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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 68 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - January 1998


THE MESSAGE FROM NAURU  - 'LET'S JUST DO IT !'

This is an extract from the speech of Kinza Clodumar, President of the Republic of Nauru, to the Kyoto conference on Climate Change held recently in Japan. Nauru is a tiny independent island state in the Pacific Ocean, on the equator, far to the west of Vancouver Island.

"...For more than five thousand years, my people have inhabited what the ancient mariners called 'Pleasant Island.' Rain forests once abounded on Nauru, anchored by the Tomano tree and decorated by hanging orchids. Hundreds of bird species, including our treasured Noddy bird, made Nauru their home.

But the twentieth century has not been gentle with our island. First we lost our land; eighty percent of my country has been destroyed by phosphate mining, initiated by colonial powers. Although restitution has been paid, in place of the green rain forest there are now gray tombstones of fossilized coral that remain after the phosphate was removed. My people have been confined to the narrow coastal fringe that separates this wasteland from our mother the sea.

And now we face a new threat. The emission of greenhouse gases in distant lands is warming the Earth and causing the sea level to rise. The coastal fringe where my people live is but two meters above the sea surface. We are trapped, a wasteland at our back, and to our front, a terrifying, rising flood of biblical proportions.

Our plight is not unique. In the Pacific alone, four other island countries face destruction unless global warming is arrested. Our island brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Indian Oceans face the same desperate plight.

Throughout the world, the story is the same; island countries are on the front lines of the global climate catastrophe.  Indeed, all countries with low-lying coastal areas share our vulnerability to the rising sea.

Mr. President, we submit respectfully that the willful destruction of entire countries and cultures with foreknowledge would represent an unspeakable crime against humanity. No nation has the right to place its
own, misconstrued national interest before the physical and cultural survival of whole countries. The crime is cultural genocide; it must not be tolerated by the family of nations. The crime is no less when it is perpetuated slowly by the emission of invisible gases.

Mr. President, my plea is not merely an urgent request on behalf of island nations and cultures; it is also a heartfelt warning to the entire family of nations. Small Island States provide not only a moral compass; we are also a barometer of broader visitations wisely heeded by all. Unchecked climate change would cause untold human and ecological misery not just in our remote island countries, but everywhere on Earth.

Already drought has afflicted much of the world of late, and caused raging brush fires. Recent studies by the World Resources Institute and the US Environmental Protection Agency project nearly a million deaths a year from the pollution coupled with greenhouse gas emission, mainly in developing countries.

Mr. President, island countries are the microcosm of which all other countries are the macrocosm. Unchecked climate change promises not only our destruction, but pestilence, disease and famine everywhere on Earth for all
living things. These are the certain bitter fruits of inaction on our part in Kyoto... Let us create a Kyoto Protocol that we can show proudly to our children. Let us take action, effective action, prompt action, here in Kyoto, without reservation, without delay, for now and forever.  Let's just do it !

Thank you, Mr. President."

*****

So there we have it. The temperature of the air at ground level has been warming slowly but steadily since 1880; the ten warmest years have all occurred since 1980. When heat is trapped, 20% warms the atmosphere while 80% produces increased evaporation, coming down as rain. Total worldwide precipitation has increased during the past century - we've just had the wettest year on record here in B.C.. Globally, the past 10 years have seen ten times as many catastrophic floods as the previous decade.

There are plenty of solutions to this conundrum of climate change, and many of them begin with us. Now that the treaty is signed, we need a new kind of thinking - Nauru thinking - for each time we get into the car or turn up the heating. "Is this what it's worth ?"  - we'll need to ask - "the loss of these islands, these cultures ? Is this what my life is about ?" The rainforest, the hanging orchids and the Noddy birds, and the Nauruan people, are calling to us.

- Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

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Many thanks to Penny Colville, Fran Grady, Sue Beasley, Olive Boorman, Robert Mazerole, Stefan Ochman, Aaron Smeeth, Daphne Wheeler, A.Ioannides, Unlimited Possibilities, Jessica Alford, Ira Robinson & Alan Austin.

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. If you don't want to receive EcoNews, or are going away, please let us know - it avoids wasting the postage. To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304, or email guydauncey@earthfuture.com

Our apologies to all who missed the December issue - with the postal strike, we chose to distribute by hand. If you would like a copy, just let us know and we'll mail you one. (250) 881-1304


AROUND TOWN

If you haven't seen the new ZOOM Magazine, look out for it ! It's a great addition to Victoria's cultural and intellectual life, and helps fill the hole caused by the Times Colonist's gradual decline into a tabloid. The current issue includes a great interview with Michael Williams, owner of Swans, and his vision for an pedestrian urban oasis brimming with colour on Broad St. If you are not getting ZOOM delivered, call 388-7231 to locate one. Congratulations, folks. Long may you publish !

The Victoria Car-Share Co-operative has bought a 3rd vehicle, a family van, to celebrate the full opening of the Fernwood group. How else can you share in the ownership of a new Toyota car, a truck, a van and a sailing boat - while saving money at the same time ? If you're intrigued, call (250) 995--0265.

Coming up in February, there's a St Valentine's Celebration at the Kaleidoscope Playhouse organized by Wally du Temple for everyone involved in social and environmental transformation (so book Feb 14th in your diaries!) and a hands-on weekend Strawbale Building Workshop (date and place to be announced), costing $200 per person organized by the GAIA Project. To pre-register, call Kathryn at 995-0225.


