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Newsletter No. 79 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - Jan. 1999
THE MILLENNIUM BUG - OR THE MILLENNIUM BUTTERFLY ?
Last night, I was woken by a very powerful
dream, around 2am. I was motoring along a road in a large passenger van, when the road
turned onto a major new highway. Suddenly, the road was no longer there - it just stopped,
the section in front still grass. I climbed out of the van, and we clambered up away from
the highway, over clean, green grassy meadows, where we found a kind of waiting area.
For six weeks, we waited around, wondering
when the highway would be created, increasingly worried about the safety of our vehicles,
left behind on the unfinished road.
Eventually, my impatience turned to action,
and I found someone from the government. I asked him persistently when they were going to
fix the road, but he just muttered that they were working on it, all in good time. Then he
walked off. In a surge of desperation, I ran after him, grabbing his coat, and finally, on
the fourth grab, he looked at me calmly, and asked "But what have you been doing,
while you've been waiting ?", and walked away.
It was so potent that I woke up, puzzling
over its meaning. We had been doing some group singing, but otherwise, we had been just
waiting around, growing impatient to resume our normal lives. None of it made any sense in
terms of my personal life.
Then it hit me. This was not about me : it
was about the future, and the millennium computer bug that is going to hit exactly a year
from now, on January 1st 2000, when many of the world's computers and embedded computer
chips will fail to recognize the new date. The new highway is the new millennium; the road
that ceases to exist is things grinding to a halt as businesses and utilities fail around
the world, leaving us in limbo. The waiting around is the expectancy that someone will fix
the problem, enabling life to get back to normal.
The computer bug, commonly known as Y2K, for
Year 2 Thousand, is the stupidest little thing. Twenty five years ago, when the software
engineers were programming the new computers, they saved space by using two digits for the
date, writing 72 instead of 1972. On January 1st 2000, therefore, every uncorrected
computer and date sensitive embedded chip in the world that uses the western calendar will
think that it is January 1st 1900, with all sorts of troublesome consequences.
Have no doubt about it : the experts are
worried; and the more they learn about it, the more they worry. They worry that there will
not be enough time to fix all the problems - and they worry about countries overseas where
they have hardly started.
On a civilizational level, the episode is
like a cosmic joke. Just when you are rushing ahead too fast, over-eager to get where you
are going, you trip up. The ego gets angry and impatient, but the soul is trying to say
"Slow down - what's the big hurry ?".
If there is one thing that the Earth needs
now, it is for us to slow down and take a breather, before we rush headlong into the new
millennium, living and acting the same way we did in this millennium.
The forests, the oceans, the atmosphere, the
soil, and the millions of natural creatures which have been on the receiving end of our
frenzy to harvest, produce, sell and consume are all saying the same thing : "Slow
down". So do the lonely, the children whose parents are too busy working to tell them
stories, and the elderly, left to their own quiet sadnesses while we are so busy being
And then comes the Y2K cosmic trip. The road
suddenly runs out, and we are left to wait around. There will be many practical concerns,
and a need to take care of those who are without food or otherwise unprepared; but behind
all that, behind the impatience to get back to the clearcutting and the ocean trawling,
lies the dream's larger question : "But what have you been doing, while you've been
This is the deeper lesson that lies behind
the Y2K computer glitch. In our rush to be so busy, we have become like the doctors in the
glorious film Patch Adams, that is now showing : we have lost our humanity to each other,
on a day to day basis. And like Patch, we need to rediscover the heartful nature of
connection to each other, and connection to the natural world.
What an incredible gift to the new millennium
- to be given a chance to pause, to breathe, to both look and feel anew; to rediscover
what we have lost - and what is ours to regain. It's not the practical problems which the
computer bug may bring that really matter : it's how we use the opportunity they will
present. Will we continue to act selfishly - or will we use the opportunity to connect,
both as people and as communities ?
We have a year to prepare - a year to lay the
foundations for what could be a time of confusion and fear, or what could, alternatively,
be an amazing, beautiful time. It may be a millennium bug - but what a miracle it will be,
when it turns into a butterfly.
