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Contact Econews

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. 95 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - June 2000


THE ROAD TO TIKOPIA

As far as we know, we are alone in this Universe. If there are other beings out there, they are either avoiding us, or they are obeying what may be a primary law among evolved planetary civilizations, which says "Thou shalt not interfere with less evolved civilizations." It is up to us to learn how to live on our rather small planet, or suffer the consequences.

Our basic condition seems to be that we learn by trial and error. You put it in your mouth, and see what happens – generally known as the "Oops" school of learning.

Some new evidence to justify this theory comes from Patrick Kirch, a UC Berkeley archaeologist who has just written a major new book called On the Road of the Winds : an Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact (Univ California Press), in which he buries forever the myth that the people of the Pacific were children of nature, living in a Garden of Eden.

Kirch’s detailed study of archaeology, linguistics, biology and oral tradition shows that the human impact by early Polynesian settlers was ecologically disastrous, with the wholesale decimation of species and the loss of vast tracts of indigenous forest. Kirch shows in detail how the residents of Easter Island, Mangaia and other islands suffered overpopulation and the depletion of resources, followed by ecological and social collapse, social terrorism, and warfare.

‘Ecological collapse’. Ring any bells ? By email, I recently received two stories about our own impending ecological collapse.

"Young Danes sperm count dips", runs the heading on a story from the BBC. It tells of research into 700 Danish army recruits aged 18 to 20, conducted between 1996 and 1998, which found that 43% of them had sperm counts so low that it would be hard for them to father children. The Danish authors of the study say that "male reproductive function seems to have deteriorated considerably in the past four to five decades."

Previous studies into male sperm counts have dealt with selected groups – candiates for vasectomy, semen donors, infertility patients and volunteers. This is the first study of sperm counts in a random sample of healthy young men.

The World Wildlife Fund believes that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals may be involved, including some phthalates, used in many plastic goods including toys, Bisphenol A, used in plastic bottles and the plastic lining of food cans, and TBT, used as an anti-fouling paint for boats. It would appear that we are making ourselves infertile. Let that sink in.

The second story reads "High-tech crops are bad for the brain". Geoffrey Lean, environment correspondent for the UK Independent, reports on a Global Environment Change Programme study which shows that ‘miracle crops’ such as high-yield rice and wheat varieties are contributing to widespread brain impairment in the developing world. The new crops may pack more calories, but they fail to take up iron and zinc from the soil, critical micronutrients for the developing brain. The author of the report estimates that a quarter of the world’s population is affected by Green Revolution iron deficiency, that more than half of India’s schoolchildren have impaired learning ability, and that half the world’s pregnant women are anaemic, with too little iron. And we think we know what we’re doing.

The good news in Kirch’s book concerns the tiny island of Tikopia, just north of Vanuatu. The people there, as elsewhere, burnt the forest for crop planting, with the same disastrous results. But around 900 AD they radically altered course, creating multi-story orchard stands of fruits and nuts, among other ecologically-wise decisions. They also believed in zero population growth, and used drastic means, including infanticide, to achieve it. The result, Kirch says, was a stable social system and a model of agriculture that is "perhaps unparalled anywhere in the Pacific."

Utopia means ‘no place’ – it does not exist. Tikopia is a very real place, where the residents have chosen to adopt wise ecological behaviour. In Maori (Polynesian) mythology, Tiki was the creator of the first man. This is ‘God’s place.’ But will it survive climate change’s rising sea-levels ?

"This island poses critical lessons for the modern world," Kirch says. "These two outcomes, one disastrous, and one sucessful, teach us that we have choices. These island environments are laboratories to show us how to achieve a sustainable relationship with our planet on a global basis."

We’re certainly good at getting it wrong. Maybe if we start getting it right, the space people will start talking to us. Now, about that method of ecological agriculture……

Guy Dauncey


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)

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Many thanks to Roger Colwill, Mel McDonald, Roxanne Brydges, LW Pommen, Marjorie Vachell, Emile LaCroix, Edward Jones, M.Harvey, Lawrence Smith, Mary June Pettyfer, Norman Thyer, Lorraine Garcia-Meredith, Christian Freidinger, Kay Look, Gail Schultz, Kim Feltham, Margaret Hantiuk, Ian Graeme, Gary Greenstein, Ann Gower, Pamela Harbord, Karen Skowron, S. Copland & Nancy McMinn.

