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Fuming Canadians

by Archives March 7, 2001
With a glossed and polished image of being a peacekeeping nation, few people consider Canada to be a serious threat to international security. World leaders beware; although it may, by no means, be the most dangerous nation on the planet, Canada is an inherently destructive one.
The source of Canada’s hostility comes from its citizen’s emissions. Per capita, Canadians emit 5.5 tons of carbon per year, while developing nations emit ratios that average at about 0.5 tons per person, per year.
Obviously, the sources of these emissions are not Canadians themselves, but rather their vehicles. According to the Sierra Club of Canada, when Canadian vehicle operators let their engines idle, they burn up more than approximately 3.2 million liters of fuel a day and their vehicles release more than 7.6
million kilograms of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
What is horrific about these numbers is that they are not the result of peoples’
driving around all day. They are the calculated waste vehicle operators dispense during the ten minutes of the day which the average driver spends letting their motor idle.
Canadians put 7.6 million kilograms of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere while they wait for traffic lights to change, pack their trunks and wait for their friends and relatives to come outside and hop into the car.
An apparent ignorance of the harm they’re causing to the global environment runs
amuck in the mentalities of Canadian drivers. It is currently a common practice in several Northern European countries to turn off one’s car at traffic lights in order to minimize waste. But what about Canada?
Although few Canadians have yet to clue into this situation, the city of Westmount, nestled just outside the fold of downtown Montreal has decided that this is a dilemma which its citizens should take to heart and champion. With
this in mind, the city launched a campaign to raise fuel efficiency awareness last Fall.
In order to promote a greener attitude, city councillors passed a motion to allow public security officers to issue warning tickets to idling motorists.
Furthermore, plans are currently in the works to allow officers to issue real tickets to motorists who let their engines idle for more than 4 1/2 minutes in above -5 degrees Celsius. The suggested $136 fine which is proposed to accompany the tickets will surely encourage Westmounters to be aware of the damage they
may have caused.
Westmount, however, is a fairly small Canadian city and the traffic which passes through its limits, daily, is responsible for only a sliver of the 7.6 million kilograms of greenhouse gases that Canadians should be concerned about.
When greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere they harm the planet in two ways.
Firstly, they attack the ozone layer by offering oxygen atoms that are in clusters of three called ozone molecules, a polar predator which breaks the bonds between the oxygen atoms in ozone molecules and form carbon dioxide and
oxygen molecules instead.
The ozone layer is Mother Nature’s version of sunblock. When the density of this
shield disappears, because carbon atoms have broken up enough ozone molecules, life on earth is less protected from harmful UV rays which the sun radiates towards the earth. The consequence this has on humans is that they become more susceptible to getting sunburns and ultimately over time, more likely to develop
skin cancer.
The second malaise which carbon atoms cause when they are released into the atmosphere, is that they form a brooding carbon dioxide cloud, which acts as a blanket. While this blanket is porous and ineffective in keeping UV rays from
bouncing off the planet’s surface, like a thermos, it insulates the planet and
allows little heat transfer from the planet into outer space; at the same time,
it reduces the transfer of cold spatial temperatures from effecting planet
temperatures too much. The blanket-like effect which carbon dioxide builds up in
the atmosphere causes what scientists refer to as global warming. It accentuates
the process whereby the average planet temperature climbs over time. This, in
turn, has been blamed by some within the scientific community for the melting of
icebergs, a rise in sea levels and increased storm activity.
But not everybody is so pessimistic, the Globe and Mail

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