Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Riding a Bike is Good for you and for Toronto

Why Cycling Matters ~ A recent blog post for Featherstone Two Wheels Green Delivery Service

‘Cycling is enjoyable, efficient, affordable, healthy, sociable, and quiet, plus it’s a non-polluting form of transportation.’

– Ontario Bike Plan 2008

Cycling isn’t a ‘cure-all’ for the ills of modern urban living, but as it relates to the following litany of big city challenges, it’s clear that cycling certainly the situation.

Climate Change

Antarctic Ice Cores showing CO2 levels

CO2 levels taken from Antarctic ice cores, dating back some 2000 years.  Big increases since the Industrial Revolution.

With levels of CO2 increasing at an alarming rate (my last look at the Mauna Loa, CO2 monitoring station data, showing over 400pm) the Earth is heading towards the dangerous territory of 3C average planet temperature rise.  A level that is largely determined by CO2 in our atmosphere.  A 3C increase in average global temperatures, makes living on this planet a precarious situation for human beings.  Operation of a bicycle comtributes only a tiny amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, compared to a conventional IC (Internal Combustion) automobile.

Smog

This form of air pollution is usually seen as a ‘haze’ over the city on warm, hot days.  It’s a portmanteau of the words, smoke and fog SMOG.Typically it’s a combination of low level ozone and particulate matter (mostly black carbon) from diesel exhaust.  It has a wide range of negative health effects on humans.  Moving goods and people by bicycle does not contribute to smog

Congestion

A congested Toronto

A congested Toronto means lost productivity and poor health

According to a 2009 OECD report, traffic congestion in Toronto alone, is estimated to cost Canada $3.3B dollars annually and that’s just one city.  While bicycles can never hope to replace 40ft trailers delivering goods around the city, bicycles can help reduce congestion if people used them for short trips in and around their neighbourhood.  Local deliveries by bicycle couriers and bicycle delivery services can often be much quicker and cheaper than gas-powered vehicles!

Health Care

According to Stats Canada 1 in 4 people in Canada is obese.  Obesity, for the purpose of our discussion can best be described as a condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to such an extent that a person’s health may be adversely affected.  That’s 9M people in Canada who are putting their health at risk – largely through inactivity. Cycling, when undertaken with the oversight of a doctor or medical professional, can go a long way to helping people lose weight and improve their health … and it’s fun!

Cost

074966-ultra-glossy-silver-button-icon-alphanumeric-dollar-sign

Car ownership is a money pit

Did you know, according to the CAA Driving Costs Calculator, that to own and operate a new (mini) car in Ontario will cost you about $8.6K annually?  Light trucks and larger cars cost even more!  That includes, insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking, licensing fees, depreciation, etc.  In comparison, a bicycle costs about $150.  Some smart urbanites have discovered car sharing through companies like Car to Go, Zip Car and AutoShare. This gives them access to a car, but only on demand and the costs are shared by many people and when they don’t need a car, they turn to their bicycles for local transportation.

Transportation Effeciency

Did you know that the average Canadian takes something in the area of 2,000 trips in a car every year for distances of less than 3km?  According to Environment Canada  bicycle trips for distances of 5km or less are actually faster and far more effecient than any other form of transportation – and that includes buses and subways.

Conclusion

When you add up all these benefits, it’s clear that when Toronto bikes, we all benefit.  The benefits that accrue to the individual are even greater than the benefits to society.  So, go ahead and be selfish.  You’ll benefit and you’ll even help Toronto benefit.

Building Climate Change Resilient Parks

Tree Damage at Withrow Park

Withdraw (above) and Dieppe Park both sustained heavy damage to trees during and after the ice storm two years ago.

In the face of rapid, man-made climate change, Toronto’s parks are facing some major challenges.  This is especially true around soil erosion, soil compaction, changing bio-diversity and most importantly, tree canopies.

As many of you know, I’m a student of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) and I’ve just finished a little course sponsored by the World Bank Group.  You might be interested in one of my video artifacts – dealing specifically with Toronto Parks.  It speaks directly to the challenges and ways to overcome those challenges as we drift towards the year 2050.  I hope you’re inspired – at least a little ~ Ed.

A Ryerson Student on Climate Change

Bud burst is dependent on changes in weather

Bud burst is dependent on changes in weather

As some of you know, I’m a student of environmental science with a very special interest in anthropogenic global warming (or AGW)  and how urban parks can be made more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Last week, as part of an assignment, I interviewed a Ryerson student about climate changes and asked her four questions.  Below are her responses that I thought I’d share with you.  The take-away is that this student sees very few changes in attitudes or behaviors of people or companies as they relates to climate change.  Continue reading

A Low Carbon Economy

Can a Low Carbon Economy help reduce the chances of Global Warming?

Green Graphic An LCE has the potential to reduce planet-warming Green House Gases (GHGs0 and steer humankind away from dangerous, irreversible climate change.

An LCE is a system in which electricity is produced and energy is consumed using methods and fuels that emit a far lower quantity of GHGs than the carbon intensive systems we employ today.  The LCE extends beyond mere electricity production to embrace home heating, production of goods and see vices, transportation, agriculture, fishing, mining and almost every industry or activity you can imagine.

To learn more about a Low Caron Economy, please follow the link below to a recent paper I wrote for a University of Melbourne climate change course.

Ed Horner

Low Carbon Economy 2

A Deadly Lake That’s So Beautiful!

Methan in iceIt’s a lake, yes. But it’s also a bomb. Those pale blue blobs, stacked like floating pancakes down at the bottom of this photograph? They’re astonishingly beautiful, yes, but they can be dangerous. Continue reading

Toronto failing to act on alarming climate change predictions

Click to read Environment Canada’s view on climate change

November 11, 2011  – Toronto Star — Tess Kalinowski

The summer of 2012 was a hot one, preceded by a barely-existent winter. But in 30 years, Torontonians will look back on this as a relatively chilly year, compared with the temperatures being forecast in a dire report from the Toronto Environment Office.

The study predicts triple the number of above-30C days from about 22 on average annually to 66. It forecasts five times as many heat waves in the average summer and it warns that the days when the humidex hits 40C or higher will increase from nine a year to 39 on average. Continue reading

Dieppe Park Field House and Facility Improvements

Dear Councilor Fragedakis;

On behalf of Friends of Dieppe Park, I just wanted to add a few things or make minor changes on the written comments I left at the artificial ice rink (A.I.R.) presentation on Thursday evening. There’s a lot of stuff here and a few of them may require a little more discussion, but it’s a start. Continue reading