Eco-friendly commuting

By Jim KenzieJim Kenzie

Eco commuting

1 comment


You have a cottage or camp because you want to go back to—if not necessarily live off—the land. Drink, swim, and fish in clean water. Breathe fresh air. Commune with Bambi. So why do you drive up there and back every weekend in a three-tonne, gas-swilling, emissions-spewing truck? Can you enjoy the environmental benefits of cottage life without driving a Grand-Large Hypocrite V8? Maybe.

Let’s face it—you need to take a lot of people, pets, and paraphernalia up there. And back. And there ain’t no subway from Leaside to Lake of Bays. But there are some strategies you can follow to at least partially reduce the environmental footprint of your commute to cottageland.

About carbon monoxide and saving fuel:

Few, if any, industries have done more in the past 30 years to reduce the environmental impact of their products than the car industry. Modern cars burn fuel so completely that the three pollutants the federal government controls and Ontario’s Drive Clean program tests—hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx)—have been almost completely eliminated from automotive exhaust. It is literally true that in some urban areas, the exhaust coming out of a car’s tailpipe is cleaner than the air going into the engine.

Granted, you wouldn’t want to wrap your lips around the exhaust pipe, but the answer to Los Angeles’s smog problems might well be to have people drive around in modern cars and vacuum up all the crud. It’s those 30-year-old cars out there that never rust which do disproportionately greater damage. But it isn’t the pollutants per se that now appear to be the main concern. Carbon dioxide (CO²)—which some might say is hardly a pollutant, since it is a vital component of our very breath—is also the so-called greenhouse gas, which, as now seems incontrovertible, is contributing to global warming.

Environment Canada has estimated that cars and light trucks contribute somewhere around 12 per cent of the country’s total CO² emissions. So even if we all stopped driving altogether, the problem wouldn’t automatically go away. Still, we can all do our bit, right? If you’re not part of the solution…

There currently is no regulation of CO² exhaust emissions in North America, although Europe has begun controlling them. Then again, Europeans pay about twice what we do for fuel, and their fleet is nearly twice as fuel-efficient as ours. Anybody see a connection there, hmmm?

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is simple—use less fuel. And the easiest way to do that is to simply tax fuel even more than it is now.

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Aug. 16, 2011

6:26 am

You could not be more right!! After being rear-ended by a careless van-pulling-trailer on Sunday and subsequently being car #2 in a 4 car accident (me, being not-at-fault!) I am committed from now on to driving in the right hand lane all the way on the Barrie 500 Speedway. I am OK with being called the little old lady (really, not THAT old) going 100km in the slow lane. At least I would have my van instead of it being somewhere in Barrie waiting for adjustors. 10-15 minutes extra in drivingtime means nothing compared to several hours at the scene and the inconvenience (understatement) of dealing with insurance.

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