No. 140 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
LIVING WITH A CLIMATE MONSTER
What will it take for people to realize that global
climate change is like an enormous angry monster, and the hotter
it gets, the more angry it will become?
Lord Oxburgh, the new British Chair of Shell Oil,
said in June that threat of climate change makes him "really very
worried for the planet", to the distress of the world’s other oil
companies, who prefer to believe that Cinderella will always find
"You can't slip a piece of paper between
David King and me on this position," he said. Lord Oxburgh is a
respected geologist. Sir David King is Britain’s chief science
adviser, who said in January that climate change posed a bigger
threat to the world than terrorism.
Let’s get this straight. The alarming increase
in BC’s forest fires is directly attributable to global climate
change. Increased heat + increased dryness = increased combustion,
exactly as predicted in the climate models. Amount of BC forest
burnt in an average year: 36,000 hectares. Amount burnt in 2003:
263,000 hectares. Result: misery.
So is the amount of BC’s interior forest being
eaten by the mountain pine beetle, whose larvae are normally killed
off by a good cold winter. "It’s November, and the beetles are
putting on suntan oil in the balmy 10–15 degree C temperatures
currently being experienced in the north," said Larry Pedersen,
BC’s chief forester, in the fall of 2002.
So where is BC’s Climate Change Action Plan? Why
do we hear nothing, nothing at all, from the BC Liberal government?
When will the class action suits start flying from people who have
been burnt out of their homes, and loggers who have lost their
jobs, who can rightly say that the BC government is doing absolutely
nothing to contribute to international efforts to tame this monster?
It is unreal, and scary, to know that we are the
generation who have the responsibility for saving a million species,
25% of all land-based animals and plants on the planet, which a
University of Leeds conservation biology team says face extinction
if the temperature continues to increase as predicted by 2050.
It is also a wonderful challenge. The first astronauts
walked on the moon only 8 years after President Kennedy made the
commitment, so what’s to stop us from making a successful transition
out of fossil fuels, into safe, sustainable energy?
Here in British Columbia, we could generate 100%
of our electricity from renewable energy within six years if the
government would simply require that all new electricity come from
renewables such as wind, tidal and microhydro, and that the existing
gas thermal plants be closed by 2010. There’s plenty of wind energy
waiting to be tapped, for a price that’s now lower than natural
In fact, when you look at the full potential,
there’s a large surplus of sustainable electricity to be had if
we put our minds to it. We’ll need it.
For heating, smart governments would require every
building to meet a much higher standard of efficiency at the time
of sale, and make every dollar spent on solar hot water, solar
PV, ground source heating or efficiency upgrades 100% tax deductible,
and free of GST and PST.
Then we come to transport. How do we travel, without
oil? We just have to make a small adjustment to the way we think
about these things. With just a little effort, we could make far
more pedestrian trips, increase our use of cycling five-fold, and
upgrade our transit system so that a $100 annual transit pass paid
with your city taxes would give everyone free rides. Fifty North
American universities are already doing this, and Boulder, Colorado,
is moving in the same direction.
Instead of owning private cars, people could join
city-wide car-share organizations such as the Victoria Car Share
Cooperative. For every 10,000 members there are 400 or so cars,
and you choose the vehicle to fit the trip. For most trips, a small
electric 2-seater will do, recharged overnight from some of that
surplus renewable electricity.
For the 20% of vehicles that might not be electric,
we can use biodiesel, ethanol from agricultural wastes, compost
gas from city-wide composting, or green hydrogen from sewage, algae,
or renewable electricity, with a hybrid gas-electric drive. As
a measure of the efficiencies that are coming on line, the Mercedes
Smart CDI diesel does 83 mpg, and the prototype Volkswagen One
Litre 2-seater does 285 mpg (one litre/100 km). Taken together,
these initiatives could reduce our use of fuel for personal trips
Now we’re beginning to get somewhere. All subdivisions
could be upgraded for a small neighbourhood centre, and all trucks
could use the 50% more efficient hybrid drive, as FedEx is doing.