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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A very big thankyou to Richard Atwood,
Ray Travers, Al Craighead, Victoria Compost Education Centre, Brian Grant, Akiko, Joel
Ussery & Karen Woodland, Marshall Rosen, Felix Lion, Focus on Women, Pat Henderson,
Margaret Schubart, Elizabeth Woods, Ann Gower, Henry Gautier, Keith & Mignon Lundmark,
John Boquist, Barbara Hourston, Birgit Bateman, Hal Knight, Ambrose Marsh, J. Waddell, Ken
Wardroper, Martha McMahon, Virginia Newman, Jan Zwicky, Miyo Stevens, Alan Drengson, Wayne
Madden, Hannelore Ioannides, Fran Grady, Craig Harrold, Katherine Millar, Patrick Fawkes,
Ray Hill, Gillian Elcock, Gord Stewart, David Rothkop, William Bender, Coro Strandberg,
Wally du Temple, Dee Bailin, Pauline Kenneally, Susan Day, Drew Williams, Michelle
Clifford, Peter Spurr, Peter Dixon, Chris Garrett, Tonia & John Stonehouse, Sheila
Kertesz, Benita Blundell, Ron Sutherland, John Sprague, Bert & Liz Elliott, Blake
Richards, Ruth Masters, Joan Hurwood, Lynn Husted, Dean Gaudry, Greg Morley, Bill Rees
& Margaret Davidson, Joanne Manley, James Whiteaker, Aliosn Acker, Hannah Main, Kay
Look, Patricia Kahr, Colin Graham, Mike Thomsen, Patrician Johnston,Maury Peterman,
Unlimited Possibilities, Todd & Renate Wellman, Wee-chong Tan, Olive Boorman, Susan
Gage, Steve Housser and Stefani Paine.
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The Carmanah Forestry Society needs warm
winter clothes, camping gear, tarps, tents, a school bus, dated film, cameras and
computers, to help with their year-round work in the woods. Tax receipts available. They
also have openings for volunteers to head committees. Call Syd or Ian, 381-1141.
The City of Victoria is looking for people
to serve on its Advisory Planning & Transportation Cte, Parks Cte, and possible Task
Forces on the environment, cycling, community planning and other issues. Make haste !
Written application by Fri Jan 8th to Director of Corporate Services, 1 Centennial Square,
Victoria V8W 1P6, fax 361-0394. Give name and details, occupation, relevant community
background and reasons for applying.
A national emergency relief campaign for
innocent Iraqi victims of the recent bombings is being coordinated in BC by Howard Breen,
of Gabriola Island. If you can help with monies, health supplies (hydration kits,
bandages, drugs), airline contacts, or are willing to escort supplies from Jordan into
Baghdad, please contact Howard asap. (250) 247-7467 HBreen@Island.Net
Northwest Environment Watch, a
Seattle-based non-profit research organization, has opened a BC office called NEW BC. At
this time we are seeking volunteers to assist with office administration, outreach and
media relations. Internships are also possible. If you are interested, please
e-mail Donna Morton at email@example.com, or call
595-0577. For more information, check us out at www.northwestwatch.org
DEEP ECOLOGY, BIOREGIONALISM
Interested ? There are new weekly study
groups forming in Victoria in all these topics. For more information, call Jackie Robson,
North West Earth Institute, 361-9446
CYCLING - FROM TRAGEDY TO
Cyclists all over the region were shocked by
the awful death of Terry van Fleet just before Christmas, struck from behind by the
probably drunk driver of a pick-up truck while cycling in his cycle-lane, fully lit and
properly protected, then left in the back of the truck to die while its owners hid from
the police. "That could have been me" ran through all our minds, shaking us with
a troubling mixture of shock, anger, outrage and grief. Most of us didn't know Terry, but
we were appalled that his life had just vanished, been wiped out, gone. Our patience with
not having proper cycling security has run out : Cyclists MUST have a guarantee of safe,
secure travel. If you are a cyclist and feel the same way, the best way you can respond is
by joining other cyclists in the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, and working together
to end this nonsense. Send $15 for membership to the GVCC, 1275 Oscar St, Victoria V8V
2X6, or just pick up the phone and dial 480-5155. For Terry's sake.