TRAFFIC CONGESTION : EDINBURGH'S SOLUTION

Wherever you go, the volume of traffic does nothing but increase, pumping out greenhouse gases as people drive. Solving the problem of traffic is becoming the late 20th century's equivalent to the late 19th century's struggle to solve the problem of raw sewage running in the streets.

In Scotland, the City of Edinburgh plans to introduce Britain's first road-pricing scheme. If the plans go ahead, motorists will pay $4 at a tollbooth or roadside microwave scanner as they enter the city, or leave their cars in a secure car park and continue their journey by cheap, high speed trains and buses. In the five years leading up to the scheme's launch, the City will borrow from the private sector to improve public transport and re-open an abandoned railway line, financing the loan from future toll incomes. (UK Observer, June 29th). Edinburgh is also planning to build 121 car-free homes 2.5 km from the city centre.

The city of York, meanwhile, has developed a road-user hierarchy which puts pedestrians first and car users last. 40 streets in the town centre have been pedestrianized and 20% of all journeys are now by bike (against 1% nationally); and get this - road casualties have fallen by 46% in 7 years.

Across the English Channel, a car-free development for 1,500 people that was to have been built at Hollerland, outside Bremen, has collapsed. The organizer of the Bremen Stadt-Auto car-sharing co-op said "Everyone was very sorry  it didn't work out. Perhaps the conditions were too tough - people had to promise they would never have a car." A mini-version called Grunenstrasse with 25 car-free housing units is up and running, and a 220 unit car-free project is being developed at Saarlandstrasse, in Hamburg. (European, Sept 20th '97)


SOCIAL INVESTMENT

The RRSP season is approaching, when the financial companies compete to tell us how well they will invest our money. But how much do they know about socially and environmentally responsible funds ? For most, the answer is not much. Each time we invest, we support some kind of economic activity with our money. On Tue Jan 20th, Brian Pinch of Midland Walwyn will be speaking about socially responsible investment (see Diary), and if you want to get ahead of the game, you can buy the Social Investment Directory for $20 from the Social Investment Organization, 366 Adelaide St. E., Ste 443, Toronto M5A 3X9; fax (416) 360-6380  email sio@web.net


REGIONAL GROWTH

This is the year when the development framework will be laid down for Victoria's future. The wheels are already rolling, and it's essential that people get involved. If you are not on the 'Foundations for Our Future' mailing list, call 360-3288. On Wed Jan 14th, the consultants' report on the Regional Summit will be presented to the CRD Board, and the public is invited to attend (Boardroom, 524 Yates St). The results will form the basis of the draft 'Framework document' for the Regional Growth Strategy that is expected early in 1998. Meanwhile, the Blue/Green Spaces Strategy produced by CRD Parks (with lots of public input) has been approved as a planning tool and guideline in the growth strategy process. Several implementation steps were also approved, including a newsletter to residents on the Blue/Green Strategy, and the creation of a land trust information coordination office.


GREEN DEVELOPMENT

Attention all architects, planners, developers and engineers ! Hot off the presses is a major new book packed full of up-to-date examples of 'Green Development - Integrating Ecology and Real Estate' (John Wiley & Sons, $49.95 US). Written by staff from the Rocky Mountain Institute, the examples cover everything from energy and water efficiency to ecological site planning, approvals, financing, construction and marketing, and it comes complete with details of 27 projects, resource listings and a checklist for environmentally sustainable design, down the details of tree protection and construction phase activities. Compared to other books, it's expensive, but not compared to the cost of unsustainable developments.

"Green Development puts sustainability into the real world, demonstrating convincingly that development and architecture are undergoing dramatic breakthroughs in design and application. Read this to be hopeful, apply it to be helpful, give it to anyone who manages buildings and land - the built environment will never be the same."    Paul Hawken


VOLUNTEERS

The heart of the Wilderness Committee

Dedicated volunteers wanted for help with reception and sales in our store and office.  Help us protect the wild plants and animals in the Sooke Hills, Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt. Contact Jessica, 388-9292


BUCK HILL

Rocks alive with intricate patterns of
   mosses and lichens
Magical kingdoms in minuscule,
   flowering prehistoric meadows
Carpets on rocks inches thick
Wildflower bulbs in wait of spring
Manzanita as tall as me
In the mist, the forest is magic
Massive twisted Douglas firs
Some of the last fragments of this ancient
   forest
Part of the greenbelt sea-to-sea

Today, a sunny winter solstice day
Atop Mt. Maguire in East Sooke Park
Mountains, ocean, forest, sky- inspiration

I hope for the future of wild species and
   places
The sea-to-sea greenbelt is that hope.

- Jessica Snider


AN ISLAND OF TRAILS

Can you picture it ? An entire network of off-road trails criss-crossing the Island; a 30-day hike from Sooke to Cape Scott. One day, all this will come about, but first, there is a small but very significant obstacle that has to be overcome - and it needs our help. Almost all the land from Victoria to Campbell River is in private ownership, but under the Occupiers Liability Act, private land-owners are in a difficult position with regard to liability. All that is needed to change this - and to open up thousands of kilometers of already existing trails to public use - is a small amendment to the Act, viz. "PERSONS ENTERING LAND WITHOUT PAYMENT FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES BE DEEMED TO DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK." (A similar amendment has already been passed in Ontario). The Shawnigan Trails Committee is pushing to get this amendment onto the legislative agenda for the spring session, and are asking organizations and individuals to let them list their names, addresses and phone numbers as supporters in principle. The deadline for this to happen is January 15th - so please call George Norris at (250) 743-9234, or fax your support in principle to (250) 743-4912.


NOTICE

EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !


Click here 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)

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