Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hypocrisy, thy Name is Quebec!

When one sees the pictures in the news, time to time, of Beijing blanketed by a thick, choking layer of suffocating smog, we can only shake our heads in righteous indignation at the utter lack of responsibility of the Chinese government towards the environment or the well-being of its own citizens.

 But like it or not, we here in Quebec also display a reckless disregard for the environment, perhaps not on the Chinese scale, but reckless just the same.

Yes, a smog alert was issued Tuesday for Montreal and southern Quebec, something that happens up to 20 times throughout the winter when the weather gets cold and Quebecers, even in big population centres like Montreal, crank up their wood-burning stoves to heat their homes, a practice that can best be described as environmentally barbaric.

-Montreal Gazette
There are perhaps 85,000 wood-burning stoves and fireplaces on the Island of Montreal, churning out particulates in the atmosphere in an amount that is almost comparable to all the gas-burning vehicles plying our streets.
On top of this, most of the wood-burning devices aren't even up to standard, thus producing up to ten times more pollution than those stoves built  to modern standards.

Montreal has been slow to implement changes, preferring to impose the implementation of higher standards until after the next municipal election.
But those standards will still allow for devices, albeit cleaner, something that strikes me as absurd.

Here in Quebec, environmentalists and indeed regular citizens preach about global warming and the dangers of pipelines and fossil fuels.
Yet we blindly allow for wood-burning stoves, a totally unnecessary and destructive force on the environment, where the clean alternative readily available is electricity, something Quebec is awash in surplus capacity.

Let me ask you, how you'd feel stuck in one of Montreal's proverbial traffic jams, right behind some jalopy that was belching out thick black smoke from its exhaust continuously.
What might go through your mind?
That the driver of this vehicle is an irresponsible and selfish jerk?
That the police should ticket the offender and that the vehicle should be pulled from the road?
Probably and rightfully so.
If the driver of that vehicle explained that he couldn't afford a new car or even to fix the pollution problem, would you accept his defense and excuse his behaviour?
 Like me, I think you wouldn't, there can be no excuse for such reckless disregard.
So why any difference with wood-burning stoves?

While Mayor Coderre blathers on about going green with electric cars, he wilfully closes his eyes to reality of wood-burning stoves for the sake of expediency.
We as citizens are no better, we are in fact collective hypocrites.
Quebecers are the highest per capita users of wood-burning stoves and have the highest level of car ownership.
We don't need new, glitzy and expensive projects to combat global warming, we need to clean up our mess where it is easiest.

And here is a messages to Justin Trudeau, Denis Coderre and the Premier of Quebec....
How about imposing a carbon tax on wood-burning stoves before penalizing companies.
Perhaps a $3,000 a year carbon tax on wood-burnnig stoves would seriously reduce the use of these pollution engines, a carbon tax which would be effective and one that wouldn't cost jobs.

But can this makes-sense approach happen when the hundreds of thousands of owners of wood-burning devices have a vote, unlike companies where the imposition of a carbon tax can have no effect in the voting booth?

We Quebecers are loud in our denunciation of corporate polluters and pipeline projects, but when it comes to sacrificing and pulling our weight we are nowhere to be seen and neither are our politicians.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Quebec!


  1. It is really strange... I registered my wood fireplace and subscribed for smog alerts from Montreal, but never got any alert from them yesterday. Shame on me because I used my foyer yesterday night!

  2. I think your suggestion doesn't go far enough. I propose banning any heating of buildings of any kind, both residential and commercial, no matter what is the source of the heat. Heating process itself - is responsible for damaging the environment, because it, sure, helps drive global warming up. We must learn how to live and work year around with temperatures in our homes and offices equal to what's outside - even it's minus 30 without wind-chill. If animals can do it - we sure can too.
    And while we are at it - I also propose banning the eating process. Because, digestion of food in one's stomach creates all kinds of not-so-eco-friendly gases. So we must learn how to survive on pure air and nothing else.

    1. ...and don't forget the CO2 that individual humans exhale. Certainly, this can all be captured by people wearing gas masks that will isolate the CO2 in cannisters that can be safely disposed of without it being emitted as a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.