Newsletter No. 63 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - July/August 1997
STAND BY FOR THE SOLAR
AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANTARCTIC
Drive a Car, Starve a Whale. Does that make sense
to you? It will soon, if the changes happening at the poles of our planet are any
indication of what's coming.
With the exception of a few who are sponsored by the oil
industry, the world's scientists have reached a consensus that the burning of fossil fuels
is responsible for the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the rising heat.
The planet is heating up faster than anytime in the last 10,000 years.
In the Arctic, the Mackenzie region is heating up 3 times
faster than Earth as a whole. The hamlet of Tuktoyakut, on the arctic coast, is caught
between the melting tundra and the rising sea, using sandbags to keep back the sea. Spring
is arriving a week earlier, and the warmer weather and melting permafrost are causing
mudslides and landslides throughout the Mackenzie Valley.
At the other end of the Earth, in the Antarctic, the
climate has warmed by 2.5C over the past 50 years. Wildflowers are blooming where they
were never seen before, and 21 colonies of Adelie penguin have become extinct because of
the decline of winter sea ice. Algae which grow under the ice are eaten by the krill,
which form a substantial part of the penguin's diet. And the whales, too.
That's just the start of it. The West Antarctic icesheet
is the world's last remaining marine ice-sheet which sits on the ocean floor, rather than
floating. 'Should this ice-sheet collapse or float free, as other marine ice-sheets have
done, global sea level would rise nearly six metres, which would inundate most of Florida
and hundreds of low-lying cities from Jakarta to London.' (Time Magazine, April 14th
This may be precisely what is happening. In the last 3
years, 3 ice shelves have broken off the Antarctic. If the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet
collapsed, the world would flood not in 100 years but in a matter of days, taking much of
the world's low-lying farm-land with it.
Previous concerns about global warming have focussed on
the increasing incidence of floods, droughts, hurricanes and other extreme weather events.
The world's insurance companies have woken up. During the 1980s, average losses from
weather-related disasters were $2 billion a year. In the 1990s, they are $12 billion a
year. "Global climatic change is here - it's happening right now. The scientific
evidence is in place. It is probably the single most important issue facing the world
today." (Kaj Ahlmann, CEO of Employers Re, 4th largest US reinsurance company, April
In response, the world's leaders are dickering about
whether a 5% or a 10% reduction in emissions will do. Ross Gelbspan, author of the
just-published Climate in Crisis, argues that we must phase out fossil fuel burning
entirely in 10 years, and replace it with climate-friendly renewable energy.
So roll in the solar revolution. The technology is in
place - solar voltaics, solar shingles, wind power, flywheel power storage systems,
solar/hydrogen fuel. All that is needed are the policies, and the will to make it happen.
Whoever gets there first gets the biggest piece.
The Japanese government has just launched the world's
biggest-ever initiative to kick-start the markets in solar photovoltaics. The Ministry of
International Trade and Industry will administer US $130 million in subsidies aimed at
putting solar PV roofs on 70,000 homes and offices by the year 2000. Following this
announcement, Sanyo, Canon and Mitsubishi all announced major expansions of their solar PV
The new British government has asked Jeremy Leggett,
Greenpeace's leading campaigner on climate change, to convene a high-level Solar Task
Force to prepare a blueprint for the rapid expansion of Britain's solar industry.
In Germany, the government pays solarvoltaic users 11
cents KwH for surplus energy, to allow for hidden subsidies to fossil fuels, and encourage
more rapid installation. (The market price for energy is 6 cents per KwH.)
The world is moving into action. Looking ahead, there are
no technical reasons why whole roads should not be paved with solarvoltaic cells, and
become a constant source of energy.
So what about Canada ? We are still beholden to the oil
industry, and Alberta voters. Even while Chretien is telling the UN Earth Summit that we
must have legally binding standards, the new energy minister is reassuring the oil patch
that nothing will change. Oh no ? We'll see about that.
The thing about the solar revolution that people don't
grasp is how liberating it will be. It will bring new jobs, and an economy which no longer
pollutes and destroys, with technologies in closer harmony with nature. And a mindset
based not on matter, but on light.
