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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

Newsletter No. 102 - Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - February 2001


HOW CLOSE IS CLEAN ENERGY?

The world is heading into a huge energy crisis - or might that be a transformation?

Although it may sound offensive to rational ears, the Earth is our mother; ever since we learnt how to use fire, we have drunk energy from her breasts, first as wood, then as coal, oil and gas. We have demolished entire forests and put men through hell to pull coal from the ground, rarely questioning what we did. Why should we question that? It was our entitlement, as a baby sucks milk.

The more energy we craved, we deeper we dug in, seeking more teats. Now it’s the Alaska Wildlife Reserve we’re after, to squeeze out another 3 months supply. The oil spills, the poisoning of our children’s lungs, the wars we needed to fight to satisfy our craving – these were all secondary considerations.

But now things have taken on a much more serious note. As a result of our fossil-fuel burning, our Earth has caught a fever. Her ice-caps and glaciers are melting; her oceans are warming; her coral reefs are dying. Scientists at Britain’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research warn that the Amazon will start dying by 2040, as its soils dry out.

A good metaphor is like a road, that leads inevitably towards its destination. After breast-feeding comes weaning. What does this mean for us, as a planet?

Surely, it means reaching for the natural, clean energy of the sun, wind and tides, whose energy pours around us unbidden, and treating this energy as something to be valued through a real concern for efficiency, not wasting it like a child. As a suckling species, we felt an entitlement to suck away; as we look after ourselves, we must be more careful.

There is no shortage of clean, renewable energy in the world. Every year, the sun radiates 220 million terawatt-hours of energy onto the Earth, two thousand times more than the world’s annual consumption of primary energy (111,000 TWh). Canada’s entire electricity needs could be met from 2.5% (6,000 square miles) of Manitoba, if they were covered in solar modules at today’s level of efficiency. This assumes four times less sunshine than Arizona, which could meet the USA’s electricity needs from 10,000 square solar miles.

The only problem is the cost; solar currently costs 27 cents/kwh, compared to B.C.’s energy price of 5.5 cents Canadian (3.5 cents US). With mass production, this could fall to 9.75 cents, or 13 cents if you assume a subsidized 3% interest rate to finance the installation over 20 years. Solar energy production is growing by 30% a year, but the world’s total production in 2000 was only 250 MW. Our solar potential is huge. Even in cloudy Britain, Greenpeace has calculated that solar fitted to all suitable roofs and walls could meet 2/3rds of Britain’s electricity needs

Estimates put the world’s land-based Class 3 wind energy potential at 19,000 to 50,000 terawatt hours; this might double with offshore wind, though there are no reliable estimates. Wind energy sells for 4-6 US cents a kilowatt hour, compared to the US average of 6-8 cents. The world had 15,900 MW of wind energy capacity in October 2000, of which Germany had 6,000 MW, thanks to their renewable energy law, which guarantees a good price.

The world also has an ample supply of tidal, wave, geothermal, microhydro and biomass energy (details next month, and see Diary, Feb 6th). If we become twice as efficient in all our energy uses (cars, appliances, industry), and reduce our energy use by another 50% by practicing more sustainable lifestyles (efficient transport and communities, 100% recycling and remanufacturing, zero-waste), there is enough clean energy available to meet our needs, including its use to manufacture hydrogen for use in our vehicles and industry.

The biggest obstacle, especially here in B.C., is the ridiculously cheap price of energy, which gives people no incentive to invest in alternatives or efficiency. In the USA, it is striking to note that the states which pay the least for their energy (Louisana, Wyoming, Alaska, Texas) pay the most for energy per person on an annual basis. The incentive for efficiency is so low that they end up spending more overall.

The solution is an efficiency fee on all our hydro bills, raising the price, but recycling 100% of the income back to us as rebates for efficiency investments. We would end up paying less for energy, reduce our overall demand, not need to build the Georgia Strait Crossing gas pipeline, and free up available hydro to sell to the lucrative US market, earning income which could be used to support the development of clean energy. Good sense, all round.

