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July / Aug
Sent by email
Many thanksto The First Unitarian Church of Victoria (congregational collection), The Pinch Group at Raymond James, Marian Kemp, R. Bilash, Janet Meadows, Helga Naguib, Christine Johnston, Doreen Hynd, Arnold Ranneris, Alison Fitzgerald, Pat Johnston, Chris Bullock, Hilda Dahl, Eleanor McKinnon, Richard Pearson, Marlene Rice, Roberta Hower, Andy Robertson, Nancy Turner, P. Buxcey, Gillian Smith, Ed Mackenzie, Dave Secco, Mignon & George Lundmark, Noel Taylor, Martin Weideman, Miriam Thorn, Andrew Pringle, Elizabeth Nuse, Anita Galitzine, Michael Collins, Janice Turner, Jean Rankin, Alison McLaren, Marian Kemp, Kathryn Harcourt, Marie Bohlen, Susan Grout, Brian Pinch, Peter Schofield, Mark Whitear, Barbara Hourston, Marya Nijland, Barbara Taylor, Penny Furnes, Peter Lamb, Jack & Heide Martin, Ruth Masters, Rich Mably, Sandra McPherson, Josephine Munro, Marta Gassler, Louise Irwin, Francis Kremler, Alan Dolan, Bob Willard, Frank Martens, Dennis Dolphin, Jean Wallace & Marjorie Vachell. Thankyou!
Saanich Organics Box Program
Certified organic veggies from our farms delivered directly to you.
$43 trillion - that’s how much is owed by governments to external debt-holders, according to The Economist’s global debt clock. In 2012 it will rise to $46 trillion.
Here are some of the numbers, showing debt per person and per GDP :
135% of GDP
120% of GDP
88% of GDP
88% of GDP
82% of GDP
68% of GDP
Strange… there’s Canada with a larger debt to GDP ratio than the US. So how come the government has been telling us what good shape Canada is, in compared to the US?
That’s a small matter, however, compared to the big problem, which is how nations can stop the debt from growing, and begin to pay it down. It is because of the debts that governments are cutting back on environmental budgets and social spending at the very time when we need it. What is the way out of the mess? A sustainable world must have sustainable finances.
But first, how did we get into this mess? Maybe understanding that will help us get out of it.
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Local Masonry Heater builder, Boris Kukolj, offers large hand-built units $8000.
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Green arborist. 30 years tall-tree experience, low impact. Discounts for seniors. Bill Howell, 250-217-7462
Organic Gardener's Pantry - local source for fabulous organic gardening products. Probiotics, mycorrhizae, compost tea and more. Christina 250-216-3733 www.gardenerspantry.ca
Small, cozy cabin for rent on organic farm near Brentwood. One room with loft. Bathroom has shower, sink and composting bucket-style toilet. NS $710 250-652-8662.
Parents - Have a Green Birthday Party at the Compost Education Centre - no hassle or waste. Fun exciting atmosphere promoting sustainable living. Call 250-386-9676 for details.
EARTH BY THE NUMBERS
How many species ?
A new study published in PLoS Biology estimates the total number of species
on Earth at 8.7 million, with 6.5 million on land and 2.2 million in
the ocean. In spite of 250 years of classification and 1.2 million
species catalogued, the results suggest that 86% of the land species
and 91% in the ocean await description. In 1979, when a beetle expert
at the Smithsonian went into the jungles of Panama, rolled some
sheeting and sprayed several trees with pesticide, he discovered the
bodies of over 1,100 new beetles under a single tree.
How much species loss ?
We are causing the extinction of species at between 100 and 1,000
times the natural background rate. The current estimate is that we
could cause the extinction of 9%-18% of all species by 2050,
representing up to 1.5 million species.
How many people?
The seven billionth person may be born on October 31st, so expect a lot of
media coverage. It took five million years to reach one billion; 123
years to reach two billion; 47 years to reach four billion; 25 years
to reach six billion; and 12 years to hit 7 billion. We are
increasing by 77 million a year, but the birth rate is falling as
women become educated and there is more widespread contraception.
With so many young people, the growth will continue until around 2050
when it will hopefully stabilize at 9-10 billion and begin to fall.
If every couple had just one child, it would fall to two billion in
How many cars, trucks and buses?
The 4-wheeled population passed one billion last year. It took 85 years to hit a quarter
billion; 16 years to reach half a billion, and 24 years to double to
one billion. Some predict that it could reach 2.5 billion by 2050. If
every country adopted sustainable mobility policies and designs that
prioritized walking, cycling, transit, rail, car-sharing and
ridesharing, it could fall to half a billion, with one vehicle for
every six or seven households.
How much CO2?
