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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. 143 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - November 2004


WE ARE THE ANSWER

We are the problem, and we are the answer.

What is causing the precipitous decline in wildlife around the planet? We are. What is causing the sharp rise in the Earth’s temperature? We are, through the fossil fuels we are burning. What is causing the surge in the human population, and humanity’s desire to consume whatever it can? We are.

We are the bipedal ape that evolved along with the other species over millions of years, which left the forest three or four million years ago and learnt to walk upright on the plains of east Africa. We are the ape that evolved amid nature, that is related to every other plant and animal on the planet, in which Nature evolved a brain, an intelligence, and a capacity to use tools. We are the ape that can fly to the moon and come back again, and yet which cannot understand the simple concept of ecological limits, or co-existence with other species.

Yes, there is a problem. An enormous problem. All around the planet, species are falling because of our activities. The frogs, the birds, the fish, the mammals, the other apes, the orca whales. All are falling, as we push forward with our powers.

Fossil fuels, chemicals, genetic engineering, housing, fishing, logging: all are expressions of our imagination and our tool-making, and all are responsible for our assault on the natural world, the cradle in which we evolved.

Ours is a crisis of ignorance. There have always been bi-pedal apes who were selfish, greedy, or just plain callous and indifferent. There have always been leaders who were deluded, who believed that God ordained their bloodthirsty acts with divine purpose.

Today, however, four hundred years after we began to engage seriously with science and technology, we have stepped into an enormous crisis, entirely of our own making.

When the Babylonians built their irrigation systems many thousand years ago, they didn’t know the irrigation would salinate their soil, and cause the collapse of their civilization. When Thomas Midgley invented the CFC gases in 1932, he didn’t know they would destroy the ozone layer.

Today, our ecological ignorance, combined with our liking for new and shiny things and our lack of wise leadership, is causing what looks to be a melt-down in the life-systems that support us and our cousin species: the atmosphere, the oceans, the topsoil, the waters, the forests, and our own physical bodies.

"Ouch!", you might think, "that doesn’t look good!". But remember: this is all of our own making, and just as we made it, we can unmake it.

There is only one remedy that is needed to turn our behaviour on a different course: personal commitment. The Babylonians drifted to disaster, trusting in their engineers. They didn’t have the Internet, offering them the full wealth of the world’s knowledge. They didn’t have the freedom to learn, to organize, to run for office, to challenge the drift to disaster, and lead their society in a different direction. We do. You do. I do.

By the time you read this, the US will have a new President. If it’s a re-elected President Bush, we will suffer four more years of danger, as the US continues to flex its muscle for the benefit of the corporations, the neo-conservatives and the Christian right. If it’s President Kerry, we will start with enormous hopes, and then gradually realize that he is just one person among many, doing what he can, and that all our problems remain.

The greatest hope for change does not lie with elections. It lies with you, and me.

Wangari Maatthai is a Kenyan woman, born in 1940, who started planting trees. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement to organize poor rural women to plant millions of trees to combat deforestation, and replenish their source of fuel for cooking. She decided, she committed, she persisted. Over the years, her movement’s members have planted 30 million trees. Wangari went on to campaign for women’s rights and for greater democracy in Kenya, and to challenge state policies that threatened Kenya’s parks, forests and wildlife, getting herself beaten and jailed in the process. This December in Stockholm, she will receive the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

Within every one of us, there is hope. We all have skills. We all have the ability do something.

If there is one secret that has not yet been fully understood, as we struggle with the enormity of the crisis that is unfolding around us, it is the secret of our inner connectedness to the greater whole of which we are a part. When the laws of ecology say "everything is connected", this includes the spiritual realm.

If you want to know how best you can help, and how best you can share in being a part of the answer, all you have to do is this: ask. Go to a place in the world where you feel deeply connected, be it a church or a mountain, and ask: "How can I serve?" Tell Nature, or God, or the Source, that you are here, and ask to be shown your way. Then get out there and play, while you watch for the answer.

