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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. 131 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - October 2003


WORLD TRADE: HOPE IN DEATH

Ever since the collapse of communism, the drum beat of liberal economic fundamentalism has grown. Like a tribal chant before the Gods of the Market Forces, it has been repeated over and over again, hypnotizing its believers into obedience.

The markets must be free…. Investors must be protected… Regulations must be abolished … Globalization can not be stopped … There Is No Alternative….

Lee Kyung-hae was a small farmer from South Korea who knew it to be a lie. He was a visionary, a passionate worker, and a leader. In September, he joined the protests at the World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico, and in a moment of excitement, he plunged a knife into his heart, dying a few hours later.

Who was this small farmer? And why did he make the supreme sacrifice?

Lee came from the mountain slopes near Jangsu, a small town of 30,000 farming households in North Cholla Province, four hours drive south of Seoul. It is a spectacular area, where the terraced slopes are full of rice, cabbages, radishes, ginseng, apple orchards, and greenhouses filled with roses. (Thanks to Jonathan Watts, Guardian, for much of this).

Farming in the region may look beautiful, but it has always been a struggle. The fields are often covered with snow in winter, and the rice is poor quality. The farmers are deep in debt, and young people are abandoning their farms. In the past 20 years, the town’s population has almost halved.

Lee was born to a wealthy family of rice traders in 1947, and dreamed of revitalizing farming in the area. He borrowed to buy a patch of mountain land, studied agricultural science, met his wife while at college, and the two of them set to work at Seoul Farm, 30 hectares of steep mountainside where they created grazing pastures, paddy fields and farm buildings. He brought experts from Germany to help with the electric fencing, and erected a cable car to transport hay from the higher slopes to the sheds below. Nobody had ever imagined that cows could be grazed on such a gradient.

The farm became a teaching college with live-in students (like WOOFers). His herd had expanded to 300 cattle, and in 1988 he was given a UN award for rural leadership. The fame of this man who had mastered such a difficult land was spreading.

Then disaster struck, when the South Korean government bowed to the Gods of the Market Forces, opening the market to cheap Australian cows and encouraging farmers to expand their stocks with cheap loans. The price of beef collapsed, and Lee had to sell all his cows to meet his interest payments. When the last cow was gone, the banks repossessed the land. In the midst of this, his wife died in a car crash.

When he had overcome his double grief, Lee plunged himself into politics to oppose the trade liberalization agenda that had ruined him, and so many other small farmers. He was elected four times to the North Cholla local assembly, and 1987 he helped form the Korean Advanced Agriculture Federation.

As part of his struggle to change the global trade agenda that was destroying his home, he staged more than 30 hunger strikes. Earlier this year he camped outside the WTO office in Geneva, fasting once again to demonstrate his belief that the trade negotiations were killing farmers. He once tried to disembowel himself. He knew that he often went too far, but that his actions were unconscious. "I regret this kind of irritated and uncontrolled action," he wrote in 1990, but he said that he could not bear to stand by and watch the WTO inflict suffering on farmers.

Lee is now dead, but the WTO was halted in its tracks at Cancun by the African and Caribbean delegates who walked out of the talks, rather than accept the compromises which other developing nations were willing to accept. The God of the Market Forces has been stopped. A local Jangsu official said "Lee knew the Korean countryside is slowly dying, that farmers are living lonely, miserable lives. He wanted to tell the world. That is why he sacrificed himself, and that is why we call him a hero."

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a Vancouver Island and a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community & the joys of fulfillment.

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Many thanks to Dee Dee Sjogren, Mick Isbrucker, Nan Brown, Peter Carilho, Johanna Poll, Peter Spurr, Marjorie Vachell, Frances Thibeau, Marion Cumming, Peter Schofield, Jay & Nina Rastogi, Norm Thyer, Rob & Wilda Cottam, Jan Slakov, & Sylvan Foreman.

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


Hell is a mall. The survival of wilderness surroundings is fundamental. Eliminate the landscape, and you erase all memory – Briony.