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For receipt, include a stamped addressed envelope.

To receive EcoNews by email fill in the form at top.


THE ECO-PERSONALS

EcoPersonals $5 line (free to non-profits, low-income). 1" box $30. $2" $55. Inserts $150 + 2 mail-out party volunteers.

* Omnivore seeks couple or single parent with child to share reasonably large house in Fairfield with garden space, swingset, mild forest activist setting. Rent and chores negotiable. Syd 381-1141

* 2BR upr dplx rent/buy, Oaklands. Quiet character, native garden $850 Tel 595-5600

* Save your Empties ! The Bottle Depot at 3961 Quadra Street is offering customers the option of donating their deposit money to The Land Conservancy of BC.

* Our congratulations to Vicky Husband on being awarded the Order of BC for 18 years of volunteer activism in the defense of our magnificent coastal rainforests. We thank you, and all your co-workers.

* Saanich and Briony Penn have produced a beautiful ‘Healthy Saanich’ Map expressing community values shared by residents, young and old. It’s on sale at Commonwealth Place, Gordon Head, Cedar Hill, Pearkes and Les Passmore (the Senior's Centre at Hampton).


LOOKING FOR

fresh, Certified Organic produce?

Call Saanich Organics at 658-4921

All-season Brown Box delivery program

TOTALLY ISLAND GROWN

Tina Fraser & Rebecca Jehn - 7th year


VICTORIA CITY REPORT

Councillor Denise Savioe writes : Life at City Hall has been hectic; I see how easy it is to get pulled in 20 directions ! I continue to work for a safe crossing of the Johnson Street Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Crossing the Rail Bridge will become legal for public use, and the Galloping Goose Trail will be continued right up to the Bridge, funded by the City, Pacific Wilderness and hopefully the Provincial Government through a Millennium Grant. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s a step in the right direction. The President of Pacific Wilderness, the new tourist train company, has assured us of his intent to move the passenger loading to the other side of the bridge next year, leaving the rail bridge free for pedestrians and cyclists.

Council has been working on the City’s strategic plan for the next three years. It is important to me that we give more prominence to environmental issues, which means more people-friendly transportation, and more attention to stormwater and sanitary sewers. This isn’t sexy stuff, but parts of the city’s system are up to 100 year old, with serious environmental consequences. We have cross-connections which cause high coliform counts in parts of the harbour, and sewage overflows during storms, so work is needed to preserve the water quality in the Gorge and the Harbour. We’ve received a long overdue proposal from Esquimalt to consider watershed-based management for the Gorge, and I look forward to working with the other municipalities on joint management of the Gorge. I have asked staff to look into a voluntary stewardship program, through which the City would help residents to naturalize their shoreline. Regionally, the CRD Board has approved a source control program to reduce chemical contaminants that go down our sewers, by progressively bringing various business sectors into compliance with a code of practice.

Also from the CRD, there’s to be a Citizens’ Forum on Sept 8th – 9th followed by a Regional Planning Summit on Sept 16-17th to recommend one of four planning scenarios to guide the future growth of our region. There’s a questionnaire available at libraries and community centres, and at www.crd.bc.ca/rgs_home.htm. Please fill it in. A question for EcoNews Readers in the core municipalities: Would you support "appropriate" densification of your neighbourhood if a reserve fund acquired from development and re-zoning charges ensured the establishment of new greenspace and pocket parks in your neighbourhood ? Send me your thoughts at

Denises@city.victoria.bc.ca


LITTLE IRRITATIONS - #1

Don’t you hate it when a builder strips the topsoil off a building site, sells it for cash, and never replaces it ? From Brenda Sawada, in Vancouver, comes the news that in Germany, developers and purchasers are required to scrape off the topsoil from a building site, store it, and respread it when the site is ready for landscaping, thus preserving an incredibly valuable resource and providing fertile soil for the new plants. The developers and purchasers pay the cost.


