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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

 

Newsletter No. 94 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - May 2000


LET’S BLOW WITH THE WIND

We all use energy – some more, some less. But BC Hydro says we need more energy – 150 MW by 2007 - and they are planning to provide 90% of it from gas-fired cogeneration, which means pushing a gas pipeline across the Georgia Strait, and across the Island.

No, no, no. Gas is not the way to go. First, it is a greenhouse gas, and as such, a prime cause of global warming. Centra Gas says in its advertising that ‘natural gas reduces global warming’, but with all due respect, their publicist is lying. Gas produces less C02 than coal or oil, but it is still a fossil fuel, and a major contributor to global warming, which has already melted 40% of the Arctic ice-sheet.

Gas also leaks methane, which is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Second, the North American gas supply may start running out within 10 - 20 years, leading to steep price-increases just when we have locked into the infrastructure.

If we want to limit the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature to 2C, we cannot burn more than 200 billion more tonnes of carbon – less than 5% of the world’s available supplies of coal, oil and gas.

There is only one way in which we may be able to use the planet’s fossil fuels, which is by splitting the fuel at source into hydrogen and carbon (gas = CH4), pumping the carbon back underground as C02, and using the hydrogen to generate electricity through fuel cells. The splitting technology is still new, however. Only Norway’s Statoil is doing it, because they have carbon taxes that make it worthwhile.

The easiest way to obtain new energy is to take it from the energy we’re already using, by using it more efficiently. BC Hydro’s PowerSmart offers free home energy audits coupled with a loan program, but the uptake seems to be slow. Oregon offers residential energy tax credits on efficient appliances, solar water and space heating, solarvoltaic energy and alternative fuel vehicles, plus a business energy tax credit and an energy loan program that has financed enough projects to heat 110,000 homes each year.

This might seem like boring stuff, but B.C. is miles behind when it comes to creative policy. We should be adding a carbon tax to all carbon-based energy, and adding a 25% efficiency "feebate" to all hydro bills, recycling it back to the consumer in the form of efficiency loans, rebates, tax credits and low-income home efficiency grants.

South of the border, they burn huge amounts of coal to generate electricity. If we were to generate more renewable energy, we could sell it to the States, and gain additional income from the newly appearing carbon offsets.

Wind energy is a mature technology, thanks to the organized efforts of grassroots wind pioneers in Denmark, which obtains 10% of its energy from the wind (50% by 2030). Wind turbines produce electricity for 4 – 6 cents kWh, competitive with gas, and the bird-kill and noise problems have been solved. In Sweden, with tax-incentives, wind energy sells for 2.8 cents kWh.

BC Hydro has just committed to erect wind monitoring stations at Cormorant Island (Alert Bay), Jordan Ridge (Sooke) and Mount Hays (Prince Rupert). The issue is so important, however, that the government should put its gas-fired energy strategy under moratorium while the potentials for wind, tidal, and microhydro energy are assessed. The City of Seattle has just committed to produce 100% of its new energy needs from renewable energy – so why can’t B.C., with its vast potentials ? Come on, you guys – get with the 21st century. Hire some new consultants.

In Europe, the new frontier for wind energy is ocean turbines, generating 2.5 MW each. With just 60 of these turbines, we could generate the needed 150 MW. Tiny Denmark installed 221 MW of new wind capacity in 1999 alone. Surely, with 1,000 of ocean coastline, we could do as much.

Wind turbines are more than a technology – they are a visible witness to a commitment to create a sustainable culture that is in harmony with nature. They use a natural resource which will never run out. Around the world, wind energy is growing by 25% a year. So let’s get with it. Let’s blow with the wind – instead of being blown away by the gas-created storms of climate change.

Guy Dauncey

Note – on Thursday May 18th, there is a Public Forum on ‘Gas or Wind ? BC Hydro’s proposed Energy Future’, organized by the new Concerned Citizens for Clean Energy. David Lam Auditorium, Uvic, 7pm


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


ECONEWS

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)

Mar. Apr. May
Circulation: 2250 2250 2250
By Email: 560 600 657
Print & Post: $982 $987 $980
Editorial: $225 $250 $250
Donations: $300 $245 ???
Advertising: $111 $115
Balance: $1871 $994
Green Dollars: $210 $210 $210

Many thanks to Margaret Hutchinson, Maureen Levitt, Christina Nichol, Gary Greenstein, Ambrose Marsh & Leah Norgrove, Alan Dolan, Natalie Wessley, Council of Canadians Victoria Chapter and Roger Colwill.