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 very big thankyou to Tim Henderson, Katey Bloomfield, Hannelore Ioannides, Claire Lynch, Susan Coward, Joyce Hale, Christy Gain, Maria Bos, Bob Peart, John Azar, Robert Main, Saltspring Seeds, David Rothkop, Joan Werner, Art & Marg Simons, Gail Schulz, Lani Miyoshi Stevens, Nina Corley Smith, Anne Clemence, Pippa Blake, Penny Goldrick, Ann Radford, Bud & Anne Wilson, Marion Cumming, Barbara Graves, Bob McMinn, David Stott, Ed & Jean McKenzie, Irene McKennitt, Anita Galitzine, Lani Royce, Marlene Rice, Peter Lamb & Jean Gelwicks, Elli Boisvert, Mila Cotic, Salt Spring Raging Grannies, Andreas Demmers, Philippa White, Dave Secco, Ron Rayner, Margaret Schubart, Wayne Madden, Mary Aldrich, Neil Neate & Deborah LeFrank, Sharon Nicholson, Miriam Thorn, Andrew Glen, Elaine Nowotniak, Barbara Hourston, Lynn Conall, Joseph & Vilma Dubé, John Stephen, Julia Menard, Kate Stevens, Jean van Cuylenborg, Sherri Hohert, Arnold McCutcheon, Joanne Manley, George Jolyon Briggs, John & Eileen Kenwood, Gary Moonie, Vivian Chenard, Betty McInnes, Edith Gulland, Earth’s General Store Edmonton, Mel McDonald, Daphne Taylor, The Land Conservancy, Corporation of District of Saanich, Ray Travers, Louise Irwin, Shelby Grayson & Dr Sheel Tangri.


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

* Room wanted near downtown for vegetarian woman. Ideally in a house with 2-3 others. Leave a message for Brooke at 385 - 1788.

* Dogwood Initiative, a non-profit environmental land reform organization in Victoria, seeks volunteer web designer/co-ordinator or Flash animator and volunteer web marketing assistant. 370-9930 www.dogwoodinitiative.org

* Educator, traveller, health therapist, peace practitioner, l-pet/house sitter seeks "gap-home" where I can stay when not house-sitting.Room with amenities, barter basis. Call 383-5144 Ext 3007

* For sale: electric Geo Metro. 35-45 km usable range, top speed over 140 km/hr. Randy, sales@canev.com

* Active grandmother seeks bright, affordable apartment in congenial family home. Involved in painting, music, gardening, TLC volunteering. Prefer up to 600 sq ft. References. 381-1037.

* Ecoforestry Institute needs volunteer webmaster. Please contact Peter Jungwirth: newdimen@mars.ark.com

or 250-334-4559; www.ecoforestry.ca

* Wanted: basement or garage space to store recycled wood from demo houses. Flooring, heritage moldings, baseboards, windows, just about all you need for a house. Call Syd 381-1141

* Wanted: Carmanah Forestry Society seeks volunteers, including scouting and exploring endangered species habitat areas slated for logging. Syd 381-1141

* Wanted urgently, for EcoNews. Envelopes from organizations that have changed address. We will delete the address, and re-use. Call Guy, 881-1304.


Wholistic Counselling Core Shamanism

Energy Work with People, Animals, Spaces and Places

Marianne Sämann-Wyss 382-3582 msw@islandnet.com www.islandnet.com/~msw


FROGS IN TROUBLE

"In trouble" is rather an understatement, I’m afraid. A major global study of amphibians around the world, published in October, showed that almost a third of the world’s frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders face extinction. The 3-year study, involving 500 scientists from more than 60 countries, found that a third of the world’s 5,743 known species face extinction, and that 427 species are so endangered they could disappear tomorrow. Why? The biologists suspect a mixture of water pollution, climate change (higher temperatures), exploitation for food and medicine, and habitat destruction. Amphibians are uniquely sensitive to man-made changes in the environment, since their skins are vulnerable to water-borne toxins and infections. But they are also disappearing from pristine habitats; in one Costa Rica protected site, 40% of the amphibians disappeared in the late 1980s. Some think ozone depletion may be a culprit, through exposure to UV rays. Rising temperatures may also be encouraging the spread of a fungus called chytrimycosis. It’s a huge problem for the conservation biologists, since the decline is both dramatic and enigmatic. It is highly unlikely that it’s ‘natural’. Five thousand species don’t survive for millions of years, and then lose a third of their family in twenty years. It’s us. www.globalamphibians.org


TB IN 2004?

