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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 87 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - Oct. 1999


On or around October 12th, a baby will be born somewhere on the Earth, and our human population will hit six billion, increasing by another 214,000 people during the course of the day.

The figures for the recent increase are truly staggering :

First billion: 10 million years (1800)
Second billion : 130 years (1930)
Third billion : 30 years (1960)
Fourth billion : 14 years (1974)
Fifth billion : 13 years (1987)
Sixth billion : 12 years (1999)

The good news is that the increase is slowing, from 80 million a year to 78 million. The consensus at the United Nations is that we will level off at 9 billion in the year 2050, and then start declining.

So why the turnaround ? According to the Worldwatch Institute, two thirds of the reason is due to falling fertility in countries in the east and Latin America which have made progress with rising living standards, family planning and the education of women. The other third is due to rising mortality : more people will die as a result of AIDS, the depletion of fresh water aquifers, and the shrinking amount of available farmland.

In the developed world, population has already stabilized : there is not a single industrialized country where population is expected to grow except as a result of immigration. South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand have all reduced their population growth rates to approximately 1%, and are approaching stability. Even Brazil has reduced its growth to 1.4%.

In Ethiopia, Pakistan and Nigeria, by contrast, populations are expected to double or even triple over the next 50 years. Ethiopia (61 million), is expected to grow to 169 million.

If AIDS reaches Ethiopia the way is has reached southern Africa, however, where 20 - 25% of the adult population is infected, that increase may never happen. In some hospitals in South Africa, 70% of the beds are occupied by AIDS patients. In 14th century Europe, the Black Death killed a quarter of the population. Unless some miracle occurs, AIDS will kill far more - an enormous human tragedy which is happening right now.

The depletion of freshwater aquifers is another factor that is likely to dent the predicted global increase. All over the world, we are pumping water out of our aquifers faster than we are replacing it. In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, water tables have fallen by 30 meters since the 1970s. The same is happening in China, the USA and North Africa. As the aquifers dry up, farm production levels will fall back to their pre-irrigation volumes. As with our forests and oceans, we are harvesting our fresh water unsustainably.

The world is full of surprises. Alongside these trends comes another, which may prevent the population from reaching 9 billion.

Throughout North America and Europe, male sperm counts are falling. (Vital Signs 1999, p 148 - WorldWatch Institute). In 1940, the average North American male had 120 million sperm in each milliliter of semen. By 1990, this had fallen to 43 million. If the trend continues, by 2010 it will be lower than 20 million.

Twenty million sperm may sound like a lot, but that is the threshold for infertility. In Europe, the trend is faster - when the studies are put together, they show European males falling below 20 milliliters in the year 2000 - except in Finland, where cold plunges after saunas may make the difference. Maybe the testicles respond to cold water in the same way that a poorly performing apple tree responds to something that threatens its life.

If the collapse in male sperm count spreads to other countries, the world's population may plummet to under a billion within a few generations, giving nature a much-needed chance to recover.

Why is it happening ? The evidence points to industrial pollution, including exposure to pesticides and estrogenic pollutants - environmental chemicals that masquerade as hormones, such as phthalates. Phthalates are commonly used in products ranging from food and beverage containers to fabrics, and have been widely detected in drinking water and milk. Male mice exposed in the womb to butyl benzene phthalate, a component in many plastics, had substantially reduced testicles, and 20% less sperm count in adulthood than mice whose mothers had not been exposed.

Is chemical pollution going to be the ultimate contraceptive ? Is this the planet's secret self-defense mechanism against a species which got too smart for its own good ? Studies that are currently underway will tell. It all goes to show how little we know, or understand.

- Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)

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[Note: $153 was spent on tables for the mailout.]

Many thanks to Roger Colwill, Sarah Verstegen & Nikki Wright, Sandra McConnell, Kate Stevens, Yvonne Bondarchuk, Dana & John McPherson, Darlene Monkman, Henry Gautier, Gillian Elcock, Marlyn Horsdal, Andrea Tischauser, Marlene & Steve Smith and Bruce Torrie.

* Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1.For a receipt, please include a stamped addressed envelope.

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Our deep apologies that we muddled the name of the new provincial Minister of Environment, who is (of course) Joan Sawicki. The Ministry has just returned $5 million of the $50 million that Glen Clark took away. In a future EcoNews, we hope to profile key initiatives that the Minister is working on.

Art Vanden Berg also pointed out that in last month's story on residential hydrogen fuel cells, since the hydrogen is to be manufactured using natural gas or propane, the fuel cells are hardly "pollution-free", as the Texas developer claims. For fuel cell technology to become a real solution, the hydrogen will need to be manufactured by solar, wind, or some other renewable energy. Thanks Art.