2002 WORLD ORGANIC
CONFERENCE IN VICTORIA
Get ready ! The world's largest gathering of
the international organic agriculture movement will take place in Victoria in August 2002,
when the Canadian Organic Growers hosts the 14th International Conference of the
International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM ). The conference is
expected to attract a thousand delegates. IFOAM has 740 member organizations and
associates, representing all aspects of organic agriculture; British Columbia has one of
the fastest growing organic agriculture sectors in Canada. Details - Anne Macey,
(250) 537-5511, firstname.lastname@example.org
20 COMPANIES TO STOP
USING ANCIENT WOOD
What do these companies have in common ?
Starbucks, Nike, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices, Bristol Myers Squibb, Levi Strauss,
Dell Computer, Estée Lauder, Hallmark Cards, Johnson & Johnson, Liz Claiborne,
Lockheed Martin, McGraw-Hill, Mitsubishi Electric of America, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of
America, Mother Jones magazine, Mutual of Omaha Insurance, National Geographic, Pacific
Gas & Electric, Patagonia, Quantum, Seventh Generation, 3M, United Stationers Supply
and the Utne Reader. They are all promising eventually to halt the purchase of wood and
other materials from companies that use products made from old-growth forests. The
companies understand that growing numbers of customers around the world do not want to see
the world's incredible old-growth forests turned into greeting cards, magazines and
advertising brochures. The commitment was organized by the Coastal Rainforest Coalition
(Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace).
HEMP PAPER FOR GOLD RIVER
PULP MILL ?
Can the closed down pulp mill at Gold River
be converted to produce paper made from hemp, grown on Vancouver Island ? That's what
Brian Johnson and the Trans-Global Hemp Products Corporation are suggesting, with support
from Gold River Village Council. Vancouver Island farmers grew 35 acres of hemp last year,
which Brian suggests could grow to 2,000 acres in 1999. "We have the longest growing
season and the richest soils that produced Canada's tallest hemp plants in 1998", he
says, "14 feet high, plus two fibre crops a season, compared to one in Ontario."
The Chinese invented hemp paper 5,000 years ago, with no use of chemicals. Hemp paper can
be recycled 7 - 10 times.
Invest in the Future of Vancouver Island
Transglobal Hemp Products Corporation is a local company, created to
commercialize industrial hemp farming, manufacturing and marketing on
Tel/Fax (250) 384-4873 email@example.com
Take out an atlas, and you'll see that
Germany runs from 54o to 47o in latitude, the same as the land from Prince Rupert to
Seattle, and receives a similar amount of sunshine and light. So what is it about Germany
that we don't get, when it comes to solar energy ? The new German government has just
launched a 100,000 solar rooftop program that is expected to create a market for some 500
MW of photovoltaic modules with a market value in the billions of dollars over the next
few years - almost four time greater than the entire world's shipments of 122 MW of solar
cells in 1997. Meanwhile, in overcast Holland (53o to 51o), Nieuwland is being dubbed the
'solar suburb'. With solar collectors and panels (made by Shell Solar Energy) sprouting
from rooftops and roadsides across Holland, some say solar power could one day overshadow
wind turbines, the modern cousins of the old Dutch windmills. An estimated 26,000 Dutch
homeowners heat their water with solar boilers. The highly insulated boilers circulate
solar-warmed water around an inner tank to heat tap water for the house; a natural gas
burner kicks in if there isn't enough sunlight. In spring and summer, the local energy
supplier pays homeowners 12 cents per kilowatt hour for the solar energy their rooftop
panels feed into the grid, offsetting the homeowners' energy bills for fall and winter,
when Holland is cloudy. Few can afford the $25,000 for the finest solar technology
available, capable of meeting 80% of a house's needs, but by reducing the number of panels
so that they generate 10% of the energy, the price falls to US $3,000. The Economic
Affairs Ministry wants 10% of Holland's energy to come from renewable resources by 2010.
