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Executive director of The Solutions Project
No. 93 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - Apr. 2000
OUT FOSSIL FUELS BY 2025
The news came
in like any other email, quietly zipping its way into my computer, mixed in
with reports from the terrible flooding in Mozambique and Madagascar.
Warming Speeds Up", it said, telling me that over the past 25 years,
the speed of atmospheric warming had reached 0.5 degrees C per decade, which
had not been predicted to happen so soon. The UK Hadley Centre now expects
temperatures to rise by as much as 8C by 2100 over land masses like Europe,
2.5 degrees C more than they had previously predicted.
And then came
another – new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
which showed that between 1955 and 1995, the world ocean (Pacific, Atlantic
and Indian) had warmed by an average 0.06 degrees C between the surface and
3000 meters. ""I've never seen anything like this before," said oceanographer
Peter Rhines, of the University of Washington
Two months earlier,
it had been the news from the Arctic : the USA and Russian submarines had
published ice-data which showed that between the ‘60s and the ‘90s, the 2-3
metre thick Arctic ice-sheet had lost fully 40% of its thickness, and 6% of
its width. All over the world, the glaciers are also melting.
How much more
notice do we need ? The corals are dying from overheat; the salmon are retreating
north; the rate of forest-fires is increasing.
The oil companies
talk of another century of oil production. They must be kidding. Here’s how
the "Carbon Maths" looks : every year, our cars, trucks, homes,
factories and airplanes pump 6 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
In 33 years, we will have added another 200 billion tonnes – enough to increase
the temperature by 2 degrees C, which many scientists consider the threshold
for ecological catastrophe.
We have to stop
now. The IPCC scientists say we need an immediate 50 - 70% reduction in greenhouse
gas emissions, not the 5% - 6% that the Kyoto Accord calls for by 2012. We
have to phase out all fossil fuels by the year 2025.
During the recent ‘Climates of
Change’ Congress in Victoria, many speakers talked about the solutions, from
China’s huge wind energy potential to Blue Energy’s tidal turbines, based
in Vancouver (www.bluenergy.com).
We heard about solar installations in Third World villages (www.self.org),
and the recent breakthrough in the cultivation of algae which may lead to
the photosynthetic production of clean hydrogen to power the hydrogen fuel
cell revolution, to fuel our cars.
We heard how
solar energy has fallen in price from $500/watt in 1972 to $3.50/watt today,
and how an area of the Nevada desert 100 miles by 100 miles could produce
enough solar electricity for the whole USA.
We heard how
Denmark is producing 10% of its energy from wind, and plans to produce 50%
by 2030 – and how globally, there is enough wind potential (including off-shore)
to provide 8 times more wind energy than the world needs for a ‘steady state,
sustainable’ lifestyle, requiring 475 quads (quadrillion btus) of renewable
energy by 2025. (In energy terms, this involves reducing North America’s energy
footprint by 50% through applied efficiency, plus 50% through sustainable
lifestyle and transportation changes.
In just in case
wind, solar and tidal are not enough, we can also add biomass, geothermal
and micro-hydro energy to the menu.
But we need to
start NOW, which is why the international theme for Earth Day 2000 is climate
change, and its solutions (www.earthday.net).
We need to halt all further subsidies, supports, licensing and road-building
for oil and gas exploration. We need to stop all old-growth forest logging,
since the old-growth forests (apart from anything else) store more carbon
than second growth forests. We need to switch all of our farms to organic
food production, since organic methods (apart from anything else) store more
carbon in the soil than chemical farming.
Here in B.C.,
we have fantastic tidal and wind energy potential. We should not be planning
to build gas-fired cogeneration plants on Vancouver Island, or anywhere. We
should not be building any more new roads until a complete cycling and transit
infrastructure is in place. And yes, we need higher gas prices, to teach us
to cycle more, to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, and to stop being so wasteful.
But most of all,
we need to organize, at the community level. We need to make our voices heard
in Victoria and in Ottawa. We need to take over the climate change agenda,
and show how Canada can make the transition into the solar/hydrogen age. It
was community organizing which led to Denmark’s wind success, not just technology.
PS The full paper on this
topic is at:
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.
thanks to Michael & Barbara Clague, David Wolsk, Peter Carillho, Lois
Gardner, Pru Moore, Norm Healey, Lee Ann Jones, Doug Crow, Roger Colwill,
Connie Mungall, Mark Whitear, Rosalie Beach, Mary-Wynne Ashford & Coke
* Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1.
