No. 161 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver
July & August 2006
Now available as PDF's! Front (104kb)
- Middle (239kb)
AIMING FOR HIGHER GOALS
What are we aiming for as a civilization? I presume we are aiming
somewhere: even the Titanic was aiming somewhere.
There are important secondary goals such as balancing the national
books and making sure family members don’t fight too much,
but these things don’t create direction.
Maybe it’s an inappropriate question, since we cannot escape
the post-industrial hegemony of our paradigmatic situation – but
I’ll leave that to the post-modernists to sort out.
As far as I’m concerned, since all the warning signs say
we’re heading for an ecological train-wreck, it’s an
appropriate question to ask.
Back in Europe’s Middle Ages, where our civilization has
many of its roots, there was little concept of direction - just
a desire to escape the poverty that ground down so many of our
ancestors. On the planet as a whole there was no "we".
Each clan, tribe, or nation drew a selfish circle, outside of which
no-one was really trusted.
For a tiny minority, however, the privilege of non-poverty gave
them time to dream greater dreams, and out of this dreaming came
inventions, ploughs, ships, steam, medical cures, and the whole
Our medical developments led to a population explosion, since
our babies no longer died, and our technological developments led
to a consumer explosion: all we had to do was mix some chemicals
and – magic! – we’ve got weedkillers,
rocket fuel, and Teflon.
Was there a guiding sense of direction that led to the changes?
There was certainly a force from below, driven by the desire to
escape poverty. This spoke inside every mind, saying "If
you get a chance, grab it!" It also spoke to us tribally
and nationally, encouraging us to grab the land of other tribes
There was also a force from within that excited us with other
dreams: to understand the laws of gravity, to compose the most
beautiful symphony, to reach the Moon. To abolish the stain of
slavery, to establish national parks.
Is it as simple as this? That the instinctive force, which urges
us to act for the benefit of ourselves, for our tribe, nation,
or corporation is still saying "Grab what you can!",
while the other force is urging us to act for the planet as a whole?
It is interesting to note in ‘The Greening of Wal-Mart’ (EcoNews
#160) that it was the impact between these two forces that led
Wal-Mart’s CEO, Lee Scott, to observe "On a personal
level, as you become a grandparent, you also become more thoughtful
about what the world will look like that she inherits."
It is our lower goals that are getting us into trouble. We have
been so successful in grabbing what we can that the ecosystems
we grab from and dump our wastes into are crumbling. At the same
time, the people we have stolen land from are rising up to seek
justice, or adopting our "grab what you can" habits
to pull themselves out of poverty, just as we taught them.
C h a n g e d i r e c t i o n! …. the inner voice cries
out. In Bhutan, the whole country has adopted the goal of maximizing
Gross National Happiness, instead of Gross National Product, which
is a measure purely of money, no matter whether the money comes
from clearcutting a forest or the salaries of prison guards.
In New Zealand, the Maori Party has adopted the Genuine Progress
Index as opposed to the Gross Domestic Product, allowing them to
subtract all negatives (crime, pollution, divorce rates) and add
all positives (voluntary work, cultural revival, ecological restoration)
to give a more genuine indication of progress towards the goals
that everyone wants.
When you look at the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) that’s
been developed for America by Redefining Progress, America’s
GPI has fallen steadily since 1975, while the GDP has kept rising.
So here’s a simple notion. On its own, it won’t change
the world, but if it gives us a new beacon to steer towards, it
might assist our efforts.
The notion is that every year, every level of government, and
every corporation, is required by law to report on its Genuine
Progress, not just monetary progress, and to lay down plans to
accelerate this progress. We’ll need a whole new profession
of genuine progress accountants.
If we want to make such progress, our goals must include such
things as falling divorce, reduced obesity, reduced greenhouse
gas emissions, fewer toxic chemicals in our bodies, reduced suicide,
better marriages, and increased fulfillment at work.
The right wing parties have made it very clear: they follow the
goals of selfishness and dominance. It is the other parties that
must redefine their goals, so that we have a new beacon we can
guide our civilization by.
