Volume 95, Issue 4
Thursday, June 14, 2001
London needs some fresh air
Air pollution concerns are often considered to be the exclusive problem of cities like Toronto, Hamilton, Sarnia and Windsor. But one look at a map of Ontario should indicate to Londoners that we are far from immune to the modern plague of bad air.
The air and atmosphere above our neighbours is not exclusively theirs. Everyone in the immediate area of Southern Ontario, in effect, breathes the same air. Pollutants generated by chemical valley or “The Big Smoke” could very well be taking up residence in our lungs on a regular basis.
Therefore, while this city has a slew of trees and green space to be proud of, air pollution levels continue to rise. We may have a lovely, green community, but the truth remains — 1,900 people will die this year as a result of bad air.
One hundred of those dead will be from London alone.
The need to assign blame is obvious, but the direction of such accusations is complicated.
On Monday, City Council passed a motion that could help reduce the emissions from Ontario Power Generation's Lambton plant outside of Sarnia. This seems to be one of the first steps in the right direction towards a cleaner London.
However, it seems unlikely the plant will be willing to make changes. Money is always at stake and it may ultimately be too expensive for OPG to cut smog-producing gases.
No doubt there should be more pressure from City Council on provincial, federal and perhaps even international governments. After all, smog is a global issue. But, while our municipal government points their collective finger at OPG and our neighbouring polluters, we must be sure our own backyard is clean first.
Each of us needs to take a look at ourselves and ask what we have done to improve the quality of air in London. Our own daily routines should be placed under the microscope before we begin blaming others.
Are we taking full advantage of the public transportation our city provides? The simple act of carpooling with a few co-workers or fellow students each day could substantially reduce car emissions and relieve us of irritating rush hour congestion.
We should strive to appreciate the “forest” parts of the city and use the many trails London has to offer — by biking, rollerblading or walking around the city, instead of driving.
Improving the quality of London's air is no simple task. It will take a concerted effort to co-operate — from the highest levels of government, all the way to down to individual citizens.
However, the advantages of better air are clear — a cleaner, more functional
city, and most importantly, healthier lives.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000