No. 128 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
A ROAD MAP FOR HOPE
We face a crisis in the mission and nature of
government. Globally, we are like a ship with no steering mechanism,
no governance, and no-one on the bridge. We are eliminating the
world’s fish stocks, and overheating the atmosphere. We are allowing
industrial toxins to permeate the world, and genetically modified
organisms to spread through our farmland. We are exhausting our
fresh water supplies.
On the non-environmental front, the growing level
of poverty in Canada and the US has all but fallen off the agenda,
and public education is in crisis everywhere through lack of funds.
In their sheltered private realms, the rich are
growing ever richer, while nature – which supports us all - is
When I survey these trends, it is easy to feel
scared. There’s a tongue-in-cheek email doing the rounds that
says "President George W. Bush has announced ambitious new
plans to phase out the environment by 2004. The plan calls for
the accelerated extinction of all superfluous organisms by the
end of fiscal 2004, and a gradual reduction of air and water,
with water most likely to get the axe. "If it comes down to choosing
between air and water, the President will probably scrap water,"
one aide said. "After all, the Iraqis haven't had water in weeks
and look how well they're doing." "
It’s not as if the failure of government to get
a handle on the global crisis is a matter of oversight, or bureaucratic
incompetence. From the corporate right, there is an active and
well-funded agenda to encourage governments to cut taxes, downsize
departments, eliminate regulations, sabotage global agreements,
and allow businesses to regulate themselves, as if corporate scandals
and looting never happen. (Remember Enron, Andersen?)
There has always been a tension between private
gain and the public interest, with the pendulum swinging first
one way, then the other. Without businesses, and profitable
businesses, there are no jobs, no incomes, and no revenues for
governments to spend. Without government, there is no shared vision,
no community services, no sense of the common good.
The pervasive sense of hopelessness that exists
today among those who care about our planet’s future, however,
is being caused by the sense that the big corporations are out
of control, that industrial production and personal consumerism
are out of control, and that the media - which should be telling
us about all this - has been taken over by a few big corporations.
No-one is taking care of the big picture.
At the local level, there is lots to feel encouraged
about, from the growth of organic farms to the protection of our
watersheds by citizens groups. At the global level, however, it’s
all falling apart.
It is exciting, therefore, to learn that the
European Parliament has just approved a bill which will force
companies to pay to clean up the mess they create in nature. The
bill will make hazardous industries, including nuclear power and
oil shipping, liable for damage not only to people and property,
but also to nature, which is usually ignored because it has no
specific financial value.
To give it teeth, the bill will require industry
to take out mandatory insurance to cover their risks, opening
up a whole new sector for the insurance industry, and driving
home the need to prevent ecological disasters to reduce the premiums.
The cost of insurance – passed on to the consumer - will work
as an eco-tax, creating a financial bridge that begins to integrate
nature into our financial decisions. The bill was passed by 312
votes to 179, but it still has to win approval from the EU governments
when they meet in June, giving industry ample opportunity to try
to stop it.
This is just one example of the ability of government
to act with vision. There are many other examples: Germany’s goal
to make 20% of its farming organic by 2012; Japan’s goal to have
370,000 solar roofs by 2005, precipitating the breakthrough to
mass production and lower prices; Finland’s virtual elimination
of chlorine bleaching in the pulp industry; Berlin City Council’s
plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state of Berlin
by 50% per person by 2010; the European Union’s proposed tough
new controls on toxic chemicals.
By accumulating a list of five hundred similar
examples, we could create a map that would allow us to get back
onto the bridge of the good ship Earth, and chart a course out
of the mess we are in. The United Nations has an annual environmental
prize called the "Global 500", which honours individuals
who have made outstanding achievements. We also need a "Global
500" list of the 500 best policies that governments have
put in place around the world, from the local to the national
and the international level.
With such a compendium of best policies, political
parties all over the world could craft their own versions, and
inspire their supporters with the sense that if they worked hard
enough, their party might get elected, adding another hand to
the wheel on the bridge.
