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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. 148 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - April 2005


LOOKING DISASTER IN THE FACE

We’ve got a provincial election coming up in May, when we can vote to change our leaders if we want to, thanks to the efforts of our ancestors who fought to give us democracy, rather than feudalism and monarchy. The very fact that we can change our leaders is important; I’ll leave aside the debate over other ways to vote for now.

It is our leaders who set the course we are on, and who use our tax dollars to make progress along the course they have chosen.

What do we do, then, when a huge global study tells us we are on course to disaster?

Let me leave that question hanging while I tell you about the report. It’s called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and it is the most comprehensive survey ever done into the state of our planet. It has been completed by 1,300 scientists from 95 nations, and reviewed by 805 experts and government officials, over a period of four years. It cost $20 million, and it runs to 2,500 pages. This is serious stuff. See www.millenniumassessment.org

After studying ecosystems all over the world, on which all life depends, their conclusion is that human activities threaten the Earth’s ability to sustain future generations.

Their report says that the way we obtain our resources has caused irreversible changes that are degrading the natural processes that support life on Earth.

They found that two-thirds of the ecosystems they studied have suffered badly at the hands of humans over the past 50 years. Unless the international community takes decisive action, they warn, the future will look very bleak for the next generation.

"We are .. putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted." (Dr. Walt Reid, lead author).

15 of the 24 ecosystems that are vital for life on Earth have been seriously degraded or used unsustainably. The study finds that a rapidly growing world population after World War 2 drove an unsustainable rush for natural resources: timber, fish, food, cloth, minerals, fossil fuels.

To focus on just one area: more land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the whole of the 18th and 19th centuries. More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers ever used (since 1913) have been deployed since 1985. The resulting run-off is causing algal blooms in rivers and marine waters which are killing the fish and other marine creatures by depriving them of oxygen.

Jonathan Lash, from the World Resources Institute, says "This report is essentially an audit of nature’s economy, and the audit shows we’ve driven most of the accounts into the red."

So let us return to that first question: What do we do when a huge global study such as this tells us we are on course to disaster?

If we lived under a monarchy, we would strive to get the report to the King’s leading courtiers, in the hope that he might read it, and give the order to change course.

Living in a democracy is more complicated. Our leaders do not do what they want: they do what they believe we want. If the public at large pays no attention to the report, nor will they.

This points to the first necessary step: tell all your friends about the report, even if it’s a simple email that says "Please read this, and then forward it on to all your friends: www.millenniumassessment.org

The second necessary step, since we are entering an election, is to tell every candidate who wants to be an MLA. (Emails on party website). Then at the all-candidate meetings, ask this question:

"The authors of the huge new Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, produced by 1300 scientists from 95 countries over four years, report that human activities are threatening the Earth’s ability to sustain future generations. If you are elected, what will you do to change course, so that our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are no longer threatened?"

It is not as if we do not know what to do. Enough books and papers have been published describing the needed "mid-course correction" policies, actions and initiatives to fell a good–sized forest all on their own.

The core of the problem is our own inertia. We are drifting towards disaster while we enjoy the spring flowers and plan for our summer holidays – while carrying on with business as usual in the office or the factory, seeking more ways to sell more product, and earn more money.

This is a wake-up call, if ever there was. WE are the generation who carry the ethical responsibility to protect future generations, and THIS is the election when we need to place this front and centre, on every candidate’s list of top concerns.

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 Katey Bloomfield, Corinne Tench, Audrey Woodward, Vera Gottlieb, Diane Mclaren, Walter Riegel, Cedarwood Video, Patti Badcock, Anna Radyo, Marya Nijland, Joan Edwards, Germaine Taylor & Daphne Dunbar.


THE ECO-CORNER
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* Unused envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call 881-1304

* Guest room, very reasonable, near Cook St Village. 250-361-3102.

* Professor with sabbatical wishes to lease, house-sit home or cabin Sept 2005 to June 2006. Sunshine Coast, Comox Valley preferred, not required. Single, non-drinker, non-smoker. Broadband connection a plus. Dr. Tom Jones tomj@athabascau.ca 1-866-514-6233 (Athabasca Univ, Alberta).

* Have your taxes done properly by a financial professional, self-employed welcome, reasonable rates. Roxanne Brydges, CFP. 704-2778

* Graduate Student from France looking for FREE accommodation May 15-July 8. Interning with The Land Conservancy. Call Ramona, 479-8053 ramona@conservancy.bc.ca

* Wanted: House-swap on rural Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands, June to Sept, prefer ocean-front. Beautiful home in Edmonton, ideal location. Call Anna (780) 439-5196 radyoanna@yahoo.ca www.ihen.com/can/alberta/g20512.html

* Seeking partners to buy land for sustainable living. rainwalker@shaw.ca

* Learn how to cycle in traffic 1-Day Bike to Work skills course. Saturdays May & June. Susanna Grimes courses@biketoworkvictoria.ca 920-5705. www.biketoworkvictoria.ca

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* The Coast Capital Savings Elections are happening right now (deadline April 6th), and there are two people running for election who will represent social and environmental values very well, IF you elect them. They are Elizabeth Woods and Ragini Rankin, and neither of them has approached me or asked me to endorse them. But if you bank with Coast Capital, please vote for them! There’s no need to vote for anyone else, unless you want to; you actually weaken Elizabeth and Ragini’s chances of election if you vote for others as well.