LITTLE IRRITATIONS - #2

Leafblowers – don’t you just love them ? All that wonderful noise ? In California, people love them so much they are banning them – something councils could do here if people said "Just Do It." The use of blowers has been made illegal in 21 major California cities, including Los Angeles, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Lomita, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Claremont, South Pasadena and Santa Barbara for one simple reason: they are hazardous to our health. First offence is a $100 fine; second is $20; third is $1,000 and/or six months in jail. See http://pages.prodigy.com/leaf/leaf.htm for all the noise-free details.


GET YOUR DAILY E-NEWS

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re not getting the environmental news that really matters through your local paper ? Newspapers are like the last quaint scrolls handwritten by monks, while the rest of the world has moved on to the printing press – or in our case, the Internet. Here are three environmental news services which you can receive free in your daily email : (1) The Daily Grist, from Earthday (www.gristmagazine.com/grist/daily) (2) ENN (www.enn.com), (3) Planet Ark, from Australia (www.planetark.org). Now you’ll know what’s really going on.


Cadboro Bay Chiropractic

Dr Barry Curran

2571 Penryhn St

477-1133

University / Gyro Park Area


SALT SPRING, & THE WORLD

On Salt Spring, the struggle to stop the massacre of the landscape by clearcut logging goes on, with four people arrested so far for blocking the trucks that ship the logs that repay the loan that enriches the shareholders of Manulife, who financed the deal in the first place. With assets of $11 billion, what’s $16 million for a couple of loggers ? They say they’re only cutting second growth – but one tree was 267 years old. Salt Spring’s residents are fighting back with every way they know. They have raised $638,000 in pledges to buy the land from Texada; they have invited arrest (and been arrested); they have taken their struggle to Manulife’s AGM, somewhere back east, and they’ve a top-notch website at www.savesaltspring.com. The overarching question is : How do we stop these huge corporations from buying and selling without regard for the consequences to the locality where they trade, or to the planet ? The British government has one idea. Frustrated at their inability to nobble Thames Trains for paying out £7.48 in dividends to their shareholders while not bothering to invest £5.26 million in a safety system that could have prevented the Paddington railway disaster that killed 31 people, the government intends to create a new offence of "corporate killing". Now there’s an idea. Just think where this might lead, if applied to some of the larger companies. How about "corporate ecocide" for companies which destroy ecosystems ?


Oak and Orca Bioregional School

SUMMER CHILDREN'S PROGRAM

- ride the cycling school bus to areas

of natural and cultural interest

- get into practical hands-on projects

like gardening, pottery and cob

Full day licensed care, ages 5-12.

Space is limited: Call 383-6609

***

Now also registering for our September 2000 bioregional elementary program,

a government certified alternative school for children aged 5-12.


GM FOOD PROGRESS

The Welsh Asembly has defied Britain’s government by voting 54 – 0 to ban the growing of GM crops. Sweden has ruled that all GM rapeseed crops must be uprooted by July 7th unless farmers get a special permit. The city of Genoa, in northern Italy, banned GM crops on the eve of an international biotech conference held in the city in May; and Austin City Council, in Texas, has voted unanimously in favour of the campaign for the labelling of GM food.


THE GARDEN PATH

Organic Plant Nursery

Healthiest plants at grower direct prices

Exclusive varieties of :

Vegetables, Tomatoes, Flowers,

Roses & Bamboo

Open daily 10am – 5pm until June 30th

Demonstration gardens & afternoon teas

395 Conway Road

881-1555

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath


TEXACO PLANTS TREES

The hottest thing in the politics of climate change is known as "carbon offsets" – initiatives that companies are taking to offset their carbon dioxide emissions, chiefly by planting trees. It’s a dubious way to try to control climate change, for a host of reasons, but nonetheless : In April, Texaco committed $900,000 dollars to a reforestation project in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, enabling The Conservation Fund to acquire 1,500 acres of land where 450,000 native tree seedlings will be planted, to offset 800,000 tonnes of C02 over 70 years. These are big figures, which bear some examining. Texaco’s website says that they released 47 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 1998 (C02 equivalents) – that’s 4,000 times more than the 11,428 tonnes which the Mississippi trees will store on an average annual basis. Texaco had revenues of $35.7 billion in 1999 – which is 40,000 times more than the $900,000 they spend on the trees. What does this tell us ? That Texaco would have to do 4,000 projects like this every year if they were serious about offsetting their emissions; and that it would cost them 10% of their total revenues.


ANYONE FOR ZERO WASTE ?

