Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour and Air Pollution

Guelph’s Going Dark, Again

If you notice the lights on your block going out for an hour on Saturday night, then fear not because it just means that your neighbours are supporting the 2010 edition of Earth Hour, as is the City of Guelph. Guelph will be one of 172 Canadian municipalities that will be participating in the annual observance/awareness campaign in support of promoting energy conservation and combating climate change. “Turning out the lights for Earth Hour is a symbolic gesture, but it is a good opportunity for us to reflect on how our quality of life is impacted by our use of energy and the importance of using energy wisely,” says Mayor Karen Farbridge. In every city facility, all but essential lighting will be turned off from 8:30 pm till 9:30 pm, and the city is encouraging residents to do the same and register their conservation efforts at

Stop Coughing, it’s not air pollution (says study)

But why waste your time with Earth Hour, some may ask. Especially now that one University of Guelph professor has co-authored a study finding that previously held assertions about the correlation between air pollution and respiratory disease may not be as solid as previously though. U of G economics professor Ross McKitrick, long known as one of the ubiquitous fifth dentists when it comes to global climate change, analyzed a database of 11 Canadian cities over a 20 year period with the assistance of Gary Koop of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and Lise Tole of the University of Edinburgh. Their results, published in the journal Environmental Modelling and Software, showed that there was no evidence that air pollution affected hospital admission rate or time spent in the hospital, at least not as much as smoking and income levels. It’s worth pointing out though that Tole and Koop, like McKitrick, are economists, and that this is one study versus hundreds that have found, and continue to find, a link between the crummy air we breathe and the incidents of respiratory-related conditions like asthma. Meanwhile advanced researchers in the field of insultology, contend that air pollution is a prime factor in “that Hamilton smell.”

Bits and Bites

Looks like the lights at St. George’s Square won’t be altered anytime soon as per a vote by members of the city’s emergency services, community services and operations committee. As per a council vote last December, subtle changes were made to the lights in the square in an effort to make things more convenient for motorists. The initial request came from the Downtown Business Association who noted that traffic downtown had dropped in the last 20 years, and suggested a change to the stop lights might be an enticement. However, traffic and parking manager Alister McIlveen told council that there had been no comments, either for or against the changes, and thus the lights will stay the same for now. He added that when the transit hub opens on Carden St. in a few years, the city may want to revisit the issue.

In campaign news, it seems that Ward 1 Councillor Kathleen Farrelly will not be seeking re-election, however Ward 1 need not necessarily be left Farrelly-less come October. Instead, Kathleen’s son Sean Farrelly, himself a former city councillor that represented Ward 2 for nine years, will be running for his mother’s council seat in the fall. The current Councillor Farrelly, meanwhile, will settle down after she gets remarried this June. She intends to spend a lot of time travelling to visit her new husband’s relations on East Coast. Have you caught election fever yet? Then click on to stay up to date and call me in the morning. (That was a joke, please don’t call me.)

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