EcoNews
Newsletter #216 - September 2011
Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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Contact EcoNews

Guy Dauncey, Editor
13561 Barney Road, Ladysmith, BC
CANADA V9G 1E9
Tel (250) 924-1445
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director
The Solutions Project

Editorial

THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE: 101 SOLUTIONS

We know how to tackle the climate crisis.

The technologies, the policies, the lifestyle changes - most are already being implemented somewhere on our planet. All that we lack is the political will, so that they might be implemented everywhere, and much more rapidly.

I say this with some confidence, having just spent two years researching and writing The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, which will be in bookshops by mid to late November. (New Society Publishers)

The warnings were grim nine years ago, when I wrote my first book - Stormy Weather - on the topic. They are even grimmer today.

Due to our continuing use of fossil fuels, our continuing destruction of the tropical rainforests, our continuing consumption of beef, and our continuing pollution of the atmosphere with black carbon from dirty diesel and open-air cook stoves, we are on track to a 6ºC temperature rise by the end of the century, causing the collapse of human civilization and most ecosystems.

The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has risen from 280 to 388 parts per million since the start of the Industrial Age, is also making the world’s oceans more acidic, threatening the death of the coral reefs. They may only occupy 0.17% of the ocean’s surface area, but they provide habitat for a quarter of all marine life. Ponder that, and let it sink in. This is just one reason why 350 is so important, as the level of CO2 we need to return to.

In the face of such a threat, how does one even sleep? Some people do not, when they learn what’s really happening.

The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global WarmingThe analogy with Churchill, who hired private statisticians to go to Germany in the 1930s to get accurate information on what Hitler was really up to, is very apt. Our climate scientists are giving us due warning of what faces us, and we need not to sleep, if it means we will start the next day with a new commitment to ensure that our children - and all future generations - will still have a world to enjoy.

What matters is not whether we feel optimistic or pessimistic, but whether we feel defeated or determined.

If we feel defeated we become part of the problem, for negativity kills creativity - and we need to be highly creative in the actions we dream up, like the October 24th International Day of Climate Action that Bill McKibben dreamed up, when people in 181 countries took part in 5200 incredible actions. Treat yourself to the feast of photos at www.350.org, and your heart will be warmed by the strength of commitment they show.

We already know what to do. This is the joyous part of the climate movement, for just as the hope of peace on Earth is deeply evocative, so is the hope of a world that no longer needs fossil fuels, that loves and respects its forests and farmlands, and where neighbours live together in thriving communities, growing their own organic food and raising their children on safe streets among people they trust.

As to the specifics, the book contains solutions for individuals, schools, colleges, churches, cities, businesses, farms, transport companies, utilities, governments, developing nations, and the world as a whole. It’s all there in a very accessible format, with photographs and websites for follow-up.  For those who wonder, it completely replaces Stormy Weather, with 100% new text.

At the book’s website, www.theclimatechallenge.ca, as well as being able to buy the book, you will find a free Teachers Guide, a Climate Action Circles Guide, a Climate Scorecard for governments, a list of over 300 powerful climate quotes, and free sample solutions.

To mark the book’s publication, the BC Sustainable Energy Association has a special offer: if you become a member as a $10 monthly donor or more, we will thank you by sending you a free signed copy - you will find the details at www.bit.ly/climatechampions. I have set this up because alongside other great NGOs, the BCSEA is doing sterling work to tackle the climate crisis.

So why are things so slow to change? One answer is because the climate denial movement has become much better organized, its coal and oil-funded leaders having no qualms about using lies to argue that global warming is a myth, as James Hoggan’s new book Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming shows so clearly.

For those who don’t want our civilization to evolve, including Canada’s government in Ottawa, or who hate government so much they’d rather believe global warming to be a myth than accept new policies, the denial industry gives them all they need.

We have so much to do - but as soon as we start to act, despair lifts and determination returns. That’s the way we’re designed - to act, to love, to hope, to sing. So all together now - ACT!

- Guy Dauncey

PS: On Tuesday November 17th, there will be a HUGE Climate Information Night and Rally COUNTDOWN TO COPENHAGEN at the Victoria Conference Centre, 724 Government St with speakers Andrew Weaver, Elizabeth May and Guy Dauncey. Organized by the Green Climate Committee, and the goal is to attract 1,000 people, to send a really strong and urgent message to Ottawa. Everyone, please come! greenclimatecommittee@gmail.com.


