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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. 157 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - March 2006

Now available as PDF's! Front (PDF102kb) - Middle (PDF423kb) - Green Diary (PDF75kb)


BEHOLD, THE CLIMATE COMETH

The last few weeks have seen a veritable torrent of news items from the world’s climate scientists, warning of dire consequences if we don’t get our act together and start reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere now.

From scientists in the British Antarctic Survey, there is a warning that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is beginning to disintegrate, which was not noticeable five years ago when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported nothing to worry about. They are now talking about the ice sheet as "an awakened giant" that has the potential to raise global sea levels by 5 metres.

From Greenland, where the ice rises 9,000 feet above sea level, scientists are warning that with rising temperatures there has been a marked acceleration in the speed at which ice is flowing into the ocean, threatening an additional sea-level rise of 7 metres.

From James Hansen, director of NASA’s climate science team, comes the warning that "The last time the world was 3 degrees warmer than today – which is what we expect later this century – sea levels were 25 metres higher. So that is what we can look forward to, if we don’t act soon." The White House told Hansen not to talk to the media about his concerns, but he went ahead anyway, since so much is at stake.

In Britain the New Scientist has asked the question "Where will they go when the sea rises?", referring to the millions of people who will become environmental refugees when their homes are drowned out. The number may be anywhere from a few hundred thousand to a few hundred million every year between 2020 and 2100, depending on the assumptions, especially along the densely packed coastlines of south and south-east Asia, and Africa. Which country is going to accept these refugees?

And this is just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg. The last few months have also seen alarming reports that a massive Siberian peat bog the size of Germany and France combined is melting, releasing billions of tonnes of methane. Alas, there’s more where this comes from.

There have been reports that if we pass a certain threshold, maybe 400 ppm of CO2, maybe 450 ppm, we will pass a "tipping point" beyond which there is no going back. Right now, we are at 380 ppm, increasing by 2 ppm a year. It was 280 ppm at the start of the industrial age.

A young climate activist recently asked me to stop sending him these dire news reports. "I can’t take it," he said. "I need to remain hopeful!"

My response was that we need to know what we are up against: this is what the science is saying. I hold to my belief that there are only two real problems in the world: the first is the sum total of all our social, environmental, economic, and other woes. The second is the belief that we cannot solve them.

The solutions are very straight forward. They just require vision and determination from our political leaders, who will otherwise go down in history as the people who ignored the warning signs and passed on a world that was barely habitable.

In California, Governor Schwarzenegger has committed the state to achieve an 80% reduction in its emissions by 2050. Brazil has set a goal that 80% of its vehicle fleet will be fueled with bioethanol from sugar cane within five years. Sweden has set a national goal to end their dependency on fossil fuels by 2020.

BC has set no goals and made no commitments yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time. And likewise for Harper’s Conservatives. How long before they realize they are making a very big mistake by assuming that climate change doesn’t matter?

Given the seriousness of the science, it is easy to picture the world’s nations signing onto serious and dramatic reductions in as soon as Bush leaves the White House.

It is also easy to imagine them signing parallel treaties to expand their use of solar PV by 50% a year, driving down the cost to a level that everyone can afford, so that every house can have a 2 kw PV system and solar hot water tubes on its roof.

It is easy to imagine similar global treaties being signed to expand each nation’s use of wind energy, green heat, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, cycling, organic farming, and so on. These technologies work now, whereas hydrogen and "clean coal" are still vague promises that might deliver something useful in 20 years.

The incredible thing is that these are the very same approaches that are needed to replace oil and gas, as they pass their global peak production and become impossibly expensive. It all just makes so much sense.

So come on, guys: let’s do it!

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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A big thankyou to Debra Barr, Colin Graham, Bernice Packford, Lawrence Smith, Julia Lissau, Peter Gibb, Phyllis Buxcey, Peter Orme, Ian Gartshore, E. & J. Kenwood, & Loreto Bay Management Ltd.


THE ECO-CORNER
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180

* VEGAN HOUSE! Seeking responsible, progressive, positive, eco-friendly veggie for 5bdrm house in Oak Bay, Apr 1st! veganhouse [-at-] gmail.com 598-0194

* Charming guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village, ocean. 250-361-3102

* Quiet woman seeks modest dwelling near downtown Victoria, shared ok. Approx $400 inc. 382-6661.

* For rent 1-BR ocean view apartment James Bay, month of June. 382-0317

* Wanted: Two women looking for small house (2 bedrooms) to rent outside of Victoria. Max $1000. Garden a must. We have a quiet well-behaved dog. andrea@cmaq.net

* Beautiful off-the-grid 3 bedroom waterfront home for rent. Monthly.  Boat access only. Kayaks, sailing dingy, 16ft boat included. 478-2680 www.eco-sense.ca/wiseisland  

* Eco-friendly organic farmer seeks 1BR suite with storage in quiet area north of Cook St. Call 220-8971

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

* Taxes done by financial professional, phone Roxanne Brydges, CFP, at 704-2778, self-employed people welcome.

