Newsletter #223 - April 2012
Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director
The Solutions Project


Living On the Titanic

April 1st, 2012

It is extremely disturbing to know that we are living on The Titanic, and that the iceberg lies somewhere ahead.

It seems there is no-one on the bridge, or if there is they are either drunk, or too busy worrying about their re-election prospects or their next bonus to see the signals, which are flashing emergency red in the Iceberg Ahead section of the controls:

WARNING: Your temperature is rising steadily due to the fossil fuels you’re burning, the forests you’re destroying, the cattle you’re raising and the methane you’re producing. On current trends your planet will be 3-4°C warmer in 88 years. PS: The last time your temperature was 3°C warmer, your sea level was 25 metres higher.

WARNING: Your Arctic ice is melting rapidly, releasing methane, which is pouring into your atmosphere.

WARNING: Your Amazon rainforest is in danger from drought and fire, caused by the warming. On your current track it will be dead in 88 years. PS: It is 100 million years old.

WARNING: The topsoil that you depend on for your food is being steadily lost to soil erosion, due to your deforestation and bad farming practices. PS: Many civilizations collapsed because they didn’t protect their topsoil.

WARNING: More than 70% of your fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or significantly depleted. 90% of your large fish such as tuna, swordfish, marlin and cod are gone.

WARNING: One of your largest nations has lost its ability to govern due to the systemic corruption of its governing class by big business.

WARNING: The top 1% of your people are accumulating far too much of your planet’s wealth, and stashing it away in private tax havens.

WARNING: Observations reveal a rise in fear and pessimism instead of the hope and determination you will need to persuade people to change course and avoid the iceberg.

It is also disturbing to see how easily we can be distracted by the latest entertainment, scandal on the dance floor, or the simple goings on in our personal lives, while the ship we are sailing on heads for destruction. The Occupy movement created a bit of a disturbance last fall, but they never got anywhere near the bridge, so life goes on, with bigger bonuses for the captains and officers.

How are we going to get the ship to change direction, before it is all too late? I’m ignoring those who say it’s already too late; they are part of the problem, since they contribute nothing of any value and undermine the motivation to do anything.

The passengers need to change the captain and crew, and take control. That much is obvious. But how? That’s the question, especially since many passengers don’t accept that there’s a problem and are still enjoying the sumptuous buffet. Look – swordfish and shark fin soup on the menu!

So, we have a three-fold task:

The first is to continue to raise the alarm bells, to warn everyone about the emergency of the looming iceberg.

The second is to be absolutely confident that we can chart a new course that will lead to a prosperous, green sustainable world, instead of to disaster. If our fellow passengers see no hope, we’ll never be able to motivate them to help us change course.

This means we must be very well schooled in how we can feed ourselves, and obtain the energy and resources we need for a sustainable civilization, while doing so in a way that is in harmony with Nature and in cooperation with all our other passengers, instead of doing so selfishly and aggressively at their expense, which is what got us here.

So now we know the problem, we know where we need to be going, and we are confident that we can get there. These are the preconditions for leadership.

Our third task must be to organize ourselves so that everyone has a task, and a team we are attached to which is working on part of the solution. Some are working to protect the rainforests; some to make all the world’s farms organic; some to build a new economy and a new system of banking.

So far, I doubt that even a handful of passengers have found themselves such a place. In World War II, the last time we mobilized on this scale, almost everyone found a way to contribute.

So maybe our real challenge is still to instill the confidence that success is possible, that we can build a green, sustainable world in which we can raise their children safely and find meaningful work, not just for some but for all. When people see that clearly, there’ll be no shortage of volunteers. When people see only disaster and no solution it’s natural to want a lifeboat, whether it’s a survivalist retreat or a self-sufficient transition community.

Helen Keller, the Alabama girl born in 1880 who lost her sight and speech before she was two and who went on to become such an incredible speaker, author and activist for change wrote that,

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."

That’s the kind of spirit we need – a resolute belief that we can take control of our ship and set a new course away from the iceberg, towards a far better future.

- Guy Dauncey


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It’s all happening on the big Earthday weekend, April 20th – 22nd, so best mark your diary now. It starts on Friday night with the kick-off of the new Creatively United For The Planet Festival, with a great evening party.

On Saturday, the celebratory Earth Walk goes the Leg to Centennial Square for an afternoon of science, poetry and activism. That ends in time to head over to Fairfield for Creatively United for the Planet’s big afternoon with Canada’s treasure Ann Mortifee, flutist Paul Horn, a multimedia presentation by photo-activist Garth Lenz and music by Holly Arntzen and the Gettin' Higher Choir. Then you’ve a choice between staying for a Funky eco-Fashion Show or heading up to Sidney where Elizabeth May MP, Robert Bateman, Arthur Black and others are celebrating an Oil-Free Coast for Earthday at the Mary Winspear Centre.

And the fun’s not over yet. On the Sunday afternoon, after the Saanich Cycling Festival, Creatively United returns with a keynote by Robert Bateman and a John Lennon Tribute Concert. Give Earth a chance!



The Arctic Methane Emergency Group is ringing all the alarm bells. The ice-melt is accelerating, and there’s a possibility that the entire Arctic could be ice-free as early as September 2013.

The cause for alarm is a recent catastrophic release of methane into the atmosphere. Last fall, a researcher witnessed escaping plumes from ocean-bed methane hydrates up to a kilometre across, far greater than any previous estimates. Over 20-years, methane traps over 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide, so there’s every reason to be ringing the emergency bells.

Intervention on a large scale is needed to avert the ultimate catastrophe of runaway global warming. No amount of adaptation or insulation could make that survivable. The scientists want governments to take urgent rapid measures to reduce short-lived climate forcers such as methane and black carbon (soot); soot on the ice speeds the melting, since it has very low albedo and absorbs heat instead of reflecting it back into space.

