Clear Warning Signs of Potential Threats to our Environment and
WATERLOO, ON, April 7 /CNW/ - Soaring greenhouse gasses, increasing
waste generation and energy use, declining stocks of large fish
species, and shrinking water supplies in parts of the country - are
offsetting gains like reduced air pollution emission levels, good water
quality, and healthy forest bird populations, said a new Environment
Report released today by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW).
"Canada isn't in a crisis situation today, but there are clear warning
signs of potential threats to our environment and wellbeing, and we
ignore them at our peril," said The Honourable Roy J. Romanow, Chair of
the CIW Advisory Board.
"We are huge consumers of natural resources with a seemingly endless and
unsustainable appetite for fossil fuels, water, metals and energy. We
have an unsustainable economic model built around producing, consuming
and throwing away things - many of which we don't actually need. Some
of these trends could eventually result in poorer health, a weaker
economy, lower standard of living, and diminished quality of life."
Among the Report's key findings:
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are rising - up 24% since 1990. Canada is heading in the wrong direction to avoid
dangerous climate change. We are amongst the highest per capita
emitters in the world, second only to the U.S. More than half of our
GHG emissions are produced by the oil, gas and coal industries (which
accounts for 22% of emissions), transportation (also 22%) and
electricity production via utilities (16%).
Ground-level ozone is increasing, and as a contributing factor to respiratory disease in
parts of the country, should be a growing concern to urban Canadians.
Non-renewable fossil fuels still make up 90% of our primary energy
production. While we're generating more electricity from wind, solar and tidal sources than in
the past, it represents less than 0.5% of total generation.
The effective supply of water in Southern Canada shrank by 8.5% over the past 30 years. When combined with increasing demand, this
causes concern for the Prairies, the Okanagan, Southern Ontario and the
St. Lawrence Valley. This can restrict recreational activities like
fishing, boating, and use of community pools.
Increased waste generation (up in nearly every province and territory in
the country) is a concern to community vitality (given the divisive nature of
landfills/incinerators) and time use (as we spend more hours to buy
We have been fishing-down the food chain, reducing the population of the larger more desirable species such as
swordfish and cod. Altered marine food webs are jeopardizing the
economic and recreational wellbeing of coastal populations, and leaving
ecosystems less able to cope with natural or human-induced change.
Average maximum fish lengths shrunk from 111 cm. in 1950 to 55 cm. in
1994 to 46 cm. in 2006.
"If we don't have a healthy planet, we won't have a healthy society,"
said CIW Director Bryan Smale. "One of the main goals of the CIW is to
show the interconnections among the many dimensions of our wellbeing -
taking into account the full range of social, health, environmental,
and economic concerns of citizens."
The report concluded that the choices we make as a society will
determine whether we face a distressed future or a better quality of
life. The challenge remains how to optimize wellbeing for both humans and other species, rather than maximize one domain of wellbeing such as economic growth. It called for more
far-sighted policies and enforcement by government, better stewardship
by industry, and lifestyle changes by individuals.
A summary and full version of the Environment Report as well as the
document Ideas for Positive Change are available at the CIW's website, www.ciw.ca.
About the Canadian Index of Wellbeing The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is a new way of measuring
wellbeing that provides unique insights into the quality of life of
Canadians - overall, and in specific areas such as: living standards,
health, environment, education, time use, community vitality,
democratic engagement, and leisure and culture. It is produced by the
CIW Network, based in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the
University of Waterloo. For more information, visit www.ciw.ca.
About Waterloo The University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's Technology
Triangle, is one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities.
Waterloo is home to 30,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and
graduate students who are dedicated to making the future better and
brighter. Waterloo, known for the largest post-secondary co-operative
education program in the world, supports enterprising partnerships in
learning, research and discovery. For more information about Waterloo,
SOURCE Canadian Index of Wellbeing
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