And if gasoline was taxed to account for its full environmental
and health costs, we’d soon see more locally produced food and
The new BC Sustainable Energy Association (BC
SEA) is working to achieve these kinds of goal. It’s like pulling
on a huge rope, to get BC’s first wind turbine into the air: we
need all the members we can get, to pull on the rope collectively.
If you’d care to join us, we’d welcome your help. So would the
planet! See www.bcsea.org.
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|Print & Post:
big thankyou to Hugo Sutmoller, Daphne Dunbar, Anke
van Leeuwen, Keith & Mignon Lundmark, Dave Secco, Heide
Martin, Liz Reading, World Federalists Victoria branch,
Alan Dolan & Susan Clarke, Martha Mcmahon, Jack Martin,
Tatiana Schneider, Ann Gower, Al Craighead, Sylvan Foreman,
Jocelyn Floyer & Mark
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180
* Wanted: House to rent. September 1 or
sooner. Three-four bedroom with garage or basement. Prefer James
or Fernwood. Prof. adults/NS. References. Alan Dolan & Susan Clarke 478-6906, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Wanted For Aug 1. Garden space
and 2 bedroon accomodation in a character house, $850-$950 including
utilities, for mature female ns/np. Call Louise 381-6280
* Comox Valley: calling all readers. Could
you bring some boxes of envelopes to Victoria for EcoNews, next
time you come? email@example.com
* Recycled, chlorine free paper Copy Paper
Buying Club monthly orders, 15-20% savings. www.rfu.org
* A Food Coop in Victoria? Yes!!! Join
others who are committed to food security and product choice in
creating a non-profit, ethics-based food co-op. 380-1865.
* Point Ellis House Garden seeks volunteers
to help re-establish organic practices in the garden, and care
of heritage plants.Jackie Robson 389-1211
* The Society for Ecological Restoration seeks
volunteers for the 2004 Ecological Restoration Conference, August
24th – 26th, at UVic. 8 hours work plus a volunteer orientation
session. In exchange, registration will be half-price. Duties include
registration, audio-visual assistance, meal monitors, and general
assistance. Tanis Douglas firstname.lastname@example.org ,
Austria has just passed an Animal Rights Act that
bans all battery chicken farming, all use of wild animals in circuses,
and guarantees cattle at least 90 days a year of unfettered movement.
The Act also bans dog owners from cropping their pets’ ears and
tails, and ensures that puppies and kittens will no longer swelter
in pet shop windows. It will now be illegal in Austria to restrain
dogs with chains, choke-collars, or invisible fences that give
a mild electric shock, and to bind cattle tightly with ropes. Chicken
farmers will be allowed a few years to phase in the new regulations,
and Austria will establish an animal rights ombudsman to oversee
the treatment of animals on farms and in zoos, circuses and pet
shops. "This is a first step in the righ direction",
said Andreas Pax, of the Austrian animals rights organization Four
Paws. All four parties in parliament approved the law unanimously,
although the Social Democratic and Greens opposition had demanded
even tougher regulations.
How do you stop people from speeding through residential
streets and rural villages? In Europe, where most villages have
a road running through them, people have used every kind of warning
sign. But now, from Spain, comes the ultimate solution. If you
drive into a speed limit area at too great a speed, a traffic light
is triggered to go red as you approach. Instant results! (Why didn’t
we think of this before?)
In the run-up to the global renewable energy conference
that just took place in Germany, the European Wind Energy Association
studied the potential of wind to meet global energy needs by 2020.
The global wind market is growing by 32% a year, and 2003 saw a
8,300 MW installed, for a total of 40,300 MW. The report found
that if countries adopted the best policies, the world could produce
1,200 GW (1.2 million MW) by 2020, enough for 12% of the world’s
projected electricity demand. In doing so, it would generate over
2 million jobs.
If the wind energy displaces coal and gas fired
energy, it would prevent the cumulative release of 10.7 billion
tonnes of CO2 by 2020 (2.9 billion tonnes of carbon.) Averaged
over 15 years, that’s 0.195 billion tonnes a year, compared with
7.8 billion tonnes a year that we produce from industrial activities
and deforestation. This represents 2.5% of the solution to global
warming. It’s an indication of how far we have to go, and how similar
solutions are needed wherever we burn fossil fuels.