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A big thankyou to Douglas Crow, Takao Scott, Maureen Chlopan.
Margaret Fear, Keith & Mignon Lundmark, Ruth Masters, Vivien
Davies, Sonja Young, Heather Page, Andrée Scott, Wayne Harling,
Dr Dorle Kniefel, Peter Carilho, Beverlee Lane, and Michiyo Furuhashi.
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180
* Charming guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village, ocean.
* Guests? Short term accommodation: furnished room in Fairfield,
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* Garden suite with vegetable garden for rent, Fairfield,
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* Courtenay Cohousing Call 250-338-0187 www.creeksidecommons.ca
* Nanaimo Cohousing Call 250-754-3060 www.pacificgardens.ca
* Serious Coffee wants to make a serious difference. If
you want to add coffee grounds to your compost, stop at any of
our locations and pick up a free bag. See www.seriouscoffee.com
* To let. Bright beautiful suite, yard, deck, Fernwood, partially
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* For sale by owner. Fairfield, 5 BR/offices, 2 bath, 2200+
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$639,000 Donna 250-880-1430
* Seeking partners to buy land for eco-living. email@example.com
* Certified Organic fruit from Cawston farmer’s coop,
available July-Oct. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to
get on the mailing list.
* Interested in sustainable organic food production? Do you
want to support local food and farmers on the Island? We invite
you to become a member of the Keating Community Farm Co-operative,
which needs 60 more shareholders to sustain the TLC’s agricultural
property, just south of Duncan. Call Ramona Scott or Paula Hesje
at 479-8301 or email@example.com .
ORGANIC ISLANDS FESTIVAL
Coming up July 8th & 9th
CENTRAL SAANICH GREENS
Do you live in Central Saanich? If so, there’s up to $2,100
available towards making your home super warm and energy efficient.
It’s called Energy Savings Plan, and it’s a
pilot program to persuade homeowners to save 70,000 gigajoules
of energy by April 2007, equal to 87,500 tonnes of reduced greenhouse
gases, roughly the amount produced by 17,500 people in a year.
THE IVY AND THE FOREST
I know, you want to make a big difference in the world.
But how about a small difference too? English ivy is an invader
from Europe that can devastate a forest or park. In Portland, it’s
so bad they’ve had to create an Ivy Removal Project.
Ivy is not a major food source for native wildlife; it can grow
in as little as 1% light; it spreads by vines, roots and seeds;
and it’s not even a useful landscaping plant. The solution
is to eliminate all ivy, including the variegated species. If you
have ivy in your garden, get rid of it. If you have trees where
ivy has gotten a grip, saw through the stem to kill it. And if
you see ivy being sold in a garden centre, please ask the staff
to remove it. See www.noivyleague.com
The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your
Carbon neutral is here to stay! The Olympics and the World cup
of Soccer are going carbon neutral; I neutralize my emissions every
year through the Solar Electric Light Fund (www.self.org),
a privilege I share with Bill Clinton. Now the 7th Annual
Ska Festival in Victoria (July 12-15) is going zero waste and carbon
neutral, offsetting the air and car travel of the musicians by
supporting a charity in Haiti that is taking solar powered ovens
to replace the use of wood. See www.sunoven.com/haiti.asp.
Let’s work to make this a precedent for all Victoria’s
festivals, conferences, and events. See www.victoriaskafest.ca
YEA FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY!
Based on rigged voting procedures in Florida (2000), Ohio (2004),
and other evidence, I believe that American democracy has been
corrupted by an alliance of the super-wealthy (believing they are
entitled to remain so), the super-religious (believing that serving
God overrides the requirements of democracy), and the super-corporate
(believing they are above the law). In my understanding of American
politics, the White House now serves the big corporations, not
the people. In the post-war history of democracy, this is the first
instance of a major nation moving away from democracy towards a
more fascist form of government.
