a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Jan, 2007

Bad news

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Last night the CBC news ran a documentary about the weird weather we’ve been having this winter. This season the weather in Canada has been totally reversed: people in the west are digging themselves out from under snowdrifts, people in the east are playing golf, and up north the polar ice is melting at a record rate. Global warming is totally messing things up on our planet…. we are messing up our planet.

It seems evident that we all need to make some changes – fast. We need to rethink our ridiculous level of consumption. We have to stop relying so much on cars. Governments must put policies into place that reward people who are trying to make positive change and punish those who don’t… like factories that continue to spew chemicals into the environment and produce too much garbage.

We’re in the middle of a crisis and things aren’t going to change unless we change.

But habits are hard to break, aren’t they? It’s hard enough to stop shopping for a month.

If you knew that you could save the world if you changed your habits, would you?

Some people don’t think believe there’s a problem. What’s almost worse: some people think they are entitled … that if they can afford it they should be able to continue living the way they want.

What got me thinking about this today is something Mark told me yesterday. I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. It is grossly unbelievable.

He was out and about for work, and during lunchtime happened to be in the parking lot near a Swiss Chalet. He saw an older couple park their Cadillac Esplanade in the handicapped spot in front of the restaurant. They got out and went inside. And here’s the crazy part: they left their car idling the whole time.  Mark estimates they were in there for a half an hour, possibly more.

Did you know that an hour of automobile idling burns approximately 1/5 of a gallon of gas and releases nearly 4 pounds of CO2 into the air. Excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere can increase global warming. (from this PDF)

Who are these people? And what in god’s name are they thinking? As if this weather we’ve been having isn’t enough of an indicator… what needs to happen before people finally get it?

10 Responses to "Bad news"

1 | Vicki Thomas

January 11th, 2007 at 11:26 am


Check out The Weathermakers by Tim Flannery – fascinating read on what we are doing to our world.

This morning the Current on CBC focused on climate change – I learned that the snow is melting on Mount Kilamanjaro…

2 | BeachMama

January 11th, 2007 at 6:12 pm


The only thing good for me about this is that my Father in Law would probobly move back to Ottawa from Vancouver.

I would love to say that I would change, but at the same time. I love my car. I do not idle excessively, I don’t make extra trips out and I try to limit the amount of driving I do do. But, in all honesty I have to say that I do not think that I would give it up. Now, buying a hybrid or another type of fuel (thinking the new water thing they were showing last fall) sure, I will do my part if I can.

As for recycling and using earth friendly products, I do certainly try my best.

And the folks with the Escalade. Shame on them, they should have gotten a ticket and had their number one stolen vehicle in Canada, stolen. It wasn’t THAT cold yesterday.

3 | VickiZ

January 11th, 2007 at 6:21 pm


Is there an anti-idling bylaw in Ottawa? There is apparently one in Toronto, but come to think of it, I have no idea how I would make a “citizen’s arrest” and heaven knows there have been countless times when I would like to. It’s something so egregious, yet so difficult to police unless it’s protracted (well, the Escalade thing sounds like it was) or chronic.

I have just had a great experience with something that combines my 2007 resolution to “lighten the load” (aka get rid of some junk) with my desire to better reduce, reuse and recycle. I joined the Toronto Freecycle mailing list, and successfully “freecycled” my first item – which means someone else has found a treasure out of my junk, and something has *not* ended up in landfill. There are Freecycle lists for Ottawa, I believe. Give it a try.

4 | andrea

January 11th, 2007 at 6:41 pm


Apparently there is.

Info here.

But as you say, it’s hard to police. And what can a regular bystander do if they encounter execessive idling, especially like the Escalade couple who weren’t even in the car? Exactly nothing. Grrr.

re: Freecycle.
Yes, there is an Ottawa list. And I’ve used it to giveaway a few things… namely a whole whack of cloth diapers. It sure is satisfying to get rid of stuff! I need to do some more.

5 | Brent

January 11th, 2007 at 7:02 pm


The enormity of climate change often makes us feel powerless to address it in our daily lives. “I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?” But if we all take action, together we can make a difference! David Suzuki has a list of ten things you can do to protect nature in your daily life.


Regarding your Escalade driver; number three on Suzuki’s list suggests driving a fuel efficient car. Personal automobile use is major source of CO2 emissions and if you switch to a more fuel efficient car, you will be reducing your burden every day.

Think globally, act locally.

6 | Hillary

January 12th, 2007 at 3:06 am


I’ve been thinking a lot about this, too (bundled up against the arctic air, snow, and tree-snapping windstorms here in Vancouver!!!). I watched An Inconvenient Truth over the holidays, and then went to the site (www.climatecrisis.net), and you know what??? I was amazed at how EASY some of those suggestions are to actually do. It’s pretty scary to think of how much we’re screwing up our planet.

7 | lamiarosa

January 12th, 2007 at 6:49 pm


This is one of those things that sometimes amazes me. Of course I would do it, I do it everyday. Who decided that the only life worth living was one that was so easy I could just float through it with my eyes closed? booooring. In my opinion most of our “issues” stem from our own dying (literally) need to make absolutely everything that we do or try as painfully easy as possible. No gain no pain!!! (right…?)

8 | Zachary Houle

January 13th, 2007 at 12:31 am


What amazes me is that NOBODY STOLE THE CAR. I mean, c’mon. That’s just asking for it. :-)

9 | SheilaC

January 19th, 2007 at 2:24 am


Depends how active and aggressive you want to be about the idling thing. You could print out a leaflet or short note about the evils of idling cars, and keep a few in your purse. Just stick one under the windshield wiper when you spot an idling vehicle.
They had an anti-idling campaign at our kids’ school this fall, and the kids even brought home bookmarks about it. Good stuff.
Suzuki’s Nature Challenge has a very good email newsletter.

10 | Karen H.

January 22nd, 2008 at 11:29 am


I saw the same thing happen at the Zavida’s Coffee at Centrum in Kanata. A woman goes in for a coffee and lets her car run for an hour! I asked her if she knew she left her car on? Yes, thank you, was the reply. Her car has Alberta plates so I also asked her if she knew that Ottawa has an anti-idling by-law? No, why? was her reply. I explained what she was doing was against the law and causes excessive air pollution. Thank you, fake smile, was the reply. Did she turn the car off? NO. She only reacted when I went outside and copied down her info on a pad of paper and made it look like I was phoning the city. Staff at the coffee shop advised me she is a regular and does this all the time! It is amazing that people just do not care. I did follow-up with the city and pass on the information. I hope they fine her. I am watching ~ Toyota Matrix ~ FYR 273.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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