Environmental assessments a ‘wake-up call’

A senior scientist with Pollution Probe warns that Toronto summers are getting dangerously hotter. Quentin Chiotti, a PhD scholar and a scientist with Pollution Probe, lectured on climate change and the impact in Ontario. He spoke at the University of Toronto, recently.

Chiotti warned that in Canada, Toronto, London and Winnipeg had the highest number of hot days above 30 degrees Celsius in 2006.

“It will get worse,” he said. He added that despite assessment coming out in March, “the provincial and municipal governments need to do an assessment themselves, and I’m pushing for it.”

Chiotti pointed to a national assessment of the environment. This piece of research, coming out in March, 2008, has 145 authors, including Chiotti, and over 500 pages.

“I’m more worried about that impact of climate change with eco-systems and then the human body. We’re looking at a two- to -four degree temperature change by 2050,” he said.

The presentation included examples of new diseases he said, such as, SARS, West Nile virus, and pest problems, if the climate issue isn’t looked at.

Bob Miller, student present at the event, said out loud, “We need to give people a wake-up call and we can only do that by putting a price on carbon.”

Chiotti responded, “I couldn’t agree with you more, but people won’t agree with that.”

Chiotti became interested in the environment from his high school geography class. At Carleton University his interest grew more focused on free trade and the environment. He later worked with Environment Canada and eventually at Pollution Probe.

“We may be reducing our emissions for climate, but it’s still rising and we have a long way to go. The federal government is turning our interest into something serious,” Chiotti said.

Chiotti pointed to some sources of the global warming problem.

“Drive-throughs, driving your kid for one kilometre to school, a gas- gulping SUV. I never use drive-throughs… I love Tim Horton’s and their coffee, but drive-throughs are a convenience I can live without,” he said.

Chiotti sees problems facing the environment as ongoing battles and debates.

“A lot of good technology is out there and available,” he said. “The public does need to be aware of the problem. What role can the government play for the issue? There are a number of problems to be looked at, but it’s up to the individual person to start.”