- Guy Dauncey
EcoNews is published as a monthly service to nourish the
vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community. It is funded by your
Many thanks to everyone for filling up the bank ! Marian
Bratt, Keith Lundmark, Ann McDonald, Ken Wardroper, Rick Hoogendoorn, Ray Travers, Roger
Smeeth, Brad Jarvis, Janet Hawkesley, Judith Carder, Alan Drengson, Jan Zwicky, Robert
Moore-Stewart, Geoffrey Mitchell, Sandra Ayer, Felix Lion, Anke Bergner, Andrew Best,
Peter Schofield, Gwynne Prodan, Nancy McMinn, Lois Gardner, Todd Wellman, Unlimited
Possibilities, Sharon Foster, Susan Gage, Dale Hitchcox, Tom Loring, Hank Schubart, Tom
Read, Don Shaw, Andrew van Iterson, Anne Brander, Green Foundation, Margaret Fear, Focus
on Women, Elisabeth Gibson, Cheryl Lumley, Josephine Berthier, James Whiteaker, Corey
Miller, Fran Thoburn, Compost Ed Centre, William Koch, Nancy Turner, Blaise Salmon, David
Turner, Joanne Manley, John & Lois Sprague, Susan Holvenstot, Diane Angus, Douglas
O'Brien, Audrey Woodward, Andrew Glen, RM Sutherland, Nikki Basuk, Gail Schultz, John
McMahen, Ed Tait, Coro Strandberg, Chris Garrett, Art & Marg Simons, Rob Lowrie, Julia
Roberts, Tonia Rushall, Aaron Rain, Andrea Tischhauser, Alan & Joan Greatbatch, Colin
Graham, Marya Nyland, Barbara Graves, Kathy Millar, David Rothkop, John Azar, Deryck
Thomson, Marianne Raedler, Lorena Mowers, Hope Wilk and Koraley Tylor.
To receive EcoNews by mail, call (250) 881-1304. By email,
it's firstname.lastname@example.org. . Donations
can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. Any envelopes with an old printed
address ? WE CAN USE THEM !
COHOUSING UNIT for Sale
1 bedroom suite in Cardiff Place Community
Cohousing, in Fairfield. Excellent location, 1 block from Moss St Market. On bus route.
Community recycling and composting. Secure bike parking, common laundry. Pet allowed.
$125,000 (250) 388-0902
THE GREEN DISC
Wow ! For $35 US, the Green Disc 'Guide to a Sustainable
Future' (Mac or IBM) gives you 232 full text reports, 563 Web sites, list servs &
CD-roms, 552 listing of books, videos and reports, and 377 networking contacts in these 4
areas : Ecological Building and Design; Organic and Sustainable Agriculture; Wood
Conservation and Alternative Fibers; Alternative and Clean Energy. Includes user interface
and search engine.
For a copy, send US cheque to Green Disc, PO Box 32224,
Washington DC 20007, or call 1-800-GRN-DISK email@example.com
The Walbran is till being clearcut in critical areas,
without any special protective status. One proposal by TimberWest (Fletcher Challenge)
would see the Walbran Park being cut in half by placing a clearcut in the middle of what
should be the park. If you want to help, call Sydney Haskell, Carmanah Forestry Society, (250) 381-1141.
MARINE ECOLOGY STATION
Tucked away in Cowichan Bay is one of Vancouver Island's
secrets - the Marine Ecology Station, run by the indefatigable Bill Austin. As well as
being open every day, the Station is running a wide range of summer marine courses :
Drawing and Painting in Sansum Narrows (July 26th, $20);
Marine Science Camps for 9-12 year olds (July 21-25, Aug 4-8, $70); Marine Science Camps
for 13-16 year olds (July 14-18, $70); Gulf Islands Marine Life trips to Portland Island
(July 5, 19th, Aug 2nd, $25) and marine cruises along Sansum Narrows (July 20th, Aug 3rd,
For details, call (250) 748-4522.
