the frigid conditions as minus double-digit temperatures are here to stay for at least one more week.

The city continues to be under an extreme cold warning for the first day of 2018. Monday began with temperatures hovering around -30 C with the wind chill, Environment Canada says. Temperatures are expected to rise to a high of -9 C, with a 40 per cent chance of flurries. It will also be windy with winds gusting to 50 km/hr. The low will be -19 C feeling more like -27 C.

The cold-snap, which shortened New Year’s Eve celebrations across the province, has also cancelled the annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip for the first time in 13 years.

Organizers said in a statement on Facebook that it was cancelled due to the icy conditions at Sunnyside Beach and the lack of resources to ensure participant safety. They are looking to reschedule the event in a later date.

On Tuesday, windy conditions will continue with a mix of sun and cloud. The daytime high will be -7 C and a low of -12 C. Minus double digit numbers will be back in the middle of the week. It’ll be cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries and a high of -10 C on Wednesday. Temperatures will dip down to -17 C in the evening.

Temperatures will drop Thursday and Friday with an expected high of -15 C, Environment Canada forecasts. Evenings will be much colder with temperatures dropping to -21 C and -22 C, respectively.

The extreme cold weather conditions in the city that started over the Christmas holidays have also renewed calls from homeless advocates for the city to open every available respite centre including the armouries.

A relief from the bitter cold might be coming next week. The Weather Network predicts minus single-digit temperatures. It will be a high of -4 C for Monday next week and -1 C for Tuesday, they say.

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Toronto tells province that clear planning reforms are needed as soon as possible

Posted on 20 October 2017 by admin

City officials praised the province’s plan to reform the OMB at a committee hearing while asking for a clear transition plan as the city sees an uptick in development applications.

Toronto city officials told a Queen’s Park committee Monday that reforms to the OMB, the province’s powerful planning tribunal, can’t come soon enough, as the city continues to grow at an unprecedented rate and new development applications pour in at an increased pace.

On Monday, the city’s acting chief planner Gregg Lintern and Councillor Josh Matlow both praised a government plan to overhaul the long-controversial Ontario Municipal Board, which has not seen substantial reform for more than 100 years.

But there remain concerns about the limbo between new and old legislation as developers unhappy with the changes may be rushing to beat the government’s timeline to enact the new bill by the end of the year, a committee heard.

“These reforms have been a very long time coming,” Matlow told the standing committee on social policy.

He said the city has lacked the necessary tools to deal with unprecedented development and resulting growth that is currently taking place in his ward and in many parts of the downtown and North York

 “Over many years, ad hoc OMB decisions on individual sites in the Yonge-Eglinton area, which I represent, have set a narrative and have far too often created precedent for subsequent developments with little regard for wider context, or local needs for infrastructure and social services.”

While the Yonge-Eglinton area has been slated for intensification by the province’s growth plan, the area exceeded those density targets the year they were created.

That has left the city struggling to keep up with growth — local public schools are full, people are left waiting for the third or fourth subway on the Yonge line, and planners worry basic necessities like sewers and water pipes will reach capacity.

The province’s proposed changes to legislation were tabled in May, drawing praise from planners, councillors and residents. The bill passed second reading in September and was forwarded to committee for debate.

For more than a century, the OMB has had the final say in a wide range of planning issues and has the power to overrule council decisions.

Most significantly, the changes, if passed, would require the body — to be renamed the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal — to have more regard for local decisions. It would scrap a practice called “de novo” hearings, or hearings “as new,” that essentially allow developers and other groups to have what critics call a “do over” when a council decision doesn’t go their way.

Under the new rules, the OMB would instead consider whether a council decision was consistent with provincial and city rules. If not, the decision would be sent back to council.

“The changes proposed by the bill will enable municipalities to focus on adopting planning principles, what we call proactive planning, to address growth and change,” said the city’s acting chief planner Lintern. “Currently a large amount of municipal time is spent at the OMB defending council-adopted policies approved by the province but which are appealed by parties who may not support the decision of the locally-elected officials.”

Lintern said they are currently seeing an increase in applications and are requesting the province make clear a transition plan between old and new legislation.

That plan is currently underway, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi told the committee, one that “doesn’t impact processes that may be at the tribunal as we speak.”

That suggested a request from the city’s planning and growth committee headed to council next month that the new rules be retroactive to May is unlikely to succeed.

Naqvi said they hope to have new legislation passed by the end of the year.

The largest organizations representing developers also spoke at the committee Monday, arguing there would be “unintended consequences” in reforming the OMB and that providing more power to councils would see councillors pandering to local residents and “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) attitudes.

