No. 178 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver
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THE SALMON ARE GOING DOWN
Up on the Broughton Archipelago, off northern Vancouver Island, the whale researcher Alexandra Morton is measuring an extinction.
She has lived there for many years, and knows the waters intimately. She knows that something very terrible is happening, before her eyes.
The juvenile wild salmon that are descending the fresh-water rivers on their way to the sea are being attacked by sea-lice as they pass the fish farms. In some areas up to 96% of the smolts are being killed.
Once they get the lice, they are full of holes, with open sores and bleeding; then they die. “It’s pretty serious – we don’t have a lot of time left to figure this one out.”
Sea lice are natural to these waters, but they don’t have an impact on adult salmon thanks to their scaly armor. It’s the juveniles, less than an inch long with soft skin lacking scales, which are being killed. Without the juveniles, there will soon be no adults.
Normally, adult salmon live far out to sea and never mix with juveniles, so young smolts are never exposed to their sea-lice. Thus it has been for ten million years. But the fish farms, only here since the mid 1980s, are being located on the very channels and inlets where the juvenile salmon must pass.
One wonders if it is deliberate.
The immediate salmon runs at risk are the pink and chum. New data to be published in April by the North American Journal of Fisheries Management shows that infestations have spread to larval herring in the Discovery Islands, to juvenile sockeyes, and to the waters off Campbell River.
Is it happening elsewhere? Nobody is monitoring the situation.
The collapse of juvenile pinks was first reported in 2002. A 2007 study in the journal Science predicted that if the infestations were not curbed, the runs would be extinct within four years.
In May 2007, the BC Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture recommended moving the fish farming industry into closed containment systems within 5 years, to protect the wild salmon. Yet Pat Bell, BC Minister of Agriculture in charge of fish farm siting, has been silent on the report – and has since approved four more open net pen sites.
Young smolt infested with sea-lice
Photo: Alexandra Morton
We are watching a disaster happen right before our eyes. We will see the complete crash of our wild ocean fish populations within 40 years if nothing is done.
In Iceland, open net fish farms have been outlawed on 90% of the coastline. In Norway, where the biggest fish farm corporations are based, 51 fjords are being cleared of salmon farms close to river mouths, and there is a total ban on two fjords.
Norwegian corporations own 90% of the fish farms in BC. In 1991, when a Norwegian Parliamentary Committee visited Ottawa, the MP Jon Lilletun warned us: “We are very strict about the quality and the environment questions. Therefore, some of the fish farmers went to Canada. They said we want bigger fish farms - we can do as we like.”
“Our future generations are going to be so furious with us: they’re not going to believe we squandered something as valuable as the wild salmon.”
- Alexandra Morton
Alexandra Morton writes:
“So here we stand at the edge of extinction. Whether we go over the edge is up to us. Salmon eggs are about to hatch in the Broughton rivers offering life to all around them. Marine Harvest and Mainstream have made their intentions clear: they have restocked their farms in the path of these fish. And their gamble is paying off.
Without wild salmon, the corporate fish farmers will own the salmon market
“What can be done?
Please tell me. I cannot bear to watch the last of these wild salmon destroyed by sea lice through sheer corporate arrogance. Wild salmon are a gift to the entire world. They are the wellspring of our economy and spirit. Our children will curse the names of those who let this happen. And for what … for nothing.
What should I do?”
What can we do?
It is our Premier, Gordon
Campbell who must be alerted, and awakened to the danger. Is this the legacy he
wants to leave, that BC’s salmon and herring fishery was killed off, on his
watch? So first, please write to
Rt Hon Premier Campbell, PO
Box 9041, Stn Prov Gov, Victoria, BC V8W 9E1. 250-387-1715 email@example.com
Second, please write to your
MLA. You can find their contact details here: www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm
But we must go beyond this.
Please forward this story to everyone you know. Please pick up the phone and
call your MLA. Please ask any organization or business you are part of to
write: this concerns every one of us.
Is this the legacy we want to
leave, on our watch?
For more information, see:
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Last year, Paul Hawken’s new book Blessed Unrest was published, and when he spoke in Victoria he amazed us with his description of the global movement we are all part of. It has no name, no leader, no ideology, no head office and no location, but it may involve more than 100 million people working in environmental and justice organizations around the world.
