January 23, 2008

[Shaming] The stats are in...

Well, the stats are in folks. A study published by Martin Turcotte at Statistics Canada revealed that, after comparing all major cities in the country, Edmonton has the highest percentage of people who use a car to get around the city. Congratulations, Edmonton. You must be so proud to have this fact distinguish your city.

Read about the study here.

Now, even though I bike everywhere (followed by walking, then public transit as my preferred methods of getting around), I too am one of the Edmontonians who should accept part of the blame. The key thing to note here is the unsustainable layout of our cities. And as a citizen of Edmonton, I have played a role in allowing the growth of urban sprawl backed by an incredibly deficient public transit infrastructure. When are we going to realize that it is just plain stupid to build rows upon rows of suburban houses that are miles away from the city core where most of these homeowners work, let along miles away from the grocery store!?

Zoning laws should incorporate a clause that requires housing developers to PROVE that easy and accessible public transit will be available to connect people's homes to the places they work and shop and entertain themselves.

Instead of double-door garages and driveways marking the front view of new homes, we should be seeing garden plots and transit stops.

Instead of columns of large individualized houses that require tons of energy to heat, we should build low-rise townhouses which make use of communal heating systems as well as photovoltaic and wind power generators to lower power usage from the grid.

With peak oil either just around the corner or even potentially already behind us, the only way to interpret these new stats is this: The Canadian polity, as a whole, is either totally apathetic and ignorant about climate change OR we are totally incapable of transforming our intentions for change into action. Considering the amount of dialogue regarding global warming, I don't think the it is the former. In other words, we need to work on ACTION.

ACTION, ACTION, ACTION! We need to take on the "suck it up" attitude and stop driving. I did it, and I've been surprised at the multitude of factors that have come into play - all of which have me feeling better about my individual impact on the environment. According to Statscan, transportation accounts for 30.1% of our Greenhouse Gas emissions (see the chart below). With this in mind, driving less CAN HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE. So pickup a bike, or take out those old walking shoes, or take a pair of scissors to your driver's license after buying a bus pas... do something to start ACTING on global warming!

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