No. 176 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver
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THE CARBON YEARS – THEN LIFT-OFF!
happening to our civilization? Report after report is warning us that global
climate change, driven by our use of fossil fuels, is pushing us towards the
the 1970s, the framing of environmental problems by many people has been “Good
Earth, bad humans”. Humans are sometimes said to be like a cancer spreading out
of control, exhausting Earth’s resources and polluting Nature’s body until it’s
all over. Some suggest that it might be better if humans did kill themselves
off, leaving Nature to recover without us.
appalled by this way of thinking, and its negativity. I believe deeply in the
beauty of the human spirit. We have the ability to achieve incredible things –
as well as to be totally stupid. I love the fact that we are 100% part of
Nature, that the same genes that create flippers in fish create fingers and
toes in us.
I view our
existence through the lens of time, stretching millions of years into the past
and millions of years into the future. Like all species, we learn as we go
along, starting from a place of total ignorance about the Universe.
been asking serious questions for at least 10,000 years. With the development
of written language we were able to formalize our thoughts, enabling new
generations to use the intellectual capital of their ancestors.
Babylonian thinkers organized their philosophies 5,000 years ago. When the Greek
and Roman civilizations collapsed, the torch of enquiry was carried forward in
the Muslim world, and rediscovered in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages.
of open-minded enquiry was always seeking to break free from the blanket of
tradition and superstition that was passed from one generation to the next. It
is the same impulse that causes a young salmon to try a new river, or a wolf to
seek new territory. It was by this spirit of enquiry that we learnt how to make
fire by burning wood, and how to make steam by burning coal.
to 1800 AD developments in European culture finally enabled the spirit of
enquiry to break free, as a result of which we established the organized system
of enquiry we call science, and legally enshrined systems of democracy and
with the spirit of enquiry, we released the spirit of freedom that wanted
desperately to escape from poverty, serfdom, kings and aristocrats. When Prince
Albert organized The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851,
six million people came to marvel at the promise of a new world. Using the
concentrated power of ancient fossil fuels, we developed the technologies our
world is based on today.
back, are we to say all this was wrong? And if so, how far back does the
wrongness go? Was it the spirit of enquiry itself that was wrong? I hardly
So let us
think our way through the crisis and ask where it might lead. We are burning
the fossil fuels that were laid down over 200 million years. Every year, we
burn a million years of stored ancient sunlight. We are certainly using this
one-time gift from the past to indulge our whims – but we are also using
it to build intellectual capital.
not have developed a solar cell or a super-efficient LED light bulb in 1750. We
could not have developed solar thermal energy or plug-in hybrid electric cars.
We needed this one-time burst of ancient energy to lift us to a position where
we can power our world with renewable energy from the sun, wind, earth and
tides without further need for fossil fuels.
way, the age of fossil fuels is the ramp of intellectual capital that will
enable us to take off into a permanent post-carbon world. Thanks to coal, oil
and gas, we have been able to build the scientific and engineering skills we
need to do without them. They are the carbon-based booster rockets that will
enable us to launch our civilization into the solar age.
about the climate crisis? It is extremely urgent. The scientists are warning
that if we are to avoid 450 ppm of CO2, bringing a 2 Cº temperature rise, the
melt-down of Greenland, and a 6-7 metre rise in sea level, we must cease our
global yearly increase in emissions within ten years, and move to a zero
emissions carbon neutral world as rapidly as possible.
we achieve lift-off, abandoning our carbon-based booster rockets, the less will
be the chance of a collapse and foul landing.
This is not
a time for hand-wringing, whining and despair. This is a time for courage,
passion and excitement about the next great energy revolution, when we rebuild
our civilization on the secure foundation of renewable energy, efficiently
This is a
time for determination, when we work together as families, schools, businesses,
colleges, cities, governments and the whole world to embrace and adopt the
solutions. This is the moment of lift-off, which, if successful, will lead us
to a healthy, ecologically sustainable world, and a host of future promises.