So it is really encouraging to read of events in Humboldt County,
northern California, where citizens were fed up with Wal-Mart spending
$250,000 in a 1999 attempt to change Eureka’s zoning laws
to clear the way for their big-box store, and MAXXAM, a forest
company, spending $300,000 in 2004 on a faked-up recall campaign
to drive the local Attorney from office because he tried to enforce
the forestry regulations.
In the primary elections on June 6th 2006 they decided
by 55%-45% that corporations do not have the same rights as citizens
when it comes to participating in local political campaigns. Measure
T, which passed the ballot, says "Only natural persons
possess civil and political rights. Corporations are creations
of state law and possess no legitimate civil or political rights".
Measure T bans all outside corporations from investing in local
Their campaign quoted Thomas Jefferson: "I hope we shall
crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations
which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of
strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." See www.libertytreefdr.org
There’s a development with a difference happening in the
Comox Valley. Inspired by the dream of a sustainable neighbourhood
of beauty and peace, where people can grow as individuals while
supporting each other, and also supporting the land they live on
and the wider community, a group of people has bought 9.8 acres
of land just outside Courtenay and started building a cohousing
They will live in 36 houses, enjoying their own homes in car-free
spaces, while sharing a community dining room and kitchen, children’s
playroom, and a crafts and woodwork shop. They have started building,
and are looking for people to join them. The land is gently sloping,
full of potential for gardens, orchards and ponds. "We
will foster a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose, sharing
the fullness of ourselves and celebrating the gifts of life with
SALT SPRING ECO-HOME TOUR
Are you planning to go to Salt Spring on August 6th for
the Eco-Home Tour, to be inspired by sustainable housing made with
hemp straw bales, rammed earth, cob, straw bale, yurt-fabric, solar
and wind, water catchment and grey-water? The Salt Springers would
like us to cycle or car-share: meet 9:30 am to carpool at Gulf
Islands Sec. School, 112 Rainbow Rd, where you can also buy tickets.
See Green Diary. 250-538-0318
STOP THE OIL RUSH
They’ve got the rush, and they’re rushing where most
BC residents say they should never go. There are no less than five
projects lining up to take tankers through BC’s inside passage
to and from Kitimat, through the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest,
along the very same waters where the Queen of the North recently
hit the rocks, sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Methanex is
already importing condensate, a mix of toxic chemicals and natural
gas from South America, that is used to ease the flow of oil through
pipelines. Each tanker carries 350,000 barrels of condensate.
Next, the Alberta energy giant Enbridge wants approval to ship
up to a million barrels of tar sands crude oil a day to China,
India and California, using three to ten tankers a week.
Third, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan want approval for two competing
1,200 km pipelines that would send imported condensate from Kitimat
to Alberta at the rate of 100,000 barrels a day, which presumes
that the condensate will be shipped to Kitimat in the first place.
Fourth, there’s a condensate pipeline proposal by Pembina
to send 100,000 barrels of condensate a day from Kitimat to Summit
Lake, north of Prince George.
Finally, Kitimat LNG has received an environmental assessment
certificate for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal to be built
in Kitimat. LNG is natural gas that has been chilled to -162º C
so that it can be imported from countries such as Iran and Russia.
LNG is so explosive that when LNG tankers arrive in Boston Harbour,
the police put marksmen on the bridges and helicopters in the sky
in case a terrorist tries to hit the ship with a missile, causing
an explosion that could result in second-degree burns at three
Why is the gas needed, you ask? Because North America is running
out of natural gas, so we need to seek it elsewhere. The Mackenzie
is also facing a pipeline to feed gas from the Arctic to the tar
sands to turn the tar into oil.
Opinions polls show that 75% of BC citizens oppose the use of
tankers on the Inside Passage and would support a ban. But in mid-June,
an oil tanker carrying 350,000 barrels of condensate traveled up
these very same waters without a coast guard vessel stopping it
or the government seeking an injunction.
