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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 91 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - Feb. 2000


In the beginning there was the warm African savanna – and then there was cold, as we migrated to other parts of the world. Our ancestors spent many a night shivvering around the fire. Luckily, there was plenty of forest, so we took what we wanted.

Then there were the charcoal burners, cutting and burning their way through Europe’s forests, delivering the smoke-free fuel to the growing towns and cities.

Next there was coal, the stored carbon from ancient forests, which went on to become the main fuel of the industrial revolution. And with the 20th century came oil and gas, heating our homes, fueling our vehicles and (with coal) producing our electricity.

This is a progress of sorts – a progress of intelligence and technology, surrounded by a massive ignorance of ecology. How were we to know that burning fossil fuels would heat the world’s atmosphere, warming the oceans, melting the glaciers, driving the salmon from their rivers and whipping up tremendous storms ?

The urgent question now is how quickly can we free ourselves from these fossil fuels, and make the leap of intelligence into the next energy revolution ? The urgency is total, because the predictions are dire, and already with us. The costs of NOT making the next leap will be appalling.

The next leap is not into nuclear or cold fusion energy - the leap is into solar and wind energy, which are ready to assume the leadership role in providing the world with the energy it needs. Goodbye, oil companies ! Goodbye, coal !

Using 1998s solarvoltaic or photovoltaic (PV) technology, 10% of the Arizona desert would be sufficient to meet the whole of the USA’s electricity needs. In cloudy Britain, 2/3rds of the country’s electricity needs could be met by using solar cladding and solar windows in commercial buildings, and homes. The solar energy that falls on Britain is 700 times the nation’s electricity consumption. It just needs gathering. (

That was 1998 technology – but like any technology in the prime of youth, change is fast and furious. In 1999, scientists at Spectrolab (Hugh Electronics) and the US National Energy Laboratory almost doubled PV efficiency from 18% to 32.3% (EcoNews #90). In a separate development, scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have just announced that they were developing a "full spectrum solar energy system" that could potentially boost solar efficiency three-fold by dividing the sun’s light into its visible and its infrared components, distributing the light into a building by optical fibres, while converting the infrared into electricity. ( )

The problem with solar, like any technology in its infant stage, is its cost. It needs mass production as well as technological advance to bring down the cost. Right now, if you walked into a store and wanted to buy solar to provide electricity for your whole house, you’d be looking at around $30,000, or a 25 year ‘energy mortgage’ of $220 a month.

In Britain, however, BP Solar (the oil company’s solar sidekick, which is providing the solar panels for the Olympic Village in Sydney, Australia) has done a detailed study which shows that a $550 million investment in a large, 500 MW photovoltaic factory would allow the price to be reduced four-fold - so your house would now cost $7,500, or $55 a month. ( Factor in the 2-3 fold improvement in efficiency, and the investment falls to $3,000, or $22 a month. There’s still the installation costs, but householders are going to pay to re-roof their house at some point, anyway. Begin to see the logic ?

The methods of installation will be solar cladding on walls, solar windows, and solar shingles on your roof. One of the keys is something called ‘net metering’, which means that instead of storing the excess energy which your solar shingles generate in summer in a costly battery, you sell the surplus back to the grid, in exchange for a monthly cheque. In all of the countries which are leading the solar revolution (Japan, Holland, Germany, USA), net metering is coming into place. (Not yet, for BC Hydro).

So why isn’t BP building its solar PV plant ? The answer is partly that they are waiting for the technological breakthroughs to come onstream in 2-3 years time, and partly because consumer demand is still weak. That’s why Germany has a program to install 100,000 solar roofs, and the USA to install 1 million, to force the demand. ) How about it, Canada ?

And this is only half the revolution – the new wind turbines can produce a similar amount of energy. Solar and wind can be used to produce hydrogen, to power the fuel cells of our future hybrid cars. Taken together, with big increases in efficiency thrown in for good measure, we might see the end of the oil industry by 2020. Here’s to it.

Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)

  Dec. Jan. Feb.
Circulation: 2250 2250 2250
By Email: 511 523 554
Print & Post: $985 $922 $940
Editorial: $200 $200 $200
Donations: $2893 $524 ???
Advertising: $125 $155
Balance: $2870 $2427
Green Dollars: unchanged unchanged $210

A big new year’s THANKYOU to Gillian Elcock, Martha Barchyn, Loise Pothier, David Suzuki Foundation, Sheila Orr, Marianne Raedler, Tim Isaak, Tim Henderson, Alastair Wilson, Ann Tasko, Craig Harrold, Laura anderson, Dawn Burron, Camilla Turner, Amelita Kuchner, Joyce Berto, Margaret Fear, Lynn Daniel, Chris Morrison, Anthea Archer, Alice Davis, Nancy Turner, Taannia Dancer, Marya Nyland, Jayne Gerlach, Louise Irwin, Saul Arbess, Robert Milman, Maurice Tozer, Fran & Bill Ashwell, John Boquist, Patricia Kahr, Roger Colwill, Wayne Madden & Katey Bloomfield.

* Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1. For receipt, please include a stamped addressed envelope.


* Are you (or your school or group) planning something for Earth Week 2000 in the week of April 21st – 30th ? The team that is coordinating events would like to know. Call Doug Koch, 383-5765.

* Hands-on volunteers wanted to help with stream restoration, trail-building project and interpretation work with school children at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Joan, 479-0211.

* For sale : New ABS plastic laundry tub, metal legs, CSA approved. Old electric ringer/washer, runs, needs hose. $70 each. 920-0036.

* Work/Trade position available at O.U.R. EcoVillage, suit indiv/couple who want to live sustainable rural life. Skills in gardening, farm labour, community living desirable. Must have valid drivers license. (250) 743-3002.

* Anyone interested in organizing a Pesticide Reduction Campaign ? Andrew Hunter has files and resources he’d like to hand over – call him at 595-5460.

* Volunteers wanted to join proposed work party to start restoring the southern portion of the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, near Viaduct Flats Wetlands, which is being overwhelmed with broom and blackberries. Suggested 1 – 3 hours per week – Paul Gareau, 592-9089

* Volunteers wanted to help create an Eco-Tourism Map of South and Central Vancouver Island for hikers, visitors and conservationists. Do you know of a special local recreational trail, forest stand, patch of beach, horse trail, stretch of river that's ideal for kayak or canoe, or significant historic location ? Experience shows that special places receive better protection when used by the public. Syd, 381-1141.

* Is your organization involved in transportation, agriculture, energy, global warming or other environmental issues ? The Harmony Foundation is offering an exciting educational opportunity to learn how to plan and launch effective climate change initiatives at a new one-day training. Call (250) 380-3001

* Help wanted : I am writing a book on global solutions to climate change, and am looking for voluntary help gathering data and assembling material – could suit a student practicum. Call Guy, 881-1304.

* Running a green business, or progressive organization or committee ? Then check out the Victoria Green Pages at for contacts and committed people. Plus instructions for the Victoria-Action list, opportunities for eco-volunteering, and photos from recent demos in town.


These are our new CRD Directors. (P = Parks Committee; E = Environment Cte; Plg = Regional Planning Cte; RTE = Round Table on the Environment). Directors are also on other committees. All directors make final decisions on committee recommendations.

Don Amos, 656-1139, fax 655-7056
DeniseBlackwell (E) 478-7882 fx478-7864
Kellie Booth (P) 653-4678 (tel & fax)
Judy Brownoff (P,Plg) 475-1775fx475-500
Bill Camden (E) 386-0500 fax 386-6151
Chris Causton(Chair)598-3311 fx598-9108
Richard Dalon (E,P) 539-2890 fx 539-2523
Beth Gibson (E) 478-5541, fax 478-7516
Bob Gillespie, 475-1775, fax 475-5400
Brian Henson (Plg), 642-1633 fax642-5274
Wayne Hunter (Plg) 652-4444, fx652-0135
Frank Leonard, 475-1775, fax 475-5400
Alan Lowe (Plg) 385-5711, fax 361-0348
Jane Lunt (E), 385-5711, fax 361-0348
Ed MacGregor (Plg) 642-1634, fx642-5274
Linda Michaluk (E) 656-0781, fx 656-3155
Carol Pickup (E), 475-1775, fax 475-5400
Ray Rice (P), 414-7100, fax 414-7111
Karel Roessingh (E, Plg) 474-1773 fax 474-3677
Denise Savoie (P, Plg, RTE), 385-5711 fax 361-0348
Karen Watson(P,Plg)474-3167,fx474-6298
Leif Wergeland (E,P) 475-1775 fx475-5400


