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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. 151 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - July/August 2005


SUMMER THOUGHTS

Underneath the confusion of the modern world, with its conflicts and ecological collapses, there lies a deeper question which rarely gets our attention.

It is simple, yet profound. Who are we? And where are we going? We are travelling somewhere, very fast. Of that there is no doubt.

Take a piece of paper, and chart the progress of the human mammal:

  • We left Africa: 100,000 years ago.
  • Developed agriculture: 10,000 years ago.
  • Printing press: 550 years ago.
  • Started using the scientific method: 400 years ago.
  • First steam engine: 300 years ago.
  • Electromagnetism: 140 years ago.
  • First flight: 102 years ago.
  • First human space flight: 44 years ago.
  • First global environment conference: 33 years ago.
  • Global embrace of the Internet: 10 years ago.
  • Largest ever global peace protest: 2 years ago.

Where are we going so fast? It would be good to know, because it feels as if we’re flying blind, while warming the atmosphere, sucking life out of the oceans, and wiping out so many other species.

If we are able to abandon nuclear weapons before some national nutcase goes ballistic, lay off the CFCs and HFCs long enough for the ozone holes to repair, and stop creating black holes in Earth’s ecological systems, there is no reason to doubt that humans will be around in 5,000, or five million years. So who are we, and where are we going so fast?

Orthodox biology says evolution is a random process of replicating genes, and that’s all there is. It denies the existence of spirit, a habit it shares with all other mainstream sciences. Consciousness, along with our ability to write poems and design space ships, is a side-effect of cellular life.

So I’m going to propose a different interpretation, which I share with many others.

The first thought is that spirit exists everywhere, in a co-existent realm of which science says nothing, since it can not see or measure it. (I shan’t say "God", since the word means different things to different people.) There is so much evidence to support this, without needing to resort to faith. This view is shared by people in cultures all over the world.

The second thought is that the whole evolutionary story, from the Big Bang onwards, is a game being unfolded by spirit, set within matter.

This leads to the third thought, which is that evolution is not random, but is a deliberate seeking by spirit to achieve wholeness within life, and throughout the universe.

The process is called syntropy: the evolutionary tendency of all beings to seek wholeness. It contrasts with entropy, which is the tendency in the material world of all energy to become more disordered.

With these thoughts, we can return to the original questions. Who are we? We are stardust, seeking our way back to the garden.

Where are we going? We are evolving towards greater wholeness, on Earth as a whole, and then maybe beyond, among the galaxies.

Why are we going there so fast? Because human consciousness has just discovered the power of science, rational thought, travel, and global communication.

Why are we making such a mess? Because we do everything by trial and error. We screw up. We pursue greed and power as well as higher goals. We act blindly and selfishly, until we say "oops!" and then "never again".

Why are these questions so important? Because there are only two fundamental problems in the world today. The first is the sum total of all our ecological woes, poverty, AIDS, militaristic hubris, corporate greed, and all the rest.

The second is that we lack a clear sense of direction. How can we work together with clarity and vision, if we are so confused?

In quantum theory, there are particles whose origins lie in the past, and particles whose origins lie in the future. Time is not what we think it is.

Vision is set by intentions set in the future; habits are set by experiences set in the past. We cannot act with decisiveness if we lack vision. Whenever we say "there is no hope", or "humans should give up, and hand life back to the algae", we give power to those who are pursuing a selfish vision of power and greed.

When humans decide to abolish slavery, fight for the rights of women, make poverty history, and protect the environment, they do so for deep-seated reasons. They may not verbalize it as such, but it’s there.

This is why these questions matter. You may not agree with this thinking, but if not, the question remains: where are we going?

Guy Dauncey

Personal note. On October 9-14, 2005, I am giving a 5-day residential workshop with Julia Menard at the Hollyhock Retreat Centre, on Cortes Island, BC, that explores these questions in greater depth. It’s called "The Great Unfolding: Science, Spirit and Evolution".

For details, see www.earthfuture.com/spirit/syntropy/ and www.hollyhock.ca/program_details.cfm?Group_ID=3658).

