EcoNews Options
EcoNews PDFs
Subscribe to EcoNews
Get EcoNews by email each month:
Name:
Email:
* EcoNews protects the privacy of its email list, and does not share it with any other group or organization.
To receive EcoNews by mail, call Guy at 250-881-1304.
Appeal

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?

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

Donations can also be sent via PayPal:

$
(Donations in Canadian Dollars.)
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. 135 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - February 2004


THE BANK THAT RAN INTO RAN

If there is one reason why many people feel so hopeless about the state of the world, regardless of heroic initiatives and small successes, it is because we know that behind every clearcut forest, oil pipeline, and GM crop are the bankers, investors, fund managers, and Wall Street analysts that finance it all.

In the new Canadian film The Corporation, that has won high praise at the Sundance Film Festival and wherever it has been aired, Joel Bakan makes the case that the fundamental condition of the corporation is that of a psychopath, who takes no responsibility for human, social or ecological destruction, and seeks only to advance its own ends. This includes the financial corporations, with their offshore habits and dodgy accountants.

With this kind of a motor driving most of the economic activity that takes place on the planet, what hope can there be for those who want to live on an Earth governed by compassion, cooperation and ecological stewardship?

In January 2004, a major worldwide study by a team of conservation biologists reported in Nature that if global warming continues as predicted, between 18% and 37% of all land-based animals and plants could become extinct by 2050.

Silence. My heart is stunned into silence.

It’s like a million nooses hanging over the Earth, one for every species that will become extinct, all because the corporations and the banks that drive the global economy are unwilling to let go of their greed to make money, from selling fossil fuels.

And yet.

The Rainforest Action Group, based in San Francisco, works to protect the Earth’s rainforests, and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action. (See www.ran.org).

For the past four years, RAN’s activists have been picketing the offices of Citigroup, the world’s largest financial institution, with 200 million customer accounts in 100 countries. In 2003, Citigroup had earnings of $17.85 billion on a revenue of $77.4 billion. RAN’s activists were aiming to force Citigroup to stop financing the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

So here’s the incredible result: they won. In 2003, Citigroup asked to meet with RAN, to see what it would take to call off the protestors who were dogging them everywhere they went, and embarrassing their customers. It was slowly registering on Citigroup that it did not look good to be held personally responsible for the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

RAN’s activists had to scramble, as they were suddenly asked to put down their placards and start thinking in a win-win language. They did, Citigroup listened, and it worked.

In January 2004 Citigroup signed a momentous agreement: the "Citigroup New Environmental Initiatives". They have agreed to stop financing commercial logging in tropical rainforests. They have agreed to recognize the need for environmental "no-go" zones that are essential for the ecological integrity of a healthy planet. They have agreed to enact new progressive lending practices that will support the rights, livelihoods and cultural integrity of forest dwelling indigenous peoples.

Recognizing that climate change is the biggest single threat to the world’s forests, Citigroup has committed to report the greenhouse gas emissions from its power sector projects, and to increase its investments in clean, renewable energy. It has agreed to market "energy efficiency" mortgages, which help homeowners with the cost of efficiency upgrades.

"Citigroup’s new environmental initiatives signal the beginning of an ecological U-turn in the global marketplace," said Michael Brune, RAN’s executive director. "This is a wake-up call to Wall Street as well as Washington. Destroying endangered ecosystems for a few weeks supply of dirty power and toilet paper is as outdated as the abacus. We applaud Citigroup for being the first private bank in the world to deny financing for commercial logging in tropical rainforests. One bank is not enough. We won’t save the rainforests or ourselves until we deal head on with the ultimate weapons of mass destruction, climate change, and the banks that fund the corporations that are causing it."

In a rapid follow-up, RAN wrote to ten of the most destructive US banks. Calling them The Liquidators, RAN challenged them to meet or beat Citigroup’s policies. They are JP Morgan Chase, Bank One, Bank of America, Fleet Boston Financial, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, John Hancock, Wachovia, US Bancorp, and SunTrust.