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

* For schools. From the Forest to the Sea: Watershed Education Program on Galiano. Hands-on, science-based exploration, K-12. Call 539-2424 education@galianoconservancy.ca

 * Wanted: Used and recycled building materials.  Will pay for and pick up, but free is good too.  478-2680  www.eco-sense.ca

* For Sale: 1946 vintage portable Singer Sewing Machine, working, excellent shape. Photos available via email $375 Joannemarks@canada.com

* Seeking to Rent: Mature female, NS seeking 1 BR, bright, spacious, access to yard or garden in quiet area. $550-600 incl. Willing to garden in partial exchange for rent. Joanne 381-6171 joannemarks@canada.com

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ETHICAL INVESTINGThe Pinch Group

Connecting your money with your values

www.pinchgroup.ca 250-405-2468

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OA YEAR OF CONFERENCES

What a year this is shaping up to be for global conferences in Canada that have the ability to change the world. From June 19th to 23rd, in Vancouver, there’s the World Urban Forum III, established by the United Nations to find solutions to global urbanisation. The theme is Our Future: Sustainable Cities--Turning Ideas into Action, and it may be attended by 6,000 people; including you? See www.unhabitat.org.

It will be preceded by the World Youth Forum (16-18 June), bringing together 300 youth leaders from around the world, giving them a platform to air their ideas for the future, and showcasing their projects, culminating in a youth declaration to the World Urban Forum. See www.eya.ca/wuf

Immediately following the Forum in Vancouver is the World Peace Forum (June 23-28), a global gathering of people, groups and civic governments who envision a living culture of peace and sustainability in our lifetimes. The Forum will include music, art, films, and many inspiring speakers, meetings, and moments. Including maybe you? Go on: indulge your desire to make a difference. www.worldpeaceforum.ca.

Then on November 12-15, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there is the Global Microcredit Summit, organized by RESULTS, which is one of the world’s most impressive non-profit societies. "We live in the midst of a global scandal in which 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day, more than 100 million children of primary school age are not in school, and some 29,000 children under the age of five die each day from largely preventable malnutrition and disease.

Two thousand delegates from 100 countries will gather to assess progress toward the 1997 Summit’s goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest, and to launch two new goals: (1) Working to ensure that 175 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women, receive microcredit to enable them to launch their own micro-enterprises by 2015, and (2) working to ensure that 100 million of the world’s poorest families move out of absolute poverty (by earning more than $1 a day) by the end of 2015.

The story of microcredit is a story of human hope and commitment overcoming the pessimism of professional bankers and economists, who sat in their skyscraper offices and wrote off the world’s poorest people. Microcredit has been enormously successful by using the willingness of women to support each other while taking courage in their hands and launching new enterprises that are lifting their families out of poverty.

In 1999, at RESULTS’ request, Vancity created a Shared World term deposit which now holds over $2 million, creating about 10,000 jobs through micro-enterprise every year. If you would like to help sponsor a developing world delegate to come to Halifax, call Blaise Salmon, at 250-384-1842 www.globalmicrocreditsummit2006.org

"Future generations will know whether we answered the key question. History will be our judge, but what’s written is up to us. We can’t say our generation didn’t know how to do it.  We can’t say our generation couldn’t afford to do it.  And we can’t say our generation didn’t have reason to do it.  It’s up to us." – Bono, of U2

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VANCITY ELECTIONS

Talking of Vancity, they have elections coming up for their Board. For nearly 20 years the Action Team has shaped Vancity into a remarkably innovative, successful and vibrant leader in our communities. This year’s Action Team candidates are Beth Haddon, Doug Soo and Elain Duvall. If you bank with Vancity, please vote for them! See www.voteaction.ca

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Ethics Buying Collective

www.EthicsCoop.ca

~ locally sourced ~ plant-based ~ eco-friendly ~ fairly-traded ~ organically produced ~

Victoria's buying collective, please visit our website for more!

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RECYCLING GOLD

This is very embarrassing: here in the CRD, we recycle less of our wastes each year, as a proportion of our total. Weren’t we supposed to be moving towards sustainability, not away from it? Our goal is 50% waste diversion, and we reached 42% in 1998, but it had fallen back to 36% by 2004. At this rate, by 2042 we’ll be recycling 0%. What are we to do? Here are four ideas that we need to take very seriously:

(1) Make Recycling Mandatory. Seattle has a new bylaw that aims to save residents and businesses $2 million a year, keep future garbage costs low, and help reverse Seattle’s decline since 1995. (They’ve got the same problem.) The City’s contractors no longer pick up garbage cans with significant amounts of recyclables; they leave a tag on the can telling the customer to get his or her act together for the following week (in polite language). Business owners, apartment owners, and property managers are being given two warning notices, and then getting a $50 surcharge on their garbage bills. Hmm!