Guy Dauncey


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


ECONEWS

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

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Many thanks to.Ellen Rainwalker, Erik Thorn, Ali Sproule, Heather Freeman, Jayne Gerlach, Sharon Hooper, E. Anne Wilson, Ada Versa, Jan & Nelson Meadows, David Stott, Judith Monroe, Ruth Loomis, Gillian & Peter Reece, Marta Gassler, Sheryl Taylor-Munro, Martha Barchyn, Jeannette McBride, Hugo Sutmoller, AD Fisher, Marian Rowat, Steve New, Felix Lion, Michael & Barbara Clague, Joan Waddell.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For a receipt, send stamped addressed envelope.

To receive EcoNews by email, send a message to guydauncey@earthfuture.com


THE ECO-CORNER

$5 line (free to non-profits & low-income). 1" box ad $30, $2" $55.

* Mature woman with chemical sensitivities, lover of the arts and nature, interested in social and env. issues, seeks healthy chem-free living space in apt or house. Hardw’d floors, elec or hot water heating. Org garden to share? 592-1666

* Intentional community based on mindfulness and ecological living seeking quiet, clean 3-5 bedroom home, Victoria area. Garden and storage space a bonus. Silas & Natasha (sublet msg#) 381-1030 foodmapping@hotmail.com

* To let - accommodation in Fernwood for eco-aware working woman/student. Share with two women, small dog. Share kitchen, bathroom, laundry. Some utilities in rent -$400.00. 598-2228

* Weekend, weektime holiday rental strawbale house on Galiano, near beaver pond, 320 acre seaside reserve. 539-2034

* Why not give your home a "New Millennium" gift, and treat it to a visit from the Georgia Strait Alliance’s ToxicSmart Team? Their staff will help you trade your household toxics for eco-friendly alternatives. They’re at 381-8321


SHIATSU

Healing Acupressure

Holistic, Energy based drug-free

Health care for body and soul.

Quiet, convenient location

Robin Grant, CSP (250) 381-7207


* Welcome back, Betty Krawzyck! We stand in appreciation for the months you spent in jail to protect the oldgrowth forest in the Elaho. 17,000 cyber-activists sent messages demanding your release – and they were successful!

* Many thanks to the CRD Directors who voted to spend $3 million of our money to buy 3400 acres of critical land in the Sooke Hills Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt. Many thanks to everyone who wrote, called and emailed, urging them to do so. The Land Conservancy still needs donations to complete the deal; call 479-8053 to help. They also need $2 million from the Federal government by March 9th. See www.conservancy.bc.ca

* ‘Ouch’, or ‘Right On’ ? In Finland, where traffic fines are based on income, Jaakko Rytsola, an internet millionaire, was fined $71,400 US for driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone and $44,100 for zigzagging dangerously! Time, 04/12/00

* Congratulations to the CRD and the volunteer members of the Round Table on the Environment for the work they have done to monitor environmental trends in the region, covering greenspace, transit ridership, recycling, local bird populations, cycle lanes, greenhouse gas emissions, drinking water, salmon populations, and Garry oak meadows protection. The report includes suggestions for personal action. It’s available from the CRD (360-3000), all libraries, and at www.crd.bc.ca/envtrend