“It seeks nothing less than to change the relationship between people and the environment, shifting from a world created by privilege and power to one created by community.”
As an expression of the movement, Hawken launched www.wiserearth.org in May 2007, a self-managed wiki-style website and database of 108,000 organizations around the world, which is growing rapidly. Using Google map, you can click on anywhere in the world, and zoom in on local organizations. Try it!
The problem is flying, which makes a major contribution to global warming. One solution is teleconferencing, which happens all the time. Then there’s video-conferencing. Using Cisco’s top-end Telepresence technology, it really seems as if you are in the same room.
In November 2007, however, things moved to a whole new level: the world’s first real-time holographic video-conference took place with speakers from San Jose California appearing on stage in Bangalore, India, in holographic form: every sensory aspect was present except smell and touch. Cisco did it by teaming up with Musion, a British company whose virtual hologram projector can project 3-dimensional images across the world.
It’s all there at www.musion.co.uk/Cisco_TelePresence.html
The world’s first 3-D Holographic Teleconference
in Bangalore, with visitors from San Jose CA.
TOP TEN CLIMATE SOLUTIONS: #4: BECOME VEGETARIAN
This is the inconvenient truth that most people don’t want to touch. The reality is that the world’s livestock industry is responsible for up to 18% of the total problem – more than all the world’s transport. “How can this be?” you might ask. To understand, we have to remember there are several greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere – not just CO2 from fossil fuels. There is also methane (CH4) that traps 25 times more heat per molecule than CO2 over 100 years, and nitrous oxide (N2O) that traps 298 times more. The UN report Livestock’s Long Shadow teases apart why cattle, sheep and pigs are such a large cause of global warming.
First, some background data: there are 6.6 billion humans on Earth – and 20-30 billion livestock animals. 30% of the Earth’s land is used for livestock, and of the arable land that is suitable for farming, 33% is used to grow feed for livestock. It takes 2-10 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat.
The problem starts with CO2 from the burning forests to grow feed for livestock. 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is used for livestock pasture; the rest for feed crops, mostly soy (95% of global soy production is for animals). The burning releases 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 a year.
Then there is the fact that cows burp methane, as do buffaloes, sheep, and goats. 33% of the world’s methane comes from livestock, adding 2.2 billion tonnes when measured as CO2e.
Finally, when nitrogen fertilizer is applied to the land much of it escapes as nitrous oxide; it is also produced by animal manure. With a GWP of 298, this adds 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2e. The total comes to 7.1 billion tonnes, or 18% of the 40 billion tonnes of CO2e humans produce each year. A Japanese study suggested that each kilogram of beef is responsible for 36.4 kg of CO2e. Organic beef raised on grass produces 40% less CO2e. It is also healthier, since it contains good Omega 3 fatty acids, instead of harmful Omega 6 fatty acids that arise when cattle eat grain.
The solution is to adopt a far more vegetarian and vegan diet, and to reduce our consumption of beef, pork, lamb, and dairy. We need public education about the impact of livestock; carbon taxes that include methane and nitrous oxide; and an end to all government support for the livestock industry.
There’s an important footnote. Methane’s natural life in the atmosphere is 12 years. Its global warming potential (GWP) of 25 x CO2 is measured over 100 years purely as a statistical convenience. Methane’s GWP over 12 years is around 100 – four times more than we are allowing for. Over 12 years, which is what matters if we are to avoid the global tipping points, livestock’s methane produces 8.8 GT of CO2e, and its responsibility for global warming rises to 24% of the overall problem. Our hamburgers are far more harmful than our cars – which are also a big problem that we have to address.
Speaking of food, as the plants respond to the increasing daylight, it is season for Seedy Saturday, the community seed show that marks the start of the gardening year. One of the best ways to eat less meat is to grow more fruit and vegetables in your own garden, so that you will be tempted by their taste – and for that, you need good seeds. Salt Spring is on Feb 9th, Victoria Feb 16th, Mayne Island Feb 23rd, and Comox Valley March 1st (see Green Diary).
NEW VICTORY GARDEN
“All around the world people are questioning why a food chain that used to depend on sunshine for energy is now so overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels,’ says Carolyn Herriot. Beginning March 15, Carolyn will be teaching “12 Steps to Sustainable Home-Grown Food Production – An Organic Approach to Greater Self Sufficiency,” each Saturday at Glendale Gardens, Victoria.