A GLOBAL END TO NUKES
During the last couple of years support for
nuclear weapons abolition has been gaining momentum with support from 1,200 citizen action
groups in 83 countries, 60 retired generals and admirals from 17 countries, 130 civilian
and religious leaders, 33 Nobel Laureates, and many professional associations. In
1998 nation states joined the increasingly vocal demands of citizens worldwide. In
May, Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden formed
the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), calling on the nuclear-weapon states to "demonstrate
an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of their respective nuclear
weapons." The Middle Powers Initiative is attempting to gather support from
additional states such as Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands &
Norway. Opposition to the US strategy of nuclear deterrence has been mounting within NATO,
too. 12 of 16 NATO members recently expressed their opposition to U.S. nuclear
policy by abstaining on an important UN vote introduced by the NAC countries which calls
for rapid nuclear disarmament. Locally, there is a meeting on these issues on Jan 11th -
see Diary. (Source - Abolition 2000, a Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons www.wagingpeace.org)
DRUGS IN THE WATER
We are all familiar with the arguments about
Victoria's sewage being discharged into the Juan de Fuca Strait - how the water out there
is so cold and fast that it provides the equivalent of secondary treatment, and that so
far, no-one can find any ecological harm. Well, now there's an entirely new issue to
consider. During the past 6 years, since the big sewage debate, an entirely new class of
water pollutants has been discovered : antibiotics, hormones, pain killers, tranquilizers
and chemotherapy chemicals given to cancer patients are turning up in water that has been
exposed to sewage and sewage sludge. It bears to reason, really - where did we think those
drugs were going to go, once we have peed them out ? In Europe, the entire North Sea has
been found to contain measurable quantities of clofibric acid, a drug used to reduce
cholesterol levels in the blood - researchers estimate that the sea contains 48 - 96 tons
of the drug (a close chemical cousin of the popular weed killer 2.4-D). 30% of drugs
manufactured recently are designed to dissolve in fat, but not in water, so once excreted
into water, they retain their chemical structure and enter the marine food chain. Since
50% to 90% of a drug is excreted unchanged, this gets to be quite a dose. Then there's the
problem of antibiotics - and antibiotic resistant, both in our bodies and in bodies of
water exposed to sewage. The more drugs we take, the worse the problem will get - until
the whole world is on drugs, via our sewage and its oceans. Is this really the way we want
to go ? Do we really want to dose the salmon, the seals, the whales and all the other
ocean creatures with clofibric acid, Viagra and antibiotics ? I don't think so - another
argument for natural remedies. (Source - Rachel's Weekly, Issue 614)
"Green, ethical, environmental
If you want your investments to reflect your
commitment to sustaining the environment, Steve Housser of RBC Dominion Securities
cordially invites you to a workshop on environmentally sound, financially strong
Monday, Jan. 25th at 4:00 p.m.
the Monterey Centre, 1442 Monterey Ave.
Tea + Cookies RSVP 356-4910
ACTION OF THE MONTH
ROCK QUARRY PROPOSAL IN
West Coast Aggregates Ltd. has applied to the
Ministry of Energy and Mines to develop a rock quarry to blast and crush rock in 39 acres
on Sooke Road in Metchosin. The land is immediately adjacent to the new Sooke Hills
Wilderness Park and provides the headwaters for Bilston Creek. This development is
not wanted by the community and will have the following impacts :
Loss of integrity to the developing
Sea-to-Sea green/blue belt
Loss of the Bilston Creek headwaters , a
strategically important watershed for salmonoids
Destruction of the ecological and
recreational integrity of the new Sooke Hills Wilderness Park, including negative effects
on wildlife, nesting and migratory birds, and rare plants
Potential destruction of water wells for
over 40 homes within 1 km of the proposed quarry
Noise, rock dust and safety issues due to
additional truck traffic and flying rock.
Action : The Ministry of Energy and Mines is
asking for public input on this project. We need letters from all of you by the middle of
January to try and protect this area. Please help STOP THIS ROCK QUARRY by writing to Dan
Miller, Minister of Energy and Mines, PO Box 9060, Station Prov Gov't, Victoria, B.C. V8W
9E2 Fax 356-2965.
Please cc your letter to Andrew Petter,
Minister of Advanced Education, Training and Technology, Fax 356-3000 & Moe Sihota,
MLA, Esquimalt-Metchosin, Fax: 356-7156
Deadline for February: Jan 30th
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