City officials said the new rules would actually force council to make a thoughtful decision that could be backed up by the city’s own official plans and policies as well as provincial rules, knowing that’s the basis on which an appeal would be judged at a reformed tribunal.

 

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City on hook for $1.6 billion to fix crumbling public housing

Posted on 06 October 2017 by admin

A revised repairs plan and latest Toronto Community Housing budget means city council is now solely responsible for $160 million annually for the next 10 years to close the budget gap.

The city is on the hook to close the budget gap for repairs to crumbling public housing, a bill totalling $1.6 billion.

The bulk of the repairs backlog, long known about and unaddressed, is now to be the direct responsibility of the city, as outlined in a 2018 budget tabled by Toronto Community Housing Thursday.

The plan approved means city council is now solely responsible for $160 million annually for the next 10 years.

An additional $810 million is required to fund a total $2.4 billion over the next 10 years. This is expected to be financed through debentures or further refinancing.

It is a plan that acknowledges the lack of investment from other governments to date and ensures no more public housing units close.

“At the end of the day, all levels of government have a responsibility to invest in Toronto Community Housing, but our TCH budget calls on the city to be our line of last defence, always,” said Councillor Joe Cressy, a member of the TCH board, after the vote.

He said it’s significant that the city will now have a dedicated capital budget line item for Toronto Community Housing. On meeting the need to prevent more units being boarded up, Cressy said: “I’m optimistic the political will is there.”

The revised plans follow a council direction moved by Cressy and passed in July that Toronto Community Housing “ensure that no additional housing units are permanently closed in 2018 and 2019.”

The original 10-year capital-repairs plan requested the city, province and federal governments split a $2.6-billion bill three ways.

The city, largely through mortgage and other refinancing, has contributed nearly $1 billion. But the other governments have never committed to that plan.

There remain few additional opportunities to refinance mortgages, the TCH board heard Thursday.

Sheila Penny, vice-president of facilities management, confirmed Thursday that the plan would ensure no more units are shuttered.

Toronto Community Housing was on track to close 400 units next year on top of 600 to be closed this year.

Today, in communities such as Firgrove in North York, there are residents packing their belongings into boxes, as more than 100 families are displaced from their townhomes because they are beyond repair and soon to be uninhabitable.

The repairs required are not superficial. They include roof replacement, new furnaces, elevators and plumbing problems.

TCH data provided to the Star earlier this year showed more than 30 social housing properties are already in serious disrepair, and 222 of 364 developments are ranked in “poor” condition.

The new plan would see $300 million in spending on repairs next year and in 2019, and $350 million through 2026.

City council could fulfil a request to pay the $1.6 billion through other governments, if they agreed to pay.

The federal government has announced $11 billion for affordable housing over 11 years, including social housing, but it is not yet known how much might be available for TCH and when.

The province has not responded to repeated pleas to contribute a one-third share and has not outlined social housing spending beyond $343 million promised over three years for energy retrofits.

Councillor Ana Bailao, a member of the board, said the new plan isn’t letting those governments off the hook.

“This is not the city saying the city is taking care of it,” she said, adding it will continue to work with its counterparts to secure more funding.

Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat said in a statement that “we are committed to moving forward on TCHC, not backwards.”

“The mayor has given TCHC clear instructions: no units are to be closed in 2018.”

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Mississauga Prepares for the Impacts of a Changing Global Climate

Posted on 06 July 2017 by admin

The City of Mississauga is developing a Climate Change Action Plan to help minimize and prepare Mississauga for the impacts of a changing global climate.

The Plan will include both corporate and community-wide actions to reduce or offset the impacts of climate change. It will also prepare the city for possible future climate scenarios. Completion of the Plan is set for 2019.

“Canadian municipalities have an important role to play in addressing climate change because more than 50 per cent of the population now lives in urban areas,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Climate change is a global priority but taking local action is crucial now more than ever. We have a responsibility to the environment, our economy and the quality of life for our existing and future generations.”

Mayor Bonnie Crombie added, “Developing the Plan is the first step in helping us realize our visionary goal of transforming Mississauga into a net-zero carbon city.”

According to climate projections, more extreme weather events such as intense heatwaves, increased rainfall, severe flooding and extreme winter storms are expected for the future.

“Mississauga has personally felt the impacts of extreme weather with recent storms such as the 2009 flood in Cooksville, the rain and windstorms of July 2013 and the ice storm of December 2013,” said Michael Cleland, Acting Director, Environment. “Over the years we’ve taken many actions both within our corporation and out in the community. We’re committed to doing more.”

