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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

 
Econews

Newsletter No. 175 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - November 2007

Now available as PDF's! Front (PDF325kb) - Middle (PDF303kb) - Green Diary (PDF81kb)


THE SILENCE OF THE BEES

We live on the Earth as infants, depending on Mother Nature to feed us, give us the resources we demand, and clean up our mess.

We do not teach ecology in our schools. Our political and business leaders are not ecologically versed; nor are most college professors.

No wonder we are getting into a mess. The very word “ecology” come from the Greek words oikos + logos, meaning “knowledge of the household”. As a culture, we do not understand the household rules of our planet. 

Instead, like two-year olds, most people want Mother Earth to go on providing coal, oil, timber, fish, meat, and everything else.

When things go wrong, as they are with disturbing frequency, we tend to act naïve. Like a two-year-old, we think “that’s mother’s department – she’ll make it alright.”

Enter the bee, a small insect with 60,000 species that has played an essential role in Earth’s household management for 100 million years.

The bee’s role is to pollinate flowers, transferring male pollen grains to the female ovule. 80% of Nature’s pollination is done by insects such as the bee; 20% is done by the wind, including all the grasses and trees.

Historically, when a good-sized blueberry farm was 500 acres, a farmer could depend on wild bees and local hives to pollinate them. Today, with farms of up to 10,000 acres, there are not enough bees to do the pollination.

Enter the traveling bee-keeper, shipping hives in semi-trailers to Florida in winter for the citrus and cantaloupe, then maybe to Pennsylvania in spring for the apples and cherries, and California for the almonds.

The industry’s bees pollinate 100 flowering crops, including apples, nuts, avocados, kiwi, broccoli, soybeans, asparagus, celery, squash, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, melons, and animal feed crops such as clover. In a good year, a beekeeper can realize a $100,000 profit.

HoneyBee

Last winter, however, when the beekeepers went to ready their hives for the new season, many were shocked to find them empty. The adult bees had flown off, never to return, choosing to die outside the hive rather than infest it. Hives containing up to 40,000 bees had been left with honey intact – not even predators wanted to scavenge them.

Some beekeepers lost 90% of their colonies. More than 25% of America’s 2.4 million bee colonies were lost to “colony collapse disorder” – and beekeepers around the world were reporting similar collapses.

When the scientists investigated, they found the bees’ bodies filled with fungi and parasitic mites and up to 40 pesticides in the hives, including neo-nicotinoids, designed to break down an insect’s immune system and cause memory loss and nervous system disorder, partially banned by France because of its very impact on the bees.

The current consensus is that the most likely suspect is the Israeli acute paralysis virus, found in 96% of the infected hives, first identified in 2004 when Israel started importing bees from Australia. This is probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, in a situation where bees are being stressed by mites, viruses, toxic pesticides, long-distance trucking, and poor nutrition, since monocultured crops do not have the food they need. Cell-phones, initially suspected, are not on the list.

With the virus identified, there are hopes that resistant bees can be bred. In the meantime, beekeepers are waiting see if their colonies collapse again this winter. If they do, many beekeepers and farmers will face bankruptcy, since there will not be other hives to rent.

Some species of bumblebee, which pollinate 15% of US crops including tomatoes, peppers and strawberries raised in greenhouses, are also disappearing.

Albert Einstein once wrote "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

This should be the most profound of wake-up calls. Like global warming, it is a potential life-ending situation that we have brought on ourselves by our fundamental ignorance of Earth’s ecology. We really have to wake up, and pay attention.

We cannot spray pesticides willy-nilly and expect the bees not to be affected. We cannot grow monocultures so big that bees have to be trucked across the continent. We must plan for a full global transition to bee-friendly, ecologically friendly organic farming. And we must teach ecology in all our schools and colleges.

We must also work to stop the spraying of pesticides in our cities; Victoria City Council is expected to vote on this sometime in November.

We owe it to the bees, and to our whole future on this planet. As Einstein says, life could not exist without the bees.    

 - Guy Dauncey

Thanks to PBS TV - The Silence of the Bees.


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 a stamped addressed envelope.

Donations can also be sent via PayPal:

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A big thankyou to Sheila Sayer, Had Walmer, Christian Engelstoft, Cal Wilkinson, Katey Bloomfield, Maggie Salmond, Dave Finlay, Sheila Redhead, Fran Johnson, Marianna Macleod, Paul Gareau, Carol Wagner, and to Brian Pinch and Lorena Mowers, both in memory of Roger Colwill.

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THE ECO-PERSONALS
$1.30 a word. Non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50

* Firewood from sustainable woodlot. Seasoned fir, cords or half cords. Call Peter, 652-2613.

