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Less Gassy

In May 2006, the Government of Canada's Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance announced $867,000 in funding for a hydrogen fuel cell project at YVR, Vancouver's international airport.

The object of this venture is to examine the use of Ballard Power System fuel cells in baggage-tow vehicles and to compare their energy efficiency to the diesel-fueled baggage cart tugs currently going in and out of terminal and service buildings. 

It is always encouraging to hear about large-scale, government-supported undertakings that will ultimately help to improve the quality of our air, water, and land. In the meantime, as the rest of us await affordable and efficient options for daily travel, we can be supportive in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our daily commute by

  • living closer to work
  • using public transit or carpooling
  • cycling or walking whenever possible
  • driving more fuel-efficient vehicles
  • reducing idle time during engine warmup
  • turning off the engine during traffic standstills

We're in this together so let's help by reducing the amount of energy we use. 

Rita Bayer

How Big is Your Footprint?

It's no secret that the number of resources we use and the waste we produce affects our environment. We can define the intensity of our individual effect by using ecological footprint analysis, developed by Dr. William Rees, professor of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia and coauthor with Dr. Mathis Wackernagel of Our Ecological Footprint (New Society, 1996).

According to the ecological footprint analysis conducted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2003, the average Canadian's ecological footprint is the third-largest in the world. Each person in Canada, on average, consumes 7.25 hectares of land and sea worldwide. Yet only 1.7 hectares of the Earth's productive biosphere is available for human use. What are we trying to do, compete with Big Foot?

To ensure Earth can sustain future generations, Canadians need to reanalyze our consumption and downsize our footprints. The practice of restoring, recycling, and reusing is part of it, but as consumers, we can do more. For example:

  • Buy more locally grown and organic food and fewer processed and packaged foods.
  • Hang clothes to dry.
  • Reduce use of air conditioners.
  • Use energy-efficient bulbs and appliances.
  • Unplug cell phone chargers (if it feels warm, it is draining electricity).

To find out the size of your ecological footprint and to periodically track your progress, visit www.mec.ca/splash.jsp.

R.B.

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