THE ECO-CORNER

$1/word (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70, insert $180

* Wanted to Rent. Mature, NS woman requires suite in quiet, eco-conscious home. Excellent references. Property management experience. Leslie 250-653-9631 or law@saltspring.com

* Can you help? I need a volunteer outreach organizer for EcoNews, to reach new people. Call Guy, 881-1304.

* Wanted - donations of notebooks, pencils, pens, Spanish/English books, computers, medical supplies, sporting equipment, toys, for use in a Guatemala Mayan school we’re supporting. Also, can you help us to deliver these to San Pedro, in Guatemala? Call Jackie or Bill Robson 361-9446.

* Wanted – I need volunteers to help compile a Directory of Sustainable Energy in BC. Call Guy, 881-1304

* Peaceful housing needed near transit for quiet ecofeminist woman. No basements please. Must be under $400, all included. Call 704-0103.

* Reiki Treatments. Relaxing, Rebalancing, Re-energizing. $35/hour – Will consider trades or sliding scale for low income. Classes also available. Crystee Bull, Reiki Master 383-7242

* Fur Ads. Famous Players Theatres are refusing to ditch their Fur Ads – please write and ask them to commit to a no-fur advertising policy. See www.Skinned.ca.


Think BIG, Go Green!

Eco-Business Awards

DesignWrights & Cedarwood Video showcase bright, green local endeavours,

at "Your Business and the Environment" Conference, October 24

Enter for $10,000 green business award!

www.designwrights.com


THESE LEGS WERE MADE FOR WALKING

It was around 50,000 years ago that our direct genetic ancestors made the trek out of Africa. Walking north from the Kalahari desert, they walked across to the Yemen, around the coast of India and Indonesia (now under water because sea levels rose at the end of the ice age) and down into Australia. Later, we walked into every corner of the Earth. These legs were truly made for walking.

And then came the motor car, with soft seats, onboard stereos, and coffee cup holders. Why walk, when you can drive? And guess what: the less we walked, the more we put on weight. As a result, today’s crop of human beings are probably, on average, the fattest, laziest, least attractive human specimens who have ever graced this planet.

But wait! To the rescue comes Victoria’s first Walk Week (Oct 4th – 10th), and the International Walk to School Week. In 2002, six BC schools achieved 100% participation, with every student arriving for class without a family car. The only families who drove to Frank Hobbs Elementary near UVic were those who brought the grill for the pancake breakfast the school organized to celebrate the event. Everyone else arrived on foot, scooter, skate board or bicycle, many walking in a parade down the hill from UVic Family Housing. Two legs good! Four wheels bad!

That’s good for the kids. But what about the grown-ups? City Green and New Balance are bribing us to get us off our butts. If you commit to walk more during the week, you can win a Ford Explorer. Oops! Wrong answer. The correct answer is new walking and running shoes, transit passes, and lots more. For a full list of walking events, so that you can meet new friends while rediscovering your legs, and the prizes registration form, see www.citygreen.ca, or call Tathra Street, 381-9995. In cities of the future, there won’t be any cars. The walking will be so pleasant, the cycling so easy, and the transit so efficient that the car will be relegated to the museum.


WORLD GRAIN HARVEST

Phew! That was quite some summer. But here’s something new you may not have come across before. The crops don’t like the heat, either. New research from crop ecologists at the International Rice Research Institute and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service shows an emerging consensus that for every 1˚ Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season there is a 10% decline in grain yields. Above 40˚ Celsius, photosynthesis stops entirely. Seed fertility is affected too. At 34˚C he fertility of rice is 100%, falling to 0% at 40˚C.

So now let’s look at the predictions for global temperature rise: on average, 1.5˚ to 5.8˚C throughout the world over the next 100 years, higher over land and in the continental interiors – where most of the grain is grown. When feedback loops are taken into account (forests dying back, Arctic permafrost releasing CO2 and methane), the Hadley Centre for Climate Research in Britain estimates the warming could reach 8˚C.

It’s not difficult to do the maths: A 1˚ C rise causes a 10% reduction in yield. An 8˚C rise causes an 80% reduction. This is not the maths of hunger. This is the maths of massive worldwide starvation, and death.

