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

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 129 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - July/Aug 2003


Living on the coast of British Columbia, the pleasures of summer are thick with beauty. The ocean calls, the mountains beckon. The blue sky hangs peacefully over it all. A deep ancestral memory seems to say "all is well."

Summer is a perfect time to relax. It’s also a perfect time to explore thoughts that normally get neglected – such as the ones you are about to read.

It is a taboo topic - and yet it concerns one of the most immediate things that we live with every day. I’m talking about oil.

No – it’s not going to run out. There’s about as much left in the ground as we have extracted since 1858, when James Miller Williams dug North America’s first oil well at Oil Springs, Ontario.

"So – what’s the problem?", you might ask.

Many millions of years ago, in what may have been a period of dramatic global warming, an enormous amount of forest and carboniferous material was flooded, and gradually turned into hydrocarbons – coal, oil and gas. By their concentrated nature, they stored a phenomenal quantity of energy, all derived from the sun.

Then along come the Europeans and Americans, chafing with frustration at the limitations of the coal-fired steam engines they had just created. Oil! Now there’s a wonder. Now the wheels of progress could start rolling.

Today, there are around 600 million vehicles on the world’s roads, all filling up at Esso or Chevron. We have woven this sinuous liquid deep into the fabric of our expectations. We use it to run our factories, to fly our airplanes, to make our chemical fertilizers, squeezing food out of the land to feed the growing billions.

I won’t go into all the numbers, because space is short, and I want to you read Richard Heinberg’s thought-provoking book The Party’s Over (New Society Publishers, 2003. ) as your summer brain-awakener. Nobody knows precisely what the total world’s oil supply is; the estimates vary from 2000 to 2800 billion barrels. Since 1858 we have consumed around 955 billion barrels, and we are using 28 billion barrels a year.

At this rate, we will pass the halfway mark in the world’s oil supply somewhere between 2005 and 2018. (See ). The second half will be the hardest to extract, and some may never be available. From this silent moment on, the world will be chasing more oil than is available. As new oil discoveries fail to meet the growing demand, the price will go through the roof. For those who depend on oil, including developing nations which import their oil, the impacts will be shocking. The raven will watch, and wonder.

As if to rub things in, North America’s natural gas supply is also beginning to run dry. Anyone who builds a gas-fired power plant, hoping for 20 years worth of income to pay for the capital cost, will face bankruptcy.

Yes, Alberta’s oil sands will make a contribution, and yes, there will be new oil discoveries, but they won’t change the basic reality. It is becoming apparent that the White House knows that the oil supply is going to start diminishing, too. The US might not need Iraq’s (and Saudi Arabia’s) oil so badly if they had not been told about the coming scarcity – probably by Matthew Simmons, Dick Cheney’s chief petroleum futures guru, who has been warning him persistently about the coming crisis.

Here’s Paul Wolfowitz, deputy US defence minister, speaking at the Asian Security summit in Singapore in early June: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil." (,2763,970331,00.html )

All this is intimately entwined with global climate change, and the enormous threat which it poses to our planet. Ideally, we need to stop burning all fossil fuels NOW. Both for climate change reasons, and because the world’s oil supply is about to start declining, we must reconfigure our way of life so that we no longer need coal, oil or gas.

In our book Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, 2001, ), Patrick Mazza and I call for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. We also show how it is possible, if we live more sustainably, become twice as efficient in everything we do, and use the abundance of clean energy that exists in the world (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc) for our electricity, and to make hydrogen for our transport. (Sustainable Energy Plan for the US – )

Richard Heinberg is a pessimist. He argues that there’s nowhere near enough renewable energy to fill the gap, or to make the transition. When he says ‘The Party’s Over’, he means it - he’s looking at a global population collapse down to two billion people. And I said this was summer reading!

It’s good summer reading because Heinberg’s book makes you stop and think, and wonder about what makes a civilization tick. Is it the energy, which is about to run scarce – or it is the intelligence, and the ability to rise to a crisis and overcome it? Maybe the party’s over – but then again, maybe we’re about to move to a new room, where we can all breathe more clearly.