So here’s the message. Persistence pays off, especially when it combines activism, with its ability to make people uncomfortable, and win-win thinking, which can get people talking around the table.

So dig out that hope. We need it.

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

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

  Dec Jan Feb
Circulation: 2000 2000 2000
By Email: 1657 1660 1700
Print & Post: $794 $728 $750
Editorial: $250 $250 $300
Donations: $1239 $1255 You?
Advertising: $200 $230  
Balance: $2075 $2582  

A big thankyou to Helga Naguib, Kathleen Bloomfield, Douglas Crow, Greg Morley, Kate Stevens, Andrew Macleod, Laura Fisher, Virginia Newman, Martha Orr, Margaret Hantiuk, Ellie Roelofsen, Pam Webster, Joan Edwards, Pamela Charlesworth, Cliff Boldt, Marshall Rosen, Kathleen Kyle & Bill Barlee, Marie Peters, Joyce Baker, William Ellis, Ann Cameron, Alice Davis, Otter Valley Native Plants, Lesley Wicks, David Evans, Beverly Tanchak, Warren Nickerson & Karen Hope, Sinclair Sales & Leasing, Dr Dorle Kneifel Medical Corp, Roger Colwill, Peter Carilho, and the Society of Friends.

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

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.


THE ECO-CORNER
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180

* Tax returns done by Financial Professional including self-employed. Great rates. Roxanne Brydges, CFP, 360-6284, boxwood@inetex.com

* Garden designs with nature in mind by Stewardship Natural Landscape Design. Christina Nikolic, 382-4450 stewardshipnld@yahoo.ca

* Are you an outdoor adventurer with interesting experiences to share and trips to plan? The Company of Adventurers would like to hear from you. Call Al Lubkowski at (250) 595-8881.

* How Healthy Is Your Home? Trained Bau-biologist available for environmental house inspections, including indoor air quality and EMF investigations, education and solutions. Oasis Indoor Environmental Testing and Consulting 250-653-9631 or visit www.buildingbiology.net .

* To sublet: Sweet little suite. Cozy furnished 2 BR, nr VGH, Interurban Campus. 1 month, mid Feb to mid Mar. $650 incl. Ellie Boisvert 479-9491.

* Health Food Coop. We are local vegan environmentalists who are interested in starting a health food coop in Victoria. Could you complete the survey at www.islandveg.com/coop to give us some input? Dave & Heather 380-1865

* Pesticide-Free. Can you help me pull weeds in Brookes Field (Fairfield), to keep it safe from spraying with pesticides? Call Mary Doody-Jones, 388-4046. Mdoodyj@telus.net

* PLAN-B Natural Building School at OUR Ecovillage starts April 25th. Registration: our@pacificcoast.net

* Wanted. Volunteer bookkeeper to work 1 day/week with Natural Building Summer School at OUR Ecovillage, Shawnigan Lake. our@pacificcoast.net

* OUR Ecovillage tours, bi-weekly. Email our@pacificcoast.net for details.

* Do you want to build a green home or sustainable community? Learn how to live lightly on the Earth. Presentation in last week of February based on 9-Step process currently in use by Victoria group. Details – call Vern Rogers, 472-8660. vjrogers@shaw.ca

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

MORE ON MICROWAVES

* According to Spanish scientists at the Department of Food Technology in Murcia, microwaving food destroys 97% of the flavonoids and other chemicals, compared to 66% when food is boiled, and still less when it is steamed. (Eating it raw, of course, produces no losses).

* In 1991, a woman who was in hospital for hip surgery in Tulsa, Oklahoma died after receiving a transfusion containing blood that had been mistakenly heated in a microwave. The irradiation seems to have altered the blood in a way that caused her death.

* In 1992, US researchers investigating an outbreak of salmonella among party-goers found that those affected had used a microwave to re-heat food from the picnic, while none of those who used a conventional oven became ill.

