Newsletter No. 69 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - February 1998
COSMOS TO EARTH:BUILD A GREEN ECONOMY!
Underneath the prosperity and apparent ease
of our North American way of life, there lies a dark and forboding secret : we are
gradually eating away at the bowels of our own ecological existence.
Our life, along with all creation, has
evolved from and is totally dependent on the Earth's incredible ecosystem, from the
forests to the atmosphere, from the ocean currents to the currents of the immune system
that run through our bodies.
Ecology is the youngest science - the one we
know least about. We gloried in unraveling the mysteries of physics and chemistry, and
went on to build our society and economy on their foundations. Little did we realize, when
we started burning oil, that it would destabilize the planet's very atmosphere. Little did
we suspect that those innocuous chemicals called CFCs would eat away at the Earth's very
ozone layer. And little did we appreciate that the chemicals we poured onto our fields,
orchards and even our carpets would end up attacking our very cells, unleashing an
epidemic of cancer that is killing ourselves and our children.
Now we have a multi-trillion dollar economy
pouring out its goods, from pick-up trucks and airplanes to disposable diapers and marker
pens, and a multi-billion dollar advertising industry beaming its message of how good this
is across the world, while this same economy is eating away at the ecological and
biological fabric that holds it all together. Cosmos to Earth : Come in, come in - we
think you have a problem.
The unanswerable question, in this year 1998,
four thousand years after we built the pyramids, is whether this slight error in the
programming of our consciousness is a temporary mistake, like the use of slaves or the
employment of children to work down coal-mines, which we can correct by political and
social struggle, or whether it is a deeper and more tragic flaw from which we will only
emerge by death and exhaustion, like the
people of Easter Island, who destroyed their entire ecosystem and then themselves before
they realized what they had done.
One thing is sure, that hope springs eternal
in the human breast, like the buds that burst each spring. The alarm bells are ringing not
just in the north, but in the south, where the poorest of people from El Salvador to India
are struggling to build their economies in an ecofriendly manner.
We already have the know-how and the
technology to give birth to a green economy that does not break the ecological codes of
evolution. The pieces of the puzzle already exist - we have just to put them together, and
overcome the barrage of defensive flak that comes from the global corporations at the
heart of the economy, and their PR henchmen. Big power players have always behaved this
way, from emperors to shoguns - the corporations are no different. As humans, we still
have a lot of immaturity around power. It gets into our neediness, filling up the inner
places where we don't know who we are, spiritually, and distorting our compassion and
The practical components of the puzzle
consist of things like the Dutch Green Plan, whereby every sector of the economy has
committed itself through legally binding agreements to percentage reductions in toxins,
pollutants, carbon dioxide emissions and so on.
Then there are organizations like Vermont
Businesses for Social Responsibility, which works with its members to share knowledge
about company greening, and better environmental practices.
The technologies for many aspects of a green
economy exist, from energy efficient solar-collecting windows to solar shingles,
hydrogen-fueled vehicles and Hydroxyl and Solar Aquatic sewage treatment. There is still
no way to fly more than one person using solar power, but the solar/hydrogen revolution
may change that.
Then there are incentives - like the Dutch
government's provision whereby anyone investing in green technologies and initiatives gets
a 100% tax-break on profits; and the ecological taxes which many European governments are
using to guide purchasing behaviour towards greener options. It is not unrealistic to
imagine that the GST could be replaced by an Ecological Sales Tax, based on the ecological
impact of every item we buy.
Then there's voluntary simplicity, local
organic food production, cycling strategies, ecologically designed villages, local
currencies, zero-emission manufacturing, industrial ecology parks, and so on. The tools
exist - but our vision and our organizational capacity are still very weak. It's time to
get rolling !
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
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Many thanks to Gwen D'Ambrosio, Mary
Tudor, Chris Coleman, Colin Graham, Claude Maurice, Unlimited Possibilities, Fran Grady,
Colin McMechan, Joanne Manley, Gail Schultz, Kathleen Gibson, Mallory Pred, World
Federalists, Graham Saayman, Andrée Scott, David Wolsk, Katherine Millar, Margaret Fear
and Pam Charlesworth. Where would be be without you ?
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WANTED: TOXIC-FREE HOMES
From the members of the Environmental Health
Alliance : Can you help us ?
The greatest difficulty that single people
affected by multiple chemical sensitivity face is the lack of 'safe' housing. Without a
chemical-free living environment, uncontaminated by smoke, pesticides, toxic cleansers or
fragranced products, recovery is virtually impossible. For such folk, 'clean' housing is
an urgent and ongoing need. The Alliance is putting together a list of inexpensive
apartments and small houses which might be suitable rental properties - quiet,
self-contained one bedroom suites with no carpet or gas heating in a no-smoking building,
preferably away from major traffic. If you can help, please call (250) 658-2027.