This summer, the world’s grain harvest will fall short of the amount that we consume by 93 million tons. France is expected to lose more than 20% of its grain harvest; Italy 13%; Britain 12%. In the Ukraine, where temperatures sizzled all summer, the wheat crop fell by 75%; Moldova, 80%. In India, the government had to release 50% of its food stocks, as a result of the intense heat, combined with flooding.

Globally, this is the fourth year in a row that production has fallen short of consumption. Last year it was the US and India that saw big harvest reductions. This year, it’s Europe. There has been no growth in world grain production for 8 years now – but the world population keeps rising. Falling water tables are also undermining our ability to grow more food.

On a sane planet, the emergency bells would all be ringing, and we’d be taking urgent global action to cool the climate, preserve the watertables, and stop eating meat (Cows eat 16 kilograms of grain for each kilogram of meat they produce. An acre of prime land can produce 18,000 kg of potatoes or 22,000 kg of tomatoes, but only 113 kg of beef.) So – will we do it?

See www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update27.htm and www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update27_data.htm


GREEN ARE THE IRISH

Last year, the Irish government brought in a 25 cent tax on plastic shopping bags, resulting in an 80% drop in their use, as people switched to cloth bags; the income was used to speed the recycling of old fridges. Now the government plans to levy taxes on three more unwanted items – chewing gum packets, receipts from cash machines, and polystyrene packing from fast food chains. The income from the 80 million packs sold every year will be used to remove the 500 tonnes of gum that ends up stuck to the streets.


FRANCE – CITIZENS in 1789, NATURE in 2003

No wonder the Bush administration feels rattled. The French cabinet has approved a plan to add an Environmental Charter to the country’s constitution, stating that ‘everyone has the right to live in a balanced and healthy environment’, that humans have a duty to ‘preserve and improve’ the natural world, and that people should pay damages if they harm the environment. The charter advocates the precautionary principle, whereby officials should act to halt practices that have not been proven to be safe. If the bill passes this fall, the pre-amble of France’s national constitution will be amended to mention the charter, placing it on an equal footing with France’s landmark 1789 human rights document, "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen." The legal implications are truly profound. Can someone volunteer to find the text, and translate it into English? Contact Guy, 881-1304


SOLAR TOUR

Ever wondered how solar energy works, or what it costs? On Sat Oct 4th, you can join the Victoria Solar Tour from 11-3pm. It’s self-guided, with people at each of these locations to talk about the technology:

* Solar heated pool and electric vehicles maintenance: McKinnon Gym, UVic.

* Solar hot water: 855 Vancouver St

* Solar vacuum tubes: 3181 Kingsley

* BCBC Building, 865 Yates

* Solar PV house: 2730 Forbes

* Electric Vehicles: 5548 Alderley

* Solar Powered Bus Stops: The I-Stop

Cook Street Village, Cook at Oscar

More locations brewing: call 384-0366


VALUES BASED BUSINESS

In the 19th century, business owners argued that they had to use child labour and require their employees work an 80 hour week because the market demanded it – if they didn’t do it, they’d lose sales to someone else who did. Since then – thanks to determined campaigning by the radicals and trade unionists of the 19th century – we have legislation that protects the rights of children and workers. Today, however, the same argument is used to defend the use of sweatshop labour overseas, the abuse of nature, and the use of toxic chemicals that put all of our lives at risk. Here in Victoria, a new Values Based Business Network is being founded, as a dynamic alliance which will build a vision of global and local sustainability among local businesses. The launch is Oct 20th (see Diary), Coro Strandberg, 360-1716.


Your Business & the Environment

and CWMA
come together in one
Conference and Trade Show
Business – Sustainability – Waste Reduction – Energy Efficiency Corporate Social Responsibility

