EcoNews
Newsletter #216 - September 2011
Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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Guy Dauncey, Editor
13561 Barney Road, Ladysmith, BC
CANADA V9G 1E9
Tel (250) 924-1445
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director
The Solutions Project

  Editorial

CONSERVATIVES IN STUNNING DEFEAT

Yes, that should have been the headline, when 60% of Canadian voters clearly rejected the Conservative Party and said NO to a Tory government.

But did the media report it thus? No. For the past few weeks we’ve had to put up with a nauseous stream of journalists and columnists saying things like “Canadians have clearly stated that they are fed up with minority rule, and want a stable Conservative majority.” Well, that’s a puppy-faced, reality-denying, fool-the-public lie.

Canadians did nothing of the sort. 60% of Canadian voters voted for a more intelligent, progressive, forward-looking, compassionate government.

And note this: the Conservative majority is 14 seats, and in the 14 most closely contested ridings where they won they did so by a combined margin of just 6,201 votes - that’s 0.04% of the popular vote. (http://on.fb.me/mattpeters) The Conservatives increased their share of the total vote by only 1.97%.

So now we have to look ourselves in the collective face and ask ourselves - what next? How do we get out of this wretched hole that sees our country being governed by a right wing government that has no popular mandate to do so?

If we had voted using the kind of fair, proportional system that is used almost everywhere else in the world, Parliament would look like this:

  VOTE SHARE SEATS
CON 40% 123
NDP 31% 95
LIB 19% 59
BQ 6% 18
GRN 4% 12
  100% 308

 With such a result, the NDP would have formed a coalition government with either the Liberals or with the Bloc plus the Greens.

We can’t afford to fool ourselves, however. The chances that the Conservatives will bring in proportional voting are about as good as the chance that the Arctic ice will stop melting.

Honk for Fair VotesProportional voting has been defeated twice in BC, once in Ontario, and also just recently in Britain, because it’s so easy for NO campaigners to whine and fear-monger that “It’s so complicated! Nobody can understand it! It’ll produce unstable governments!” ignoring the fact that most European nations have had proportional voting and stable coalition governments for years.

The only chance of a change is if the NDP were to win a majority in 2015, over-ride the instinct to retain first past the post, and legislate proportional voting as their platform has said they would for years.

For this - Plan A - to happen, Jack Layton will have to do a great job as leader of the Opposition, Liberal and Green supporters will have to switch their votes to the NDP en masse in 2015, and Bloc Quebecois voters will have to continue to support the NDP instead of reverting to form.

For this to happen we would also need the Green Party and the Liberals to remain very weak, so as not to draw votes away from the NDP. We would need Elizabeth May to do a fabulous job personally as Canada’s first Green Party MP, but not build support for the Green Party, and Bob Ray not to succeed in rejuvenating the Liberals.

There is also Plan B. The right wing parties faced the same dilemma in 2003 when their vote was split. They did the only intelligent thing, and merged to form one party.

As a diversion in my chain of thought, it is worth noting that here on southern Vancouver Island we successfully elected all four of the most progressive electable candidates - Denise Savoie (NDP), Elizabeth May (Green), Randall Garrison (NDP) and Jean Crowder (NDP). Denise and Jean won because of their excellent record as MPs, but Elizabeth and Randall won because we no longer split the vote.

Specifically, there were local polls by Oraclepoll in their ridings five days before the vote which indicated which way the tide was turning, and persuaded many people to switch their votes to Randall and Elizabeth (some using www.votepair.ca). Far more than local projections of national polling, these local polls gave us trustworthy local information.

So back to Plan B, which is that Elizabeth May persuade the Green Party to approach Jack Layton and the NDP with a view to a merger, to form the Green New Democrats, with a pledge that when elected, they would put proportional voting in place for the 2019 election. They could then remain together as one party after 2019, or revert back to two parties.

There is also  Plan C - that the Liberals approach the NDP to do a merge, or vice versa. There is so much historical pride in the Liberal ranks, however, that I fear they would prefer to remain in the wilderness and watch Canada be destroyed by years of Conservative rule than agree to merge with the NDP and form the Liberal New Democrats.