For a description of Hollyhock, see www.hollyhock.ca


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 Susan Martin, Naomi Devine, Louise Irwin, Katey Bloomfield, George Wood, Aarran James, Purnima Govindarajulu, Ali Sproule, Cindy Jacobsen, Arnold Ranneris, Hugo Sutmoller, Steven Pratt, Chris Bullock, Elizabeth Lavdovsky, May Murray, Nina Corley-Smith, Kathleen Kyle, Louise Bourassa, Carol McGrath, Holly Broadland, Dave Cursons, Gerald Graham, Victoria Peace Initiative, Frances Wood, Kim Feltham, Maggie Salmond, Elisabeth Bosher, John Lutz, Bruce Elkin, Camilla Turner, John & Susan Smith, Margaret Fear, Laurie Morgan, Mel Moilliet, Freda Knott, Hannah Main, Janice Turner, Jim Erkiletian, Creekside Commons, Zaida Gilchrist, Tim O’Brien, Marlene Rice, Elli Boisvert, Frances Hill, Wiluya & Arifin Graham, Pamela Aloni, Stefan Ochman, Philippa White, Phyllis Buxcey, Nancy Oliphant, Anne Clemence, Janine Gagnier, Heather McAndrew, Tony Embleton, Jan Zwicky, Yvonne Bondarchuk, Pat Barron, Jim Bohlen, Kate Stevens, Fran Thoburn, Dorothy Eastwood, Patty Castle-Jansch, Kay Look, Ruth Masters, Patricia Lane, Chris Garrett, Anita Galitzine, Marie Hodgson, James Whiteaker, Jean van Cuylenborg, Jocelyn Braithwaite, Cherry Davies, Jean Matheson, Marlene Smith, Brian Allaert, Chris Hilliar, Joan & Alan Greatbatch, Nicholas Guthrie, CA Browning, Sylvan Foreman, Mel McDonald, Ian Graeme, Robert McInnes, Edith Gulland, Rich Atwood, & Harris Challenge Homes.


THE ECO-CORNER
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THE ECO-CORNER

$5/line (non-profits, low-income free) 1" box ad $40, $2" box ad $70

* Unused letter envelopes always needed for EcoNews. Call 881-1304

* Charming Guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village , ocean. 250-361-3102

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

* Cob Sculpting Aug 5-12, Courtenay 338-0711 www.hobbithomes.ca

* Retired couple can house/pet sit in Victoria, Oct/Nov/Dec 2005. Roy 250-359 6896, rball2@imagotrackers.com

* Vegan House! Vegan seeks 3-4 other veggies to meet up and rent a house together in Victoria by Sept, with the idea of sharing a vegan and eco-friendly space. If intrigued, email Dave: veganhouse@shaw.ca

* For Sale: firewood, fir & arbutus from sustainable woodlot. 652-2613

* For Rent: Small house, wooded setting on small farm. Attached sunroom/greenhouse, garden space. Part furnished, skylight, wood heat. Quiet & private. No kids, no pets. Available July 15. $650. 652-2613.

* Wanted: Short-term female house-sitter, rural Saanich. Ellie, 479-9491

* The BCSEA welcomes Peter Ronald its new Coordinator! www.bcsea.org

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COLQUITZ WATERSHED

Do you live by water in the Colquitz Watershed, in Saanich? If you do, the Habitat Acquisition Trust would love to discuss ways in which they can help you protect the watershed through their Good Neighbours Stewardship Project. You put on the kettle, and they’ll show you ideas for tree planting, organic gardening, and maintaining natural stream courses. Call Todd at HAT, 995-2428, and see www.hat.bc.ca.

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DUKE POINT DIES….

After ten years of campaigning by many committed people, BC Hydro has finally pulled the plug on its plans to make Vancouver Island’s power supply "independent" by piping in ever-more-expensive natural gas from nearby places such as the Arctic and Russia. Yea! Sanity rules! They could easily have persisted, since their only stumbling block was the decision to allow a new appeal of the decision to approve the plant on a small technicality. But BC Hydro’s leaders must have been looking at the steadily escalating price of natural gas with alarm, wishing there was a way out without losing too much face.

