Environmental data lacking

Year Published:  1991  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX4251

Abstract:  According to the members of an expert panel assembled to prepare environmental "report cards" on the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, they had to abandon one of their main objectives, that of compiling key indicators of environmental quality, because so much of the needed information does not exist. "I was flabbergasted, not only at the gaps, but at the lack of correlation across the country," said panelist Peter Vivian, corporate vice-president of Bell Canada International. "I'd say we know nothing," said panelist Digby McLaren, a former president of the Royal Society of Canada. Information not being collected includes data on the amounts of toxic substances in fish (only Ontario collects detailed information on this); data on hazardous wastes (again, only Ontario compiles this); the extent of remaining wetlands and the rate at which they are disappearing; changes in the quality of soil or the losses caused by erosion; the rate of pesticide use by farmers and whether it is increasing or decreasing. There are also no common standards for what constitutes successful replanting of logged forests, and there are no national studies on human exposure to hazardous chemicals. The panel also complained that existing information is often out of date.
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