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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Contact Econews

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. 155 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - January 2006


A LETTER TO THE NEW PRIME MINISTER

Dear Future PM,

Here in Canada, on January 23rd, we will cast our votes in a general election which will lead to a new government, and your becoming the leader of our proud country.

I follow the news, so I know that the election has been dominated so far by discussions about taxes, crime, healthcare, child care, government accountability, and national unity.

Now don’t get me wrong: these are all very important issues. But they are backyard gossip compared to the larger concerns that are building on our planet, which none of the larger parties seems willing to talk about.

Take the world’s supply of oil and gas. Conservative oil companies say there’s no reason to worry, but many knowledgeable people think we’re going to hit the peak of global oil production very soon.

If they are right, the price of oil will continue to rise, bringing stress, disruptions, and bankruptcies to every sector of the economy. Alberta’s tar sands produce too little oil to make a difference - 1 million barrels a day vs our global consumption of 84 million.

What does this mean? Our entire civilization since 1900 has been premised on cheap oil. Take that away and everything starts to crumble, unless there is an accelerated strategy to replace the oil with sustainable energy alternatives, and change our lifestyles so that we are less dependent on it.

Then there’s the small concern about global climate change. The warnings of future climate chaos are far more grim than we see in the media, yet among the world’s industrial nations, only Britain and Sweden may meet their Kyoto targets.

The climate alarm bells are ringing, and speeches are being made about the promise of hydrogen, biofuels, wind, and solar; but as a civilization, we are still bewitched by the magic of fossil fuels, and shrugging off the warnings. Nothing is really happening.

Then there’s the oceans: since 1950, we have eliminated 90% of the world’s large fish: the tuna, cod, shark, marlin, halibut, swordfish. For millions of years, they thrived, then in 50 years we wiped out 90%. Will we wait until we have eliminated all 100%? Where is the leadership that will call for huge global no-fish zones, so that they can recover?

The same thing is being repeated in the world’s forests, which are being cut down to make paper and build houses, and the aquifers of fresh water, which are being depleted to provide irrigation for farmland.

Everyone wants to consume more, everyone continues to worship at the altar of economic growth, even as the garbage piles higher. Meanwhile, 30,000 children die of extreme poverty every day; but we Canadians only give 0.28% of our income to make their poverty history.

When I look at these problems piling up, it seems that most of us in the developed world live inside a comfort bubble, deluding ourselves that we can continue to consume the world’s resources until they are all gone. We have been bewitched; we are walking into what Ronald Wright calls "a progress trap" in his excellent book A Short History of Progress.

There is one other matter, too. The global corporations, which so dominate the global economy, are being driven by the sole objective to make their shareholders wealthier, regardless of the social and environmental costs. As the film The Corporation made clear, their directors are legally obliged to act as psychopaths. They have formed a club which they run by their own rules. For all their talk of social responsibility, their machines grind on, pumping the oil, extracting the fish, cutting the forests.

As a civilization, we stand at the edge of a precipice. Ahead of us lies ecological collapse, one of the oldest tricks in nature’s book. The population grows; it overeats its resources; and then it collapses.

And yet we could so easily turn in a different direction. As citizens of the world, we could come together in an unprecedented manner, and do what it takes to solve these problems. It would be amazing; it would give purpose to millions. We could end war. We could end poverty. We could end our unsustainable living that consumes everything, yet conserves almost nothing.

As a country, we are incredibly well placed to share in the global leadership that could make this happen. All over the world, people are hoping and praying for the breakthrough; all of our lives would be the better for it, too.

As our new Prime Minister, will you step forward, and lead Canada in a new direction, away from the precipice? We need more than grand speeches. We need goals; we need action; we need leadership.

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

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

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.

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You?