BURNSIDE GORGE MURAL
The Burnside Gorge Community Association is sponsoring a
mural by internationally acclaimed artist Frank Lewis, a native of Victoria, who painted 2
of the first murals in Chemainus. Located under the Gorge Rd bridge, the 3000 sq ft arch
spans Cecelia Ravine and the Galloping Goose Trail, and is one of the largest public art
projects in the city's recent history. Work has begun to prepare the site, and drawing and
painting will begin soon. Volunteers are needed to draw and paint, to sell T-shirts and
posters, and to do traffic control. If you can help, call Dean at 388-5251. And come on
down to see the work in progress !
THE RAINFOREST BUS
The Sierra Club's Rainforest Bus is rolling again this
summer, with an exciting new interpretive rainforest and clearcut display. The bus will be
in Victoria's Inner Harbour in July and August, with periodic trips to summer festivals
around the Island. Volunteer help is needed to decorate the interior, and hosts are needed
to talk to visitors. For details call Rob Thompson 480-4844, 386-5255
MASON ST URBAN FARM
Victoria's unique Urban Farm at 1038 Mason St is open for
tours every Saturday, 1-4pm - and volunteers are needed for farm chores and documentation.
Come and visit ! The farm will either close or be transformed this October 31st. To
register call Paul Winstanley 920-0257
For 5 days at the end of July, the Sunshine Coast will be
full of people talking, discussing, relaxing together and taking in workshops on topics
such as globalization, First Nations economics, community economic development, community
banking, housing land trusts, co-op development for women, creating non-profit
enterprises, sustainable urban development, ecoforestry, straw bale construction,
permaculture, bioregional mapping, popular theatre, medicine wheels, community art, youth
leadership and visioning the future (78 in all).
The cost is $90/day, and the deadline for registration is
July 11th. So if you're interested, call (250) 736-5576. There's also a youth eco-camp and
THE GARDEN PATH
ORGANIC WINTER VEGETABLE BEDDING PLANTS
Lettuce, broccoli, swiss chard, collards, cauliflower,
spinach, kohlrabi, oriental greens, cabbage and more! $1.50/pack Seed garlic $2.50/bulb
Sat & Sun August 9th & 10th, 10am - 5pm, at 395 Conway Road (off Foul Bay) For an
order list, call 592-4472
ECONEWS ECO-DEVELOPMENT SPECIAL
EcoNews has put together a special issue on
eco-development, consisting of back-issue stories and some new ones on traffic calming,
solar shingles, eco-transportation, Maryland's 'smart growth', car-free housing, flexible
regulations for greener development, etc and a full EcoDevelopment Resource Directory. If
you would like a copy, call Guy Dauncey at (250) 881-1304.
DUTCH GREEN GROWTH
In June, the Dutch government put forward a groundbreaking
package of proposals to decouple economic growth and environmental impacts and to shift
the national economy towards sustainable development. Drawn up jointly by four ministries
and endorsed by the whole cabinet, the plan outlines actions for all key sectors in the
The cabinet has approved CAN $185 million to fund projects
aimed at re-directing industry, services, agriculture, transport and other areas of
infrastructure towards sustainable development. Practical details will be worked out in
the third national environmental plan, to be published in November. A substantial fiscal
greening package will stimulate environmentally-friendly activities, and the government
will investigate ways to incorporate green elements into the national accounts.
Innovation and the potential for Dutch companies to grow
by competing on environmental grounds are central themes. The government wants to
negotiate a 'top of the world' protocol with energy-intensive industries, and for Dutch
firms to become the most energy efficient in the world. They pledge not to put additional
regulatory pressures on companies - though they may take action if sufficient progress is
not made. $73 million is to be spent on programmes to boost investment in financially
risky environmental projects and to make production and consumption more sustainable. $22
million will be spent on stimulating industry cooperation to develop clean technologies,
to 'close the loop' and to develop sustainable products and processes.
Transport is a key target of the package. The government
wants to increase the capacity of the existing transport infrastructure, partly by
encouraging modes of transport other than the car. Two eye-opening projects in the plan
are investment for underground freight transport systems and underground buildings.
Contact: Dutch Environment
Ministry Tel +31 70 339 3939.