AYUM CREEK - YES !!!
Thanks to a year-long campaign by the Society
for the Protection of Ayum Creek and the Victoria Natural History Society's Habitat
Acquisition Trust (raising over $400,000), and a last-minute letter-writing drive, David
Anderson and the Federal government agreed to provide the final $270,000 needed to secure
the purchase of Ayum Creek at the south end of the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt - for ever (savour
those words !). Congratulations to
all involved. To thank David Anderson, call 363-3600.
PUTTING ON THE ARMOR IN
These are edited highlights of a speech made
to Port Alberni City Council before Christmas by the members of ARMOR - the Association
for the Responsible Ownership and Management of Resources.
"This valley has gone from a situation
where 6000 forestry workers supported an economy that ranked in the top 10 in Canada.
Currently, there are around 2300 forestry workers, most of whom are laid off - a 66%
reduction. The corporation that holds TFL 44 (MacBlo) has lost approximately 10% of its
AAC. There are no legislated controls in place to ensure that OUR timber resources put us
to work. That OUR trees are utilized to benefit the citizens of our community. Placing
management of the TFL in the hands of a profit motivated corporation is akin to giving the
keys to the chicken coop to the hungry fox. I can tell you, these chickens are
getting pretty tired of being the main course, and the fox's prime concern is its own
Is it any wonder that this valley always
seems to be passed over as the place to put value-added operations to process our
resources ? Why would anyone want to build a milling operation in the middle of a vast
forest that you can't get your hands on ? There are independent milling operations in this
valley who are on the verge of shutting down because they can't get the wood, and we're
told by the corporation that there is no market to keep the company workers employed!!!
Don't local markets count ? Things have been allowed to deteriorate for far too long, so
now we, as a community, must pull together to do the job for ourselves. We hope to
move towards the legislative procedures, amendments or the creation of new legislation
that will resolve the problems, giving our children and grandchildren a positive future to
look forward to. Everyone has a stake in this, so everyone should have the right to
participate. The three fundamental goals we are working towards are:
1. The re-creation and re-implementation of
legislation that ties TFL allocation to community employment level guarantees.
2. The creation of local TFL managing
processes and elected bodies, so that we, as a community, are able to exercise control
over a resource that we own and depend on for economic prosperity.
3. An open TFL granting system that allows
us to determine who will harvest our timber resources, based on economic impact to the
community through quality job creation and maintenance. Thankyou, Madam Mayor."
Contact : Christopher Stevenson, ARMOR, (250) 723-1515
MERV WILKINSON'S FOREST :
Merv Wilkinson has managed his 136 acres at
Wildwood, near Cedar, Nanaimo, since 1938, following the selective cut principles of
ecoforestry. In 1938, a timber cruise showed that his forest contained 1.5 million board
feet. The forest grows at 500 - 700 board feet per acre per year (68,000 board feet
total), so every five years Merv went in and cut 270,000 board feet - just taking the
interest, leaving the capital to grow. In 1997, a new timber cruise revealed that the
forest held 1.65 million board feet - and the entire forest was still standing (30%
- 35% original oldgrowth). If Merv had clearcut the forest in 1938, the next cut would not
be due until 2008. By using small-scale on-site custom milling, Merv gets 75% - 80%
useable timber from his trees, compared to 55% for the big BC mills - and because his wood
is such good quality, he receives a 10% premium over sale on the open market. His timber
provides him with 1/3rd of his income, and supports 26 people in part-time jobs making
everything from musical instruments to boats. Think how things might be if the whole
forest economy was done this way ! And now tell yourself that such a future is our
Island's destiny - that it surely MUST come to pass.
AERIAL PESTICIDE SPRAYING
Esquimalt and Langford have approved the
aerial spraying of Foray 48B, the BtK spray against gypsy moths, in spite of numerous
medical warnings that spray particles can lodge in the lungs and cause problems, and that
other ground-based control methods exist. To help in the campaign to stop this, call
Michael Abel, 384-9001, and fax Esquimalt at 478-7864
EDWARDS ENVIRONMENTAL PAINTING SERVICES
Interiors & exteriors
Residential & commercial
[He did a great job on our house ! GD]
GARDEN SHARING, ANYONE ?
On Eglington Ave, in a posh area of Toronto,
six neighbours got together six years ago and tore down their back fences, keeping half
their yards as private and creating a shared garden in the rest of the space. Then one of
the six moved, and the absentee landowner put the fence back up, but the other five (all
landowners) negotiated a common footpath connecting their gardens. Now her tenant sees how
much fun he's missing, and wants the fence taken down. The neighbours don't just share
gardens - they share meals, and much more besides. The old instinct for community is right
there, just beneath the surface - it just needs de-privatizing !
IF FREIBURG CAN DO IT....