* PS We’re getting pretty low in the bank. Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1. For receipt, include a stamped addressed envelope.


THE ECO-PERSONALS

* Advert Rates : 1" ad $30. $2" ad $55. EcoPersonals by donation (or $5 line); free to non-profits and low-income. Inserts : $150 + 2 volunteers for mail-out party.

* Saturna Island Getaway. Furnished room available in spacious rural house on 5 private acres. N/S, no pets. Short term or monthly, from June 1st. (250) 539-2255

* BioLet Composting Toilet for sale. Electric, automatic, self-contained. As new, $800 obo. Rebecca, 386-2550

* Vacancies : paid employment, door to door canvassing over the summer for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, local areas and Gulf Islands camping canvass. For details, call Diona, 388-9292.

* Canadian Electric Vehicles offers D-I-Y conversion kit for Geo Metro. Needs basic mechanical and electrical skills. 30 page manual, on-line support. $7,950 US + freight. (250) 954-2230 www.canev.com

* International Year to Save the Tiger invites you to join their float in the Victoria Day Parade, May 22nd. Join the fun, spread the word. Call Cecilie Davidson, 384-9733 before May 15th.

* Colwood Garden Training project Learn how to grow organic veggies – for people on income assistance. Free seeds, space. Call David or Kelly, 478-1122.


Invest with Principle

Socially Responsible Investment Workshop
Steve Housser, Investment Advisor

Thursday May 4th, 11am

RBC Dominion Securities, 500-730 View
RSVP 356-4800


BLUE BOX SINGS THE GREENS

Whoa ! We’ve got a BIG change coming up in the Blue Box system, opening the way to much more recycling. Starting on May 1st, the Blue Box scheme is being changed and expanded : (1) We’re all going to have blue BAGS for paper of all kinds (newspaper and mixed), except paper that’s greasy, waxed, or attached to plastic (+ no drink boxes or milk cartons). (2) The blue boxes will now accept all plastics No 1 – 7, except styrofoam, plastic bags and plastic lids. Just mix with the bottles and cans. (3) We can now recycle corrugated cardboard, tied up in a bundle, alongside the blue box. (4) The blue box system is being extended to 4,000 new households in Sooke, Metchosin, the Highlands and other rural areas (but not the Gulf Islands). With this big a change, it is maybe time to stop and take a look. Back in 1989, the first year of the recycling program, we each produced 0.69 tonnes of garbage per year, recycling just 6%. By 1998, we were producing 0.67 tonnes each, and recycling 42% - one of the best (if not THE best) rates in North America – for which the CRD Solid Waste Division should be congratulated. We should be proud ! During these years, our population rose by 17%, but the tonnage of waste entering the landfill fell by 29%. Within this, there are some interesting differences among the municipalities in recycling per person per year :

1. Saanich 133 kg (.13 tonnes)
2. Oak Bay 105
3. Central Saanich 103
4. Salt Spring 97
5. Sidney 96
6. North Saanich 95
7. Langford 85
8. Victoria 79
9. Esquimalt 67
10. Outer Islands 60
11. Colwood 56
12. View Royal 47
13. Sooke 37
14. Highland 28
15. Metchosin 26

What gives with the last two, which pride themselves on being so ‘green’ ? And how come Saanich folks recycle almost 3 times more than View Royal folks ?

In the big picture, however, we are still producing just as much waste – 0.67 tonnes per person per year - so on the first 2 ‘R’s (Reduce, Re-use), we have hardly started. The truth is, we still consume so much ! Overall, taking everything we do as a society, we get through 20 tonnes of raw materials per person per year. Recycling is good – but pre-cycling is better. That huge tonnage is why our ecological footprint in North America is so huge, four times more than the planet can sustain.


