Perhaps in addition to industry gifting our children with ‘happy’ meals and summer camp, perhaps fast food chains can start supplying puffers to children with Asthma.
When our children and grandchildren someday, (coming soon) ask us why we did not immediately cease all unnecessary forms of C02 emissions to mitigate against climate change – when we knew full well the consequences – what are we going to say?  “I’m sorry sweetheart – society really couldn’t give up the luxury of the drive-thru – that was just too much to ask.  I’m sorry we destroyed your chances for a future on the planet, but it was just more sacrifice than one could be expected to endure.”
What a legacy.
Our eco footprint is more than four times larger than what is sustainable.  We still want more? If there is to be a future on this planet – we need to re-design our lives to live using 80% less. We don’t have to sacrifice our quality of life to combat climate change, however, we do need to change the way we live.  And simple, is more often than not, beautiful.

The Role of Cities

The battle against climate change will be won or lost in cities. The role of provincial and federal governments is, of course, widely debated, analyzed and understood. Yet the challenge is so huge that cross-cutting action at all levels will be needed. The central role of city leaders in our rapidly urbanizing world will be key to reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The leaders of large cities have a particular responsibility to act, and governments must empower and enable city governments to take on this role.
If global efforts to address climate change are to be successful, they will need to integrate city requirements and environmental management capacities. Only with a coordinated approach and actions at the global, regional, national and local levels can success be achieved. Many cities are now taking the initiative to reduce their impact on the global climate.
By 2030, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities or urban areas. Half already do. Even now, cities consume 75 per cent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, all cities are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and none more so than fast growing cities in developing countries. About 20 of the 30 largest cities of the world are situated on low lying coasts. Rising sea levels of a few metres would have catastrophic implications. So there’s an extraordinary responsibility and motivation for cities to act. It is at city level that innovation and progress on climate change action is most likely to be achieved.

Driven to Action – Stopping Sprawl in Your Community

Sprawl consumes large quantities of land, segregates houses from shops and workplaces, depends on cars, and has little regard for the natural environment. In some parts of
Canada sprawl is the largest driver of greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, most Canadians do not personally build the houses, streets, schools, parks or water lines that make cities possible. But we can set the rules for building sustainable cities and help make the plans that determine how we get to work, school and shopping.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s report, Understanding Sprawl, and toolkit encourages communities to reshape urban areas. We need more dense and compact cities, with better bike paths and pedestrian friendly walkways.

Learn more:

Acrobat Reader 5 or above required for PDFs. Click here to download for free.

Understanding Sprawl contains a toolkit called Driven to Action to help citizens protect their communities from sprawling development. It consists of the following:

  • Getting started (PDF): A brief overview of what you can do to stop sprawl in your neighbourhood
  • Sprawl facts (PDF): Learn why sprawl is a problem
  • Shaping decisions (PDF): Find out how to contact politicians and decision makers and express your concerns
  • Working with the media (PDF): Tips on how to get your message in the news
  • Tools (PDF): Examples of tools to help you get started

A printed version of Understanding Sprawl, containing all of the above elements in an easy-to-use format is available for $10 (to cover shipping and handling). To order, call 1-800-453-1533 or email.

Other resources:

  • Smart Growth Canada: One of the most comprehensive Canadian websites on community growth and development.
  • Ontario Smart Growth Network: The Ontario Smart Growth Network brings together organizations that are working together to stop urban sprawl and promote sustainable communities across Ontario.
  • SmartGrowthBC: Excellent info on smart growth & citizen involvement.
  • Sprawl Busters: An international clearinghouse on big box, anti-sprawl information.
  • Sierra Club: Information and further links on sprawl.
  • Federation of Ontario Naturalists: Good background on sprawl in Ontario
  • Kyoto and Sprawl: This website highlights the connection between sprawl and climate change.
  • West Coast Environmental Law: This publication provides information on how law in British Columbia can be used to promote smart growth.
  • The Pembina Institute: The study examines the relationships between air quality, climate change and urban development issues in an Ontario context.


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