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A big thankyou to Naomi Devine, Joan Waddell, Louise Irwin, Peter Carilho, Joyce Hale, Paula Foot, Daphne Wheeler, Mary Peirce, Christine Johnston, Hannelore Ioannides, George Wood, Anna Galon, Virginia Neale, Chris Bullock, Sue Hiscocks, Ellie Roelofsen, Susan Coward, Tom Kenyon, Ann Radford, Jill Willmott, Anne Clemence, Simonne Macklem, Chris Hilliar, Virginia Newman, Lila Valdivieso, Ed & Jean Mackenzie, Richard Pearson, Miyo Stevens, Jan Zwicky, Marlene Rice, Margaret Fear, Robert Graves, Connie Mungall, Marilyn Kan, Patrick Fawkes, Troubador Music, Ian Brown, Pippa Blake, Nancy Turner, John McMahen, Marguerite Hanson, Elinor Powell, Rainey Hopewell, Nadia Ariff, Jean Matheson, S.E. Day, George Briggs, Mel Moilliet, Margaret, Schubart, Andreas Demmers, Monica Ashwell, Ruth Masters, Demise Dickson, Varalaya Farm, Peter Schofield, Marie Logan, Jan Meadows, Nancy King, Robin Jones, Yvonne Bondarchuk, Susan Holvenstot, Patricia Aldrich, Joshua Craig, Kate Stevens, Andrew Pringle, KK Bhattacharya, Jean van Cuylenborg, Marshall Rosen, Michael Torontow, James Whiteaker & family, Claude Maurice, Daphne Taylor, Ken Rankin, Ann Gower, Roger Colwill, Germaine Taylor, & Louise Ray..


THE ECO-CORNER
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THE ECO-CORNER

$5/line (non-profits, low-income free) 1" box ad $40, $2" box ad $70

* Unused letter envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call 881-1304

* Courtenay Cohousing Call 250-339-5993 www.creeksidecommons.ca

* Syd's Demo Salvage flooring, heritage mouldings, picture rail, baseboard, roofing,  d-drop siding, garden blocks, bricks, beams, furniture, construct lumber, electrical. 381-1141 syd@pacificcoast.net

* Ecofriendly organic farmer seeks 1 BR suite with storage in quiet area north of Cook St. $500, possible barter for more. PO Box 1167, 242 Mary St, Vic V9A 3V9.

* Go to www.esperanto.net and have some fun. Copy and paste something you like to Wally du Temple at esperanto@shaw.ca - When 100 people respond EcoNews will get $100.

* Breakthrough by StemTech Health Sciences: StemEnhance, a natural botanical extract that supports wellness by helping your body maintain healthy stemcell physiology. 7 min call 24/7. 1-620-294-2905 http://NancyK.stemtechhealth.com dailyplanetamazon@yahoo.com

* Green Cuba LifeCycles’ Cuba Eco-Tour March 12-19. Experience Cuba's history, culture, organic agriculture, & environmental education. Based in Havana, day trips to outlying areas. Art, music, night life. $1100 Cdn incl. regional travel, educ tours. Air fare not incl. 15 people max. $400 deposit by Feb 10. See www.lifecyclesproject.ca Call Justine 383-5800 growingschools@lifecyclesproject.ca

* Winter Warmth Campaign. Elite Earthfriendly Cleaners  is collecting coats, blankets, hats, mitts, scarves, socks, and yoga mats for homeless people on Vancouver Island. Call Laurel Nathorst, 1019 Cook St 250-381-2221

* Biodiesel enthusiasts. Soon-to-be immigrant American couple seek lodging and parking for semi-trailer in exchange for work on organic farm in the Gulf Islands. Call Carol or Jan at 503-635-3229.

* Wanted: Volunteer with interest in natural history and background with children to work with school groups at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, 2-3 hours, once a week. Call Joan 479-0211 volunteer@swanlake.bc.ca

* The Dogwood Initiative seeks submissions for its 2nd Annual Strength in Community Awards. Four categories: photography, non-fiction, audio, video, for people whose submissions capture the spirit of community power in BC. See www.dogwoodinitiative.org

* Congratulations to Elaine and Brian, who meet at an EcoNews Mailout party two years ago, and who tied the knot together on Thursday, December 29th, at their favourite place overlooking the mountains and ocean. Elaine writes:" When I moved to Victoria 3 1/2 years ago, one of the things I hoped for was to find a man to love and who would love me, someone to spend the rest of my life with. As you know, I found that man in Brian. December 29th will mark the second anniversary of the occasion when Brian and I were first introduced. We were both volunteers at EcoNews, a local newsletter on the environment, helping to stuff envelopes and lick stamps. Somehow we ended up sitting beside one another that night, then began hiking and doing yoga together as the weeks went by, and here we are....". The EcoNews Dating Agency places no limits on what may be possible, if you come and volunteer!

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Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners
Victoria’s only solvent free dry cleaner

1019 Cook St. 381-2221 Mon-Fri 8-6 Sat 10-4
www.greendrycleaner.com

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CAN WE STOP GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD?