* The Northwest Earth Institute is starting Study Circles in Voluntary Simplicity and Deep Ecology. If interested, call Jackie Robson, 361-9446.
* Two organic farmers looking for 5 - 10 acres of good arable land on Saanich Peninsula, with available water, lease for five years minimum. Shannon 361-3414
* Contagious Acts of Compassion - Cultivating Sustainable Community through Collective Creativity. Redesign your responses to personal and social issues while learning concrete communications and improvisation skills. For dates : Esther Muirhead, 380-0036.
* 1 bedroom apartment for rent to quiet, environmentally responsible non-smoker, Gorge-Burnside area, close to Galloping Goose, in lovely house, quiet street. Sunny garden, washer, dryer, Shaw cable, $625/month all included. 681-5196.
* The CRD is looking for five new members of the public willing to sit on the Regional Growth Strategy Public Advisory Committee, to serve as a community sounding board. For an application form, call 360-3228. For questions, call Mark Hornell 360-3244. Deadline October 22nd.
* Do you have fruit trees you don't have time to pick ? The volunteers at the Victoria Fruit Tree Project would like to help, and donate some of the fruit to food banks and community events. 519-0091.


For over a year, EcoNews has been "localized" and copied electronically to folks in the Nanaimo region ( If you live in the Cowichan Valley, the Comox Valley, Clayoquot Sound or the Sunshine Coast, I encourage you to do the same : take whatever parts of EcoNews you like, add your own local Green Diary, and send it out to local people. It's all part of sharing the vision.

On Monday October 25th, there's an evening meeting to plan the future of EcoNews, at 395 Conway Rd. If you are interested to help, to share your ideas, or to become a Director of the non-profit society we'll be setting up, please give me (Guy) a call at 881-1304.


In July, the City of San Francisco became one of the nation's first municipalities to adopt a green building ordinance for City-owned projects. The additions to the San Francisco Municipal Code, known as the Resource Efficient Building Ordinance, consist of two distinct parts. The first part specifies a few requirements for water conservation, energy-efficient lighting, indoor air quality, and recycling. The second part requires the City to designate a number of pilot green building projects that will demonstrate innovative designs and materials. Each of these projects will be evaluated after construction, and their performance reported to the City's Board of Supervisors. Source : Greenclips


GreenClips is a wonderful, free email news service that is published every two weeks by Chris Hammer, providing an easy-to-read digest of the latest news about environmentally friendly building, design, architecture, planning, recycling and municipal progress. The archives are great, too. Send an email to <>. In the body of the message type : subscribe <your internet email address>.

Your Green Party Candidates
for Victoria City Councillors
on 20th November, 1999

Lenora Burke
Walter Meyer zu Erpen
Art Vanden Berg

For information, or to help our
campaign, please phone


Here's another Internet goody. The Urban Land Institute in the USA has launched "Smart Growth News," a weekly newsletter available at no charge by e-mail subscription. Each issue contains 25 to 30 abstracts of articles culled from 1,400 information sources focusing on housing, development, regional planning initiatives, transportation, affordable and infill housing, open space conservation, master-planned communities, economic development, urban revitalization and retail. To subscribe, send an e-mail to <>. A recent issue described how Arizona's new Smart Growth legislation will put together a pool of $440 million per year to purchase open space for preservation reasons.

Here in B.C., a new society is in the making called Smart Growth B.C. More on this in the next issue.

'Community Stewardship
of Our Watersheds'

Wed, October 13th, 7:30 pm
Garry Oak Rm, 1335 Thurlow Rd

Sierra Club, Victoria Gp 472-8646


The Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse is a resource center which provides information, advice, and referrals on issues related to sprawl, smart growth and livable communities. The Clearinghouse helps community groups, public officials, developers, planners, policymakers, architects and others to revitalize existing communities and reduce urban sprawl. To join the mailing list, send your request to <> In the message area of your e-mail screen write : subscribe <email address>.


October is the month of sweetcorn, pumpkins, and a celebration of the year's harvest - so don't miss the Harvest Barn Dance on October 16th ! It's really a night to enjoy. October is also a time to consider how we can increase the wretchedly small proportion of our food that we grow on the island - some say it's 10%, others that it's 5% of our fruits and veggies (and 50% of our dairy). Either way, how can we boost the amount, and increase our food security ? On World Food Day, Oct 16th, the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) is hosting a community food mapping session at the Moss Street Market (Garry Oak Room). Community mapping is a participatory educational tool that provides a framework for people to affirm and pool their knowledge about their place, and use this knowledge to envision and work towards a more sustainable future. By mapping sources of food in our community we hope to raise awareness about local food systems and the importance of "buying local." The session starts at 8:30 am, and at 10:00 we will proceed to the Market area to begin hands-on mapping and encourage Market patrons to participate. Come and learn more about our local food systems! Everyone is welcome to attend; materials will be provided. Kathleen Gibson, 598-4280.

