Thanks to Andrew Cash for his timely article on the Portlands Energy Centre (NOW, July 19-25), the giant power plant being constructed on Toronto's waterfront. I just wish he hadn't given the last word to Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
I'm grateful that Gibbons is working to shut down coal plants, but he's wrong to say that PEC will speed this up, or that we have to choose between burning coal and gas.
Using a fraction of the $730 million it will cost just to build PEC, Toronto Hydro could save far more with conservation programs than the 550 megawatts PEC will produce.
With sickness and death from air pollution and climate change, we need to change direction now. Any new burning of fossil fuels should not be permitted unless it is clearly demonstrated first that alternatives (conservation, energy efficiencies, renewable power and energy storage) won't work.
Clean Air's pro-gas plank
Thank you for the excellent article about the Portlands Energy Centre and the walkout by most of the community members from the dysfunctional Community Liaison Committee.
The one quibble I have is with Jack Gibbons, who has been the standard apologist for all natural gas generation projects for the province. Gibbons is a strong and important voice against coal, but he is stunningly wrongheaded on this point.
The current focus of the Alliance is a fight against new transmission lines to bring more electricity into the city. The organization states that instead of spending $600 million on the East Toronto Transmission Line, "we should invest in more cost-effective options to meet our electricity needs, such as energy conservation, renewable power and small-scale combined heat and power plants."
That same argument applies in our fight against the $730 million power plant that provides even less energy for Toronto and is a more direct point source for local pollution.
Perhaps Gibbons's stand can be explained by the fact that the Alliance counts among its sponsors the Ontario Natural Gas Association, Enbridge Gas Distribution and other natural gas promoters.
A dirty future in coal
RE Dogging big coal (NOW, July 19-25). Just a couple of important points about your report on our weekly vigils outside Ontario Power Generation headquarters (NOW, July 19-25).
OPG spokesperson John Earl is wrong when he says we draped our banner over OPG's sign. Good idea, but not true.
Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance is also against the Portlands Energy Centre gas plant. Why not look more closely at protecting the Leslie Spit bird sanctuary across from the PEC plant?
Also, Ontarians should know that the Ontario Power Authority is recommending that OPG export 93 per cent of its coal-fired electricity to the U.S. by 2010, meaning we get all the toxins, death, illness and have to account for the greenhouse gases while the U.S. gets our power.
Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance
Toronto's anti-idling bylaw (NOW, July 19-25) is an absolute joke.
The number of cars one person, paying attention, can witness contravening this bylaw boggles the mind.
The biggest idling crime occurs in drive-throughs. Anyone who has even a single grain of environmental awareness should make a pact with him- or herself today to never, ever go through a drive-through again. Period.
Jet travel: sky's the limit
Your article on carbon emissions from air travel points out that we have maxed out on jet fuel efficiencies and that basically there will be no new fuel technologies to reduce the impact of air travel.
Did you miss the news about the Boeing 787, a recently developed lightweight medium-capacity jet that uses significantly more plastic and less metal and has wings made almost entirely of carbon fibre? Fuel consumption is predicted to drop by 20 per cent. That is no small feat.
Letting off steam
Your story about Toronto's dirty Dozen polluters (NOW, July 19-25) is somewhat misleading with respect to Enwave Energy Corporation's heating business.
In addition to the air conditioning that we displace from 55 buildings with our deep lake water cooling project, our three steam plants displace the polluting boilers of 148 buildings in downtown Toronto.
We are almost 20 per cent more efficient than conventional heating systems. Put another way, Enwave's 409 tonnes of particulate matter would have been almost 500 tons.
So while we do have emissions in our heating operations, our district energy system is playing a very important role in reducing CO2 in our air shed. And through our soon-to-be-announced cogeneration project, we intend to make our operations even better.
President and CEO, Enwave Energy
Moore's health care scare
Although I despise motion pictures and society's obsession with the Academy Awards, Michael Moore's Sicko (NOW, July 19-25) captures the essence of health care in the U.S.
I had three seizures at my parents' Florida residence in 2003, and my father took me, in a delusional state, to the nearest hosital emergency room. My OHIP card was useless, but I found my Global Medical Insurance card issued by Manulife in my wallet so I "jumped the queue" and was admitted. I spent three days. Total cost: $25,000 (Cdn), including an MRI.
I had another major seizure at Yonge and Bloor subway a few weeks ago and was admitted to St. Michael's without having to produce a card or proof of ability to pay.
People still have to pay a $45 ambulance fee, though.
Goldfinger doesn't live here
As a Torontonian who has been living for the last two years a few doors up from 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, Heather Zorzini's Goldfinger's House (NOW, July 19-25) left me wondering what had been slipped into her tea during her visit to London.
The photographed house is not and could not be more different from 2 Willow Road.
Furthermore, Hampstead Heath is not "just outside London" but most certainly in London!
Editor's note: Due to a photo mix-up, the wrong shot appeared with Heather Zorzini's article.
Famine starved for a culprit
RE A tribute starved in stone (NOW, July 12-18). I have read quite a lot about Ireland and the Irish famine, and I would like to suggest that if there is any blame to be laid, population explosion is probably the culprit.
Too many babies, too little land, too few resources.
Nature often corrects the imbalance with a natural disaster.
Full metal hatchet job
RE Wee metal men (NOW, July 12-18). My wife happened to be at the Ontario Model Soldier Society show when your reporter arrived. So she was both surprised and dismayed when she saw the disparaging tone of the published article. I wasn't.
When I was a young man, I served in the reserves with the 48th Highlanders. When I taught history at Earl Haig Secondary School, I often wore my 48th tartan kilt to school on Remembrance Day and Robbie Burns Day to honour those days. Almost all the students understood.
But there were always a few, and they were always the less mature boys, who just didn't get it. All they could do was giggle and smirk.
I try not to prejudge people, so did all I could to be of assistance to your reporter. I hoped the article would be thoughtful, intelligent and respectful. It turns out all he could do was giggle and smirk. Sad, really.
Making the charity case
Letter writer Gord Ruddin's shameful attack on the Jewish community (NOW, July 12-18) is insulting and openly spreads the lie that Jews have divided loyalties to "the nations that have accepted them."
He dismisses the thousands of Jews who have served this country in its armed forces, through public service and through volunteerism.
His characterization of Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman as "disloyal" is despicable in light of the donations these honoured Canadians have made to institutions such as the emergency department at Mount Sinai and the Sick Kids Foundation - donations that benefit all Canadians.
Canadians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, should be applauded for their support of Israel. She is a sister democracy who is worthy of our donations.
Director of Community Relations Canadian Jewish Congress Toronto
ROM's crystal myth
In case you're interested, those ads for the ROM that cover half of every page online are truly annoying. I feel about as warmly toward the crystal museum ads as I would if they hired people to stand on the street and randomly punch passersby in the face as a way of drawing attention to themselves. Nothing against ads. I even like clever ones. Those suck.