celebration of Earth Day, this article is the first in a
series that promotes an important message that needs to
get out to the public. These articles discuss the
real costs are to the average person for the use
of nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas. There are costs
associated with the use of these types of fuels that we
are incurring right now; however, they are often
hidden, so it is not always easy to see.
· Food cost: There is a direct
relationship with the price of oil and the price of food.
There was a peak in 2008 when oil hit $140+ per barrel,
and we are in a similar position presently. If you look
at the food price-index from the Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the oil
price-index from Energy Information Administration
(EIA) you can see the direct correlation. Paul Chefurka
assembled this information and
the chart was published in The
Prudent Investor 'blog.
· Health costs: At present, health
costs are spiralling out of control, yet patient care has
been deteriorating for some time now. For example, there
have been increases in respiratory diseases. Dr. John Howard,
in November of 2010, stated that 30% of Ontario
children now require a puffer for asthma.
He sites an increase in a number of other diseases as well,
which he feels is attributable to environmental causes.
It is estimated that the cost is $3 billion per
year in Canada for healthcare related to poor air quality.
Ground-water contamination from oil and natural-gas
fracking (hydraulic fracturing) are also major
In March 2011, the Pickering nuclear plant discharged
73 000 litres of demineralized water into Lake
Ontario. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) maintains
health risks as being minimal: to tell 3 million (or more)
people in the Greater Toronto Area that the water is not
safe to drink would result in widespread panic.
· Insurance costs: As greenhouse
gasses increase globally, so do weather-related incidents.
The result is higher insurance premiums to
cover these costs, the average person paying out of their
own pocket, or we all pay through taxes if
funding is from federal disaster relief. These events don’t
have to be catastrophic in nature, though: for example,
locally in London, Ontario, one restoration company stated
that recently it had 60 cases of ice damming on
residential rooftops, whereas the normal is about
10 for one winter season. The constant freezing and thawing
cycle of our current weather is to blame - gone are the
days when snow and ice would freeze in December and remain
frozen until February.
The constant freezing and thawing cycle of our current
weather is also increasing the deterioration of
our roads and bridges. Again, costs are either incurred
through higher taxes, not to mention vehicle repairs.
· Loss of natural habitat and wildlife:
Although difficult to always associate a dollar
value to the loss of flora, fauna, and landscape, the David
Suzuki Foundation does a fantastic job at pinpointing
real costs to losing natural spaces and the inhabitants
who live there.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
Energy Information Administration (EIS):
The Prudent Investor 'blog: http://prudentinvestor.blogspot.com
David Suzuki Foundation: http://www.davidsuzuki.org