CHANGING THE WORLD ONE INVESTMENT AT A TIME

Without the money that people invest, businesses cannot do what they do, whether expanding the global market for hydrogen fuel cells and wind turbines, or hacking away at oldgrowth rainforests. Since 1999, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and others have been working to find solutions to logging in the Great Bear Rainforest, home to healthy populations of grizzly bears, unique salmon runs and trees that are sometimes over 1,000 years old. Some of the BC logging companies have agreed to a moratorium, but Interfor and West Fraser Timber have turned their back on this process, and chosen to continue clearcutting. So whose money is financing them? Over the past few months, Greenpeace has met with some of Canada’s largest financial institutions which place their mutual funds with Interfor and West Fraser Timber, explaining why they are ignoring customer demands for sustainably logged timber, and are not a sound financial investment for the future. Ethical Funds Inc wrote to West Fraser Timber, asking

them to reconsider their plans to log. When they refused, they withdrew the 1.5 million they had in the company. The TD Bank reacted differently. They replied that their investment decisions "may preclude the rejection of investments on moral or ethical grounds". The TD (with profits last year of $2,981 million), is one of Interfor’s largest public investors, so if you buy mutual funds through TD Asset Management, you may be helping Interfor to log the Great Bear Rainforest. The same applies to the following funds: Royal Bank Mutual Funds, ABC Funds, AGF, Altamira, Mackenzie, Strategic Nova, CI Mutual Funds, BPI Mutual Funds, Global Strategy Canada, Trimark Investment Management Inc, Fidelity Investment Canada, and Investors Group. The next time you see them on TV saying how wonderful their funds are, remember what they are doing with their money. (Thanks to Greenpeace Canada. See www.fundingdestruction.org). There are numerous ethical funds available now; if you want to invest your money in a socially responsible manner, contact one of the following financial advisors for advice (all in Victoria): Frank Arnold (382-9983); Doug Campbell (953-2362), Michael Mascall (595-2393) or Brian Pinch (598-0757); and check out Canada’s Social Investment Organization at www.socialinvestment.ca


…AND ONE TAX AT A TIME

Germany is setting the pace with its ecological tax reforms. When January 1st arrived, their planned tax increases on energy, motor fuel and electricity kicked in. It’s all part of a long-term plan to reduce pension payments, and shift taxation off jobs, while reducing pollution. The German government says that so far, the program has cut oil consumption by 3.5-4%, and created between 120,000 and 160,000 new jobs. This is the kind of sensible policy development that forward-looking politicians should be embracing. If you want to stay abreast of ecological tax reforms, you can receive a free weekly ‘Tax News Update’ by email from the Center for a Sustainable Economy, at www.sustainableeconomy.org


CLIMATE CHANGE WILD CARDS

While researching my new book on ‘101 Solutions to Global Climate Change’ (due out April, 2001), I have discovered no end of fascinating policies, initiatives and technologies. One of the more alarming concerns a proposal to pump cooling agents into the atmosphere to counteract the effect of increased CO2

emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The idea is that by scattering dust, sulfur dioxides or aluminum particles in the atmosphere, we could increase the Earth’s reflectivity (or albedo), and send some of the sun’s heat back into space. The alarming part is that it seems the US government is already doing this, using airplanes to fly in a systematic grid-pattern, releasing large contrails (or chemtrails) laden with something that is turning blue skies milky grey, and making people sick. South of the border, there’s a load of paranoia and conspiracy theory about what’s happening, but the likely answer is that the US has already started on a climate change experiment, also known as ‘geo-engineering’. See www.nap.edu/catalog/1605.html (Ch 28) on ‘The Policy Implications of Global Warming’. For photos of the contrails, see Chemtrails Conundrum: www.islandnet.com/~wilco and Contrail Connection www.contrailconnection.com

One of the more intriguing wild cards comes from Elias Siores and Carlos Distefani, two Australian engineers who have invented a device the size of a wine bottle called a microwave emissions converter. Attached to the tail-pipe of a vehicle, it microwaves the exhaust to 5000 C, breaking the molecular bonds of the gas and creating a plasma of free ions. As the mix cools, the ions recombine into less harmful substances, reducing the CO2 and other emissions by 70% (90% in the laboratory). This increases the number of tiny carbon particles being released, so the engineers have created an electrostatic filter to line the exhaust pipe and collect them. The particles can be harvested each time you change the filter, and treated by another process to create industrial-grade diamonds. The process can also be used to clean industrial emissions. Is this the ultimate technological fix, or is it a planet-saving breakthrough (or is it could sell for as little as $100. (‘Little Gems’ New Scientist, Oct 7th, 2000)


SEND THAT FOOD BACK!