(2) Pay-As-You-Throw. In New York state, Southampton’s Town Supervisor reckons that their pay-by-weight program is reducing their garbage by 40%. Austin, Texas, and Vancouver, Washington, now charge for garbage by weight. A Reason Institute study concluded that these programs result in 17% less garbage (by weight), and that each dollar spent saves $7.60 in reduced solid waste management costs. It’s a basic "polluter pays" principle.

(3) Reward People for Recycling. In Philadelphia, Patrick Fitzgerald quit his job at a Wall Street law firm to pursue the intriguing idea of rewarding people for the amount they recycle. Recyclebank uses special recycling bins with a "smart waste tag" that allows the truck driver to scan its weight. The householder gets credit for the recycled wastes which can be cashed in at local stores. (They can also donate them to local environmental projects.) In two Philadelphia pilot schemes, with 2,500 participants, 90% took part, averaging 25 pounds of recyclables a week. The municipality saves on garbage disposal fees; recycling companies make more money from recycling; and retailers gain a feel-good reward. The scheme is to be introduced to 100,000 households in New England next year. See www.recyclebank.com

(4) Compost Organic Wastes. For our final idea, we have to travel no further than the great little town of Ladysmith, which has just launched an organic wastes recycling program. 2,700 households have shiny new green bins which take yard and food wastes, bones, soiled paper, pizza boxes, meat, and napkins. The wastes are composted by the International Composting Corporation and turned into Grade A composted soil, which sells for $3.99 a bag in Canadian Tire and other stores. The only question is why is it taking us so long to do what seems so obvious?

www.internationalcomposting.com

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Elite Earth-Friendly Dry CleanersVictoria’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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CONGRATULATIONS……

To the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and the Victoria Car-Share Cooperative, on their joint move to the newly named Sustainable Transport Centre at 12 Centennial Square. The Car Share Coop is 10 years old, with 100 members who share seven vehicles (www.victoriacarshare.ca) and the Cycling Coalition is 15 years old, with 800 members (www.gvcc.bc.ca) and (I presume) at least 800 bikes. The next time you’re passing Centennial Square, drop in and say hello!

And… to the Vancouver Island Ecoforestry Group, a collective of small scale forest owners and managers who have received collective certification under the new BC standard for the Forest Stewardship Council. EcoTrust Canada is serving as their group manager, and holding the certificate on their behalf, speeding up the process dramatically and cutting their costs by 90%. The Group’s members manage 757 hectares of forestland, and will be marketing their wood to the local green building industry through the Eco-Lumber Cooperative. (www.ecolumber.ca)

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BEWARE OF ROUNDUP

It’s spring, and the landscapers are out with their machines and their pesticides, making Victoria’s gardens look clean and green. But beware: one of the most common pesticides used is far from clean or green. A study published in the June 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives found that Monsanto’s glyphosate based herbicide Roundup was toxic to a mother’s placental cells at levels ten times lower than those found in agricultural use. A Canadian study has linked glyphosate exposure in the three months before conception to an increased risk of miscarriage, and a 2002 Minnesota study found a link to increased attention deficit disorder in farm families. Earlier studies have linked glyphosate to reproductive harm, damaged DNA in mice, abnormal chromosomes in human blood, and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is also toxic to wildlife, especially frogs and other amphibians. Enough? How come this stuff’s not simply banned? (It will be as soon as our municipalities get their act together, and adopt the CRD’s Model Pesticide Use Bylaw (See below, and www.crd.bc.ca/rte/pest). If you want to find an organic landcare professional who understands about the soil, and what makes nature tick, check out the locally-based Society of Organic Urban Landcare Professionals (SOUL), www.organiclandcare.org

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A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Guide to Organic Gardening

by Carolyn Herriot

In all good Victoria bookshops

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath/book.htm

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

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VICTORIA’S SEWAGE

To flush, or not to flush into the Strait: that is the question:
whether ‘tis nobler in the ocean to suffer the slosh and turds of outrageous pollution,
or to take arms against a sea of excuses, and by participating, end them?
To speak: to write: and by your words to end
the whale-ache and the thousand unnatural toxic shocks that water is heir to:
‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
To think, to write, perchance to dream;
to go to the CRD’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel’s website at www.setaccrdpanel.org and set your thoughts in words.
Could our sewage be used for energy?
Could the goodness that is inherent therein be separated from the toxic stew, and be recycled as compost?
Could biofuels from our bodily wastes power buses that would yield no greenhouse gases?
But delay ye not! April 7th is your final deadline.

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ACTION OF THE MONTH: PESTICIDE USE BY-LAWS

The CRD has crafted a very good model pesticide use bylaw that will give us the protection we need. Now it’s up to local councils to adopt it.

Action: Write to your local Mayor and Council, and ask when they will be introducing the model by-law? Contact details in the phone book’s blue pages.


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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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