Does the sight of freshly turned compost thrill you to your roots? Then you would make a terrific Master Composter! The Victoria Compost Education Centre is looking for enthusiastic people to learn about composting and share their knowledge with others. The Master Composter Program involves three evenings (Wed March 8th, 15th, 22nd) and three Saturdays (March 11th, 28th and 25th). Participants are also asked to complete a 30 hour practicum. Call the Compost Education Centre at 386-WORM, or come to the information night on Wednesday Feb. 2nd, 7pm, at 1216 North Park St.


YES! Magazine is a joy to the senses, especially if you are working to create a more just, sustainable, compassionate world. It is published by a collective on Bainbridge Island, and enjoyed by people such as Patch Adams, Joanna Macy, Vicki Robin, David Korten, Paul Hawken and Donella Meadows. They have just produced a special issue on Climate change, "The Earth is Heating Up – But it’s not too late to act", which is full of powerful stories, and thanks to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, I have free copies to give to anyone who wants to know more. Send a large self-addressed stamped envelope ($1.50) to Guy Dauncey, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1.


Talking of global warming (see cover), there’s a major conference coming up in Victoria March 19th – 22nd : the Climates of Change Congress : Mapping the Transition to a Sustainable Energy Future, with some very high calibre speakers including John Topping from The Climate Institute, Martin Burger of Blue Energy (tidal turbines), Peter Bunyard (Science Editor of The Ecologist magazine), Eric Taylor (Environment Canada), the singer Ann Mortifee, green economist Hazel Henderson, and many others, including solar, wind, geothermal, cold fusion and ‘zero point’ energy experts. Full advance registration for those living lightly is $200 (bursaries available). Evening presentations $6/$10. For full details, call 391-9223.


by Tooker Gomberg

Stepping out of the Ferrara train station, I noticed something was clearly different. A thousand bikes were parked in a jumble, many askew and toppling over. A professor told me: "I have six bikes. Two in Pisa for when I go there, two for getting around Ferrara, a nicer mountain bike and a road bike too." It began to rain, so I scurried to a nearby phone booth. What a strange shape, I thought, until I realized it was specially designed for cyclists with bikes! How civilized. As the rain continued, cyclists responded by riding with umbrellas. Not that the whole town is a cycling paradise. At the outskirts things were more "normal", with trucks and cars cascading down the asphalt - it's in the heart of Ferrara where something special happens. Ferrara, with 140,000 people, sports 100,000 bicycles. The town is small and compact. Dating back to medieval times, the streets are cobbled with old stones and bricks. Most of the old town centre is off limits to private cars, and motorists park their car at the edge and rent a bike to get around, or hop a taxi or bus. A few streets are off-limits to motorized traffic, reserved for shoe and pedal power. The top of the city's ancient wall even doubles as an elevated bike path ! Opposite the 14th century Estense Castle I plunked down 18,000 lire ($10 US) and pedalled off. No petrol for this traveller, just a few steaming cappuccinos (cappuccos, as they say) and an occasional hazelnut gelato. In Germany and the Netherlands, specially signed bicycle paths make it clear that the bicycle has its place in the transportation engineer’s bag of tricks. In Ferrara there is little engineering - without fanfare, cyclists just do their thing. The bicycle has woven its way into the local culture. City workers have free white bicycles for local errands; hotels offer free bicycles to their guests; at the train station one can hop aboard the ‘Bicibus’, a special bus that takes passengers and their bikes to the Adriatic coast. Theft isn't a huge issue, since there are so many bikes to go around. Ferrara has joined the European movement "Cities for Cyclists" to compare notes ( 30% of trips in this town are by bike, which is higher than in Copenhagen. After riding the streets of Ferrara, a simple solution emerges like a phantom out of the mist : from the seat of a bicycle we can solve the climate crisis and make our cities more liveable. And eat well, to boot.

