Some of you have noticed over the last year or two that the articles on the Urban Country have been perpetually negative. The reason is obvious: I’ve been gradually losing hope for the human inhabitants of this world and the damage we are blindly causing. But that’s not to say there aren’t positive things happening to shift the path of our destruction.
Living in Toronto is a positive thing for me because every day I see people doing things to turn things around and put ourselves back on the right path. People have a lot of energy and are really embracing the whole “natural” movement. Directly across the street from my building there is a small park that embraces nature by only cutting the grass every month or two, giving the park a whole natural feel to it. Walking through this park brings you closer to nature which is nice especially in the city. The whole natural look is actually pleasing to the eye and usage of pesticides and lawn mowers every week is going to become a thing of the past. Also across the street, they are beginning the process of building a bicycle path alongside the train tracks which will be a very pleasant experience for cyclists who are tired of the constant inhalation of exhaust fumes while riding alongside the roads. Within 15 minutes of walking, I have access to more than 10 different parks, my favourite of which is the 37.3 acre Trinity Bellwoods Park, a short 4 minute walk from my building.
Some people are seeing the whole environmental movement as a trend that was proliferated by a group of neo-hippies or YUPies (Young Urban Professionals). Although I find myself particularly irritated by yuppies in general, I could care less if they are being “green” just because it’s a cool yuppie thing to be green. If the yuppies are being green and the end result is positive for the earth, then the reason they are being green is irrelevant. The same applies to the big oil companies making record profits when gas prices are high; I could care less if it results in getting people out of their cars.
The original reason I started writing this article was to applaud the United States for leading the world for the third straight year in annual wind power installations. According to this TreeHugger.com article, an additional 5,329 megawatts of capacity was added in 2007 which amounts to more than 25% of all new global wind capacity in 2007. That is a remarkable achievement, even though wind energy provides a very small percentage of overall electricity in the US. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Many politicians love to promote additional production of nuclear energy, and you’ll even see commercials in Ontario marketing nuclear energy as “clean energy”, but I wholeheartedly disagree with any claims of nuclear being “clean”, and I would love to live to see the day that nuclear energy is completely phased out. The enormous damage that another Chernobyl-like disaster could cause to the earth would negate all progress that has been made since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
I’m looking forward to seeing more positive news coming out of big polluting countries (Including Canada). China took a positive step recently by raising taxes on big cars to 40% from 20% and reducing taxes on small cars from 3% to 1%. This will be effective on September 1st (Read the full article here). It would make me extremely happy to hear of Canada or the United States taking a similar step to encourage people to downsize.
(Image courtesy of Our World Foundation)