* Russian researchers at the Institute of Radio Technology at Klinsk, in Byelorussia, found that heating prepared meats in a microwave creates the cancer-causing agent d-nitrosodiethanolamine. They also found that eating microwaved foods was associated with a higher percentage of cancerous cells being present in the blood serum, and that microwaving food altered the elemental food substances, leading to disorders in the digestive system. Russia banned the use of microwave ovens from 1976 until the mid-1980s, after perestroika.

* The Russian researchers also reported a marked acceleration of structural degradation leading to a decreased food value of 60 to 90% in all foods tested, including decreased bio-availability of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics factors.

* In 1989, the Extension Service at the University of Minnesota issued a warning that heating baby’s milk in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk, that there may be a loss of some vitamins from infant formula milk, and some protective properties in expressed breast milk may be destroyed. In 1989, Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii reported in the Dec 9th Lancet that "Microwaving baby formulas converted certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic cis-isomers. Synthetic isomers, whether cis-amino acids or trans-fatty acids, are not biologically active. Further, one of the amino acids, L-proline, was converted to its d-isomer, which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to the nervous system) and nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys)."

* The PVC plastic films used to cover food during microwave cooking have been found to release plasticizers into the food. Plasticizers are hormone-mimickers which have been shown to create gender confusion, the early onset of puberty, and other worrisome medical abnormalities. Thanks to The Ecologist. And see www.mercola.com/article/microwave/hazards.htm

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

GARRY OAK STEWARDSHIP

Do you have a Garry oak tree on your property? If so, you are among a privileged few. The Garry oaks are a vestige of what used to be a huge oak forest on south-east Vancouver Island, thanks to our relatively dry climate, complete with its own ecosystem of plants, animals, insects and birds, over 100 of which are now endangered, some extinct. The Garry oak tree is the only local habitat for some 40 different species of insects. That tree on your property may be 125 to 400 years old, starting life as a seedling between 1604 and 1880 AD. A really old tree could have been a seedling soon after Queen Elizabeth 1st of England died.

Given how fragile the Garry oak ecosystem is, it is all the more important that you know how to take care of them. To help you, the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society has produced a very practical leaflet which tells you how to protect them, and the kind of conditions they need. If your neighbours have Garry oaks on their property, you might want to give them a leaflet. Due to funding cutbacks, the Society has to raise an additional $70,000 this year. During 2004, donations to the Society benefit from federal matching funds. If you give $100 or more, you’ll be in a draw to win a boat trip in the new Gulf Islands National park. Call 475-2024. www.garryoak.bc.ca .

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

SEEDY SATURDAY

It’s starting! The first sign of spring is the outburst of Seedy Saturday Community Seed Shows on Vancouver Island, where you can buy local organic seeds, and get ready for the moment when the soil is warm enough to plant. See the Green Diary for all the details.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

GREEN ARCHITECTURE

For almost 100 years, the western tradition of building has been inspired by industry and the modern world, divorced from nature and ecology. Romantic dreams of harmony with nature were left behind, and it was the beat of machinery and industrial power that inspired builders and architects, not the beat of an eagle’s wings, or the flow of water over rock. We now have to live with the consequences: cityscapes that are bereft of beauty, concrete buildings that reveal no intimacy, and building designs that are incredibly damaging of nature’s resources.

With every toll that rings for the funeral of another species, however, another human spirit says "Enough!", and sets her or his heart in a new direction. Just imagine how Vancouver Island might feel in fifty years time if our developers and architects started building to a different tune.

Green Architecture by James Wines (Taschen, 2000) is an inspiration for the architects among us. Rich in examples, the author takes us on a global journey to some of the most adventurous new buildings that have been designed with nature in mind. Wines is concerned as much with what the buildings look like, as with the green-ness of their materials.

Green Development by staff from the Rocky Mountain Institute (Wiley & Sons, 1998), is for the developers and builders among us, as well as the architects. The great strength of this book is that as well as detailing the design features that make a building or a community green (energy, water, materials, fresh air, daylight, pedestrian designs), it shows how costs and return on investment work, drawing on 80 practical examples, and explaining how a design team needs to structure its meetings to achieve the win-win results that green buildings promise.

