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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. 128 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - June 2003


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 collapsing.

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.

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A 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.

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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 addressed envelope.


Hell is a mall. The survival of wilderness surroundings is fundamental. Eliminate the landscape, and you erase all memory – Briony.


THE ECO-CORNER
$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 scholarship our@pacificcoast.net 250-743-3002

* 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. rainwalker@shaw.ca

* Vacancy: Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team seeks Program Assistant. See /www.goert.ca for details.

* 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 391-9457

* Congratulations to Briony Penn for winning the Canadian Geographic’s Environment Award for Environmental Learning! ( www.canadiangeographic.ca ).

* 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


WATERSHED CONNECTIONS

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 we.


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 tbp@island.net 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 tom.bartoffy@csa-international.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 signatures: www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/302184339

* 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


Share Organics

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

www.shareorganics.bc.ca

595-6729


PLASTIC RECYCLING

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 & glass.

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 at www.davidsuzuki.org ).


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)
(250) 881-1555

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath


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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Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
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