The City of Mississauga is already contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s) by reducing the amount of energy used for City operations. The City has a 5 Year Energy Conservation Plan to reduce energy and GHG’s by an additional one percent for the next five years with a total annual savings of approximately $575,000 per year.

Examples of climate change actions taken by the City, residents and businesses across Mississauga include:

• Greening corporate fleet – The City’s Greening Our Fleet program reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking approximately 39 cars off the road per year. The program avoided over $500,000 in fuel costs between 2006 and 2012.

• Converting city-wide street lights to LED – Between 2014 and 2015, converting City street lights to LEDs reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking approximately 150 cars off the road per year.

• Introducing a stormwater charge – In 2016, a new stormwater charge was introduced to better maintain and expand stormwater infrastructure in Mississauga.

• Planting trees – Through the City’s One Million Trees program, more than 250,000 trees have been planted by the City, its partners and the community.

• Diverting waste from landfills – Residents and businesses have helped divert waste from landfills through the Blue Box, Green Bin and the Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste programs.

• Attending awareness and educations sessions – Through City-run initiatives like Earth Markets, residents have learned more about environmental actions and green activities.

Next Steps

The City will be engaging residents, partners and other levels of government to create responsible and forward-looking solutions on climate change. To begin, a Stakeholder Panel will be created over the coming months and will include organizations that have a major stake in climate change action in the city.

Today at General Committee, Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr was appointed to the Panel. He will be joining Mayor Bonnie Crombie along with Ward 8 Councillor Matt Mahoney, the City’s Chair of the Environmental Action Committee (EAC).

To stay-up-to date on the Plan and upcoming engagement opportunities, visit theclimatechangeproject.ca.

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Earth Day: A Movement of Action

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

Puninda Thind

Shouldn’t every day be Earth Day? Yes, I agree that we should be able to recognize the importance of the environment in our daily behavior. But, having that one day to commemorate Mother Nature allows us to collectively participate in the movement and discuss further steps. Environmental awareness is of vital importance especially in today’s day and age where we have realized that all systems are inextricably linked. Public health, ecological conditions and social well being are not separate entities and to find solutions to problems in any of these spheres requires an understanding and application of holistic approach.

Earth Day began in the 1970’s, a period of environmental enlightenment in the United States. Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic Senator and an environmental conservationist, started the event to educate the people about pressing ecological issues. Along with Hayes, a university student, they organized teach-ins on a national level and drove the protest movements against government inaction. The intention was to expand people’s understanding of ecology and enlarge the definition of environmentalism. During the 1960 and 70’s industrialization was paramount and the impact of air and water pollution on social welfare was becoming prevalent. Scientific research on the harmful effects of chemicals on human health was being carried out and it was during this time that Rachel Carson’s monumental book, Silent Spring, which outlined the hazardous impact of DDT, was released. The green awakening allowed people to see the linkages between the industrial world and human well-being. In America, a wide variety of significant legislation was passed during this time including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, as well as the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental laws provided protection of certain natural entities by instituting accountability for public goods.

Earth Day marks the advent of environmental movement in North America. In the 1990’s the event grew to include over 140 countries.  Events focusing on environmental education like community clean-ups, tree-planting, recycling activities are organized on the local level on this day. The theme for Earth Day 2012 is mobilization, a very apt subject in wake of worldwide political protests and uprisings which set the context of people fighting for their legitimate rights. The act of mobilization encompasses planning and cohesive action which is direly needed on a local, national and global front from citizens as well as the government.

With the pertinent issue of climate change in focus, the importance of such a day is made even greater. The basis of the movement has been education and action. Environmental issues are scientific and require empirical proof.  Such information needs to be translated to the general public so they can recognize the broader impact on their daily lives. Unless one connects the dots and become directly exposed to the effects of issues like climate change, it is highly likely that one will be motivated to act.

There are numerous environmental issues that people advocate for such as, stopping deforestation, pesticide use control, industrial management, air and water pollution, chemical disposal etc. Earth Day creates a unified platform for all activists to come together and realize the larger movement. Activities are organized all across the country to encourage citizen participation. In Mississauga, Earth Day Eco-Fest, E-Waste Drive, book swaps, clothing drive and park clean-ups brought the local community together.

Canada, being a developed nation, falls in the category of countries with mounting ecological footprints. The energy and water consumption per capita is fairly high and so is the abundance of natural resources. Our waste management program and focus on recycling has reduced the amount of residential garbage that gets discarded over the past decade. It is clear that Canada needs to continue on the path of environmental stewardship to regain its title of an environmental champion. So, let’s maintain the message of this special day throughout the year. The movement started with recognizing that there is environmental problems, spreading awareness about the issues, and now the next step is to act upon the knowledge.

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