Extract from new essay by Rob Wipond. For the full version, see www.robwipond.com/diseasethatbinds.htm. To be published in Focus, November 2004. www.focusonline.ca.

"… With the advent of antibiotics in the 1950s, Canada's TB rates dropped steadily. Today, five people per hundred thousand are diagnosed with TB annually. It seems reassuring. However, in northern aboriginal populations, prisons, and downtown Vancouver and Toronto, the rates are now nearly as bad as in 1950--a staggering sixty or more times as high as most other regions. What's happening? This ancient contagion has mutated to new levels of resilience and antibiotic resistance. …"


BIRDS IN TROUBLE

It’s the same story. The National Audubon Society released its first State of the Birds report in October, covering North America. Almost 30% of the bird populations on the continent are facing significant decline. The group studied data from 1966 to 2003 for 654 bird species that live in grasslands (70% decline), shrublands (36% decline), forests (25% decline), wetlands (13% decline) and urban areas (23% decline). All of the declines are compounded upon earlier losses, prior to 1966. Wetland and forest species continue to suffer from the effects of poor land management. "Like the canary in the coal mine warning the miner of the danger ahead, birds are an indicator of environmental and human health", said John Flicker, president of the Audubon Society. "Birds also contribute to the bottom line in more subtle ways, providing free pest and weed control, distributing seeds, and pollinating flowers and crops." The paradox is that birding is one of North America’s most popular hobbies, with 18 million North Americans spending $32 billion annually on gear, services, and trips. Most of the losses can be attributed to habitat loss, resulting from poor land use, clear-cutting, the draining of wetlands, and suburban sprawl. Just think what an impact it could have if all those birders decided to get organized, and work together work to save threatened habitat, and reduce the use of pesticides. The Audubon Society lists 12 things you can do to help reverse the losses, starting with making your yard a haven for birds by creating a pesticide-free habitat of native plants. See

www.audubon.org/bird/stateofthebirds .


ORGANIC FARMING

In a third study released in October, the largest ever comparative study of conventional and organic farming showed that organic farming increases biodiversity at every level of the food chain, from bacteria, plants and earthworms to beetles, mammals and birds. The study reviewed data from Europe, Canada, New Zealand and the US. Out of 99 comparisons, 66 found that organic farming benefited wildlife; 8 concluded that it was detrimental; and 25 produced mixed results. According to the researchers, organic farming helps biodiversity by using fewer pesticides and inorganic fertilizers, and by adopting wildlife friendly practices where there are no crops, such as not weeding close to hedges, and mixing arable and livestock farming. In England, two species of bat were found only on organic farms, and foraging activity by bats on organic farms was up by 84%. We are the answer.


ORGANIC GARDENING CLUB

Gardeners can help. If you’d like some support in learning the how’s and why’s of organic gardening, the Society of Organic Urban Landcare (SOUL) is launching its Organic Gardening Club right here in Greater Victoria on Sunday November 7th, at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. (See Green Diary). The club will bring gardeners together to share their experiences and tips, enjoy outings, and have a sustainably good time. For details, call Carolyn Herriot, 881-1555.


ADOPT A FROG (or OWL)

The Land Conservancy writes: We invite you to do your Christmas shopping through our 2004-5 Green Gifts Catalogue. Every gift helps us protect our natural and cultural heritage, and we can only do this with your support. TLC is a charitable land trust established in 1997, modeled after Britain’s National Trust. Our goal is to protect biodiversity and cultural and natural heritage areas in BC. Your generosity helps TLC do its work; our gifts reflect our love of nature. See www.conservancy.bc.ca. Call 383-4627 Thankyou for sharing our vision!