Guy Dauncey


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* It’s painting time! CJay’s Painting, 15 years experience. Interiors only, reliable and friendly service. Call Chris, 598-6847.

* Ecoforestry is a long-term, ecologically sustainable, economically sound alternative to conventional forest management. The Ecoforestry Institute, based in Victoria, needs a volunteer to maintain subscriber records and assist in the distribution of the quarterly journal, Ecoforestry. A great cause! Time involved: about 6 hours every 3 months. Call Don Vipond, 652-5491.

* The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is happening September 12th -21st, as part of the International Coastal Clean-Up. Supplies, educational materials and coordination support are all provided. Want to get involved? Join thousands of volunteers as we clean the shores of Canada's rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. Designed for groups of all ages. 1-877-4272-422. Registration closes Aug 15th.


So, we’ve got a lovely new dam, and it’s storing lots of lovely fresh water to keep us going during the lovely droughts that will be heading our way. But by 2013, if our population keeps growing, we will be back into shortages. So how’s this for an ingenious solution? In Santa Fe, the Public Utilities Commission is proposing that anyone who wants a permit to build a new house will have to show that they have replaced 8 - 12 toilets in existing Santa Fe buildings with low flow models, neutralizing the effect of population increase. To make the system work properly, anyone who installs a low-flow toilet in their home of office should be able to sell their "water credits" to a builder, creating a clever system whereby newcomers subsidize existing households to become more water-efficient. Now that is a smart system, that would cost our Water Board nothing, bar the paperwork. The Caroma dual-flush toilets, by the way, have been proven to be the most reliable and efficient on the market. 6 liters for a poo, 3 for a pee. Available from Westburnes, on Blanshard. Blush (with pride) while you flush!


Every spring, the creeks, wetlands and earthworms shudder as landscape professionals sterilize lawns and yards, even if children and pets ingest toxic pesticides. But now, riding to the rescue, comes the newly formed Society of Organic Urban Landcare Professionals (SOUL). Founded here in Victoria by green landcare professionals led by Heide Hermary, SOUL has created a training, certification, and membership set-up that is committed to changing the way landscapers care for gardens and acreages. On August 17th SOUL is having a big launch with guest speaker Carole Rubin, author of How to Get Your Lawn and Garden off Drugs. See the Green Diary. .


Lee Anne Unger writes: This summer is the tenth anniversary of the largest peaceful blockade in Canadian history. During the summer of 1993, 12,000 people protested the industrial logging of Clayoquot Sound’s ancient temperate rainforests. By the end of the summer, 856 people had been arrested and charged with peaceful civil disobedience. On one day alone, August 9th, 353 people were arrested. Alas, Clayoquot Sound is still threatened by industrial logging. Of the Island’s 90 large pristine valleys, only a handful remain intact, and most are in Clayoquot Sound. On August 9th (see Diary) the Friends are organizing the Clayoquot Sound Rainforest Festival in Tofino, with music, speakers and workshops. We must send a strong message to Interfor and the BC government that Interfor’s large-scale industrial logging of Clayoquot Sound’s ancient forests and its threat to pristine valleys must end. Lets make history…again. FOCS, (250) 725-4218

"We can’t sell the farm piece by piece in order to pay for groceries, we can’t drain the pond to catch the fish, we can’t cut down the mountain to get at the coal. We can live off the interest, but we can’t cut into the capital; that belongs to our children". - Robert Kennedy, Jr.


There are four sources of timber in BC. There’s timber from the forests we know and love, home to eagles and bears; timber that’s floating on the water, waiting to be exported to Washington State as raw logs while BC’s mills lay their people off; timber from demolished housing that sits in piles awaiting incineration; and timber from buildings that have been carefully deconstructed, so that it can be used again. In the new Wild Fish/Cedar Corner organic restaurant project in Tofino, that’s due to open this fall, 100% of the timber has been reclaimed from deconstructed secondary schools in Colwood, Maple Ridge, Courtenay and Queen Charlotte City; the old Naval Officers Mess in Esquimalt; the old 1881 cannery at Alert Bay; and the old Ocean Falls cannery. Beams, flooring, siding, vertical grain fir, cedar, reshaped glulams – the grain is incredible. If you want to build using reclaimed timber, call Gary Bruce, Victoria’s King of Reclaimed Timber, at Forward Automotives, 383-2733. Tell Gary you read about him in EcoNews!