So now what? There’s a big celebration in Nanaimo on Sunday August 14th (see Diary), and our attention will then turn to the vision of a Vancouver Island powered entirely by green, sustainable energy from the sun, wind, rivers and tides, with a big dose of increased efficiency. For details, see www.sqwalk.com and www.bcsea.org

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GRANOLA GROOVY ECO STORE

1005 Broad St, Victoria

Now proudly carrying COYUCHI Organic cotton bedding

(250) 477-0146 www.granolagroovy.com

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CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRESS

From a scientific perspective, the news only gets worse. To put things in perspective, we are heading to 560 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere; twice the pre-industrial level. At the present rate, we’ll get there in 85 years.

The last time Earth’s CO2 level was this high was 55 million years ago, when the Earth warmed rapidly, the oceans turned acidic, and deep sea creatures died en masse. New sediment cores taken from the ocean floor have revealed that the warming was caused by the release of nearly 4500 gigatonnes of carbon, probably from melting ocean floor methane hydrates. Sea surface temperatures rose by 5C near the Equator, and 9C at the poles. The Arctic became tropical, with ancestors of the crocodile living on Ellesmere Island.

So here’s the bad news: first, 4500 gigatonnes is about as much carbon as we will release if we carry on as we are; and second, it took the oceans 100,000 years to return to normal. (New Scientist, June 18th, http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change )

So what’s the good news? Actually, lots, if you know where to look (ie not in the mainstream media, which feels more like Pravda every day).

Here on the Island, we just stopped BC Hydro from releasing 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

The CEO of Duke Energy, a major US gas and oil company, has come out saying we need to establish carbon taxes.

The Mayors of 166 US cities have come out with a commitment to go for the Kyoto goals.

And California has made the striking commitment to reduce its emissions to the 2000 level by 2010; to the 1990 level by 2020, and to 80% below the 1990 level by 2050.

And all this just in June! Push, push, push! I know there’s a tipping point just around the corner, when all this will come together. The climate skeptics will pack their bags, take their money from Exxon, and go home, and we will be able to get on with a coordinated effort to phase out all fossil fuels, in favour of sustainable energy.

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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY LIVES

* In Zurich, 900 homes are taking 33% of their heat from a new sewer line, fitted with heat-recovery pipes.

* A new study from Stanford has revealed that the world has 5 times more wind energy capacity than we use as a planet: www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html

* In Okotoks, Alberta, 52 new houses will be heated year-round with solar hot water, stored underground. See www.town.okotoks.ab.ca/solar/DrakeLandingNew.html

* The Vancouver Car-Share Coop’s 2000 members now share 100 vehicles. See www.cooperativeauto.net

* China has installed 26 million solar hot water systems, and plans to install 115 million by 2015.

* The cost of running a regular car is over $100 a month, and rising. The cost of running a smart electric sports car is $7.60 a month, and falling. See www.horlacher.com/ev_development/sport_1.htm

* Volkswagen made a prototype 1-litre diesel 2-seater in 2001 that does 285 miles per gallon (1 litre/100km). See www.volkswagen.co.uk/new_devs/one_litre

* Almost 3,000 people came to the BCSEA’s Sustainable Energy Now! display at the BC Royal Museum in June, and to two showings of the film The End of Suburbia.

* The BC Sustainable Energy Association has 500 members and 6 active Chapters, 18 months after it was formed. See www.bcsea.org. Do you want to become a member? See www.bcsea.org/getinvolved

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Ethics Buying Collective

The organic and vegan buying collective in Victoria.
Our next order is fast approaching, visit our website for all the details.
www.EthicsCoop.ca

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SUSTAINABLE JAPAN

Every week, I receive an e-news letter called Japan for Sustainability (www.japanfs.org) that’s full of fascinating stories:

* Green purchasing by the Japanese government reduced CO2 emissions by 45,000 tonnes in 2003.

* The world’s largest green wall is winning attention at the World Expo in Aichi. It is 15 metres high, 150 metres long, covered in living vegetation, and acts as a "bio-lung" for a city.

* A study of the region north of Tokyo has revealed that a 1% increase in food self-sufficiency would create a $237 million economic benefit per year.