Do you long for a faith community with a green heart?

You'll be welcome at our place

~

www.victoriaunitarian.ca/eco.php


NEW COMMUNITY GARDEN

Jackie Robson writes: We at the Urban Harvest Initiative in the Hillside-Quadra area have been promised a community garden space by University Canada West, the new developers of the old Blanshard Elementary School site at Douglas and Blanshard. We want to plan a Garden Launch Day using creative thinking to gather people, and donations of food, tools, equipment, plants, soil amendments, water system, sheds, etc. Feel inspired? Come to our planning session on Mon Nov 1, 7pm at the Blanshard Community Center, 901 Kings Road. Jackie, 381-7284.


PESTICIDES PROCESS

Our use of chemical pesticides is a big part of the problem: it’s a problem for the amphibians, a problem for the birds, and a problem for ourselves. A comprehensive survey of 1300 Americans done by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May 2004 found traces of weed-killer and bug-killer in every single person tested. The average person’s body contained 13 different pesticide chemicals. 99% of those tested had DDT residues, and 55% had residues of 2,4-D, the target of municipal pesticide bans here in Canada. Health Canada has done no comparable survey: they say they rely on US data to estimate what Canadians may have in their bodies. And to drive the point home: women who have breast cancer are five times more likely to have residues of DDT in their blood than those who do not. The hardworking volunteers on the CRD Round Table on the Environment have developed a Community Action Plan and looked at model by-laws, and there are two Public Meetings coming up in Victoria and Colwood on November 3rd and 9th (see Green Diary). If you want to do something, and help promote the answer, please take the time to attend.


WORKSHOP & BOOK
Simplicity & Success
Sat Nov. 13, 9-4:30pm
in Victoria
Cost: $99

To register: www.BruceElkin.com
Or call 381-7522


NUMBERS THAT SING

* Number of people who enjoyed Fairfield’s Car-Free Day in the Village this September: 3,000.

* Percentage of Victorians who walk or cycle to work: 15%.

* Health care costs we’d save each year if we increased the physically active population by 10%: $2 billion.

* Amount of fruit gathered by the Victoria Fruit Tree Project this fall for distribution to food banks and community groups: over 30,000 lbs.


WE’RE TALKING RESULTS

RESULTS Canada works to eradicate hunger and the worst aspects of global poverty. They’re having their big fundraiser bash on November 13th, with Nelson Mandela’s grandson. So what has this small group achieved over the past 12 months, with its $145,000 annual budget from donors?

* A $70 million increase in Canada's funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

* A $4.3 million grant from CIDA for bednets for Togo, estimated to prevent 150,000 cases of malaria and save 6,000 lives a year.

* Bill C-9 passed, enabling access to generic medicines in poor countries.

* The Mayors of 8 cities proclaimed Fair Trade Weeks, encouraging the purchase of fair trade goods.

* Net Result: each $1 donated helped to generate over $500 for global health programs. www.results-resultats.ca


SALT SPRING CALENDAR

This spring, the Islands Trust Fund is launching an Opportunity Fund to provide funding for priority land protection in the Gulf Islands. In preparation, they have produced a birthday calendar that features island properties it owns and covenants, featuring local photographers and the extraordinary beauty of these places. It costs $17.95 or two for $29.95, and it’s in local businesses, Island Trust offices, and local conservancies. www.islandstrustfund.bc.ca 405-5186


Alternative Energy:
Now or When?

Featuring David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations (www.westport.com)
Wed, Nov 24th, 7:30pm Union Club, $5
RSVP Pinch Group 405-2420
pinchgroup@raymondjames.ca


ACTION OF THE MONTH

Please vote for David Suzuki as The Greatest Canadian. He is working for the whole planet: www.cbc.ca/greatest


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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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