* Charming guest room, $30/night. Cook St Village, ocean. 250-361-3102

* Pacific Gardens Cohousing Nanaimo 250-754-3060 www.pacificgardens.ca

* Seeking partners to buy land for eco-living erainwalker@hotmail.com

* Saturna Island room + bathroom available in vegetarian waterfront household. Weekenders welcome. Sebastian sgadbois@mail.com

* Victoria-based food co-op accepting new members. rdhellner@gmail.com

* Individual counselling and psychotherapy for self-esteem, empowerment and healing. Rainey Hopewell, M.Ed. Serving Vancouver Island’s activist community. 15 years experience. Sliding scale.  380-5055

* Looking for 1-2 people to share house near ocean, big private yard, quiet neighbourhood, Saxe Point Park. $500/month, all incl. Close to pool, fitness centre. Ramona 414-7248.

* Great tenant with cat seeks affordable friendly living space on Saanich peninsula or Salt Spring with large garden or shared house with nature loving folk.  Suzanne 658-4750 gumbootgirl@yahoo.com

* Peninsula Mindful Living is a community meditation group for women. We meet in Brentwood Bay, 6:30pm each Thursday evening. Tatha peninsula.mindful.living@telus.net

The Fifth Law of Sustainability - If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable

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ETHICAL INVESTING
The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values
www.pinchgroup.ca
250-405-2468

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TOP TEN CLIMATE SOLUTIONS #1: SOLAR THERMAL

Over the next ten months, EcoNews will lay out what we believe to be the ten most effective technological solutions to global warming, starting with the solar thermal generation of power.

The world’s entire remaining store of fossil fuels is the equivalent of solar energy that shines on Earth’s deserts every 47 days. Algeria alone has enough solar thermal potential to supply Europe’s entire energy needs 50 times over.

The technology consists of a series of parabolic arrays that gather the sun’s heat and concentrate it onto a pipe filled with water, creating steam that drives a turbine. The power is then transmitted underwater or over land using high voltage DC cables that have lower EMF emissions and power loss.

In the Nevada desert, a 64 MW system is producing power for around 10-12 cents kWh. At the recent Clinton Global Initiative the power company PG&E signed a deal to purchase 2000 MW over the next five years from Ausra, a company started by the Canadian entrepreneur, scientist and innovator David Mills.

Since heat can be stored using hot water, oil or salts, solar thermal power can deliver baseload power 24 hours a day.

Solar thermal power will be cheaper than carbon captured coal or nuclear power, and has the potential to deliver 90% of the world’s electricity without carbon emissions. Globally, the best locations for plants are the western US, southern Europe, north Africa and the Middle East, north India and western China.

One way to accelerate the technology would be commitments by nations to generate 25% of their power from solar thermal by 2020 and 50% by 2030, linked to close-down of the world’s coal-fired power plants. See www.ausra.com and www.tinyurl.com/26gd8s.

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ROGER COLWILL, R.I.P.

Our friend Roger Colwill died suddenly in September while enjoying a peaceful cup of tea with his wife and best companion, Barbara. He was such a great friend, supporter and ally to me, ever since we met on Earth Day in Beacon Hill Park 17 years ago - and I hear from so many people how he helped and encouraged you. 

Roger had an abiding belief in our ability to make a difference in the world. In the perfect Roger World, we would all would wear two badges, one saying: “I’m good that these things – can I help you?” the other saying: “I need help with these things – can you help me?Roger Colwill

He knew that 1 plus 3 always equaled 5 because of the magic that happens when people spark each other’s creativity and open new dreams. 

I think he will enjoy being a student in the new class he has joined. They probably take that love and support for granted and wonder why we are so slow to help each other here on Earth, and why we are so timid in our dreams. 

Roger knew that we face an enormous crisis, but he also knew how much better things would be if we supported each other as we work to make a difference.

On behalf of so many, I say “Thankyou, Roger. We love you and thank you.” Farewell, our truest friend. Your dreams will live on.

Green Drinks lives on too, on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at the Canoe Brewpub, 450 Swift St, from 5-8pm.

 

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Eco-friendly Renovations
Carpentry – Woodworking - Flooring – Design/CAD Consulting
Harald Wolf
882-9653
www.wolfweb.ca/allegra

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BC’S CLIMATE PLANS

At the Union of BC Municipalities conference this September, Premier Campbell revealed some of the measures the BC government is preparing as it seeks to reduce BC’s greenhouse emissions to 33% below today’s level by 2020. They include:

  • the formation of a blue ribbon Climate Action Team which will determine viable emission reduction strategies, followed by legislated targets for 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2050;
  • legislation to create market mechanisms that will enable BC to require “hard caps” on GHG emissions for industry;
  • regional symposiums to discuss GHG reduction strategies with the forestry, mining, energy, waste and agricultural sectors;
  • legislation this fall that will require all BC government agencies, crown agencies, school boards and health authorities to become carbon neutral by 2010 with mandatory annual progress reports;
  • a new BC Carbon Trust that will enable people, companies and governments to become carbon neutral by supporting made-in-BC carbon-reducing projects;
  • greenhouse gas reduction strategies and targets that will be legally required in all Official Community Plans and regional growth strategies;
  • municipalities to be allowed to waive development cost charges to encourage green developments and small houses;
  • all new government facilities to be LEED Gold;
  • California’s tailpipe emissions low carbon standards for vehicles to be phased in from 2009-2016, reducing vehicle CO2 emissions by 10% by 2020;
  • a 5% renewable fuel standard by 2010; $50 million for BC Transit to buy new clean buses and expand public transit;
  • and the promise of a new vision for transit to be announced this fall aimed at making BC a global leader in public transit.