One way or another, something has to change.

- Guy Dauncey

The Eco-Personals

$1.00 a word. Max 5 lines; non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50


Lovely room to rent, close to ocean, downtown, cooking facilities, $35/night, weekly and monthly rates 250-382-3810.


Create the B.C. you want with The Land Conservancy. Step in and film a “be the change” video about why you support TLC. Step forward and make a donation. Share your video with your friends. Click here! www.bethechangebc.ca.


Wanted: 3-4 people willing to come and weed for $10/hour at Kildara Organic Farm, North Saanich. Because of the wet cold weather the weeds have grown faster than the potatoes. Pick up in Sidney. Contact Brian Hughes, 250-655-3093 or kildara@shaw.ca.

Green Bites

ECONEWS APPEAL

If you value receiving EcoNews, could you send a donation to help cover the cost? There’s almost no money in the bank, right now. PayPal is great, or by mail to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. Many thanks! And many thanks to kind readers who have already donated.

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PENINSULA COOP ELECTIONS

The Co-op is holding an important election that runs until June 8th, with voting stations in every Peninsula Coop gas station. As a member, I am backing the five Action Network candidates, who want to make The Co-op more transparent, more democratic, and more accountable, and end the  irregularities and controversies that have plagued The Co-op under its previous Board of Directors - several of whom are running for re-election.

For details of the Action Network see http://coopactionnetwork.ca. The candidates I am voting for are Mike Romaine, Alicia Cormier, Bejay Mills, Greg Lyon, Jeanette Sheehy and Bruce Clow. If you are a member, drop by any Co-op Gas station and cast your votes before June 8th.

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ONE WIPE AT A TIME…

The trees grow peacefully in the forest. They have been growing there for many years, and a whole wonderful world of fungi, plants, birds, insects and animals has grown up around them, calling the forest home and enjoying its tranquility.

Then one day, the forest awakes to a harsh and frightening noise - the death machines are coming, cutting, stripping and destroying everything in their way. Where it can, the wildlife flees.

The trees groan, and face their end. The trees are cut, loaded, and trucked across country to a pulp and paper mill. Here, they are pulped, smushed and smoothed into the softest toilet paper.

Broken into a thousand rolls, they are trucked to a store and sold to a family. For three brief seconds, they wipe someone’s bottom, and then they are flushed away  into the sewer, and (if you live in Victoria) into the sea.
   
Globally, over 27,000 trees are cut, turned into toilet paper and flushed away every day - that’s a million trees a year. This is how we degrade our planet, one wipe at a time. But why are trees being cut to make toilet paper, instead of using recycled paper? Because toilet paper made from new trees provides the softer, fluffier wipe that so many pampered, unintentionally ecocidal human bottoms enjoy.

There has always been eco-friendly toilet paper made by companies like Seventh Generation, but tissues made from 100% recycled fibre make up only 2% of the market, so for each person trying to make a difference, 49 are busy wiping away the forest.

In a big breakthrough,  however, Cascades - Canada’s  second largest manufacturer of tissue products - has made a $30 million investment in a process that gives recycled paper the softness people like, and it is using 100% recycled fibre in its Enviro-Premium toilet paper and paper towels.  They are even here in Victoria, recycling from the blue box to the bum.

So please, tell all your friends! The Cascades Enviro brand is in all the stores, and no-one need ever destroy another tree just to wipe their bum. It’s $4.99 for 12 rolls on special at  Thrifty’s right now; normally $8.99, 50 cents cheaper than Charmin. All the other brands - Purex, Charmin, Royale, Kleenex, President’s Choice - treat them as you would a chainsaw murderer - for that’s exactly what they are.  See www.cascades.com/site/tissue-paper/bathroom-tissue.html and www.worldwatch.org/node/6403. For a portable “bidet in a bottle” that goes one step further and uses no paper at all, see www.bit.ly/tjebbi.