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* Looking for a community that cherishes the Earth, challenges the mind, nurtures the spirit? You'll be welcome here.

First Unitarian Church of Victoria 5575 West Saanich Road 744-2665

www.victoriaunitarian.ca/eco.php

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YOUTH & CLIMATE CHANGE

Are you aged 15 to 20, and interested in global climate change, and what you can do about it? There’s a big Youth Climate Change conference coming to Victoria at Royal Roads July 3rd to 6th, organized for and by 15-20 year olds, focused on action, alternatives, and solutions for a changing world. It’s organized by Alysia Garmulewicz, a 17-year old from New Denver (who visited Antarctica recently to learn about climate change) and a team of young people. It costs $340, and the website contains a Fundraising Toolkit which lists organizations that might sponsor you. Teachers, parents: can you tell 15-20 year olds about this? www.yc3.net

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THE EARTHWALK

Can you volunteer to help this year’s EarthWalk on Saturday April 23? Call Steve Filipovic at 216-5903. To book a table, same number. If you’d like to help with a donation to cover costs, cheques to Earth Walk, 1-1723 Bank St, Victoria V8R 4V7. For a charitable receipt ($50+), make the cheque to VIDEA www.EarthWalkVictoria.ca

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Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners
Victoria’s only solvent free dry cleaner
1019 Cook St. 381-2221 Mon-Fri 8-6. Sat 10-4
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GM FOOD HITS THE RAILS

It’s spring! And all across the northern hemisphere, genetically modified crops are being sown: sometimes unwittingly. A British report has revealed that more than two thirds of conventional crops in the USA are contaminated with genetically modified material. Just 8 years after GM varieties were first cultivated on a large scale, half of the conventional maize and soybeans and 83% of the oilseed rape are contaminated. It’s mostly at a low level of 0.5 to 1%, but it is "endemic to the system", which does not bode well for the future.

In Britain, meanwhile, a major four-year study, in which conventional and GM crops were grown on 65 adjacent sites, has shown that GM crops cause significant harm to wild flowers, butterflies, bees, and probably songbirds.

Why? Because the ultra powerful herbicides which the GM crops require kill the broad-leafed weeds which the wild species depend on. It is only in Britain that such large farm-scale studies have been done. The study has probably sealed the door to the public’s acceptance of GM crops in Britain.

Here in Canada, where GM crops are well established, it shows the importance of growing and buying organically grown food, and of raising the idea that BC be declared a GM-free area in the coming election.

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THE GARDEN PATH ORGANIC PLANT NURSERY

Open Daily: 10 am to 5.30pm April, May & June 2005

* Organic Vegetables, Herbs , Flowers

* Heritage Roses, Small Fruits & Berries

2-acre Organic Display Garden Saturday Morning Workshops

395 CONWAY ROAD (Off Interurban, past Camosun College)

(250) 881-1555 www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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ELECTION AHOY!

There’s an election coming up on May 17th in BC, so what can you do to make sure environmental issues are top of the agenda? The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is running a huge Eco-Election (Vote Wild) Campaign. They’re recruiting 2,000 volunteers who are going door to door raising environmental issues with the voters. They have already visited 3,000 homes, out of their goal of 200,000 homes. If you’d like to join the fun, call (250) 388-9292 or email wc2vic@island.net. www.wildernesscommitteevictoria.org .

The Sierra Club has a similar initiative called Vote Environment, with non-partisan volunteers going door to door to get people talking about environmental issues and values. They’d love you to join in, too. For details, see www.sierraclub.ca/bc/vote .

Matt Price and the Conservation Voters of BC are tracking every MLA for their comments on the environment, and planning to endorse the green ones, whatever their party stripe. For details, see www.conservationvoters.ca .

And the BC Sustainable Energy Association is inviting its 400 members to adopt a constituency, to tell the candidates about the BCSEA’s paper on "Sustainable Energy Policies for BC", and then to ask them ten questions about their attitudes to climate change and energy, which they’ll rank and publish. www.bcsea.org .

And finally, the main players. If you want to re-elect the Liberals, see www.bcliberals.com . If it’s the New Democrats, see www.bc.ndp.ca . For the Green Party, see www.greenparty.bc.ca . They would all love you to call them up, and offer to volunteer. And what do "we" think, here at EcoNews? My advice is to support the greenest candidate who is the most likely to get elected. And vote for the Single Transferable Vote in the referendum, for a better voting system next time round.