In May’s EcoNews, I made the error of listing the CRD’s municipalities in the order of their recycling. Residents of the Highlands and Metchosin – who appeared to be on the bottom of the list – were not happy ! They pointed out that they take their recyclables to Alpines and other places, so they don’t get included in the CRD’s figures – and that maybe they produce less waste in the first place ! My apologies for suggesting that you were not absolutely the greenest municipalities in the CRD. Now, about that commuting…. Incidentally, for the very latest on recycling, and which methods bring the best results (some New Jersey municipalities are achieving 65%), see Wasting and Recycling in the US, 2000, by Brenda Platt and Neil Seldman (Institute for Local Self-Reliance), which includes an action agenda for a zero-waste society. $25US, GrassRoots Recycling Network, PO Box 49283, Athens, GA 30604-9823. By the way, anyone wanting to recycle their plastics locally, instead of having the CRD ship it over to the mainland mixed with glass and metal, should call Chris Mowat at 381-2273, who takes it up to Syntal at Keating Cross Road, where they use an extrusion method to make plastic lumber. In Fairfield, call Neil at 382-7627. In South Jubilee, call Roger at 595-3914.


ACTION OF THE MONTH

BAN GARDEN PESTICIDES

On May 1st, the House of Commons Environment committee recommended a ban on the use of chemical pesticides on lawns and gardens in Canada. Now we need legislation. There is absolutely no need to use chemicals to maintain a healthy garden – but when we do, they blow around the neighbourhood, and get tracked into people’s homes by dogs and cats. These things are a hangover from the 20th century, when we thought that modern science would make us all happier citizens. Now we have epidemics of cancer, and people whose bodily response mechanisms have been so badly affected by exposure to chemicals that they can only live in ultra-pure environments. They are the canaries, who warn us of what will come if we don’t stop spraying chemicals on our skins (many modern perfumes), our homes and our gardens. A recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has just shown that people exposed to pesticides in the home are twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. We have to stop it.

Action : Write to the following, let them know what you feel, and ask for federal legislation to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns and gardens :

Jean Chretien PM, House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6 pm@parl.gc.ca

Allan Rock, Health Minister, David Anderson Minister of Environment, Dr Keith Martin MP & Gary Lunn MP, all at the same address.


ACTION OF THE MONTH (2) SILVER SPRAY REZONING

Barbara Campbell (642-2698) writes :

The Silver Spray Rezoning Application will proceed to the CRD Board on Wednesday, June 14, 2000. Citizens of the Capital Region & supporters of the Sea-to-Sea Green/Blue Belt Vision need to act now to prevent inappropriate high density (1/4 acre min. lot sizes) residential / commercial / resort development adjacent to one of the region’s most cherished parks.

The 174 acre lands, which share a 10,000 foot border with East Sooke Regional Wilderness Park, are currently designated ‘rural’ for 10 acre minimum lot sizes, in the East Sooke Local Area Plan (created by local citizens in recent years). Included in the proposal are: 127 homes, 85 room hotel on Possession Point (with restaurant, conference rooms, pool, spa), 115 boat marina basin, 9 hole golf course,15 cottages, tennis courts, etc. And more could be expected later.

Action :

1. Write to CRD Board Chair and Directors: Mr. Christopher Causton, CRD Board Chair, & Board Members, CRD Executive Office, PO Box 1000, 524 Yates Street, Victoria, BC, V8W-2S6 FAX: 360-3130

Voice your concerns about this proposal (e.g. negative impacts on the foreshore environment and neighbouring CRD regional East Sooke Park; negative impacts on neighbouring watersheds from golf course run-off, negative impacts due to a new marina at the mouth of the harbour, yet more high density development in a rural area). Also note that one brief meeting is inadequate to address this regional issue; they need to strike a committee to hear public input.

2. Call the CRD at 360-3000 for a registration form and fax it in to the number above, or register on-line at www.crd.bc.ca (click on 'public participation') to request to speak at the June 14 meeting. Each person is allotted a maximum of five minutes. You must be registered by Friday June 9.

3. Attend the CRD Board meeting on this subject at 1:00 p.m. at the CRD offices, address indicated above.


Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

www.greenpages.victoria.bc.ca


Deadline for July 2000: June 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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