There’s a reason why we want to protect these waters: we
know that it’s only a matter of time before there’s
a tanker disaster, pouring oil into these pristine waters and the
surrounding shorelines where bears, eagles, orcas, salmon, and
a host of marine species have lived for ten thousand years, without
human interference or pollution. It’s wilderness. It’s
We’ve got to stop this, somehow. We need the oil like we
need accelerants on a burning house. This planet is our house,
and we are pouring on accelerants with every barrel of oil and
every load of natural gas we burn. We need to turn our faces in
a different direction, and seek our energy from Nature’s
Own in the energy of the sun, wind, and tides. For energy solutions,
see BC Sustainable Energy Association www.bcsea.org.
For the Inside Passage, problems: www.dogwoodinitiative.org.
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ANOTHER CRAZY SHUTTLE
On July 1st, if the sky is clear, the space shuttle Discovery will
leave Earth’s atmosphere and fly to the International Space
Station. There’s a debate going on about its safety – meaning
the safety of the astronauts.
But a BC scientist in Whistler is alarmed about a far greater
safety issue that he says no-one will discuss. Neil Finley believes
there has been suppression of critical information about the space
shuttle that tells him it should never be allowed to fly.
The space shuttle’s launch rockets burn a solid fuel called
ammonium perchlorate, which releases chlorine into the Earth’s
ozone layer, using a special exemption in the Montreal Protocol.
NASA does not deny that the chlorine contributes to ozone depletion,
but says it’s so small it’s insignificant.
Neil thinks they’ve got it all wrong, because whereas the
chlorine from the CFCs we use here on Earth drift up to the lower
levels of the ozone layer, the Discovery, the Ariane,
and all the US ballistic missile defense rockets inject chlorine
into the ozone layer at a higher level where the atmosphere is
thinner, and the proportional effect is 100 times greater.
Furthermore, he says, there’s a big hole in the ozone layer
happening at the 43 kilometer level which no-one has explained.
He points out that the mysterious polar mesospheric clouds that
have appeared over Antarctica, also known as noctilucent clouds,
are being caused by the exhaust emissions of the shuttle – a
point which NASA does not deny – and he is concerned that
we are messing with the chemistry of the upper atmosphere without
a proper understanding of how it works.
The Russians and Chinese rockets use a different fuel: there’s
no need to use the ammonium perchlorate.
The perchlorate from the launches is also getting into drinking
water across America. Yuk!
Create What Matters Most!
Skills & Support for Creating Rich, Healthy, & Sustainable
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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
Some sites that have passed my way:
- Organic Islands Festival, July 8-9: www.organicislands.ca
- Tseycum Canoe Tours, North Saanich: www.tseycumtours.com
- Petition to Save Alaska’s Wolves from Aerial Gunning: http://action.defenders.org/savewolvesed
- Petition to Stephen Harper to Act on Climate Change: www.greenerottawa.ca/steps.html
- Burnaby’s Resolution on Peak Oil: http://burnaby.fileprosite.com/contentengine/launch.asp?ID=9181
- ITV’s Climate Change TV Series from the UK: www.itv.com/news/climate.html
- You Have the Power to Save Energy, from Victoria, Australia (the
best Climate Change Visuals): http://video.vividas.com/media/vicgov_save_energy
- Great Vancouver Green Guide: www.gvrd.bc.ca/greenguide
- Coastal Revelations. Vancouver Island Hiking Tours, Your Passage
to the Wild Heart of BC’s Ecosystems: www.coastalrevelations.com
- Canadian Insights. Insight into a big 559 acres land deal that
this company is seeking investors for just west of Sooke: www.canadianhorizons.ca/projects/sooke
- Our Way Home Reunion, Casltegar, July 6-9; Peace Gathering. A
tribute to the US immigrants that came to Canada during the Vietnam
War and to the thousands of Canadians that assisted them: www.ourwayhomereunion.com
- The Armed Madhouse. A new book by the journalist Greg Palast: www.gregpalast.com
- Impeach, Convict, Arrest, and Imprison George Bush, by Paul Gipe: www.wind-works.org/articles/ImpeachGeorgeWBush.html
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