Guy Dauncey has been the Editor and publisher of EcoNews since 1991. He is also President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association.

The Eco-Personals

$1.00 a word. Max 5 lines; non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50


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


Lovely room to rent, close to ocean, downtown, $30/night, 250-382-3810


Holding space... bearing witness to the blasting of the little sister of Moss Rock. Every Wednesday at noon at Moss Rock Park. Call Marianne Sämann-Wyss, 250 382-3582

Green Bites

19 BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Last month, we featured the first 12 “Breakthroughs for the 21st Century” that Britain’s Sustainable Development Commission thought the strongest in their ability to create some kind of shift in the next three to five years. Here are the other 7 ideas. There is a video on all 19 ideas here: http://bit.ly/nXQeg

13. CAP AND SHARE
This is a new idea in the carbon taxes vs. “cap and trade” debate. In the proposed scheme, permits are created that fossil fuel producers must buy before they are allowed to sell their fuel, and every year, the number of permits is reduced. They are issued to every citizen, who can either sell them to a fossil fuel producer, or decide not to, in which case that much CO2 is removed from the annual account. This puts a price on carbon, and also imposes a hard cap. This idea needs more airtime! See www.capandshare.org

14. KYOTO 2
This is another climate solutions proposal. “Kyoto 2” would define a steadily declining global cap on carbon emissions, and control the emissions ‘upstream’ at the oil wellhead or coal mine. Emissions permits up to the cap would be sold in an open worldwide auction, subject to a reserve price. The income, some $1 trillion a year or 1.5% of the global economy, would be invested in climate solutions and adaptation, with special emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable. This requires a high level of global organization, but makes enormous sense. See www.kyoto2.org

Personal carbon budget card15. PERSONAL CARBON BUDGETS
The idea here is that every individual is given a Personal Carbon Budget with an electronic card that records each purchase of fossil fuel. If you live within your budget you’ll have spare quota you can sell; if you exceed it you’ll need to buy more to cover your excess. It sounds fine in principle, but success would depend on public support, a solid IT foundation that could not be cheated or corrupted, and a simple management structure that does not need a million bureaucrats to administer it. It is being trialed in Britain by Sustainability South West with 1900 supporters, at an initial annual budget of 3.9 tonnes per person (compared to Canadians at 19 tonnes). See www.fairsharesfairchoice.com

16. GREEN BONDS
Green bonds are designed to raise capital for energy efficiency projects and low carbon energy generation. When a building that uses oil or gas for heat is upgraded for greater efficiency, there’s a 4-7% return on the investment. Green Bonds allow individuals to invest in climate solutions, backed by a government guarantee. A version for institutions might have 15 years maturity and a fixed interest rate; individuals 5 years maturity and a market interest rate. This is really needed, and needs to be included in all government budgets.

17. THE ROYAL BANK OF SUSTAINABILITY
This idea is specific to Britain, and any other country where the government has been forced to bail a bank out with public money. As a result of its careless gambling habits, 90% of the Royal Bank of Scotland is now owned by the state, but run with a “hands off” approach. The idea is for the government to become much more “hands on”, converting the bank into one that invests in a sustainable low carbon future, from large transport and industrial projects to green loans for households. See www.carbonweb.org

18. A TRULY SUSTAINABLE LABOUR MARKET
This idea is to regenerate deprived areas by building a low-carbon sustainable community, generating a host of green collar jobs in building upgrades, growing food, community renewal projects, etc. There’s plenty of work to be done - it just needs a focused effort including local governments, labour unions and private contractors. In Britain, leadership is coming from www.groundworks.org.uk. In the US, it’s coming from Green for All (www.greenforall.org). In Canada, there’s a gaping black hole….

19. ALGAE CAPTURE AND SEQUESTRATION
You may be familiar with “carbon capture and storage”, by which coal, oil and gas companies propose to capture their CO2 emissions and store them underground. It has never made much sense, financially or ecologically. This is a lot smarter. Instead of burying it, you pass the CO2 through a series of bioreactors in which light, nutrients and seawater encourage different kinds of algae to grow quickly, absorbing the carbon. You then use the algae to make biofuel, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, and mix the residual biomass with organic wastes to create useful biogas and compost. You’re still using fossil-source CO2, but the multiple products offset other more polluting forms of energy, while giving the CO2 producer an income stream to offset the costs. If the approach is used to capture CO2 from a biomass plant, you get carbon-negative energy, where the more you use, the more emissions fall. There are several companies working on this technology, including in Vancouver.

