Thinking global, acting local

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Almost 50 % of Quebec’s air pollution comes down the St Lawrence valley from outside Quebec.  According to Health Canada, over 8 % of preventable deaths in Quebec and Montreal are smog related.   Burning of gasoline, diesel, coal and heating oil releases nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxides not to mention mercury, lead and other heavy metals. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if America would think globally about the emissions it sends to Quebec and act locally by using cleaner energy? 

It turns out America already is.  America’s energy diet is being more and more supplied by locally produced natural gas. Some recent examples: 

  • Los Angeles has joined New Delhi, India and all public transport there is now powered by natural gas.  
  • President Obama is advocating a conversion of federal vehicles to natural gas.  
  • Major airports have also converted to natural gas powered vehicles.  
  • GM just announced it is developing a natural gas powered car. (The CNG powered Honda Civic is already rated the greenest car in the world.)  
  • The head of the EPA expects that conversion from coal fired electricity to natural gas fired electricity will continue based on the affordability of natural gas. 
  • Recently the State of New York recommended going ahead with the exploitation of natural gas which will encourage the use of cleaner local energy in the North East United States.

Natural gas has 80 % less nitrous oxide, 99 % less sulphur dioxide and 100 % less mercury, lead and heavy metals than gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. The Canadian Lung Association says “compared with gasoline, natural gas produces fewer air pollutants, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions” and recommends its use to improve air quality and respiratory health. 

All of these changes in America will contribute to cleaner air in the global environment and some will directly improve smog and health in the St. Lawrence valley. 

The other 50 % of air pollution in the St. Lawrence Valley is produced in Quebec.  Quebec is responsible for 32 % of all heating oil and 40 % of heavy fuel oil demand in Canada. 

It’s time for Quebec as a world leader in the environment to consider the benefits of a local energy diet. A blue highway from Quebec to Windsor anyone?