For alongside all the alarms and concerns, there
is a huge global dream, waiting to find its feet, rise to the
streets, and step into government.
monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a Vancouver
Island and a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures
of community & the joys of fulfillment.
|Print & Post:
Many thanks to Edith Gullam, Saul Arbess,
Shelagh Levey, Purnima Price, T. Macmurchie, Anna Galon, Louise
Taylor, Elizabeth Fralick, Tom Kenyon, Pamela Aloni, Anne Wilson,
Colin Graham, Norex Consultants, Eileen Kenwood, Marlyn Horsdal,
Judith Cardew (for her new nephew, Jeremy, who hopefully will love
and maintain our planet’s biodiversity), Maureen McArdell, Monica
Ashwell, Germaine Taylor, Cherry Davies, Robert & Hilda Matsuo,
the Victoria Compost Education Centre, and Brian Pinch.
Donations can be sent to EcoNews,
395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt send stamped
Hell is a mall. The survival of wilderness surroundings
is fundamental. Eliminate the landscape, and you erase all memory
$1/word (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70, insert $180
* Natural Builders Summer School 1 space left 50% work-trade
* Our EcoVillage is looking for a coordinator
for its volunteer program, and for its sustainable education program.
Call Brandy, 250-743-3002
* Looking for people to plan and build an
EcoVillage in the Comox Valley. firstname.lastname@example.org
* Vacancy: Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery
Team seeks Program Assistant. See /www.goert.ca
* CJay’s Painting. 15 years experience.
Interiors only. Reliable and friendly service. Call Chris, 598-6847.
* Free potted trees - red cedar, hemlock,
fir and spruce. Need to get into the ground. Call Audrey, 474-6428.
* Can you help pull broom from Fort
Rodd Hill? June 7th–20th. Call Kate Moss Kate.Moss@pc.gc.ca
* Congratulations to Briony Penn for winning
the Canadian Geographic’s Environment Award for Environmental Learning!
* Much appreciation to Betty Krawzyk, jailed
(now free on bail) for her determination to protect the Walbran,
and resist the ‘Working Forests" legislation. See www3.telus.net/Womeninthewoods/intro.htm
* Volunteers needed for the Journal Committee
of the Ecoforestry Institute, help find articles, maintain subsciption
list, help mailing. Sharon 595-0655
How is your watershed doing? (and no, it’s not
the shed where you store your water). One thing’s certain – if local
people are not looking after it, it’s likely that no-one else is.
People living in the Bilston creek watershed in Metchosin and Langford
are looking for volunteers to help them – see Diary, June 17th,
and call Ian 478-2387). And the folks who live in the Tod Creek
Watershed, whose waters flow into Tod Inlet, are producing a lovely
magazine, Watershed Connections, that helps residents understand
their watershed, and feel encouraged to protect it. For a sample
copy, call Shelagh Levey, 479-1956. As the water flows, so flow
TOFINO’S GOING GREENER
There’s a new building going up in Tofino, to house
the Tofino Brew House and Wild Fish Restaurant. The building is
definitely on the cool side of green – it’s using recycled timbers
from buildings around Vancouver Island (some first used in 1881),
a rainwater harvesting system, recycled flyash in the concrete,
waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and a variety of energy saving
systems, all of which will help towards LEED certification. (LEED
stands for leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is
the new North American benchmark for green buildings.) The restaurant
will be serving organic food, with a focus on locally grown Clayoquot
fare. The restaurateur, James Rodgers, is seeking people who will
support the venture by buying buy-now-redeem-later "food and
fare" gift certificates, which will give you 10% additional
value when the Tofino Brew House and Wild Fish Restaurant opens,
or whenever you take a holiday break in Clayoquot Sound. The certificates
($100 to $1000) are transferable to friends and family. For details,
call James Rodgers, 250-725-1254 email@example.com
And click here for the partially developed website: www.cedarcorner.com
. (Editor’s note: I’m the green building consultant on the project,
and a friend of James.)
A TALE OF TWO FRIDGES
Ready for a quick chemistry lesson? CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
are the cooling gases that are destroying the ozone layer. They
are being phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and are being
replaced with HCFCs - hydrochlorofluorocarbons. HCFCs also destroy
the ozone layer, though much less. They are also being phased out,
and replaced with HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) – which are a very potent
greenhouse gas. As such, they need to be reduced, not expanded,
but in reality, everyone’s ignoring them. Welcome to the weird,
weird world of climate politics.