Who knows? The Board and Directors of the Powell River Regional District voted to make their region a GE-free area in June 2004, after being approached by local organic farmers. This was followed in 2005 by the launch of a GE-free Canada campaign by the Council of Canadians, who hope to help 20 municipalities across the Yukon and BC declare themselves GE-free within the next few years.

Prince Edward Island is holding hearings to decide whether to become the first GE free province in Canada. Maybe Central Saanich, North Saanich and Metchosin will join them? They’ll certainly be in good company: the Swiss people have just voted for a five year ban on the farming of all GE plants and animals, backed by 56% of the voters, a majority in each of the country’s 26 cantons, and all of Switzerland’s farming organizations.

In France, meanwhile, a court in Orleans has just acquitted 49 activists who destroyed GE plants, ruling that their actions were justified, and that "the defendants have shown proof that they committed an infraction of voluntary vandalism in a group to respond to a situation of necessity …. that resulted from the unbridled distribution of modified genes that constitutes a clear and present danger for the well-being of others, in the sense that it could be the source of contamination and unwanted pollution".

One of the 49 is the Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of environmental issues. To help the BC campaign, see www.gefreebc.org 

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CAN WE GROW MORE FOOD?

In the year 1700, when the world’s population was 600 million, we used 7% of the world’s land for agriculture. Today, with almost 6.5 billion people, heading towards 9 billion, we use 40% of the world’s land for crops or grazing cattle, and there is little room to do more.

Here on Vancouver Island, we grow at most 10% of our food; we expect farmers elsewhere to grow the rest for us. However, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) believes that "food security is critical to a healthy population", and their new Community Food Action Initiative has been identified as a core program for public health.

This means they are putting dollars behind it, and there is funding for local community capacity building ($500 to $2000); the development of Community Food Action Plans ($5k - $25k); and early implementation of better practices ($5k to $15k). See www.viha.ca/mho or call Caryl Harper, 250-744-7010.

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MSG CAUSES OBESITY

Every night, as the sun goes down, millions of people around the world go to bed hungry. They awake hungry the next morning, and often do not know where their next meal will come from. They are our relatives; we are all one human family, descended from the same ancestors.

But here in North America and in much of the developed world, a third of the food we produce is thrown away, and every year more people become obese because they eat too much.

There is one shocking discovery that may be new to you, however. As long ago as 1978, the food industry knew that adding monosodium glutamate caused people to eat more; that it was addictive; and that it caused obesity by tripling the amount of insulin the pancreas creates.

So now MSG is added everywhere to make people eat more. The Canadian author John Erb, from Halifax, has produced a book called The Slow Poisoning of America which tells this outrageous story, and describes studies that link MSG to diabetes, migraines, headaches, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer’s.

This is crazy: in a hungry world, must we act like this? And yet the US is responding not by questioning what’s happening, but by pushing a Bill through Congress called the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" which bans anyone who buys food or drink from suing any of the companies involved, as long as they meet existing laws.

See www.spofamerica.com and www.truthinlabeling.org. For the industry’s side, see www.msgfacts.com

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ECO-LAWYERS AHOY!

Let’s admit it: if you are not a lawyer, it’s intimidating! Yes, it would be lovely to take various parties to court for this or that assault on the Earth, but the very thought of legal fees, obscure language, and The Supreme Court puts most of us off.

But wait: who’s that galloping over the horizon, the dust rising from their hooves?

It’s the Eco-Lawyers, waving writs and appeals as they ride to the defense of small forgotten species, endangered habitats, and causes great and small.

That’s not their proper name: they are better known as West Coast Environmental Law, and one of their missions is to give financial assistance to citizens and organizations that need legal and expert help to resolve environmental disputes.

Every year, they distribute $192,000 in grants from their Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund to help communities in their efforts.

In 2005, among other victories, they helped the West Kootenay EcoSociety protect a threatened Painted Turtle population in the West Kootenays from being paved over for a road (via a petition to the Supreme Court); they helped the Cornwall Watershed Coalition force the government to suspend its plans to turn the ecologically fragile Ashcroft Ranch into a massive new landfill; they helped the GSX Coalition and the BCSEA force BC Hydro to abandon its plans for a natural gas-fired power plant at Duke Point, Nanaimo (via the BC Court of Appeal).