Gene Action is a local Victoria group that is shaking our complacency around the food that we eat, and helping us learn about genetically engineered (GE) food. Greenpeace has published a report listing a thousand varieties of commercially produced food, separated into those that do or may include GE ingredients (the Red List), those which do not (the Green List), and those where companies are taking action to use non-GE ingredients (the Amber list). You can print it as a PDF file, or call 1-888-945-5711 (www.greenpeacecanada.org). This December, the National Farmers Union of Canada called for a moratorium on the production, importation, distribution and sale of GE food. They’re getting the hint! To keep the pot boiling, Gene Action is showing an NFB film called ‘The Genetic Takeover or Mutant Food’ on Thursday Feb 8th, and organizing a big downtown march on Friday Feb 16th, when GE food that people have culled from their kitchens will be handed to the government, demanding that it be properly tested and labelled. If you can’t get to the demo, there are collection boxes at the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (651 Johnson St), Sierra Club (576 Johnson St) and BCGEU (2994 Douglas St). (See Diary)


SEEDY SATURDAY

Spring is coming!! Here on Vancouver Island, after the snowdrops and the winter jasmine, a sure sign of spring is the blossoming of Seedy Saturdays, those wonderful gatherings when you can exchange seeds, buy local organic seeds, meet local growers, lunch at the Seedy Café, take in some workshops to get you inspired for the growing season, and meet good people. Salt Spring kicks off on Feb 10th; Victoria follows on Feb 17th, and there’s next month. (See Diary)


SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES?

The world’s fisheries seem to be in such a mess that it’s encouraging to learn of a good news initiative. The non-profit Marine Stewardship Council, founded in 1996 by the World Wide Fund for Nature

and Unilever, assesses fishing operations, and grants a sustainability eco-logo if they can prove that they are being managed responsibly. So far, the Alaska Salmon fishery, the Western Australian Rock Lobster and the Thames Blackwater herring fisheries have been awarded certification. The North Pacific Pollock fishery and a dozen other fisheries are currently under evaluation. One day, we might be able to buy fish and choose fish in restaurants based on their eco-certification. www.msc.org


FAIR VOTING BC

Does Canada’s system of voting seem stale, flat and uninspiring? If so, it may be because it is stale. Lacking anything new, we to roll it out every 4 – 5 years, wondering why we feel so bored. The "first past the post’ system forces us to vote for candidates we don’t like, stops minority viewpoints from gaining representation, and leaves many feeling alienated. It really is time for change – and Fair Voting BC has taken on the challenge (www.fairvotingbc.com). Proportional representation would be great; a single transferable vote (‘instant run-off’) allows a vote for a loser to be transferred to your next best choice. If the USA has used this system, Green Party Nader voters could have chosen Gore as their second choice, giving Nader a much better showing, and guaranteeing Gore’s election. We need our minority viewpoints – that’s how all new ideas start. Watch this space!


ACTION OF THE MONTH

STOP THE GRIZZLY BEAR HUNT

We must stop this sad tradition. Bear expert Dr. Brian Horejsi has stated that there should be 3 to 5 times the number of grizzlies on BC's coast, and that the dramatic decline is due, in great part, to hunting overkill. Last December, 68 professional biologists called on BC to enact a 10-year grizzly bear hunting moratorium so that scientifically credible long term population studies could be conducted. This has gone on too long. BC’s economy will benefit with more income from bear-eco-tourism than hunting. To send an electronic fax, go to www.raincoast.org, and tell your friends. Please send letters, emails and faxes to:

Premier Ujaal Dosanjh, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4 www.gov.bc.ca/prem/feed

Tel: 387-1715 Fax 387-0087


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

 


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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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