THE GOLDMAN PRIZES

The Goldman Environmental Foundation prizes are a moving reminder that the passion to protect the Earth, her people and species is shared by people in every corner of the Earth. The Year 2000 prizes, worth $125,000 each, have been awarded to (1) Rodolfo Montiel, 44, a Mexican peasant leader who organised local people to fight logging by U.S. based Boise Cascade in the coastal state of Guerrero, currently in jail on a trumped-up drugs charge. (2) Oral Ataniyazova, 43, an obstetrician from Uzbekistan who has worked to publicise the pollution and pesticide problems stemming from the rapid shrinking of the Aral Sea, and treat the many victims of anaemia, kidney & liver diseases, tuberculosis and birth defects which result from the heavy use of pesticides and defoliants in the Soviet era. (3) Vera Mischenko, 47, a Russian lawyer credited with introducing the concept of public interest environmental law to Russia in 1991 by founding Ecojuris, the country's first public interest law firm. In 1999, Mischenko and Ecojuris persuaded Russia's Supreme Court to reverse official efforts to skip the environmental impact report requirement for a new Exxon oil drilling operation, and successfully challenged government directives allowing clear-cutting of protected forests. (4) Nat Quansah, 46, a Ghanaian working in Madagascar who is using a village clinic to pioneer the use of the island's vast store of unique plants and animals to treat coughs, diarrhoea, fever and wounds, strengthening local efforts to preserve the island's unique ecological heritage. (5) Alexander Peal, 55, who founded Liberia's only national park, and led Liberia's Wildlife and National Parks department until 1990, when the civil war drove him into exile in the US. He returned to Liberia after the 1997 ceasefire, and has resumed his efforts for conservation. (6) Oscar Rivas, 45, and Elias Diaz Pena, 54, of Paraguay, who have struggled for more than a decade against the Yacyreta Dam project and the Hidrovia plan to transform the Paraguay and Parana River systems into an industrial shipping channel. After founding the environmental group Sobrevivencia in 1986, while Paraguay was ruled by Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, Rivas and Diaz sought to give a louder voice to communities directly affected by development projects. "As long as the 'ancient tribes of the future' - indigenous peoples and traditional communities, keepers of the great original wisdom, owners of the key to continuation of life on the planet - maintain their tenacity and resistance, we all find hope in our threatened future." - Oscar Rivas


THE GARDEN PATH

Organic Plant Nursery

We grow the healthiest plants in town

Many exclusive varieties of :

Vegetables, Tomatoes, Flowers,
Roses & Bamboos

Open daily 10am – 5pm

Opening Special : 10% discount for EcoNews readers in May

395 Conway Road
881-1555

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath


BIG WELCOME TO ‘CARRIG’

A big welcome to the Capital Area Regional Rail Initiative Group – CARRIG (pronounced ‘carriage’) - a new coalition that’s encouraging the development of sustainable, cyclable and walkable communities on Southern Vancouver Island through the development of an integrated transportation system. "Our short term goal is gather support for an initial LRT line from Langford into Victoria, and to get the LRT option included in the regional growth strategy this summer, moving it onto the regional agenda where it can become a candidate for federal and provincial funding. Overall, we see it linking to a sustainable growth strategy for the whole Georgia Strait Ecoregion, and a greatly enhanced railway system from Victoria to Port Hardy." CARRIG’s founding members are the BC Railway Historical Association, the Canadian Rail Historical Association, The Roundhouse Museum Society, Citizens Action to Save the Environment, the Commuter Rail & Shortline Action Group and the Greater Victoria Electric Railway Society. For a presentation, or to join the coalition, call Gerry Howell Jones, 388-4046 ghowellj@islandnet.com


THE ECOPLEDGE

"Time is running out. We must take immediate, corrective actions to safeguard the global environment. We can’t count on government regulation to solve the problem. We must encourage companies in all sectors of the economy to act immediately to take reasonable, cost-effective environmentally sound actions, using available technologies." So begins the ‘EcoPledge’, which students on 150 campuses across North America are signing, including over 1000 students at Harvard, committing to join in choosing the companies which EcoPledge is lobbying to change their ways, and not to work for these companies unless they change their ways. Top of the list is BP Amoco, which plans to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, followed by Coca Cola, which uses virtually no recycled plastic in its bottles, despite a 1991 commitment to use 25%. The pledge is open to consumers and investors too, not just students. See http://ecopledge.com


