- CALGARY - Free trade across
North America is not only affecting the air, water and forests of the
continent, but is creating a "looming threat" to the survival
of certain plant and animal species, says a report from a NAFTA agency.
- The Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation
will release its first "state of the environment" report Monday
to the governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
- The person in charge of the commission believes increased
trade puts pressure on plants and animals. Janine Ferretti says the trucks
and ships that transport goods across continents also deliver foreign
- "Bio-invasion is one of the new threats that wasn't
in our lexicon, say, 10 years ago. The pests that we're seeing displace
some of our native species, mussels and amphibians and even plants are
a result of the kind of open trade that we're having," says Ferretti.
- And according to the study, resources are being consumed
faster than they are being replaced.
- The report warns that new habitats "are rarely as
diverse, healthy or aesthetically pleasing as their predecessors."
This leads to a decline in the quality of the environment, making it less
able to support a wide variety of life.
- Increased flooding from greenhouse gases
- Greenhouse gases are given special mention in the report,
and it warns that if "sea levels rise as expected storms and flooding
will become much worse, causing property damage and loss in the billions
- Environmental effects of the increased gases could include
polarized weather events, such as droughts, floods, and intense heat waves.
- The report also points to the dangers of urban sprawl
and increased traffic-related air pollution. It says public transit makes
up just under five per cent of travel in Canadian cities.
- Government subsidies that encourage high energy consumption
make it difficult to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions and additional
pollution sources, according to the report.
- But Ferretti says it's not all negative progress. She
believes NAFTA's investment rules have brought cleaner industrial technology
- "Believe it or not, Mexico's steel mills are cleaner
than some of the steel mills that we find in the United States. Because
of NAFTA, we have new investment in new modern steel technology in Mexico."
- She also says the environmental challenges can be faced
if governments reinstate funding removed during years of cutbacks.
- Written by CBC News Online staff http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/view?/news/2002/01/07/enviro_report010207