If as little as 1% of the methane hydrates escape, it would increase the atmospheric methane burden by 3-4 times. If there’s anything you can do to ring the emergency bells, please do. You can find more details at

Emergency intervention to stabilize Arctic sea ice and thereby Arctic methane is today a matter of our survival.” - Arctic Methane Emergency Group



26°C in Winnipeg, and no winter snow in Toronto. Just weird weather, right? Well, no. Not when Ham Weather reports no fewer than 6,895 records in one week in March America – some towns being 30 to 45 degrees F warmer than average; “ off-the-scale, freakishly warm”. Since Mar 1st there have been 13,393 daily heat records - 16 times more than daily cold records.



So what is Canada doing, faced with the looming climate catastrophe? Bring on the tar sands, and the Enbridge Pipeline to deliver oil to China, since oil producers can get a higher price there. I have just watched an incredible documentary called On the Line made by two people who biked, hiked, rafted and kayaked the entire 2,400 km length of the proposed pipeline, talking to people along the way. (That’s one in a river crossing).

It really brings it into focus to see the lie of the land where the oil would travel, and the treacherous waters that would be traversed by two massive supertankers every week. When a map of the oil pollution caused by the Exxon Valdez pipeline is transplanted onto the BC coast, it shows oil pollution reaching from the tip of Vancouver Island all the way to the Alaska panhandle.

I urge you to watch it. It’s $25 from, and if you invite your friends to a showing you can follow it with letter writing to the Review Panel or phone calls to the Prime Minister’s office. Moved to stop the pipeline, a group of young people is organizing a big Rise Up Against Enbridge Rally in Victoria on Sunday April 15th, followed by workshops. See Green Diary. I’ll be there. See



It is essential that we spend more time talking about solutions, and not just go on about how bad everything is.

If we didn’t need the oil, we wouldn’t need the pipeline. It’s as simple as that. In the March EcoNews, I pointed you to Transportation without Oil, an illustrated presentation I have created at

This month I want to point you to an interview with Hans-Josef Fell, the German Green politician who is one of the architects of the Feed-In Tariff, which has lifted Germany’s renewable electricity use to 20%.

Hans-Josef is now saying they can get to 50% by 2020 and 100% by 2030, using maybe 40-50% wind, 30-40% solar and a mixture of other sources. One of the arguments against renewable energy has always been its lack of base-load power to keep things going when the wind’s not blowing. He argues that we need to abandon the concept of peaking and base-load power and move to a model of flexible and inflexible energy sources using a smart grid with storage in batteries, hydro pumps and maybe green hydrogen, switching off the base-load suppliers of coal, gas and nuclear.

What would it cost? To continue with conventional fossil and nuclear fuels would cost the world $200 trillion by 2030. To change to renewables would cost $100 trillion. There would be a short-time price increase, but in the long-term the price would fall, since solar and wind are becoming cheaper, while fossil fuels and nuclear can only get more expensive.

See 100% by 2030. Let’s remind ourselves and everyone we talk to that it’s possible.



It is important to know the enemy, and to be under no illusions as to how they work. In the US, there is huge anger brewing about the murder of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager who was shot by a vigilante in Florida. The police refused to bring any charges, since under Florida's Stand Your Ground law it is considered legal to shoot someone you consider to be threatening.

So how did Florida come to have such a crazy law? Here is where the story gets interesting, for laws of this kind are being pushed by big corporations in an organized drive to bring right-wing legislation to America. The Florida legislators were sent the template for the law the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC,, which is funded by Exxon, the notorious coal industry Koch brothers, and so on.

ALEC's goal is to provide fully-drafted bills to state legislators pursuing conservative goals such as union-busting, undermining environmental protection, creating tax breaks for corporations, and promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote.

You think I am making this up? ALEC is also close with the National Rifle Association, which has a vested interested in making it legal for gun-owners to kill people without being prosecuted. Are Canadian politicians on ALEC's books? No word of it yet. To learn more, see



If you’re a cyclist, plan on going to Salt Spring on June 21st – 23rd when the island will be bicycle heaven in the run-up to the global cycling conference in Vancouver on June 26-29th. Salt Spring’s Velo-Village is an official pre-conference event.



If you live in a condo or rental apartment, and you want to grow food, check out Windowfarms, a system for growing hydroponic food in your window, good for a salad a week, that’s being developed collaboratively by young people around the world. See



Upset about genetically modified food? Now you can perform a public service yourself, since the government refuses to label GM ingredients. If you go to www.labelityourself.orgyou can download a label and find instructions on how to print them, ready for your act of public service in a local store. See also



The Occupy Movement is putting down roots, supported by 40 key movement leaders. In the week of April 9-15 “we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to train ourselves in non-violent action and join together in the work of reclaiming our country.” It’s not happening in Canada as far as I can see, but there’s still time if an organization is willing to organize a training. See



On Saturday May 5th is organizing a Climate Impacts Day to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather. All around the world, people will be holding rallies and events, holding up a huge dot on a white banner, so that globally, we can connect the dots. Can you organize an event? See



The Conservatives aim to gut one of the strongest environmental laws in the country by weakening the habitat protections in Section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

Why? To fast track approval of the Enbridge Pipeline, ramming the change through in the budget omnibus bill.

Fin Donnelly, MP, who is Official Opposition Critic for Fisheries & Oceans, has created a petition you can sign, and when you’ve done you’ll get a link to download a paper petition that your friends can sign, which Fin can then present in the House of Commons.


(1)Sign the petition at

(2) Sign the petition from West Coast Environmental Law and many others urging the federal government to stop weakening the environmental laws that keep communities safe from toxic chemicals, and that safeguard our air, water, land and species at risk. Sign at

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