CAR-FREE LIVING

In Vaubon, a former military base outside the German city of Freiburg, a 280-home 94-acre car-free settlement has been completed as Germany's biggest experiment in auto-free living. "It's just like non-smokers seeking smoke-free space," says German lawmaker Franziska Eichstaedt-Bohlig, a Green party housing expert. "People are looking for places where they're not constantly being confronted with cars." There is a garage outside the auto-free area where residents who want a parking space must pay $18,000. Car-free households contribute $3,500 to a fund that holds a plot of land in trust in case more parking is needed someday. If they later buy a car, the payment will be applied toward a garage space. "Our goal was not to be so dogmatic - making people promise till the end of their lives never to get a car," says Claudia Nobis, who oversees traffic issues at Vauban. "But whoever doesn't have a car gets a big financial break." About half the 280 households in Vauban's auto-free district have so far opted to go car-free. Private cars are allowed in for pickups and deliveries, but can't stay, and anyone who violates the parking rules can be ticketed by the city. The biggest hazards, however, are the jumble of bicycles outside almost every front door. (Seattle Times). Meanwhile, in Tofino, a 46-unit, passive solar, car-free, cohousing style ecovillage is making its way through the planning process – see www.earthfuture.com/talkingcedars. On May 17th, Joel Crawford, Amsterdam-based author of the ‘Car-free Cities’ book and web-page, is speaking here in Victoria – see Diary, and see www.carfree.com


GM FOOD MEETINGS

There are two major meetings coming up on GM food. On May 2nd, there’s a forum organized by Ida Chong, Liberal MLA, with Alex Campbell and others, which seems to be strong on the pro-GM side (or at least takes both sides), and on May 11th there’s a panel at UVic with the British anti-GM author Luke Anderson, Richard Bocking and Derrick Mallard. (See Diary for both). Locally, the Council of Canadians is working on the issue (Sheila Haegedorn, 920-7720). Pauline Holdsworth is compiling a directory of GM-free foods (gmfree@islandnet.com), and the Salt Spring Ad Hoc Committee for Safe Food and Water meets every month to write letters, contact local markets and organize petitions. (Michelle Grant, 537-9634)


AMAZING SALT SPRING

Elizabeth Hill writes : Support from the Salt Spring community to protect the Texada lands has been stupendous! Nearly 1,000 individuals and businesses have contributed to the May Day Campaign fund which reached $480,000 at the magnificent Salt Spring Conservancy Stump Stomp. A week until May 1st, $20,000 to go. What started as a dream is now very close to reality. If you have been meaning to give a donation or pledge, but have not yet done it - this is the week! The May Day funds will be used by The Land Conservancy of BC to begin the negotiation process with Texada on behalf of the community. This is not the end of the fundraising - the overall Salt Spring Appeal goal is expected to be $2-$3 million, but it sure is a good start. Call 537-2616. www.savesaltspring.com


ACTION OF THE MONTH :
GULF ISLANDS LOGGING

Here on the beautiful west coast, we value the beauty and diversity of our environment, and support ecoforestry as a way of managing the forest. It is galling, then, to know that no legislation can stop a private logging company from buying land in the Gulf Islands (or anywhere), and logging it for as much money as they can get. It is really akin to piracy. A whole community may be opposed to it, yet there is no way to stop it. The new regulations on managed forest in the Forest Land Reserve allow harvesting within riparian areas, and do nothing to regulate the scale of cut, or logging on sensitive viewscapes or unstable slopes. For unmanaged forest land where the owner is not seeking favorable tax status, not even replanting is required. In fact, the Forest Lands Reserve Act specifically prohibits local governments from passing laws to regulate timber harvesting in the FLR. The Islands Trust has a specific legal mandate to "preserve and protect" the Gulf Islands, yet it is legally incapable of regulating large-scale, industrial logging within the FLR, to fulfil their mandate.

Action : Write to Jim Doyle, Minister of Forests & Cathy McGregor, Minister of Municipal Affairs, Leg Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. Ask them to strengthen the regulation of private logging in the Islands Trust area to ensure sustainable rates of harvest and restricted opening sizes, and amend the FLR legislation to affirm that Islands Trust environmental protection regulations do apply (eg the use of development permits).


Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

www.greenpages.victoria.bc.ca


Deadline for May 2000: May 24th


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

 


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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)

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

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