The State of Urban Air in Canada

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Newspapers in Canada, like those in much of the developed world, give extensive coverage to alarming claims about poor air quality and its impact upon health. Claims linking increasing rates of asthma and death due to air pollution are carried uncritically. Through surveys of students, The Fraser Institute has found a strong disconnect between the perceptions of environmental trends (mostly negative) among Canadian students and the reality of environmental trends (mostly positive): 74% of the students attending Fraser Institute seminars believe that air quality has failed to improve over the past ten years.

But, the reality of the state of our air is quite different from the portrayals of alarmists or the understanding of the public. Things are, in fact, improving dramatically in the developed world as improvements in technology, higher incomes, and democratic systems have created an ever-increasing ability to protect the environment. There is every reason to believe that similar improvements will be seen globally as developing countries open to international trade and have access to advanced technologies. And, while many Canadians are unaware of it, the majority of environmental trends in Canada have been positive for decades.

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