Want to ‘Discover BC’ this summer? The Kitasoo/Xaixais Nation have set up an ecotourism initiative with the Sierra Club at Klemtu that will make your soul water. As part of their effort to show that ecotourism can be an alternative to logging, they have set up two Neeso Wakwis Discovery eco-tours on July 7-11th and August 4-8th. The 5-day tour with naturalist Bristol Foster includes interpretive trips to rainforests, geological features, ancient villages, and heritage sites, with orcas, humpback whales, grizzly bears, salmon, and maybe the elusive spirit bear dropping in for tea. $1190 + GST, with a 10% discount for Sierra Club members. Call Madeleine at the Sierra Club (250) 386-5255.

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There’s a huge food fight going on over genetically modified (GM) between the USA and Europe. The Americans are furious that Europe will not accept its GM produce, and have filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization to try to force the EU to loosen its restrictions. There’s also a battle going on in Britain, where the government has launched a major public debate on the issue, and is seemingly determined to open up the floodgates. So why is GM food so worrisome? After all, millions of North Americas have been eating GM soy, canola, corn and other products for several years without dropping dead. But now heed this evidence, from the The Ecologist (March 2003):

* The New England Journal of Medicine found that a GM bacteria used in the production of the food supplement tryptophan produced toxins that killed 37 people and permanently disabled 1500 others.

* Almost all GM crops grown in UK trials have resulted in cross-pollination; Professor Katz from Jena University in Germany has found that GM genes have jumped from pollen to bacteria and yeast found in the gut of bee larvae.

* The UK Food Standards Agency has confirmed that human gut bacteria can absorb antibiotic resistant DNA from GM food. 12 test sites in England and 2 in Scotland have been contaminated with antibiotic resistant genes.

* Dr Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen has found that rats feeding on GM potatoes suffered stomach and intestine damage.

* The Univiersity of Nebraska found that GM soya yielded up to 11% less than normal soya, and needed 5 times more herbicide

* Researchers at the York Nutritional Laboratory found that allergies to soya, a now widely consumed GM food, had risen by 5% over the last year.

I can also report that:

* British farm trial research has found that GM crop genes are interbreeding on a large scale with conventional crops and weeds. The genes from GM oil seed herbicide-resistant canola were found on conventional crops 200 metres away.

* Some combine harvesters are not being cleaned after harvesting GM crops, causing the GM seed to spill onto land meant for conventional crops.

* In another case, a GM crop interbred with wild turnip weed and passed on its herbicide-resistance, raising the prospect of superweeds invading the countryside. * The widespread use of Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready crops in the US has caused Roundup-resistant weeds to evolve on half a million acres. The more resistant the weeds, the greater the quantity of Roundup that needs to be applied – a handy result for Monsanto. Now Monsanto wants to press ahead with GM wheat, in spite of opposition from the Canadian Wheat Board.

One of the concerns that surfaced at last year’s organic growers conference in Victoria was that GM producers knew that genetic contamination would threaten organic crops. With the organic food movement growing so rapidly, that would be very convenient. "The hope is that over time, the market is so flooded [with GM products] that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender." – Don Westfall, VP of Promar International, a leading US food & pharmaceuticals consultancy.

"I have the south in front of me and I have the corporations behind me, and for my country I fear more what’s behind me." – Abraham Lincoln


The incredible Islands in the Salish Sea Mapping Exhibition is up at UVic (SUB, Vertigo lounge) from July 2-6th. The project has been underway for 3 years, and is now finally complete. The 30 maps reveal features that Islanders wish to see respected and cherished, documented and illustrated by local artists. The maps will return to their Island homes after this final show – so don’t miss it! One viewer said: "I haven’t felt this way since my trip to the Louvre in 1970. It’s almost more than the senses can handle." The project urgently needs volunteers to sit in four hour shifts from 10-2 & 2-6, especially on July 2nd and 3rd. If you can help, please call Tina at 539-2402.

