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City clean-ups mark Earth Day

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | News | April 17th, 2006

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Ellen DeGeneres are all fans of the hybrid Toyota Prius. But you don't need celebrity status or millions of dollars to be kind to the earth.

On April 22, Earth Day will celebrate its 36th birthday, and besides going out and buying trendy ozone friendly vehicles, millions of people will be doing their part to contribute.

The first Earth Day in 1970 was extremely successful, and today, countries around the world have adopted the annual environmental day, especially Canada, who has expanded the celebration to an official Earth Week.

But celebrating our Earth may not be enough.

By 2100, scientists estimate the sea level will rise anywhere 19-37 inches higher and the average global temperature will be 5.8 C warmer than it was is 1990, which will be the warmest the earth has been in the past 50 million years. In that same time period the world's population is expected to triple, which also triples the stress on agriculture, water supplies and pollution levels.

Locally, there are plenty of organized activities to honour the Earth.

To combat winter trash build-up, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority will be hosting their annual Thames River clean up on April 22 to correspond with Earth Day.

Fanshawe Horticulture students have already done their part by disposing of unsightly trash throughout campus and have another mid-spring clean up is in the works.

If replenishing the Forest City is more your style, the Canadian Liver Foundation is a hosting a tree planting party at 10am on Earth Day at University of Western Ontario Windermere gate.

On Sunday, April 23 from 11am to 3pm, another round of tree planning will be held at Westminster Ponds Environmentally Significant Area on the corner of Wellington and Southdale.

The city is also organizing a 20 minute clean-up event, which encourages everyone take 20 minutes on Earth Day to pick up trash, scrub away graffiti and make the city ready for spring.

But the city of London doesn't necessarily get bonus points in the environmental category for celebrating the earth for just one day; in fact, last month a disastrous chemical spill jeopardized local wildlife.

In March a Fanshawe student stumbled upon more than 100 dead fish in Stoney Creek, a tributary of the Thames River in northeast London, after a firefighting chemical seeped into the waterway.

After responding to a call at a gas station on the corner of Fanshawe and Adelaide, firefighters used a chemical foaming agent to douse the flames.

“The proximity of the burning vehicle to the gas pumps and fuel supply at the gas station posed an imminent danger to people and property,” noted officials in a statement by the City of London. “A fire-extinguishing agent was used to put the fire out quickly.”

Although officials claim they used proper procedure and amount, the chemical agent seeped into the Stoney and Medway Creeks, which are both Thames River tributaries.

While walking his dog on a path along Stoney Creek that same afternoon, Fanshawe business student, Nick Ward, told the London Free Press he saw “hundreds of dead fish, from minnows up to a two-foot pike.”

The London-Middlesex Health Unit, as well as the both Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources was called in to investigate the effects of the chemical contamination.

“There is no apparent danger to human heath or safety,” said Dr. Bryna Warshawsky, associate medical officer of health. Lake Huron and Lake Erie supply London's drinking and tap water, via pipeline, which is in no way connected to the contaminated creeks.
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