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Organic 2 acres in Metchosin - decent house, suite, outbuildings, deer
fence, next to Wittys Lagoon Park $249,000 478-1453
GM food – we are spending Saturday mornings leafletting grocery stores
about genetically modified foods, and writing letters. To join us, call
Smart Growth BC seeks full-time director, working to ensure that urban
land use decisions are made on the basis of smart growth principles. $50k,
deadline April 14th. See www.smartgrowth.bc.ca
E-Team The Environment Youth Team is accepting applications until
April 17th from businesses, non-profits, First Nations and government offices
that would like to sponsor a project between May 2000 and March 2001. 1-877-BC-YOUTH
"Vocal Potluck" featuring five of Victoria's finest performers - singers
Anne Bateman, EcoNews mailout guy Michael Eckford, Norma Selwood, pianists
Tony Booker & Toshiko Tampo. Arias, art songs, show tunes. Friday April
14, 8 pm First Baptist Church, 877 North Park Street, Victoria. 383-6011.
Eco-woodlot thinnings, 1/2 cords. Peter, 652-2613
Wanted urgently - odour-free place to rent, no cats or
incense. Also needed - someone with good sense of smell to help me find
it. Call 370-1613.
– help with driving, typing & housework. Must be non-smoker, not use
scented products or air-fresheners. $12 hour + gas. Call 370-1613
Fairfield woman needs unscented worker who neither uses fabric softener
nor shares laundry facilities with other users. Housework, errands; laundry
at worker’s home ? Call 920-0036.
Advert Rates : 1" ad $30. $2" ad $55. EcoPersonals by donation
(or $5 line); free to non-profits and low-income. Inserts : $150 + 2 volunteers
for mail-out party.
IS HERE !
over Vancouver Island, people are enjoying the cherry blossoms, and marvelling
at the symphony of wildflowers that fills our parks and woodlands. Here
at our home on Conway Road, the turkey vultures have returned to nest, and
the tree frogs are in full chorus all night. In just a day or two, the Garden
Path Nursery will open for the season, and ten thousand seedlings will be
pushing their way out of the greenhouse, ready to find good homes with organic
growers all over the city.
brings Earth Day, when we celebrate the depth of our love and concern
for this Earth. Out there in space it is so dark and unfriendly – and yet
we treat our Earth as if it were totally disposable, chucking our wastes
and poisons into the air we breathe and the water we drink, which is shared
by all the kindred species we share this Earth with. We really are the grossest
kind of eco-slobs.
Day celebrates our tiny efforts to adopt good housekeeping. It is essential,
because our efforts are so small, and there is such a long way to go. So
if you are free on Saturday April 22nd, please come and join
us as we process from Centennial Square to the Leg. This year, there’s the
added delight of an old-fashioned Fossil-Fuel Free Parade, followed by an
afternoon of good speakers, good music, and good people. If you feel inspired
to help with the mass of details that are involved in this kind of thing,
call Roy (360-2095) or Lenora (598-4204). If you want to add your float
to the parade, call Steve (480-7285). Anyone to help create an EcoNews float
? Call Guy (881-1304). We’ll see you there !
Dr Barry Curran
/ Gyro Park Area
SEEDS STILL ALIVE
of our biggest troubles is we can be awesomely clever, while hugely ignorant
of how our planet’s ecosystem works. That’s how we got into the ozone hole,
and now the global warming mess. Biotechnology is another such area.
year, Monsanto was ploughing ahead with plans to develop the ‘terminator’
technology, by which a seed can be made sterile, except when the corporation
chooses to switch it on. The process would kill the age-old process by which
farmers collect and store their seeds, selecting the best for next year’s
crop. For a billion subsistence farmers around the world, it would spell
in May,1999, along came Europe’s sudden and dramatic revolution against
GM food. US corn exports to Europe are reported to have dropped by 96%.
Over the year, Monsanto’s shares fell by 35% while the rest of Wall St went
up by 30%. Monsanto was publicly trashed, and in October Mr Shapiro (Monsanto’s
CEO) said they would no longer pursue the Terminator technology.
now comes news that the original owner of the technology (the Delta &
Pine land Seed Company) is pressing ahead with it, and that the US Dept
of Agriculture supports its patenting and research. The research is industry
wide, with over 30 patents held for its development. Monsanto, meanwhile,
has merged with AstraZeneca, and announced the formation of the world’s
biggest agri-business corporation, to be named "Syngenta". New
clothes, old body ?