* The Tsuruga Shinkin credit union, in the Fukui prefecture, offers an Eco Term Deposit where the interest rate increases by the amount of garbage that’s reduced in the community. For a reduction of 1,000 tonnes, the bank pays ten times the advertised rate. It also offers a Recycling Term Deposit, where the interest rises with the amount of materials recycled.

* In the Tango district of Kyoto, a non-profit society collected 50,000 litres of used cooking oil in 2004 from 200 sites, and recycled it as biodiesel fuel. The Association’s president, Mitsuhiro Kamata, says "I want to build a biodiesel processing plant. We aim to create a sustainable community. Our association wants to make our district a 100% recycling community and produce no emissions, by using locally-produced fuel to meet all the citizens’ needs." Here in Victoria, our very own WISE Energy has similar goals. www.wiseenergy.ca

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FAIR VOTE CANADA

We just had an election. Remember? 57.69% of BC’s voters said "YES" to the Single Transferable Vote; only 15 of our 79 MLAs won a greater majority.

So what now? That’s the big question that won’t go away. In Ottawa, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has recommended that a Parliamentary committee and a citizens’ consultation committee be established to engage Canadians in an electoral reform discussion.

On Prince Edward Island, they’re going to have a November plebiscite on adopting the mixed member proportional (MMP) system. In Ontario, the legislature has passed enabling legislation for a Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform to be established.

In Victoria, on July 9th, there’s a meeting at UVic to establish a Victoria Chapter of Fair Vote Canada (see Diary). This is a really important move, so do try to attend. Call 383-0625. www.fairvotecanada.org.

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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 www.greendrycleaner.com

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41% OF THE ISLAND

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee (with 27,000 members) has looked at the need to protect the wild plants and creatures of Vancouver Island over the long run, and used conservation biology science to analyze our current uses of the land, which includes some of the world’s finest remaining ancient temperate rainforests.

Their conclusion is that we need to fully protect 41% of the Island if we want to sustain its biodiversity. (Just 13% of the Island is currently protected, and only 6% of the low elevation, productive big forests).

At the current rate of industrial logging, the opportunity to protect the land will be gone within two decades, so they are building a major new campaign around this.

By banning the export of raw logs, establishing regional log markets for value-added manufacturing, and expanding Community Forest tenures, manufacturing could be expanded while cut levels are reduced, sustaining the level of well paid union jobs.

To join the campaign, call 388-9292, and see www.wildernesscommitteevictoria.org

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HAIDA GWAII PROGRESS

The two-month blockade that Haida and non-Haida held in the spring is yielding results. The provincial government is now in high-level negotiations with the Haida leadership. In the works, they believe, are a significant drop in the annual allowable cut, an end to bear hunting on the islands, and a move towards ecoforestry, with the Haida becoming a major license holder. www.haidanation.ca/islands/islands.html

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SUMMER JOYS

Summer is here, so enjoy it! On July 9th & 10th, there’s the first ever Organic Islands Festival, at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific; and there are walking, hiking, sailing and kayaking adventures to be enjoyed almost every day. (See Diary).

Let your soul fly, amid eagles and seaweed,

Far to the mountaintop, close to the shore.

Let your heart sing in the ocean’s deep greenery,

Far to the cosmos, close to your door.

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A Year on the Garden Path -- A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide by Carolyn Herriot

$29.95, in Bolen Books, Munro’s, Tanner’s, Banyen, Duffy’s,

Carolyn’s new book is just jumping off the shelves, and for good reason. People love it! If you’re wanting to garden organically, you’ll find it packed full of practical advice and tips, gathered over Carolyn’s 20 year gardening career. You can also buy in on-line: www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath/Book.htm

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some recent goodies that have passed my way:

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ACTION OF THE MONTH

GO, PAUL, GO!

Every day, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry, and 50,000 people die from poverty-related causes. Paul Martin is off to Gleneagles, Scotland for the G8 Summit on June 6th – 8th, where he hopes to strengthen the world’s commitment to Make Poverty History.

Action: Write to Paul Martin, and urge him to set a clear timetable for Canada to give 0.7% of our GDP to foreign aid. pm@pm.gc.ca

And go to www.makepovertyhistory.ca, and sign the online petition to the PM.

If not in our generation – who? If not now – when?


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
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Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
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