Participants will learn all the basics on soil building, companion planting, composting, year-round crops, gourmet garlic, tasty tomatoes, organic pest and disease control, fruits and berries, backyard chickens, saving seeds and preserving the harvest. See www.hcp.bc.ca/victorygarden.html
The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values
Just when it seems that the BC government has said no to Light Rail Transit for Victoria, a proposal to upgrade the E & N tracks to allow for light rail from Langford to Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge is alive and well, costing less than $16 million to get a modern tram car on the tracks like the Bombardier Talent shown below. The line would start at Westhills, the 12,000 person community being developed in Langford using the LEED guidelines for green buildings and neighbourhoods.
Coming to a railway station in Victoria, soon?
Dick Faulks writes: “After 20 years of working toward seeing "rail" happen on this Island, today's article in the Times Colonist is a joy to behold. It is my prayer that this vision will receive the full support of all levels of government and the public. My sincere congratulations to those of C4CR (Communities for Commuter Rail) along with my prayers and good wishes for the success of this project.”
YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
As promised last month, here’s how to calculate your carbon footprint. You can do it yourself, or use a carbon calculator such as www.zerofootprint.net.
Meat: Each kilogram of beef produces 36 kg of CO2e; there are 9 ¼ pound hamburgers in a kilogram. The average Canadian meat-eater eats 250 grams of meat a day, or 91 kg a year. If this is all beef, it creates 3.3 tonnes of CO2. If it’s half beef and half other, call it 2 tonnes. Vegan diet - almost 0 tonnes.
Car mileage: Take the year’s distance travelled (eg 10,000 km), and use your car’s fuel efficiency to calculate how many litres of gas you burnt (eg 10 litres per 100 km = 1000 litres). Each litre produces 2.34 kg of CO2, so 1000 litres produce 2.34 tonnes of CO2.
Electricity: The average BC Hydro customer uses 10,000 kWh a year of electricity – your hydro bills will give you the total. BC’s electricity is 85% green, from hydro power, but when you switch to efficient light bulbs, BC Hydro does not turn down the dams – they turn down the imported power, which is a mixture of coal, gas and nuclear. So while your actual use of electricity is around 90 grams of CO2 per kWh (10,000 kWh = 900 kg of CO2) you can score any reductions you make at 600 grams of CO2 per kWh.
Oil Heating: Look at your oil bills, and calculate at 2.8 kg of CO2 per litre.
Natural Gas: Look at your gas bills, and calculate at 50 kg of CO2 per GJ.
Flights: Go to www.offsetters.ca and fill in the details for each flight – this will give your CO2 emissions.
Garbage: 1 bag of garbage = 10.5 kg of CO2e (transport + methane). 52 bags a year = 546 kg.
Total: When you have your total, you can offset it at $10 per tonne by helping families in developing world villages to replace their use of kerosene for lighting with solar electricity. Go to Solar Electric Light fund, www.self.org.
Set a Goal: In Ashton Hayes, Cheshire, England (pop’n 900), the villagers reduced their emissions by 20% after just one year’s collective effort. If we all did as they have, it would have a big impact as a demonstration of what’s possible. See www.goingcarbonneutral.co.uk
This is from the Auditor General’s website. It is an important federal resource that most of us don’t know about, and could benefit from using:
“The environmental petitions process was created almost eight years ago as a result of an amendment to the federal Auditor General Act. It is a formal way for Canadians to bring their concerns about environmental issues to the attention of federal ministers and obtain a response.
Citizens and organizations can ask ministers to explain federal policy, investigate an environmental problem, or examine their enforcement of environmental legislation by submitting an environmental petition in writing to the Auditor General of Canada.
The Commissioner oversees environmental petitions on behalf of the Auditor General of Canada. As of July 2004, the number of departments and agencies required to respond to environmental petitions has increased. Federal ministers who receive petitions are compelled to provide a response within 120 days.”
For the full details, see www.tinyurl.com/2rr757
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Here's good news: George W. Bush says that he is
committed to fighting global warming. Yeah, well, he nipped that in the bud,
didn't he? ... President Bush says
he's really going to buckle down now and fight global warming. As a matter of
fact, he announced today he's sending 20,000 troops to the sun.
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