- Guy Dauncey
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
Donations can be sent to EcoNews,
395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt send a stamped
Donations can also be sent via PayPal:
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thankyou to Katey Bloomfield, John Lutz & Cheryl Coull, Jill Stainforth,
Jean Matheson, Allen Milne, Kathleen Woodley, John Van Beek, Patricia Badcock,
Kathleen Shore, Bill Ashwell, Penny Furnes, Claude Maurice, Ruth Masters,
Mitchell Timin, Jay Gysler, Corinna Scott, Carol McGrath, and Anita Wolfe, in
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* Want to
reduce your energy use, but need help? www.shoreenergy.ca. Knowledgeable,
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Gardens Cohousing Nanaimo 250-754-3060 www.pacificgardens.ca
partners to buy land for eco-living email@example.com
Mindful Living is a community meditation group for women. We meet in Brentwood
Bay, 6:30pm each Thursday evening. Tatha firstname.lastname@example.org
for a Cool Planet: 50 Ways You Can Help Slow Climate Change. Looking for
distribution channels and ad sponsors. Books can retail at $5 each, wholesale
$3. Helen 250-544-2064 email@example.com
Valley Recycle & Re-Use – an online Forum where you can gift reusable
items & keep them out of the landfill. See www.cvrecycle.ca
Victoria-based food co-op accepting new members. firstname.lastname@example.org
* For sale –
Solid maple student desk, mint condition. $65. David, 361-1399
Earth and the human community are bound in a single journey." - Thomas Berry
TO CELEBRATE A GREEN CHRISTMAS
celebrations have happened for at least 5,000 years as Solstice, Yule, Hanukkah
and Christmas celebrate spiritual rebirth, the rebirth of the Sun, and the
birth of the Christ. Today, this ancient spiritual core is in danger of getting
lost as consumerism colonizes Christmas. If everyone on Earth was to consume
the way we do, we’d need three more planets. So let’s celebrate without
trashing the Earth.
a Green Christmas
is a family affair, so if you want to celebrate with less collateral damage,
you’ll need to engage the whole family. Sit down and have a family meeting.
Maybe plan to make it a carbon neutral Christmas?
3. Send E-cards
Canadian mails 10 greetings cards, that’s 300 million cards, causing 100,000
trees to be cut down. To prevent this forest-slaughter, along with the loss of
habitat for owls and wolves, make sure your cards are printed on 100% recycled
paper, or better, send an e-card. www.bluegreenplanet.org
a Garbage-Free Party
cups, paper plates, wasted food – isn’t there a better way? Borrow real
cups and plates from your neighbours, or ask your friends to bring their own.
Help your guests to use transit by including the bus schedule, and set up a
party car-pool at www.erideshare.com . Buy locally brewed beer and local
wine. Imported beer is simply flavoured water with a heavy carbon footprint.
5. Try a
100-Mile Christmas Dinner
imported from Mexico, Africa and Europe, a Christmas dinner may travel 75,000
kilometres before it reaches your mouth, racking up a big carbon footprint.
Maximize local ingredients by shopping at local farmers markets and stores that
sell local produce. Try recipes from The 100-Mile Diet.
Kind to a Turkey
turkeys are not raised on a happy farm surrounded by ducks and geese. They are
factory-reared in sheds, packed so tight that they can hardly stretch a wing
while standing in their own urine and waste. There are plenty of tasty
vegetarian alternatives. If you must eat meat, find a local free range organic
chicken or turkey.
hierarchy of impacts to make your best eco-choices. First, aim for non-material
gifts such as tickets to a concert or museum, a membership to a green
organization, certificates that promise a day’s outing or an hour of massage,
or a donation to your loved-one’s favorite charity. Next, think about hand-made
gifts such as a photo-album or home-made jam. Finally, material gifts from
second-hand and antique stores, green gifts that support a more sustainable
lifestyle, and locally made gifts from craft fairs and local stores.
a Gift of Forest
eliminate the Christmas tree, and make a holiday display from fallen branches
and decorations - or buy a living tree you use for several years before it
grows too big and you plant it out. Or a good artificial tree you can re-use
for many years. If you must buy a cut tree, make sure you recycle it for
composting when the holiday is over. For a gift that gives twice, you could
sponsor an acre of rainforest or of threatened land here in BC, as we make our
peace with the forests.
Books that Inspire
Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, who died this year, gave all her friends
green books and magazines to get them inspired and motivated - a subscription
to YES! Magazine, a video such as The Eleventh Hour or An Inconvenient Truth,
or a book in New Society Publishers’ Solutions Project series.
Remember the Less Fortunate
single parents who can’t afford gifts for their children, homeless people who
sleep rough on the streets, and lonely people in hospitals and old folks homes.
They also yearn for love, warmth and the company of friends. So remember to
include them in your giving. At the end of the day, kindness is the gift that
gives the most.
Dauncey, adapted from Corporate Knights Magazine, Dec 2007
Seeds of Victoria
Certified Organic – Locally
See the 2008 Seed catalogue online:
Christmas Collections - Great Gifts
chemically permeated world, some people have been unwittingly assaulted by
chemicals, and now suffer from acute chemical sensitivity – even the
smallest amount of perfume, pesticide, laundry cleaner, or air “freshener” can
trigger palpitations of the heart, nausea, abdominal cramping, aching joints,
or a number of other symptoms.
as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), sometimes also as chronic fatigue
syndrome. Those who suffer have to make extraordinary arrangements to avoid
being triggered, while living with the raised eyebrows of those not affected.