Freiburg, on the fringes of the Black Forest
in Germany, has been pursuing a relentlessly green policy since 1985 when it slashed the
price of transit passes by 30 per cent. Within a year 23 per cent of car users had
switched to public transport, brandishing a single ticket that covers 90 train, bus and
tram routes. Roads have been ripped up and 250 miles of bicycle paths laid. The result of
the cleaner air has been a rush of inward investment. A new environmentally sensitive
suburb is under construction to house the 10,000 extra people who have joined the 200,000
population. There was some early resistance from traders, but it was soon discovered that
shopping areas attracted cash more readily than streets where parking meters have to be
fed by the hour.
THE WONDERS OF MODERN
(1) Last year, the Seattle Times reported
that toxic heavy metals, chemicals and radioactive wastes were being recycled as
fertilizer and spread over farmers' fields nationwide. A Gore, Oklahoma uranium processor
gets rid of low level radioactive waste by licensing it as liquid fertilizer. In Moxee
City, Washington, toxic steel mill waste is loaded into silos from rail cars, and then
used as fertilizer; a Camas, Washington pulpmill sells waste containing lead to farmers
who spread it on their fields. The fuss started when the Mayor of Quincy, Washington,
started an investigation when local farmers became concerned about low yields and sick
cows. And we import their food .....
(2) By manipulating a gene related to
muscularity, scientists recently produced a genetically engineered Belgian Blue bull which
can scarcely walk. It has 20 per cent more beef than normal, and weighs three-quarters of
a tonne. Animals engineered for increased muscle/meat content typically do not have the
bones to support their own flesh.
Get out your diary, and book August 22nd
& 23rd ! That's the date for a very exciting and ambitious EarthFEST at the Courtenay
Fairgrounds, with workshops and demonstrations on everything from solar power and
ecoforestry to alternative vehicles and straw bale building - all mixed up with music,
camping and ecology walks. Hey - this sounds like fun ! If you want to jump on board, pick
up your phone and call Elizabeth White, 171 Vesuvius Bay Rd, Salt Spring V8K 1K3, (250)
Here's the latest on the Multilateral
Agreement on Investments, from Andrea Durbin, Friends of the Earth, USA : "NGOs have
successfully pushed the environment and labor issues enough that the negotiators realize
that we are a political force to reckon with and are madly trying to figure out what can
be done (of course the "fixes" they are discussing are not enough to resolve the
fundamental problems with the agreement). The latest efforts however by the
negotiators has led the business community to begin to question whether or not the
agreement will have enough in it for them to support in the end. The next MAI negotiations
will be in mid-February with high level officials. This will be the key negotiating
session where they will decide whether or not to go ahead with the agreement and finalize
it in April; or call the whole thing off. The next four weeks are critical for the
NGO movement against the MAI to increase its efforts and organize aggressively against the
Because of its ban on performance targets for
investors, the MAI would make many social and environmental standards illegal, ranging
from recycled content to arms export bans. This is a crucial time to tell your MP that you
oppose the MAI, and to call Glen Clark (387-1715) to ask him to step up B.C.'s pressure
against the MAI. Here in Victoria, call the MAI-NOT campaign - Saul Arbess, 383-5878.
ACTION OF THE MONTH :
SILVER SPRAY RANCH
No sooner is one piece of paradise saved from
becoming townhouses (Ayum Creek) than we have to jump into action for another. Silver
Spray Ranch is immediately to the west of East Sooke Regional Park; it was intended to be
part of the park back in the 1970s, but the CRD ran out of money. According to Alan Crow,
who lives there, the marine shoreline is a veritable cornucopia of diversity, and the land
shoreline is a major jumping off ground for Turkey Vultures and other raptors when they
migrate south each fall across the water. The owner has received preliminary layout
approval from the Ministry of Transport to build houses around the shore with 14
conditions attached, but he is proceeding to clear the site and the ecologically valuable
areas without heeding the conditions. Under the existing provincial law, and Sooke
by-laws, he is entitled to do this. It makes absolute sense for this land to be purchased,
and become part of East Sooke Park. The best way to achieve this would be for the CRD to
increase the mill rate on our taxes, enabling us - as local taxpayers - to buy the land.
(a) Write or call Cathy McGregor, Minister
of Environment (Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4, Tel 387-1187, fax 387-1356),
asking her to order an environmental assessment of the proposed development.
(b) Write or fax Geoff Young, CRD Chair (PO
Box 1000, Victoria V8W 2S6, Fax 360-3130), stating your support for the CRD to raise the
mill rate on our taxes to purchase this land.
COMING UP :
April 18th - 26th EarthWeek. Theme is
'Building Community'. If you are doing a project, call Doug Koch, 383-5765
April 24th - 26th BC Environmental Network
Spring Conference, Sorrento Centre. Details (604) 879-2279
April 30th-May 1st Conference on
Canadian Environmental Protection Act, UVic. Elizabeth May & others. Details 391-9223
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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