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SANSUM PARADISE

Sansum NarrowsIt’s right on the edge of paradise, overlooking the fast-moving currents of Sansum Narrows that run between Salt Spring and lands between Maple Bay and Genoa Bay. It is a total treasure, and The Land Conservancy (TLC) has quite rightly stepped up to acquire its 128 acres, to protect it in perpetuity.

There’s a stunning video - my, the TLC makes good videos - at http://bit.ly/sansum. Be sure you view it on full screen! It makes the case for protecting it better than any words can. It’s like a local Ayers Rock, covered in moss, lichens, arbutus, cedars, Garry oak trees, wildflowers and total beauty of undisturbed ecological harmony.

But nothing as stunning as this comes easy, like lottery winnings in Campbell River. The TLC’s option to buy carries a price $1.85 million, with a need to raise the money by the end of June. That means - like - now! The Cowichan Land Trust, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and an anonymous donor have pledged over $1 million, leaving $585,000 to raise in the next 30 days.

Sue ColemanAs an incentive, the artist Sue Coleman is offering 12x18 prints of her painting Sansum Point (see left) for $140 if you buy before June 30, with $100 being donated to the purchase.

The Cowichan Valley’s newly re-elected MP Jean Crowder has bought one - will you join her? Just go to http://suecoleman.ca. To make other donations, call 1-877-485-2422 or http://blog.conservancy.bc.ca/current-campaigns/save-sansum-point. And yea, for The Land Conservancy!

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PESTICIDES AND INTELLIGENCE

We know that exposure to some pesticides increases the risk that you’ll get a cancer known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We know that exposure to pesticides increases the risk of prostate and breast cancer. And now we know that when a baby is in the womb, there is a 5.5 drop in IQ scores by the age of seven for every ten-fold increase in prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides. You want dumb children? Then spray away - you won’t need to bother with your child’s college education. 
   
Will BC do as 35 BC municipalities and three provinces have already done, and ban the use of cosmetic pesticides? It looks very hopeful, since Premier Christy Clark is supporting a move by Opposition Leader Adrian Dix to advance a private member’s bill to protect our health by banning the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides in British Columbia. And wow - when did a Premier last support a private member’s bill by the leader of the opposition? This is what progress looks like.

But the lawn-care companies are fighting back, presumably reasoning that that we need more dumb children who will hire them when they’re adults, so please send emails of encouragement both to Christy Clark premier@gov.bc.ca and to Adrian Dix adrian.dix.mla@leg.bc.ca

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OUR HIDDEN EMISSIONS

When you mess with the atmosphere, you mess with the climate, and that means you mess with the weather.  Are the unprecedented mile-wide tornadoes that ripped across the US south-east, killing hundreds, linked to climate change? No-one can say - but “the climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks,” said Dr. Wallace Broecker, the prestigious climate scientist. Can the persistent cold weather that is making tomato plants shiver in the ground on Canada’s west coast be linked to climate change? No-one has suggested it - but the rapidly warming Arctic does affect the jet stream, which governs our weather.
    
Whatever the impacts, we know they’re coming. With the failure of the last UN climate conference, we’re on track to a global temperature increase of 4°C by the end of the century - take a look at westcoastclimateequity.org to see what that looks like. The last time the world’s temperature was 3°C warmer, the sea-level was 25 metres higher. Not inches - metres. That was back in the Pliocene era, 3-5 million years ago, when our ancestors in Africa were slowly beginning to take on human attributes.
  
So it’s good news that the BC government has made the commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 33% below the 2007 level by 2020? (That’s 20% below 1990.) Yes it is, but let us not be fooled. The target we need to strive for is 25-40% below 1990 by 2020; Britain has just made a commitment to reduce its emissions by 50% below 1990 by 2027.
   
But wait - we’re all missing something big, which is the hidden emissions that come from imported goods. When a factory in China uses coal-fired electricity to make plastic lawn furniture that we buy because it’s so cheap, it carries a carbon footprint that is not counted in our national or provincial emissions. The latest estimate is that 26% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from goods produced for trade. We’ve a long way to go before we get a grip on this.
  