Thanksgiving with the Mad Cowboy!

If you want a different kind of harvest celebration, VIVA and EarthSave have invited Howard Lyman to join them for "Thanksgiving with a Mad Cowboy" on Monday Oct 11th. Howard is the farmer who persuaded Oprah Winfrey never to touch another hamburger, which led to their both being sued by the Texas cattlemen for slander. Needless to say, no meat on the menu - see Diary.


"It's my land - I can do what I like with it."

For years, this has been the attitude of some private land-owners when it comes to forestry. While activists have been working towards a vision of sustainable, ecologically-managed community forests, whole landscapes on southern Vancouver Island have been scalped and ecologically raped, with landowners using this 19th century value-system to justify their acts.

On Denman Island, the conflict has been very intense. About one third of the island is privately owned, and frequently sold and resold - like buying and selling slaves, except that the slave is an ecosystem, not a human. That's what happens when private greed meets a beautiful forest, in the absence of any governing laws.

The mandate of the Islands Trust, however, is "to protect and preserve the...unique amenities and environment" of islands such as Denman, and for two years, a group of islanders worked with the Trust to put together amendments to the community bylaws that created Development Permit (DP) areas on private land which limited the amount of trees that could be cut and removed from a DP area - essentially disallowing the clearcutting of forested private lands within these areas. While the bylaw was being created, the landowner who was doing all the damage - Mike Jenks, and 4064 Investments Ltd - responded by logging the forest as fast as he could, restricted only by the ability of the island's ferry to haul his trees away. He's not a popular man on the island, and he loves it.

The bylaws were passed and approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in May, and complaints were immediately filed against Mike Jenks. The Islands Trust warned that they would enforce the bylaws. His reaction was to accelerate his rate of cutting. The Trust sought an injunction to stop 4064 from further logging, until further investigation could be undertaken. Meanwhile, a group of islanders set up an information table at the entrance to the site of the bylaw violations, allowing workers to enter, but stopping logging trucks from leaving until they had been counted by a Bylaw Enforcement Officer. After 8 days, they were served with a summons to appear in a Superior Court (a SLAPP suit), alleging interference with business. Altogether, 13 people have been SLAPPed.

Three days later, faced with the possibility of an injunction restraining its logging activities on Denman, Mike Jenks and 4064 voluntarily agreed to cease all cutting on ecologically sensitive lands, to strictly abide by the new cutting limits, and to allow inspection of his lands by the Island Trustee and the chair of the Advisory Planning Commission. Because of his climb-down, the injunction application has been put on hold, and the Islands Trust has hired an additional By-law Enforcement Officer with expertise in forestry to investigate 4064's logging activities.

So - the bad news is that 13 community heros have to raise the funds to defend their actions in court; the good news is that Denman Islanders have found a way to restrict ecological pillage on private forest lands which may be applicable in all municipalities and regional districts in B.C. (See To help with the SLAPP suit, and for more information, call Kim Salas, (250) 335-1061.



When I was in England last month, the papers were full of the open revolt that is taking place against genetically modified (GM) food. A council committee in Hampshire voted to exclude GM foods from children's school meals after January 2000. Pubs, restaurants and even hot dog stands will face fines of up to $12,000 if they fail to identify genetically modified ingredients on their menus. Not content with labeling GM food, the government is pressing for European legislation to require labeling for GM additives and flavourings. In response to all this, the food and drugs giant Novartis is rethinking its role in GM foods, and considering spinning off its GM division. Supermarket chains Iceland, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and food giants Unilever and Nestle have all pledged to remove GM ingredients from their products.

So what about us, here in Canada ? I believe there is just as much resistance, but without labeling, consumers have yet to register what is happening to our food, at a frightening pace.

So PLEASE, now is the time to be writing to Agriculture Minister Corky Evans, to tell him what you think about GM food, and request that British Columbia bring in mandatory labeling of GM food, so that we, as consumers, can choose what we are going to eat. (On October 21st, there is a public forum on GM food, with the farmer who is being sued by Monsanto for allowing their pollen to pollute his fields. See Diary)

Action : Write to Corky Evans, Minister of Agriculture, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. Fax 387-1522.

Quote of the Year : Monsanto's official response to the evidence that Monarch butterflies died when fed genetically altered Bt cotton pollen : "Most corn pollen remains within the corn field and monarch larvae can choose to avoid feeding on Bt pollen by feeding on the underside of leaves or on other milkweed leaves with little or no Bt pollen." I hope the larvae can read.

Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

Deadline for November: October 24th

The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!



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 V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource

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