New Organic Architecture: The Breaking Wave, by David Pearson (Univ California Press, 2001) delves into the roots of organic architecture among the homes of ancient people. It then shows us the work of 30 of the world’s most creative new architects, who are re-weaving the love affair with nature through the revival or organic architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright, who started the movement, only to see it dies under the assault from modernism, must be purring in his grave. Feast your eyes!

From Greed to Green, by David Gottfried (WorldBuild Publishing, 2003) (www.greedtogreen.com) is also for the developers among us. In a refreshingly honest way, the author describes his personal journey, starting out as a 24-year-old "über-brat" and real estate developer, raised to make profits and wealth. When his soul begins to protest, inspired by the dream of green building, he makes a dramatic break, and goes on to found the US Green Building Council, which created the LEED green building standard, which has become so influential within the industry, and led to the creation of the Canadian Green Building Council. It is highly unusual for someone to write in such an honest, self-revealing, readable manner, and I strongly recommend this book to all aspiring green builders.

These books show that a new vision is very much alive, putting modernism and post-modernism aside, and drawing inspiration once again from nature.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way:

Photographs of Auroras from Space
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16412

The Surface of the Earth, colour relief images from NOAA:
www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/image/2minrelief.html

NASA’s Climate Change Headlines:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/Headlines

Do you think that you are a Canadian? Test your knowledge. www.cbc.ca/chillybeach/trivia/trivia26.swf . Try this more than once to get all the questions; each replay is different.

Paranoid Shift: A Masterful Synthesis of the Ills of our Age:
http://johnbuchanan.org/news/newsitem.php?section=ART&id=1223&showcat=1

"We have all been lied to about 9/11, the country is in mortal danger and only you can make it right. If you need a label, I stand here as a 9/11 Truth Candidate":
http://johnbuchanan.org/news/newsitem.php?section=INF&id=1154&showcat=4

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

LEVEL GROUND TRADING

Congratulations to Victoria’s Level Ground Trading, for winning the prestigious 2003 Ethics in Action Award. Level Ground imports fair trade, shade-grown San Miguel Coffee from small-scale farmers in Antioquia, Colombia, distributing it through Thousand Villages stores and other outlets. As a result of the fair trade price they pay the growers, they paid over $40,000 in 2000 to fund scholarships for rural teenagers who would otherwise not be in school. In 2003, Level Ground is providing education for 115 students, upgrading rural schools, and providing employment for marginalized women, and providing agricultural support to the native Aymara farmers. All because their goals as a company are for a win-win world. They are also importing Frutos de los Andes (sun-dried tropical fruits) and fair trade pesticide free sugar cane. And all because of local support from people like you. For more, see www.levelground.com

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

ACTION OF THE MONTH: JOHN EFFORD

John who? John Efford is the new Minister of Natural Resources in the new Martin cabinet. He hails from Newfoundland, and showed up for the inauguration wearing a seal-skin coat. He supports offshore oil and gas exploration in BC, and nuclear power: "It’s a clean environmental thing to do." He was among 96 Liberal MPs who wrote to Jean Chretien in August 2002 urging him to ratify Kyoto, but now he is advocating the expansion of fossil fuels, and seeking greater concessions for the oil and gas industry. This leads to a big concern that he’s going to backtrack on cabinet support for Kyoto.

Action: Please write to Minister Efford, and remind him how critical Canada’s commitment to Kyoto is. Climate change is the greatest danger our planet faces. It’s as simple as that.

Rt Hon John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources, 580 Booth St, 21st flr, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Tel (613) 996-2007 Fax (613) 996-4516

John.Efford@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca


NOTICE

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 V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks !


Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.


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)
$25 + postage from www.earthfuture.com

Web Design by Dave Shishkoff.

EcoNews shares Content Partnerships with the following:
EnviroLink www.envirolink.org
Solar Access www.solaraccess.com
Sustainable Business.com: www.sustainablebusiness.com