Talking of rainforest destruction, the Rainforest
Action Network has chalked up another huge victory, hot on the
heels of its success with Citigroup (see EcoNews Feb 2004). As
a result of persistent pressure from RAN’s Global Finance Campaign,
America’s 2nd largest bank, the Bank of America, has
established a new environmental policy which commits the bank to
a 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within its chain of
investments by 2008. The bank has agreed to ban all financing for
logging in intact forests, creating strict "No Go Zones" that
will be off-limits to destructive industrial activity. All resource
extraction (oil and gas, mining and logging) in all forests will
be verified by an independent, third party audit, and the bank
will ban financing for any operations on lands where indigenous
peoples are struggling for control of their traditional territory.
They will also finance further mapping of intact forests around
the world, and methods to measure and reduce financial investments
in greenhouse gas emitting industries. The bank’s new policies
will have an immediate effect in countless ecosystems and communities
around the world. RAN now wants the other "Liquidator" banks
to follow suit. Imagine how people around the world would be feeling
if these success stories had been headlined in the world’s media.
Imagine the sense of optimism, and the pressure on the other banks
to follow suit. Makes you think. www.ran.org .
That may be a tasteless title, but the toll of
our tail-end tidying is tearing the great northern Boreal Forest
apart. The average Canadian uses 100 rolls of toilet paper a year:
that’s 5 kilometres of tissue, most of it direct from the Boreal
Forest, home to beavers, moose, bears, caribou, elk, deer, wolves,
lynx, eagles, hawks, owls, geese, and 30% of America’s songbirds.
40% of America’s geese nest in its forests and wetlands. In total,
we use more than 700,000 tonnes of toilet paper, paper towels,
napkins, and facial tissue a year. To help us clean up with a cleaner
conscience, Greenpeace has produced a pocket-sized Shopper’s Guide
to Ancient Forest Friendly Tissue Products, showing which to use
and which to avoid. GOOD: Cascades, Earth Friendly Products, Seventh
Generation, Metro/Briska, Super C. BAD: Almost all the rest. Changing
the way you wipe may not be as profound as changing the Bank of
America, but to the ptarmigan whose nest might be saved if the
paper companies used less timber, it means a lot. You can download
the guide from www.greenpeace.ca/tissue, or send $1 to Greenpeace,
250 Dundas St West, #605, Toronto M5T 2Z5.
Don’t use it! Studies show that anti-bacterial
soaps are not significantly any more effective at fighting germs
than regular soaps, and that they contribute to the growing threat
from drug-resistant super-bugs. Many of the soaps use triclosan,
which destroys the enzymes in the bacteria cell walls so that they
can’t replicate. Whenever we attack an enzyme, we create an environment
in which they evolve resistant forms. The same enzymes are being
targetted by the antibiotic isoniazid, used to treat tuberculosis.
So as the enzymes evolve resistance, we lose our ability to fight
tuberculosis. It boggles the mind that Health Canada does not ban
Don’t use them! Air fresheners and deodorizers
work by adding pollutants to a room to mask the smell you’re trying
to lose. For the list of chemicals, see www.ourlittleplace.com/air.html.
When the ingredients mix with ozone from outdoor smog or indoor
ozone generators, the reaction creates formaldehyde and other compounds
believed to be responsible for respiratory problems such as asthma.
So until Health Canada decides to ban them, advise your friends
to stop using them! Try potpourri or lavender instead. (www.nature.com/nsu/040503/040503-11.html ).
Don’t use it! The story about Swiffer WetJet killing
dogs because it’s made from ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) is an
urban myth, but Swiffer WetJet does contain propylene glycol,
which has been implicated with dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver
abnormalities. It’s 3 times less toxic to animals than ethylene
glycol, but it’s still toxic. Get that stuff out of here!
Healing and Celebrating All Life
Core-Shamanic Practitioner & Wholistic Counsellor
with People, Animals, and Places
Phew! Now for something completely different.