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Renovations

Residential, Commercial, Indoor, Outdoor

Eco-friendly Carpentry; Woodworking; Flooring; Composters; Creative storage & much more

Harald Wolf – 250-882-9653 www.wolfweb.ca/allegra

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HAIDA SPIRIT RISING

It’s astonishing: there’s a major logging blockade happening in Queen Charlotte City, on Haida Gwaii, in protest against Weyerhauser clearcutting the islands for raw log exports, and there’s been NOTHING about it in the mainstream BC media. Only The Tyee has covered it.

Haida and non-Haida have come together to form round-the-clock lines blocking access to Weyerhauser’s log-sorting facilities, where hundreds of cedars await shipment to mills in the south.

Between 1982 and 2004 some 40,600,000 cubic metres of trees were logged on Haida Gwaii, and shipped to distant mills in Washington State. (www.spruceroots.org/Gallery/Logging.html ) One cubic metre is the size of a telephone pole. If you imagine it all as telephone poles, it would circle the Earth 24 times: over $6-billion worth of logs.

The Haida want control over their traditional lands and resources, and they’re saying "Enough is Enough". While the Haida negotiate their land claims, the Province insists that it’s business as usual in the forests. The Haida want a sustainable economy for the Islands, and a land that will support their wellbeing for a continuing culture. Calling all journalists: cover this story! For daily details of the blockade, see www.haidanation.ca .

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PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES

And now for something completely different: the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). As you know, Toyota and Honda have brought out hybrid cars that have double the fuel efficiency of other vehicles by running a joint gas/electric engine.

But wait! The Toyota Prius has a switch on the dash which is not activated in North America. designed to let you run the car in 100% electric mode. There’s also a space in the engine which looks as if it’s made for an extra row of batteries. Always creative, a group of Californians have added extra batteries so that the Prius will travel 60 miles as an all-electric vehicle for local travel, with the batteries recharged at night. Future supplies of 100% green electricity are assumed, and that’s fine, because there’s plenty of it.

Since many trips are short and local, the car could sometimes go all month without gas. As a solution to transport worries, whether because of air pollution, peak oil, or climate change, the PHEV has everything going for it. If, by 2025, half the cars were hybrids and half were plug-in hybrids, America’s need for imported oil for cars would drop by 80%. PHEVs fueled by wind energy and bio-ethanol would need no gas at all. See www.carcars.org .

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OLAY! OLAY!

Or rather, Olé Molé! Olay’s Regenerist replenishing cream, beloved by women of a certain age, harnesses "the latest peptide technology in an exclusive amino-peptide complex". Sounds kind of scientific, so it must be ok, right? Well, sorry to ruin your day, ladies, but here’s what’s also in this particular Olay product:

* Polyacrylamide: probable carcinogen. PTFE (Teflon): carcinogen, causes birth defects, weakens the immune system.

* C1 16035 and 19140: colourants associated with lymphatic tumours and allergic reactions in animals.

* Ethylparaben: estrogen mimic, linked to breast cancer.

And a whole lot more (Ecologist, March 2005). If you want to use a skin cream, choose one that is wholly natural, and that uses botanicals, not chemicals.

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ACTION OF THE MONTH : VICTORIA’S STANLEY PARK

Most of us take pride in knowing the green spaces around our city, but there is one place hardly anyone knows about. It is publicly owned, and you can cycle there in 40 minutes from downtown Victoria. It contains trees that are among the 10 biggest Doug firs in the province (one dating back to the 13th century), plus hemlock, cedar, Garry oak woodlands, arbutus, Sitka spruce, and wetlands.

A detailed 2 year survey done by a group of Victoria naturalists has shown that the lands contain a full 13% of the world’s entire remaining untouched oldgrowth coastal Doug fir forest. It’s all at risk of development, if its caretakers ignore the beauty of these lands, and see dollar signs instead.

So where ARE these magic lands? They are the unprotected federal lands in Colwood around Royal Roads, and west of Esquimalt Harbour. Connected together, they could become a magnificent greenway, stretching from Esquimalt Harbour to the Lagoon. (See www.annettemoen.com/greenway/dnd-lands.html).

The Department of Defence has declared them "potentially surplus" to government needs, which means they are probably seeking to sell them off, tempting Colwood with the prospect of income from taxes. Royal Roads University has an interest in obtaining the lands with a 99 year lease, but they’re apparently uncomfortable about any mention of placing ecological covenants on them to protect the oldgrowth. An opportunity such as this needs a lot of people to get involved. If you are interested, call Norm Mogenson at 477-9114.

"Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children…let us turn to them and say, "This you inherit; guard it well, for it is far more precious than money, and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price." -- Ansel Adams

Action: Please write letters asking for the lands to be protected to The Mayor and Council, Colwood City Hall, 3300 Wishart Rd, Victoria V9C 1R1

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LETTER WRITING TIPS

1. The more personal your letter is, the more influence it has.

2. Hand-written letters are still the best.

3. Be brief, clear, and specific. One side only is best.

4. State your opinion and make your request in the first few sentences.

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB


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

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
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