They also helped a North Saanich group stop the District of North Saanich from approving a marina that would have been built on a national migratory bird sanctuary; and other victories that have protected Grizzly bears from the use of pesticides by the Ministry of Forests; and marbled murrelets from logging in their habitat.

So if your group feels the need for a lawyer, don’t give up: call the Eco-Lawyers! They hang their hats at www.wcel.org, and answer to 604-601-2503. Yee-Hawyers!

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SEEDS OF VICTORIA

Certified Organic, Locally Harvested
2006 Seed Collection

Vegetables – Flowers - Herbs

Order online at www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE!

And now here is today’s climate news. The year 2005 has been the hottest year on record in the Northern hemisphere; probably the hottest since prehistoric times. It had the most storms, the worst Atlantic hurricane season, and it has been the driest year for decades in the Amazon.

The CO2 level in our planet’s atmosphere is the highest it has been for 650,000 years, and is rising 200 times faster than at any time in the past 650,000 years. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

And while the Bush administration in the USA doesn’t give a lousy fig for Kyoto, Canada and most of Europe’s nations are no better: we are all heading to miss our Kyoto targets, except Britain and Sweden.

British Columbia does not even have a target for GHG reduction. Ouch! We’ve got a LONG way to go.

PS while in Montreal at the big COP-11 global climate conference, I wrote a daily blog, which you can read at www.bcsea.org/blog.

On the bright side, California has committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 80% by 2050. China is going to double its use of renewable energy to 15% by 2020, and is spending $2.5 billion over 5 years on wind and biomass plants.

Seattle City Light has reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero (yes, ZERO) by selling its share in a coal-fired power plant; paying for biodiesel to be used in local buses, garbage trucks, and government vehicles; and paying to help Princess Cruises shut off the diesel when its ships are docked in Seattle and plugging into the green grid instead.

And folks at the Institute for Environmental Research and Education on Vashon Island, just off Seattle, have calculated that Vashon could reduce its power usage by 70% by 2015 and produce 100% of its power needs from renewables, in an economically viable manner. They say the results are applicable to any Pacific Northwest community within a 10-year timeframe. It’s just a matter of sitting down, and deciding to do it. www.iere.org

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FEDERAL ELECTION

On January 23rd, we get to vote for our next MP in Ottawa. To help you, here are the contact details for all the candidates who might be able to make this country a better place (or at least not a worse one):

Victoria:

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca:

Saanich-Gulf Islands:

I am encouraging everyone in the Victoria riding to vote for Denise Savoie (NDP); she has the best credentials to represent us, and the track record as a councillor in Victoria to prove it. I will be voting Green or NDP in my riding (Esq-Juan de Fuca), depending on what I see. In Saanich–Gulf Islands…. Oh, I give up! This is ridiculous, when two good people (Andrew Lewis and Jennifer Burgis) are running against each other.

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

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ACTION OF THE MONTH: SAVE MUIR CREEK

Kate Woods writes:

Fifteen minutes west of Sooke, on the West Coast road, it is an easy walk down along Muir Creek to the ocean – pebble beaches with flowerstone, jasper, dallasite, and cliffs where fossils flow like Persian scrip.

Or up the creek, on the path through the towering Sitka spruce to the blue-green waters of the swimming hole. Other paths wade through seas of ferns, past Douglas firs that four people can barely touch hands around, or wind along the embankments high above the stream.

The second largest yew in the Big Tree Registry is here, on Muir Creek, and the cedar tree that became the World’s Tallest Totem grew here.

The creek is home to otters, salmon – spring, chum and Coho - eagles, kingfishers, and bears, but it is the trees, the serene, eternal, ancient forest, that I think of when I think of Muir Creek.

The land currently belongs to a logging company, who are busy logging even as you read this. We want to see it saved as a park that all can enjoy for ever. Will you write to the CRD, and ask for their support?

Action:

Write to The Chair and Directors,

CRD, 524 Yates St, Victoria, V8W 2S6.

Email c/o msing@crd.bc.ca

Ask them to support the use of CRD Parks Fund towards the acquisition of Muir Creek.

PS. There is a guided hike of Muir Creek on Sat Jan 21st. See Green Diary. And for details, call Kate Woods at 642-0948 (muircreek@hotmail.com) and see www.muircreekprotectionsociety.org


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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"
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