Summer is the time to be thinking about planting the many varieties
of winter vegetable we can grow outdoors in our mild climate, such
as winter lettuces, oriental greens, onions and shallots, winter
greens, brassicas, spinach, kale and mesclun mix. Sow in July,
plant by September. The Garden Path Organic Plant Nursery is offering
a workhop on winter vegetables and saving your own seed on Sat
August 21st, and there’s a workshop on planning your
vegetable garden at the Compost Centre the same afternoon (see
Diary). The Garden Path Nursery has bedding plants for sale from
Aug 28th to Sept 6th. So you can have fresh,
home cooked organic vegetables on your table next spring with ne’er
an anti-bacterial swiff-jetting air freshener in sight!
Here’s a chance to win an all expenses paid trip
for two to the Xixuaú-Xipariná Ecological Reserve
in Brazil, provided by the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) and
the Amazon Association, a conservation group of indigenous Coboclo
Indians. Tickets are $10 US, and the funds support SELF’s work
of installing solar PV in developng world villages, to replace
diesel and kerosene. You can also use your tickets to become carbon
neutral. See www.self.org .
Here’s an idea that can neutralize the impact
of development on water supplies, and save millions of tax-payers
dollars from being spent on new dams. Local municipalities should
pass a bylaw such that the granting a building permit is dependent
on a builder showing that he or she has retrofitted other buildings
so that they save the same amount of water that the new buildings
will use. This creates a market for water efficiency retrofit certificates.
It needs some paperwork to create the certificates (and avoid scams),
but it will go on working until the entire community is water efficient.
I Find the Best Mortgage Deals from the Best Lenders.
I source mortgages from Lenders who commit to
- Community Programs and Investment
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Sustainability, and
- Social and Environmental Responsibility
Ian Baker, Mortgage Consultant
Beyer Mortgage Services, Inc.
In some difficult situations a broker/lender fee may apply.
In May 2004, Stephen Owen, Minister of Public
Works and Government Services in the old Liberal government, announced
that by 2008, all government buildings must be 40% more efficient
than they were in 1990; that all new public buildings must achieve
the LEED Gold standard of green building certification; that government
leased buildings will adopt ‘green leases’ to achieve the same
environmental standard; and that all new government vehicles must
be low emission vehicles, starting in 2005. Yea, Stephen!
WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
* Harper’s Fantasy Tours. See what we just missed!
Ah, it’s so sad. And THANKYOU, sane Canadians!!! www.HarpersFantasyTours.com
* Gas prices? Quit whining! www.markfiore.com/animation/quit.html
* War Resisters Support Campaign petition to allow
US war resisters who refuse to fight in Iraq to have refuge in
Canada. (Signatories include June Callwood, David Suzuki, Maude
Barlow, Shirley Douglas, Naomi Klein, Anne-Marie MacDonald, M.G.
Vassanji and yours truly.
* Safeguarding Canada's Wealth: Bringing Stewardship & Conservation
into the Economy, by Linda Horsfall & Sheila Harrington, Land
Trust Alliance of BC, June 2004. Government subsidies largely favour
industries with destructive ecological footprints. Support should
be shifted to environmentally sustainable industries, and stewardship
and conservation organisations, since they safeguard natural assets
through conservation and stewardship. www.landtrustalliance.bc.ca/research.html
"In round numbers, the evidence suggests that
each additional ten minutes in daily commuting time cuts involvement
in community affairs by 10 percent: fewer public meetings attended,
fewer committees chaired, fewer petitions signed, fewer church
socials attended, less volunteering, and so on." Robert Putnam,
ACTION OF THE MONTH
WIND POWER IN BC
Acccording to the World Energy Council, B.C. north
of Vancouver has the best wind resources in the world, and 15,000
MW of accessible potential. But not a single turbine is turning.
We need your help in persuading the Minister of Energy and Mines
to call for 1,000 MW of wind energy, as Quebec has done. We need
a requirement that 100% of all new electricity should come from
renewables It’s cheaper than gas-fired energy, and wind and hydro
make for a perfect marriage. If BC makes a commitment to wind,
there will be many good jobs to follow in manufacturing and assembly.
Action: Write to Rt Hon Richard Neufeld,
Minister of Energy & Mines, Legislative Assembly, Victoria
V8V 1X4. Ask him to act now. Imagine an Olympic Games with no wind
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