Enter Greenpeace, who hired a German scientist
in the 1990s to design a 100% ozone-friendly, climate-safe fridge.
He succeeded, using propane and isobutane as the refrigerants, and
the Greenfreeze fridge is now the dominant fridge in northern Europe.
It is also taking off in China and Japan. In North America, however,
(surprise surprise), it is being kept out by commercial interests,
and by the regulatory bodies which refuse to change the archaic
regulations which industry is using as a trade barrier. Greenpeace
Europe has tried for years to get the Canadian Standards Association
and the Canadian government to change the regulations. Several times
they got close, but nothing has happened. Canada continues to block
the technology, and there has been no effective lobbying from NGOs
to make it an issue.
Enter Denmark, with an initiative to phase out
HFCs. Give industry a phase-out date, they say, and industry will
find a solution, claim the patents, and establish a lead in the
global market, just as they have done for wind energy. So in January
2003, it was in Denmark that McDonald’s opened the world’s first
HFC-free restaurant, using HCFC and HFC-free refrigerants in every
appliance. But can we use the HFC-free technology in the new Wild
Fish organic restaurant in Tofino? No – the business interests appear
have a lock on the bureaucrats, who have a lock on the regulations.
Meanwhile, the ozone hole continues, and the atmosphere continues
to warm. If this puzzles you, you might like to send a polite email
to Tom Bartoffy firstname.lastname@example.org
(at the CSA) & Diana Dominique Diana.Dominique@ec.gc.ca
(at Environment Canada), to ask what’s holding things up. (Thanks
to Janos Maté from Greenpeace Europe).
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
* Canada’s only organic golf-course, right here
on Salt Spring: www.bmgcssi.com/golf
* Bush and Blair have been nominated for the Nobel
Prize; hre’s a petition to stop it, which is trying to reach 75,000
* Learn about the world's inner circle of modern
day Conquistadors without missing your Friday night poker game!
The WarProfiteers deck of cards exposes some of the real war criminals
in the US's endless war of terror. www.warprofiteers.com
* A new resource about all the legislative and
regulatory changes that are happening in British Columbia. http://bcfacts.org
IT’S A GAS
Or it would be, if BC Hydro was not about to commit
an conspiratorial crime against our planet’s atmosphere by being
so determined to forge ahead with their gas-fired power project
at Duke Point, Nanaimo. 20 million tonnes of CO2 – that’s how much
the proposed plant will release over its 25 year lifetime. It’s
nuts – it really is. No – nuts would be a form of biomass. It’s
a fossil. They want to generate 265 MW of electricity, telling us
the lights will go out if they don’t. So let’s get things clear.
Right now, we pay just 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour (the US pays 8
cents US, on average). BC Hydro has issued a call for green power,
but capped the allowable energy at 100 MW in spite of being offered
1000 MW. They are insisting that it not cost more than 5.5 cents.
So what will the gas-fired energy cost? According to BC Hydro, it
will cost 8.9 cents. Like – duh? And there’s one thing they’re not
telling us – which is that there are major concerns that the natural
gas supply will be exhausted long before the gas power plants have
paid for themselves. The result? High, unstable prices, angry Islanders,
an embarrassed government, and the bankruptcy of whatever company
is foolish enough buys the project off BC Hydro. It’s not as if
there were a shortage of better power proposals. There’s 1000 MW
of wind energy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island; 250 MW in
the Gold River biomass plant proposal; 362 MW that Norske Canada
says it can generate at its Island mills by combining biomass and
cogeneration; 2000 MW of tidal energy potential in the waters north
of Vancouver Island; 1000 MW of green power projects around BC that
have already applied to BC Hydro, of which only 91 MW have been
allowed. And 500 MW waiting to be captured on the Island through
greater energy efficiency. What’s more, when you invest in wind
energy (at 6-7 cents/kWh), you get guaranteed price stability for
the next 20 years – and you can use the surplus to generate hydrogen.