Bird watching - photograhy
peace & quiet

The largest selection of canoes and kayaks on Vancouver Island
Come on down and check out our warehouse full of boats.

Vancouver Island Canoe and Kayak Centre

575 Pembroke St, Victoria
(corner of Government and Pembroke)

Sales, Rentals, Repairs, Lessons, Tours


Paper – we use so much of it! Half of the world’s original forests are gone; only a fifth remains pristine and undisturbed; the paper industry uses 42% of the world's industrial wood harvest. There are various good options available, including EcoSource’s hemp-based paper in Oak Bay (595-4367); Eureka! 100% post-consumer recycled paper from Monks; and various choices from Paper Choice, on Gabriola ( ). Globally, 56 environmental groups gathered together last November at the Environmental Paper Summit, including Reach for Unbleached and Markets Initiative from here in BC, and made an unprecedented commitment to work together towards a socially and environmentally system of sustainable paper production. They created a consensus-based Common Vision document which they want other groups to sign onto, and they will be pressing ahead with further actions. For details, see .


What is a nature-loving soul to say when a neighbour demands to spray the bejeesus out of everything, from fear of West Nile virus? A last summer’s Times Colonist editorial said "What’s to worry? We just have to drain all the swamps and wetlands" (or words to that effect). Gone frogs. Gone swallows. Gone dragonflies. So here’s what you need to know: A healthy wetland or lake whose ecosystem has not been disturbed will generate the balance needed to keep mosquitoes under control. Thankyou, frogs. Thankyou, dragonflies! We’ve discovered a locally made natural product called Lavender Rosemary Fly Spray, which is made for horses, but seems to work well for humans too. It’s produced by Nicole Valentine (250-474-1059) . Spray away!



If you have any sense, at some point this summer you will be out in the wild, breathing in the spirit and delight of Canada’s parks. So here’s our summer action: send a donation to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), 880 Wellington St, #506, Ottawa, K1R 6K7. They work to protect Canada’s wild ecosystems in parks and wildernesses, preserving the full diversity of habitats and their species. See


Starbucks is threatening legal action against a small, independently-owned coffee shop in the remote, 700 person village of Massett, on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), off Canada’s west coast. Why? Because the café is called HaidaBucks. It has been warned by the Vancouver law firm Bull, Housser and Tupper that it must change its name or wind up in court "to protect the public from confusion and deception."

Starbucks claims that the use of the word ‘bucks’, the use of traditional Haida art in their logo, and their building theme are a breach of trademark law. Bucks refers to young men in First Nations culture. Originally four Haida guys owned the place, and they decided to call themselves HaidaBucks after a local basketball team called the Bucks. The HaidaBucks logo is traditional Haida native art, and their building is intended to look like a traditional Haida longhouse. The HaidaBucks café is a 1.5 hour drive, 7 hour ferry ride, and 16 hour drive from the nearest Starbucks outlet. This is a perfect example of the drive for corporate global domination against the importance of local cultures and economies. Let's overwhelm Starbucks with our expressions of protest! For more details, see .


Email Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, and share your thoughts: , with a copy to their lawyers . Or call them in Seattle at (206) 447-1575 x8290.


Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way

  • EcoTours in Victoria BC Canada – a fabulous site packed full of adventure and ecotour outfits. No more excuses what to do with your visiting relatives!

  • National Geographic’s feature on farmed Atlantic Salmon: "Farm-raised salmon now outnumber wild fish nearly 85 to one. As wild stocks dwindle, this legendary sport fish has become the veritable chicken of the sea."

  • The World Database of Happiness! Erasmus University in the Netherlands is compiling a vast integrated world-wide Happiness Database to see if they can find a cause-and-effect reason for happiness.

  • The Raincoast Gallery: Next time you’re in Sidney, just north of Victoria, stop off at the Raincoast Gallery, 2240 Harbour Road.


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 V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks !


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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