And what about our exported carbon emissions - such as the coal that BC ships to Japan and Korea? One calculation puts its greenhouse gas footprint at over 50 million tonnes of GHGs a year, compared to 66 million tonnes for BC as a whole (not counting imports) - and there will be a lot more if the Raven coal mining project gets the go-ahead (see Action of the Month).
    
So, long story short, we need to pressure all three BC political parties to keep the climate action coming, and push them to engage in a race to the top. Which party can come up with the best policies, and commitments?

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THE GARDEN PATH
395 Conway Road, Saanich

"Home of the Zero Mile Diet"
Open Garden every Friday 10-6pm
Plants - Seeds - Books - Tours Refreshments

www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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SAN FRANCISCO GETAROUND

Here’s something new, alongside carsharing and ridesharing. In San Francisco, a new online service called Getaround (www.getaround.com) (with flavours of the Beach Boys) lets car owners rent their vehicles to other members of the service. What a simple idea!

The idea was hatched in 2009 by three postgraduate students who wanted to go beyond carsharing. Its called “peer to peer sharing”, and it’s already common with house-swaps. Thanks to a new California law that allows vehicle owners to share their cars without jeopardizing their auto insurance, there were no major barriers. A Toyota Corolla rents for $5-$6 an hour. This being San Francisco for $50 an hour you can rent a Tesla Roadster electric vehicle. You browse your neighbourhood on the website to see who’s sharing, and arrange the rental on your iPhone.

In another San Francisco peer-to-peer outfit - Relay Rides (www.relayrides.com), you install a device in your car that allows authorized borrowers to access your vehicle. A third outfit, Spride Share (www.spride.com) is linked to the existing car sharing club and is outfitted with its technology, so the cars effectively become part of the fleet - expanding the number of car sharing vehicles available to members.

This new trend could become very big, with car-owners earning up to $350 a month by renting out their vehicles.

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TWO BIG LOCAL PROJECTS YOU CAN VOTE FOR … NOW!

The Fernwood Inn is close to winning a big $35,000 energy upgrade from BC Hydro - but they need our votes!! They are finalist, in the top three, and voting ends on June 3rd. so please go there NOW, and vote for them. You can vote again every day! http://www.bchydro.com/energyfix

and…. the Lifecycles Project Growing Schools: from Classroom to Table is a finalist in the Keg “Thanks a Million” contest, in the running for a $25,000 prize to establish 5 new school gardens, and educate 1,000 students in the CRD through workshops on food, nutrition, and sustainable living. Here too, you just have to vote - and you can vote again every day until June 14th. Vote here: www.thekegthanksamillion.com/en/phase2/projects/show/p/539

and… Ernie Tomlinson, from Nanoose Bay, is off to Uganda on a project called Villages Connected, to help a newly established media co-op in showcasing their community’s potential, and make a revolutionary film that will give the world a window into the soul of their community, that will travel the world in festivals and online. They are doing community on-line fundraising, to help their work. See http://www.indiegogo.com/rebranding-poverty

Action of the Month

RAVEN COAL, COMOX VALLEY

So - the proposal to start coal mining in the Comox has finally advanced to its environmental assessment - and we are being formally invited to say what we think. How can you refuse such an offer?

We have until June 27th to tell them what we think about this proposal to dig into the Earth and mine it for coal, the use of which poses such an enormous threat to our planet’s atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems and civilization.

The mined coal will pour more mercury into the air when it’s burnt, which is taken in by fish in lakes and oceans. The mining will also risk our Island’s clean water and salmon runs, create air pollution from coal dust, and tarnish the emerging ecotourism economies of the Comox Valley and Port Alberni.

Is this what we really want, just for a few dirty jobs in a throw-back to the old industrial age? Hell no. Here’s the coal mining industry’s take, that makes it look as fresh as spring flowers: www.theravenproject.ca

Action

Email your comments to raven@ceaa-acee.gc.ca, fax them to 250-356-6448, or use this online form: www.eao.gov.bc.ca/pcp/forms/Raven.html

Mining the Comox Valley
Green smudged with black.
Whose great idea was this?

The Wonderful World of Web
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Guy Dauncey, Editor
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CANADA V9E 2B9
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guydauncey@earthfuture.com

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