Maybe BC Hydro will quietly bury its pet project,
and hire new staff who are less determined to keep renewable energy
off the market. From June 16th to the end of the month,
the BC Utilities Commission is holding hearings on the proposal
in Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion Inn – and they will hopefully hear some
sense. Because what BC Hydro is proposing most certainly does not
make sense. For detailed information, see www.sqwalk.com
More than just an Organic Produce Box Join us, nurturing
local food production
* Supporting local organic farmers
* Farmers in Transition to organics
* Fair Trade Products
If you live in Victoria, and want to recycle your
plastic wastes into the ‘Altwood’ made by Syntal Products on Keating
X Rd, listen up. Pacific Mobile Depots (883-5912) accepts every
kind of plastic, including soft plastics and packaging styrofoam,
except food and beverage styrofoam. Their website (www.pacificmobiledepots.com
) has a schedule of the local pick ups:
1st Sat: Esquimalt 9am-1pm, corner of
Esquimalt/Admirals, behind Tudor House. Plastics, paper, tin &
2nd Sat: South Jubilee 10am–12, Bank/Leighton.
James Bay 10-2pm, Superior/Menzies. Fernwood C’ty Centre 11-1pm,
1240 Gladstone. All plastics only.
3rd Sat: Fairfield: 9:30-11am, St. Matthias
Church, Richardson/ Richmond. 10:30-12pm Olive Street Common. 12-1:30pm
SJD School, Moss/Fairfield. 1- 2:30pm Red Cross Parking Lot, Fairfield/Quadra.
2- 3:30pm Chapman Park Chapman/ Linden. All plastics only
4th Sat: Gordon Head, 9-1pm, Tyndall
Park, off Tyndall Ave. Oaklands C’ty Centre, 9-1pm, #1 - 2827 Belmont
Ave. Plastics, paper, tin & glass.
CRY, THE BELOVED FISH
This is just awful. Yes, we know about our big
heavy ecological footprints, and we know that we consume too much
of the Earth’s resources. But do we really grasp that it is this
bad? In the current issue of Nature, Dr Ransom Myers, from Dalhousie
University in Halifax, has a cover story about his 10-year study
of the world’s fisheries, and specifically, the big, predator fish
– tuna, marlin, swordfish and cod. In just 50 years of commercial
fishing since 1950, using the big modern fishing boats, the number
of large predatory fish in the world’s oceans has been depleted
by 90%. We’ve eaten them. They’re gone. Many populations have completely
disappeared, and others are in deep trouble. As they eliminate the
larger species, the fishing fleets move onto the smaller species.
Until it’s all gone, like the cod? Our skills at fish management
are obviously failing us. Often, by the time the fisheries managers
get there, the stocks may be as much as 80% depleted, yet they take
that as "normal", and set the catch quotas to maintain
that number. So what’s to be done? We should act globally, and set
large areas of the world’s ocean fisheries aside as 50 year sanctuaries
for the stocks to recover, policed by satellite surveillance, and
punished with boat confiscation. And to the millions of fisherpeople,
whose jobs will vanish? Wake up, and train for a new job. They will
vanish forever, if we don’t stop now. It’s tough love, or no fish.
(Thanks to David Suzuki, and his weekly ‘Science Matters" column
THE GARDEN PATH - ORGANIC PLANT NURSERY
Our Famous Tomatoes Are Ready
~30 Varieties to Choose From~
Open daily until June 30th
10 - 5:30pm
395 Conway Road
(off Interurban, 1 block past Camosun College)
ACTION OF THE MONTH
CORPORATE CAMPAIGN FUNDING
It’s a great piece of legislation – to limit all
corporate and union campaign donations over $1,000 for all political
parties running in federal elections, and finance them out of taxes
instead, based on the popular vote at the last election. It will
do a lot to limit corporate influence, and it’s amazing that Jean
Chretien is pushing for it so strongly. He’s meeting a lot of opposition,
however, especially in his own ranks.
Action: Write to the PM to give him your encouragement: Rt Hon
Jean Chretien, House of Parliament, Ottawa K1A 0A6. Pm@pm.gc.ca
. And send an email to every MP – you’ll find all their email addresses
in one place at www.earthfuture.com/CanadianMPs
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