Tooker Gomberg is Greenpeace’s Climate Change Campaigner


Looking for an alternative to the global economy – one that will bring heart and soul back to local communities ? Over the last 15 years community activists around the world have been inventing community currencies, as an alternative to the federal dollar. First, there’s LETS, the Local Employment and Trading System invented by Michael Linton in Courtenay in 1985. By forming a LETSystem, local people create their own currency and use it to trade their skills and resources without need for normal dollars. Since 1988, 500 LETSystems have been established in Britain. Victoria has a LETSystem with 100 members, who trade everything from food and babysitting to hall rentals. To find out how it works, or call 380-4824, or come to the Information Evening on Wed Feb 16th (see Diary). This stuff is taking off globally - on Thursday 17th, Stephen DeMeulenaere is giving a talk on his travels researching community currencies in South America (see Diary). Next, there are HOURS – a community currency invented by Paul Glover in Ithaca, New York, with 11 systems in Canada and 46 in the USA. The latest is on Salt Spring, where the group held its first meeting in the fall and has signed up 115 members, including local retail businesses, the Driftwood newspaper and a dentist. The Hours uses printed notes, called ‘Salt Spring Hours’ - a quarter-hour note is worth $3 - a full hour is $12. By mid January, they had issued 630 Hours, and donated 90 Hours to non-profit groups. See Finally, there are TIME DOLLARS, invented by US civil rights lawyer Edgar Cahn in 1987, in use in more than 200 projects in the USA and Japan ( The Time Dollar enables volunteers who take part in charitable work to be "paid" in time donated by other volunteer workers. Time dollars are tax-free, and can be used to pay for health care as well as other health services. Everyone gets the same – an hour is an hour, whether you are a lawyer or a teenager tutoring 14-year olds after school. Americorps has an educational grants program that allows students to pay tuition fees or student loan payments with Time dollars. It’s all about building a more civil society, where social capital matters as much as financial capital.

(Thanks to David Boyle at the New Economics Foundation in London)


Open up your trees and shrubs to the sun with thoughtful pruning.

Renew your garden’s energy with balanced soil and compost.

Enhance your senses with new plantings and landscaping.


A no-noise, organic alternative.


Organic seeds for the healthiest plants. Open-pollinated vegetables, old-fashioned flowers and herbs.

For catalogue, send $2 to

The Garden Path

395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1


It’s that time of year, when the soil starts warming and the seeds start thinking about germinating for another glorious summer. And what better place to celebrate it than Seedy Saturday, where gardeners gather to share, buy and swap seeds in an atmosphere full of intention and hope for the coming harvest. Crimson-flowered broad beans ! Turk’s Turban squash ! Lemon cucumbers ! Ancient grains ! In the Victoria event (Feb 19th, see Diary), there are workshops by Lifecycles on ‘How to Start a Garden from Scratch’ and by Carolyn Herriot on ‘Creating Edible Landscapes’, plus the Seedy Café and displays from local nurseries and heritage growers. If it’s rare, ancient or heritage, it’ll be there ! Seedy Saturday’s are also happening on Salt Spring (Feb 12th), Galiano, Courtenay and Vancouver.


Just a reminder to check out the government’s paper on tax-shifting, so that we can start paying taxes on pollution and other ’bads’, and less on income. The paper is on the Ministry of Environment website, where you can click on ‘What’s New’ to see it.


Check these out ! Al Rycroft’s Island links, which includes a really great listing for governments and political parties Next, Paul Hawken’s personal report on the WTO Battle in Seattle. It’s 7000 words, but it’s had some readers close to tears :

And the Hague Appeal for Peace, about which more next month, at


‘Action of the Month’ is taking a break.

Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

Deadline for February 2000: February 24th

The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!



EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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