October 22-24

Ocean Point Resort, Victoria
www.cwma.bc.ca
(250) 752-8293


TURKEY WASTES INTO OIL

Business often gets a bad rap these days, and so does new technology – but it pays to keep a very open mind. Allow me to present "thermal depolymerization process (TDP)." This is a process that a company called Changing World Technologies has developed which essentially mimics and speeds up what the Earth does over millions of years when it converts forests and swamps into fossil fuels. Nature does it by pressure-cooking the long molecular chains of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen in dead animals and plants into shorter chain hydrocarbons, resulting in the petroleum that we are using to cook the planet and fry its crops. Changing World’s TDP does the same thing in one minute by pressuring a heated slurry of waste organic materials, while producing zero harmful pollutants. The process is 85% efficient, needing 15% of its output of energy to keep it going. So what can TDP deliver that might help our struggling planet? How about ….. oil? The demonstration plant in Philadelphia started by converting 7 tons of various wastes into usable oil. With the investors lining up (including the US EPA), the next stage will see a plant in Carthage, Missouri convert 200 tons a day of waste turkey fat, bones and feathers into 21,000 gallons of water, 11 tons of minerals, and 600 barrels of high quality oil. Since the turkeys absorbed their carbon in the current carbon cycle, the fuel will be carbon neutral, and have zero impact on global climate change. From the tests that Changing World has done, if they took all America’s agricultural wastes, they could convert them into 4 billion barrels of oil a year, about the same amount the US imports from the Middle East. The US is expected to ban the recycling of abattoir wastes into animal feed soon, opening up a huge potential.

But there’s more. Philadelphia City Council is planning to use TDP to treat its sewage – the one thing that everyone except the folks behind Solar Aquatic sewage treatment want to get rid of. Changing World is also talking about the potential to use it on landfill wastes: the mind boggles. Is this the perfect mix of biomimicry and sustainability? TDP currently costs $15 a barrel, compared to the world price of $30 a barrel ($1 in the Middle East, $8-$12 in Alaska and the North Sea). With scaling up, Changing World expects $8-$12. Before anyone gets too excited, we should see the precautionary principle applied by environmental assessment. See www.changingworldtech.com


ACTION OF THE MONTH:

STOP THE WORKING FOREST INITIATIVE

The BC Liberal government is planning to act on its Working Forest initiative to zone BC’s public forests as a permanent logging zone, and obstruct the protection of new land for parks, drinking watershed reserves, endangered species habitat, or First Nations settlements. It will hand our public forest to the logging companies, and guarantee them increased compensation for any future protection initiatives. It takes away our democratic right to choose how we use our publicly owned land, and ensures the supremacy of the timber groups. With their 77 seat majority we need a massive outcry to stop this VERY SOON; they may vote on it as early as October 7th. For details, see www.workingforest.org

ACTION: Call your MLA’s office, and be very vociferous: Stan Hagen: 703-2422; Judith Reid: 951-6021; Mike Hunter: 716-5266; Graham Bruce: 715-2900; Brian Kerr: 391-2831; Murray Coell: 655-5711; Susan Brice: 952-4418; Arnie Hamilton: 479-8326; Ida Chong: 472 8528; Jeff Bray: 952-4211; Sheila Orr: 952-4262


THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way:

Mark Fiore Remembers September 11th: www.markfiore.com/animation/twoyear.html

Michael Meacher’s astonishing article on September 11th 2001 in the Guardian. Michael Meacher is an MP, and was UK Minister of the Environment until very recently. "The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination": www.truthout.org/docs_03/090703A.shtml

TRUTHOUT – an invaluable source of first rate, normally hidden and censored stories: www.truthout.org

A Petition to Parliament to Reject Genetically Engineered Wheat in Canada: www.greenpeace.ca/e/action/wheat

California politics, Hybrid versus Hummer: www.HYBRIDvHUMMER.com/movie

Mind-boggling real-life NASA animation of planet frying during the 20th century's last quarter-century: www.giss.nasa.gov/data/update/gistemp/animations

One Sweet Whirled – Ben & Jerry’s Campaign to Fight Global Warming – and (for Americans) a free fax to your senators urging them to support Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Lieberman (D-CT) and pass the historic "Climate Stewardship Act" to address the problems of climate and change and air pollution and promote clean energy. www.onesweetwhirled.org

Medhi Najari’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.bcleader.ca

Nils Jensen’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.nilsjensen.ca

Peter Dimitrov’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.peterdimitrov.ca

Carol James’ campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.carolejames.com

Craig Keating’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.craigkeating.ca

Leonard Krog’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.leonardkrog.ca

Steve Orcherton’s campaign to become the NDP Leader: www.steveorcherton.ca


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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