Victoria, the Ecological Health Alliance produces a valuable newsletter, the
current issue of which contains a survival guide for those who are new to MCS,
and lots of tips and advice. If this affects you, call 250-658-2027. They are
also having a Christmas social at Green Cuisine on Dec 9th (see Diary).
not affected, please refrain from smelly perfumes: they may feel beautiful but
can be very distressing to those who suffer from MCS. See www.ehabc.org
CLIMATE SOLUTIONS #2: DEEP ROCKS GEOTHERMAL
has radius of some 6,400 km, and when we drill down we can use the hot water
that rises to run a steam turbine – around 10,000 MW of geothermal power
is generated this way worldwide. Drill down deeper, and the available energy is
2007, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study
looking at the potential energy 6 to 10 km down into granite, where the
temperature reaches 400 C. Their findings are quite stunning.
investment of $1 billion we could produce 100,000 MW of power by 2050. Exxon
Mobil made $39.5 billion profit in 2006, so $1 billion is 9 days profit for one
estimated the total resource to be 130,000 times larger and the extractable
portion 2,000 times larger than the total annual consumption of primary energy in
the USA; similar data shows up for Europe and Australia.
Khosla, a top investor who is very alert to the dangers of climate change, is
backing its potential, alongside solar thermal power, and so is Google’s new
renewable energy investment project. We need a concerted global investment
effort to develop the technology in a greatly accelerated manner.
grew up on a remote farm in the West Kootenays where he lived surrounded by
wild creatures, and helped raise an orphan fawn at the age of 11. Today, he
found a way to give back to the animal realm with a beautiful new book called Building
an Ark: 101 Solutions to Animal Suffering (New Society Publishers), with a Foreword by Jane
The book is
grounded in the awfulness of how we treat the world’s animals and fish, but it
is not a catalogue of pain and cruelty. It is a glorious compendium of
inspiration, stories and practical examples of legislation, projects, business
practices and personal lifestyle changes that are changing the way we treat
animals. It is packed full of resources, and enables anyone to get involved and
make a difference.
disclaimer, I will say that I am Ethan’s co-author, but this is his project,
and he has done an amazing job of it. Available in bookshops, and at www.earthfuture.com/ark ($24.95).
come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are
not a stranger here.”
recently defeated a proposal to adopt a mixed member proportional (MMP) voting
system, but they ran into some very negative media opposition that made it seem
very bewildering, which it is not. “37% voted for MMP and the press called it a
resounding defeat. 42% voted for Mr. McGuinty and the press called it a
resounding victory." Here in BC, we get a second chance in May 2009 to
vote for electoral reform so that the will of the people is no longer reflected
by a party that might be strongly opposed by 60% of the people. That’s not
democracy – that’s domination by a minority. Fair Vote Canada is taking
the lead to reform Canada’s antiquated voting systems, and they need our
support, especially as a new BC campaign begins in 2008. For membership
details, see www.fairvote.ca
Do you want
to earn a green MBA, but haven’t the time for a full course? Check out the
short 4-course program starting this March on Salt Spring through the Institute
for Sustainability Education and Action. www.i-sea.org
Are you a
Citizens Bank VISA member, and do you care about farmland and local food? If
so, please voting for TLC The Land Conservancy, which has been nominated as of
the Citizens Bank Shared Interest Award Environmental Finalists. Voting happens
between Dec 15 and January 30. See www.citizensbank.ca/Personal/AboutUs/CorporateSocialResponsibility/SharedInterest/
OF THE MONTH: TOXICS LEGISLATION
Robertson (NDP), MLA for Vancouver Fairview, has introduced two important
private members bills into the Legislature.
is a Right to Know Act that would require hazard labels to clearly identify
carcinogens, and other toxins, and the labelling of GE ingredients in food.
a Toxics Use Reduction Act, would require the reduction, replacement or
elimination of toxins in the manufacturing of products; ban toxic substances
that are prohibited elsewhere; ban pesticides for residential or cosmetic use,
on public lands, and around children; set a goal for BC to achieve a 50%
reduction of toxics generated by industry by 2015; require comprehensive toxic
use reduction plans and reporting by large quantity toxics users, and more. For
the details, see www.gregorbc.ca/node/192
Action: Write to the Premier to ask for
adoption of the bills: Rt Hon Premier Campbell, PO Box 9041, Stn Prov Gov,
Victoria V8W 9E1. 250-387-1715 email@example.com
a copy to:
Abbott, Minister of Health firstname.lastname@example.org,
Penner, Minister of Environment email@example.com and
Gregor Robertson, MLA firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
Some noteworthy sites that
have passed my way:
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395 Conway Road, Victoria V9E
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