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It seems to me that the argument about protecting the Greenbelt just for the sake of protecting green space is exceptionally weak. There are three much more compelling arguments: one economic and two existential. /1

The economic argument centres around the enormous cost to taxpayers from sprawl which most people do not appreciate. Watch this video for the math. /2
The existential arguments are about (1) protecting the hydrologic systems that assure our supply of drinking water and prevent flood damage and (2) protecting our farmland which we will need once the key agricultural regions of the world are no longer able to produce food. /3
This last point is really important. Many people have heard about the water level of Lake Mead in Nevada. It is so low they are finding dead bodies. What people may not realize is that the Colorado River supplies water to 40 million people and many farms. /4
It has been in a state of distress for years but it is now reaching critical deadpool status, meaning water will no longer fall over the Hoover Dam. The farms that supply many of our winter vegetables are fed from there, including Andy Boy lettuce which is now 3x the price. /5
But Lake Mead is not the only problem. The Sierra Nevada Mountains on the east spine of California collect snow in the winter and their melt provides water to 75% of California. Snowpack is down to 30%. /6
But there is more. The Ogallala Acquifer, the largest in the US, running from North Dakota to Texas provides water to 25% of US agriculture. It is going dry. If no more water is removed, it will take 5,000 years too refill. /7
Of course we all know about Florida and how hurricanes and rising sea waters are destroying it. But the same thing is happening elsewhere in the world. This past summer the Po River in Northern Italy (which supports 40% of Italy’s agriculture) went dry. /8
So too did Lake Poyang, in China which feeds the Yangtze River and 30% of China’s population. And three glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains have disappeared. These mountains provide water to about 1.5 billion people. /9
Climate scientists say the effects of climate change are not equal everywhere. It is having a major impact on Canada’s arctic communities. One of the best places in the world, it turns out, will be around the Great Lakes. We have the water. /10
And we may be where much of the world turns for food. Long term investors are buying up huge tracts of land in Michigan primarily for food. I suspect some of that buying is going on in Ontario too. That is why saving the grade 1 farmland around Toronto is existential. /END
Graham Churchill
Director, Ontario Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods. Biomimicry. Piazzas everywhere.
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