No. 129 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
IS THE PARTY OVER?
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
"So – what’s the problem?", you might
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
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. www.newsociety.com/bookid/3811
) 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 www.oilcrisis.org
). 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." (www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,970331,00.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 – www.yesmagazine.org/19technology/dauncey.htm
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.
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 Sue Wheeler, Leslie Wallace,
Audrey Leonard, Cecilie Davidson, Patricia Carpenter, Gary Holman,
Mike Boyd & Robert Dickinson
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* It’s painting time! CJay’s Painting, 15 years
experience. Interiors only, reliable and friendly service. Call
* 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. www.vanaqua.org/cleanup
1-877-4272-422. Registration closes Aug 15th.
WAY TO SAVE!
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!
LANDSCAPING WITH SOUL
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
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 www.ancientrainforest.org
"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!
GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
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. www.klemtutourism.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
A FOOD CONSPIRACY
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
* 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
* 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
ISLANDS IN THE SALISH SEA
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
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 CAN LOVE
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 (www.paperchoice.bc.ca
). 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,
BZZZZ – MOSQUITOES!
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)
email@example.com . Spray
ACTIONS OF THE MONTH
(1) CANADA’S PARKS
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 www.cpaws.org
(2) STARBUCKS & HAIDABUCKS
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 www.haidabuckscafe.com
Email Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, and share your
, with a copy to their lawyers firstname.lastname@example.org
. Or call them in Seattle at (206) 447-1575 x8290.
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way
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
The Raincoast Gallery: Next time you’re in Sidney, just north
of Victoria, stop off at the Raincoast Gallery, 2240 Harbour
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,
Conway Road, Victoria V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks !
here for previous issues of EcoNews.
395 Conway Road, Victoria V9E
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Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate
(New Society Publishers)
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