FRENCH GREENS SUCCESS
In the recent French elections, using the proportional
representational system of voting, the Green Party
won 8 seats in the National Assembly, and became members of the ruling coalition
government. Their leader, Dominique Voynet, 38, is now Minister for Environment and
Regional Development in Cabinet. Now, if we only had proportional representation here in
Canada, we could have Joan Russow as Minister of the
Environment in Ottawa !
THE SLOCAN VALLEY CALLS FOR
Candace Batycki writes (edited) : The citizens of the
Slocan Valley have been around. We went to the CORE process. We went to Victoria with over
$4000 worth of value-added products made from one cedar tree to illustrate that we are
ready to create a real transition. We have a world-class alternative in the
Ecosystem-Based Plan for the Slocan Valley, designed by the Silva Forest Foundation. An
Angus Reid poll showed over 90% of Valley residents support the concepts underlying this
plan. Yet we are now facing a summer of potential civil disobedience : Slocan Forest
Products has never been closer to building logging roads into the sensitive watersheds of
the Slocan Valley.
Almost every watershed is threatened. The Slocan Valley is
full of steep, unstable slopes. The severe landslides we experienced this spring
illustrate the high levels of risk associated with industrial forest development in areas
like this. Reports predict hydrological disaster if cutting plans proceed as proposed.
The citizens of the Slocan Valley are being held hostage
to a corporate agenda which places profits well ahead of people, ecosystems and healthy,
diverse economies. Many of us believe that once Slocan Forest Products clearcuts our
watersheds they will leave town anyway. The trees in the watersheds are all they have
left, and they will cut and run.
We need your help. Water-user groups are preparing to
peacefully protest the road-building. Non-violence and peacekeeper training workshops have
been held, and the South Valley is planning a peace camp similar to the Clayoquot peace
camp where people can do non-violence trainings, learn about the issues and participate in
protests. Road construction could begin any day.
- Write to Premier Glen Clark with copies to Forest Minister
David Zirnhelt and Nelson-Creston MLA Corky Evans. Tell them you are disappointed that the
government refuses to heed the wishes of the people and negotiate with the Slocan Valley
Watershed Alliance towards implementation of a sustainable economy and ecology.
(Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC V8X 1M4)
- Send donations of materials, goods and money for the South
Valley peace camp. (Cheques to P.E.A.C.E., c/o Jivan Vasant RR #1, G-8, C-26 Winlaw BC V0G
- Prayers and good wishes help keep our spirits up and bring
change on unseen levels. Wednesdays 7-8pm have been designated as a time for meditation or
prayer for the forests and wildlife of the Slocan Valley.
- If you don't already live here, plan to spend some time in
the beautiful Slocan Valley this summer. We have a wonderfully diverse culture, great
organic food, a beautiful river and lake, incredible forests and alpine meadows, and the
best water in the world. Come prepared to camp and participate in the peace camp and
protests. SEE YOU SOON!
Contact : Kathy Loxam 250-359-7185 firstname.lastname@example.org and Candace Batycki
Doug Gow writes :
There's a group called Naturescape, and I'm one of their
ambassadors. All you need is a little space. It shows you what type of plants to put in
your garden to attract butterflies, birds, etc. It costs $20 to join and they send you all
the info on native plants, birdhouses for different species and ways to attract wildlife
to your yard.
If you're interested, call me at (250) 245-8651
(Ladysmith) and I'll send you a brochure and a membership form.
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS
Thinking about some summer reading ? Then check out New Society Publishers, of Gabriola. Their 1997
catalogue includes 'Ways We Live : Exploring Community' by Susan Berlin (accompanying the
recent TV series), 'Reworking Success' by Robert Theobald, 'EcoForestry', edited by Alan
Drengson and Duncan Taylor, 'Eco-City Dimensions', edited by Mark Roseland, 'Our
Ecological Footprint' by Bill Rees, 'Simplicity' by Mark Burch, and much more.
For a catalog, call 250-247-9737, or write to Chris and
Judith Plant, PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0. Happy reading !
for previous issues of EcoNews.
EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Available free by mail or email
Author of 'After the Crash : The
Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource