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Friday, April 20, 2001

  • Thoughts about cars and the Earth
  • Student opens environmental web site
  • Winter exams come to an end

Thoughts about cars and the Earth

Sunday is the annual Earth Day, and while it's a bit too late to join in "carless week" in Waterloo Region leading up to it, next week might still be a good time to give the internal combustion engine a rest.

"By choosing to walk, bike or car-pool," says Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator, "we are showing our commitment to cleaner air, less road congestion, and a healthier, more sustainable community. Once you try it, you may find that walking, biking, bussing, or carpooling, will lower your stress level, contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and even keep money in your wallet.

"The University of Waterloo with 3,600 employees can play a major role in improving the air we breathe."

She notes that a local "transportation awareness campaign" will lead up to a "Commuter Challenge" June 5, 6 and 7, based on Environment Canada's Commuter Challenge, in which UW will be invited to participate.

Cook says the federal government offers "lots of information about why we need to reduce our car use: human and vegetative health, climate change, pollution, costs of repairs, emergency service costs, ecological (water, air, species, land) degradation." For example:

Dependency on the car leads to more automobiles on the road, and more cars lead to more noise and congestion, as well as busier streets in our communities. The more we drive, the more smog we create, creating a health challenge. The effect of high smog periods has been directly related to increased hospital admissions.

The average car makes 2,000 trips of three kilometres or less a year, and many of these trips could easily be done on foot or bicycle. The more we drive, the more carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere, leading to an enhanced greenhouse effect and accelerated climate change.

More cars lead to congestion and a demand for more roadways and low density housing developments far from the city or town centre. Low-density housing leads to urban sprawl, increased use of the car and longer trips. At the same time, costs for maintaining a transit system that must serve outlying areas are very high and uneconomical, creating an even greater dependency on our automobiles.

Conclusion? "Spring is a great time to walk and bike, especially after being cooped up in our homes and offices and cars. By not driving your car, you get some exercise for your health, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, help reduce traffic congestion, and perhaps save some money!"

Student opens environmental web site -- from the UW news bureau

Environmental students from across Canada will soon have a reliable information resource that provides links to news and information relating to the environment, thanks to the efforts of a UW student.

The web site, thegreenpages.ca, will be officially launched on Earth Day. It was developed by Rex Turgano, a fourth-year environment and resource studies student. He heads the project and has been collecting Canadian environmental web site addresses for two years.

What makes the site stand out from other on-line directories is that it has been developed by environmental students who use the World Wide Web for daily research. "The main goal of the web site is to decrease the hours we spend on the Internet researching for information relating to environmental issues," said Turgano, who searches and reviews environmental related web sites on a daily basis. "Most of the information is out there but it can be very time-consuming and often frustrating to find. We would like to share our findings and experience with other students or any other interested individuals so they may be able to obtain information easily and quickly."

The main highlight of the site is the "Resource Centre" section where more than 900 Canadian-based environmental links (with a few notable links from around the world) are compiled and categorized into a comprehensive list. The list is then broken down into 60 recognizable categories or themes ranging from aboriginal people and conservation groups to waste management and genetically modified organisms.

In addition, the web site integrates existing information services such as daily news updates from the Environmental News Network and the Globe and Mail. There is also a "Search Tools" section where students can learn how to effectively search on the Internet and which on-line resources to use.

"It is hoped that students use this web site as a starting point for their research on the World Wide Web," said Turgano, who wishes there had been a web site like this one when he started his post-secondary studies.

Winter exams come to an end

The campus is quiet, and about to get quieter. Tomorrow will be the last day of exams for winter term courses, and the residences are closing. Next week is a breather, and of course a time for professors to mark those exams. The spring term will begin Tuesday, May 1.

UW's libraries continue to be open late for the last frantic students preparing for those exams: Dana Porter until 2:00 tonight, the Davis Centre library until 3 a.m. Tomorrow, Dana Porter will be open until 11 p.m. and the Davis Centre until midnight. The libraries will be closed on Sunday.

The residence cafeterias have already closed, and several other food services outlets will be closed next week, including the Modern Languages coffee shop and Bon Appetit in the Davis Centre. What does that leave? There's food next week at Brubakers in the Student Life Centre, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, Tim Horton's in the Davis Centre, and maybe one or two other locations. (The South Campus Hall cafeteria and Tim Horton's in the Optometry building won't be open again now until September.)

Today's the last day of operation for parking lot B1, which is going out of business to allow the construction of the planned Centre for Environmental and Information Technology.

Sunday brings the Super Cities Walk, a fund-raising event for multiple sclerosis research. The Kitchener-Waterloo walk will begin at Federation Hall at 10 a.m.

Something called "Dance Dance Dance" will be running its competition all day Saturday in the Humanities Theatre.

And I've been asked to mention that the Waterloo Concert Band will give a concert, "Stepping into Spring", Sunday afternoon at 3:00 at Hilliard Hall of First United Church, corner of King and William Streets. Tickets are $5.

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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