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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. 140 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - July/August 2004


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 her beau.

"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 gas.

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 by 95%.

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 goods.

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.

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.

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.

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A 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 Fornatero.


THE ECO-CORNER
$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 Bay, Fairfield or Fernwood. Prof. adults/NS. References. Alan Dolan & Susan Clarke 478-6906, adolan@islandnet.com

* 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? guydauncey@earthfuture.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. See www.islandveg.com/coop

* 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 tanis.douglas@shaw.ca , 604 733-3754


AUSTRIAN ANIMALS

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.


SPANISH SPEEDERS

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?)


GLOBAL WINDPOWER

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.


AMERICAN BANKERS

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 .


BOREAL BUM-WIPERS

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.


ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP

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 them. www.worldwatch.org/pubs/goodstuff/soap


AIR FRESHENERS

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 ).


SWIFFER WETJET

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

Marianne Sämann-Wyss,
Core-Shamanic Practitioner & Wholistic Counsellor
Energy Work with People, Animals, and Places

382-3582www.islandnet.com/~msw


WINTER VEGETABLES

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!


SOLAR SWEEPSTAKES

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 .


PRECIOUS WATER

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.

(250) 592-8969

ian.baker@beyermortgage.com

www.beyermortgage.com

In some difficult situations a broker/lender fee may apply.


GOLD BUILDINGS

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.

www.PetitionOnline.com/resister/petition.html

* 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


EXHAUSTED COMMUTERS

"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, Bowling Alone


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 turbines!


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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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