Indian, Ghanaian and Ugandan governments have declared that they will not
tolerate use of the terminator technology, and the Director General of the
UN Food and Agriculture Organization has publicly opposed it. The only way
to stop it now, it seems, is through political action by national governments
around the world.
make matters worse, ever since the Europeans and Japanese started rejecting
GM food, the GM products are now being dumped on the North American market,
in everything from corn chips to salad dressing : the current estimate is
that 2/3rds of all commercial food contains GM ingredients. Part of the
prairie farm crisis is that nobody wants to buy the farmers’ GM crops.
market is listening, however. When Greenpeace approached Gerber about GM
ingredients in their baby-food, they quickly decided to switch to an all-organic
approach, which Heinz quickly followed.
can you do ? There’s an active group here in Victoria involving the Council
of Canadians, who meet on Saturday mornings (see Diary April 1st).
For more info, see www.rafi.org &
the healthiest plants in town
April 1st to June 30th
a week, 10am – 5pm
in a pastoral location at
Coffees & Afternoon Teas
Gardens – Workshops
anyone who was bothered by my use of the word "curry" in last
month’s editorial, I apologize. In the UK, where I come from, there are
no abusive overtones to the word. I did not know that in some quarters here
in B.C., it is considered abusive.
ecological footprinting as a yardstick, and incorporating the household
accounting principles of the best seller "Your Money or Your Life", we will
explore a myriad ways to meet the current situation on earth…for joyous,
meaningful lifestyles that are truly sustainable." Those are the words
of Mathis Wackernagel, Jimi Merkel and Erica Sherwood, who will be in Victoria
on April 4th to present a workshop on creative ways to reduce
our personal ecological footprints (see Diary). Four more entire planets
– that’s how much land we’d need if everyone was to live with as much zest
for shopping and consuming as we do in North America. They’re on a North
American tour, to educate people to think more about the way we live, and
talk about their own personal "Wise Acres" project. Mathis is
co-author of the best-seller "Your Ecological Footprint".
small, it’s charming, and it once supported an abundant fish population.
As such, it’s a perfect metaphor for Earth as a whole. Today, it is one
of the dirtiest creeks entering the Gorge Waterway, gathering oil, chemicals
and sewage as it makes its way to the Gorge mudflats, a sanctuary for birds,
animals and salt marsh vegetation. It’s their home, too. It’s the only green
space in the local community, and it’s surrounded by homes, schools and
the Galloping Goose Trail. The Burnside Gorge Community Association knew
they had to act. The Cecelia Creek Clean-Up Committee was formed, with members
from all levels of government, as well as businesses and community volunteers.
They shifted all the obvious garbage and debris, and identified the industrial
practices and the main places where pollution enters the creek. They put
an educational sign on the Galloping Goose Trail, and they’re monitoring
the water quality on a regular basis. The next steps involve a Best Management
Practices Manual for local automotive businesses, an educational pamphlet
for local residents, replacing the faulty sewer lines, "daylighting"
part of the creek (removing the underground pipe), improving Cecilia Ravine
Park, and providing public recognition to local businesses that commit to
clean up their act. Slowly, if the local community helps, they will restore
the creek to its former glory. That’s what it takes : vision, determination,
good organizing, no-blame, and recognition for success. Our task for the
century ahead, creek by creek, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, must be to
do for the Earth what they are doing for their creek. To help, call Dean,
to know more about eco-forestry, or how to maintain biodiversity in your
community forest ? How to recognize endangered "Identified Wildlife"?
Need to know what rare lichens are found only in old growth forests, or
grizzly bear habitat requirements? If you are involved in land-use planning,
public education or want to manage your backyard more sustainably, the Biodiversity
Publications Catalogue is a "must have" report that describes
500 brochures, summaries, books and reports providing essential information
on biodiversity in B.C. Available from Crown Publications; can also be viewed
OF THE MONTH :
time, it’s one for all of us. For the Earth (and for EarthWeek), THINK before
you drive. Could you walk, cycle, or take the bus ? Every gallon you burn
in your car releases 20lbs of C02 into the atmosphere. Just THINK ! We have
to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, just as we are off smoking.
out the Victoria Green Pages !
for May 2000: April 24th
Green Diary has moved! Click HERE
to see whats happening!
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for previous issues of EcoNews.
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Sustainable Communities Consultancy
of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers,
An ecofictional novel
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