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GARRY OAKS ARE US

From the grand to the local. Here in Victoria, the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team has completed another busy year, working hard to ensure that our much-treasured Garry oak ecosystems survive and thrive in face of the many pressures they face. Just look at this list: in 2008-9 GOERT’s staff and 80 volunteers have:

  • Contacted more than 160 landowners with species at risk on their land; 52 species at risk surveys were completed.

  • Contacted 10 local governments about species at risk in their areas, and held three workshops for their staff.

  • Been in touch with 5 local First Nations, and held a workshop for 50 student, teachers, land managers and elders in the Cowichan Tribes.

  • Met with numerous developers and local governments on tree protection bylaws, development proposals, Official Community Plans, transmission line and road developments, always advising and helping on how to protect more Garry oak habitat and species at risk.

  • Western bluebirdQuickly installed 6 nest boxes in two City of Victoria parks in response to neighbourhood sitings last winter of the western bluebird, which they thought had vanished locally. Welcome back, bluebirds!

  • Completed Native Plant Propagation Guidelines for 72 local native species , that are available for anyone to use at www.goert.ca/propagation - includes Garry oak, Doug fir and arbutus trees.

  • Been praised by the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects for The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook - a great gift for anyone with oaks. www.goert.ca/at_home_garryoak_gardener.php

All this work continues - as does that of the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society, which has just celebrated 17 years of service. Now is the time to be planting acorns. They germinate rapidly in warm moist conditions, take ten years to grow to a metre in height, and can become huge. So plant wisely! Many thanks to both societies for your important and much-valued work.

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Patricia Lane* -  Lawyer/Mediator
Finding common ground for over 20 years.
Mediated agreements are cheaper, faster and much easier on relationships.
250-598-3992
plane@patricialane.bc.ca

*denotes law corp.

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IN THE HEART OF FAIRFIELD

Building community in the neighbourhoods where we live is one of the most valuable things we can do. In the heart of Fairfield, neighbours who met at the Chapman/Linden Street Party in September 2008 want to take things further and create a strong Moss Street Village. They hope to create:

  • A stronger sense of community, with more block parties, potlucks, and seasonal celebrations;

  • Improved safety, through traffic calming and crime prevention;

  • Joint stewardship of common areas - boulevard and community gardening, creating public and art benches;

  • More renewable energy, alternative transport, and local purchasing;

  • More local food production, neighbourly sharing, and earthquake preparedness;

  • Improved access to affordable housing through secondary suites, small-suit ‘eco-villas’ and co-ops;

  • More opportunities for youth, including art, recreation and business.

Do you live nearby? Contact mossvillage@gmail.com or 920-7826.

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Island Family Counselling Centre
Sheri Hohert, MSW, RSW, RCC
Individuals, Couples, Families
#130-1105 Pandora, Victoria
www.islandfamilycounselling.com
250-598-0544

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MADRONA FARM - FINAL PUSH!

The Land Conservancy is entering the final push to save Madrona Farm in the Blenkinsop Valley, so that this jewel of a farm can be assured a permanent future. Thanks to many donations, a pledge from the Farmlands Trust, and the success of the 2nd Annual Island Chefs’ Survival, TLC is on its way to success, but help is needed to raise the remaining $857,000 by January 2010.  If you can, please donate to Madrona Farm today! 250-479-8053

Action of the Month

THE CRD PARKS LEVY

Back in 2000, the elected Directors of our Capital Regional District voted to establish a Land Acquisition Fund, financed by a $10 annual levy on every household. This raises $1.7 million a year, which, by working with partners such as TLC who put in 38% of the purchase price, has been used to safeguard 2,958 hectares of regionally significant green space, valued at $27.8 million.

The levy ends in December, and it’s really important that we tell our elected CRD Directors that we want to see it renewed - and increased to $15 or $20 per household because of the increasing price of land. On Wed Nov 18th, at 9:30am, the CRD Parks Committee will discuss and vote on a renewal; it’s open to the public, so please attend if you can. To speak to the Parks Committee, see http://bit.ly/3cNlQq

Action:

There are 23 Directors, and they each need to hear from us. If you write a short letter, you can cut and paste it into the CRD’s web-based email system for each Director here: www.crd.bc.ca/about/board/directors

The Wonderful World of Web
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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
guydauncey@earthfuture.com

Deadline for April issue March 24th

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