The details will be released later this fall, suggesting an ability to achieve up to 82% of the 33% reduction goal.

The government also unveiled a Climate Change Action Charter signed by 62 municipalities, which have pledged in a non-legally binding manner to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral in their corporate operations by 2012, and to work to create compact, more energy efficient communities. The Charter commits local governments to work for the best green developments, reducing car-dependency.

This is impressive, but we must remember that the climate science demands a far deeper level of reduction if we are to avoid the catastrophic impacts that are coming. The City of London has set a scientifically more appropriate goal of 60% below its 1990 emissions by 2025. BC’s goal of 10% below 1990 by 2020 is a great start, but only a beginning.

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PLASTIC BAGS CAMPAIGN

Lana Popham, a Saanich mom, has launched a campaign to ban plastic bags, as other municipalities are doing. To help, call Lana at 652-4110.

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12 Steps to Sustainable, Home Grown Food Production
An Organic Approach to Greater Self-Sufficiency
March 15th – October 21st, 2008
$650 for all sessions, or $55 per session
Presented by Carolyn Herriot and Glendale Gardens & Woodland
www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath/12%20Steps.htm

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MEDEA BENJAMIN

Medea Benjamin is a prominent US peace activist, cofounder of the women’s peace organization Code Pink and the human rights group Global Exchange; Ann Wright is a retired US Army Colonel and career diplomat. On October 4th, they were traveling to Toronto to meet with the Stop the War Coalition when they were selected for a background check at the Niagara Falls border crossing.

As part of her persistent efforts to stop the war in Iraq, Medea had received three minor convictions in the US, one for unlawful assembly at the White House on International Women’s Day; one for speaking out during a Congressional Hearing; and one for trespassing when a group tried to deliver 152,000 anti-war signatures to the US mission to the United Nations. Anne had some minor convictions, the equivalent of parking tickets for which she had paid fines.

As a result of their convictions, the Canadian border guards denied them entry. But how did they obtain these records? Canada is the first country to start using the FBI database called the National Crime Information Center, created to find fugitives, convicted sex offenders, missing persons, and members of terrorist organizations and violent gangs.

When she was refused entry, a journalist warned Medea that “Canada is a bellwether. If it gets away with this, other countries, under US pressure, will follow.” We all need to speak out loudly. Why are the Canadian border police enforcing rules created by the FBI and other US agencies?

There’s a petition at  www.codepinkalert.org/Canada, and our letters of protest are needed to The Hon Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.
 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 
Ottawa, K1A 1L1, Email Minister@cic.gc.ca.

Medea loved and admired Canada. She says “We come in peace. We come with humility. Please don’t forsake us in our hour of need.”

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The Great Climate Challenge - Practical Solutions that Work
with Guy Dauncey
Sat November 24, 9am-5pm
"Inspirational, an excellent day"- past course participant
$95.   Call 391-2600 x 4801
www.royalroads.ca/continuing-studies/GLGI1281-Y07.htm
Royal Roads University

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ACTION OF THE MONTH: THE JORDAN RIVER BLUES

There is growing outrage at the decision by BC Forests Minister Rich Coleman to allow Western Forest Products (WFP) to sell 28,000 hectares of forest land from Sooke to Jordan River for development. Coleman has handed WFP a multi-billion dollar windfall, while signaling the go-ahead for land development in a remote rural area without any requirements to create the “compact, more energy efficient communities” that it is asking BC’s municipalities to support in its climate action plan.

The Ministry of Forests has also failed to consult the public or to put any protection in place for ecologically treasured lands such as the forest adjacent to the Sooke Potholes and the Sea-to-Sky Greenbelt or at Muir Creek, just west of Sooke.

WFP has turned round and sold 2,532 of the 28,000 hectares to Vancouver developer Ender Ilkay for an estimated $500 million. If you or I want to get 28 hectares rezoned for development and increase its density, creating potential for significant profit, we have to go through a proper legal process, including a Public Hearing and a requirement to provide land for public parks. Here, the Minister has rezoned 28,000 hectares with no questions asked or conditions required, purely because he thought the company “needed some help”.

There is such a stink of corruption here that there should be a full public enquiry. In 2004, the Ministry did the same for Weyerhaeuser, letting it take 220,000 acres out of tree farm licenses around Port Alberni for an estimated benefit of $200 million. We didn’t protest much then, so maybe they thought it was OK for the Minister to give some more hand-outs to his forest industry friends.

Action: Write to Premier Campbell and demand that the province retroactively veto the agreement, compensate the developer for his out-of-pocket travel costs, and initiate a proper public discussion as to how best to develop or not develop the coastal lands from Sooke to Port Renfrew.  

Rt Hon Premier Campbell, PO Box 9041, Stn Prov Gov, Victoria V8W 9E1. 250-387-1715. premier@gov.bc.ca

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way:


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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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