The current level is 392 parts per million, compared to 285 ppm
before the industrial age. Lacking global action, we are on a
seemingly relentless track to 450 ppm, and then more. Half the
surplus CO2 is entering the oceans, making them more
acidic. The other half is entering the atmosphere, where the average
molecule released by a car or truck today will trap heat for 100
There are many local organizations whose members work hard to protect
the habitats and species here on southern Vancouver Island. Once a
year they have a big public get-together called Conservation
Connection, and this year it’s on Friday September 30th with
guest speaker Bob MacDonald from the CBC’s Quirks & Quarks,
at the Mews Conference Centre at Royal Roads. If you would like to
find an organization to volunteer with, this is your chance to see
them all together. For the details see http://www.hat.bc.ca.
TAR SANDS MASS ARRESTS
At the time of writing there has been little about it in Canada’s
media, but right now in Washington DC, 2,000 people have pledged to
get arrested to try to stop the flow of tar sands oil into the US
through the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.
As of August 25th, 322 people had been arrested including Bill
McKibben, Gus Speth, Margot Kidder and Tantoo Cardinal. President
Obama has the sole authority to approve or deny the pipeline, which
is why they are focusing their attention on the White House.
Before he was arrested, Gus Speth said “We the prisoners being
held in the Central Cell Block of the D.C. Jail need company and
encourage the continuation of the protests against the tar sands
pipeline. Help us stop this disastrous proposal! I’ve held
numerous positions and public office in Washington but my current
position feels like one of the most important.” See
Similar action is being planned for civil disobedience in Ottawa on
Sept 26th. See www.ottawaaction.ca.
This May, Salt Spring researcher Michelle Mech published A
Comprehensive Guide to the Alberta Oil Sands. She buried her heart
and soul in it, so it’s good to learn what she gleaned,
including the myth of the bountiful high-paying jobs, the
greenwashing about carbon capture and storage, the potentially
catastrophic disaster-in-waiting tailings ponds held in check by
barrage dams up to 100 metres high, and the reality that when all
factors are taken into account, the oil sands are producing twice as
much CO2 as is being reported, which means they are contributing
three to four times more to global warming than conventional oil,
making them far worse than coal.
It is projected that tar sands production will increase to 1.8
million barrels a day over the next decade, requiring the elimination
of 740,000 acres of boreal forest, and all the carbon it stores. Tar
sands apologists claim that it is “ethical” compared to
Saudi Arabian oil, but there is nothing ethical about such
destruction unless you are completely oblivious to the beauty and
ecological importance of Nature. See
THE GLORY OF HEALTHY LOCAL ORGANIC FOOD
We all need to eat, and over the last year our local farmers and food
activists have achieved huge successes in winning the public’s
attention. To continue the good work there are several important
events this month. On the first weekend in September there’s a
movie at Cinecenta on the honeybees crisis. This is followed on
Tuesday 13th by a talk by Madrona Farm’s and TLC’s
Natalie Chambers on how we can halt the decline of the bees.
The Sunday before (Sept 11th) there’s the grand Eat Here Now!
Harvest Festival in Centennial Square, with tasty food, music and
activities of every kind.
The next weekend (Sept 17/18), pack your tent for OUR EcoVillage in
Shawnigan Lake, where the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival is
combined with a Symposium on Insight into Genetically Modified
Organisms with big-name guest speakers, locavore feasts, ecovillage
tours and a chance to learn how we can take down the industrial
farm-destroyers, led by the arch-villain Monsanto. For details, see
Also during September volunteers in the Fruit Tree Project will be
harvesting apples and pear that go to waste for distribution to
homeowners, volunteers, food banks and community organizations. If
you can help, call Renate at 250-383-5800,
JACK LAYTON R.I.P
It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Jack Layton,
who did so much to uphold the vision and importance of compassion,
social justice and love for the environment, before being cut short
by cancer at the young age of just 61.
“My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.”
- Jack Layton, R.I.P.
Jack was not the only inspiration to have left us this summer. During
August Ray Anderson also died, also of cancer. Ray was a conservative
southern businessman who ran the carpet company Interface. In 1994,
he read Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce, and found
it to be ‘a spear through the chest’. He realized that
everything his company was doing and that his business colleagues
were doing was destroying the Earth. In the pain of that awakening,
he cast off the veil of business-as-usual, and awoke to the raw
beauty of the sacred earth in all its complexity. He vowed to change,
and set his company on a path to ‘Mission Zero’ aiming
for zero waste, zero impact and zero footprint by 2020. By 2009,
Interface was halfway there, tracking its progress every year.
Ray took his inspiration further in over 1,000 speeches to business
leaders, encouraging them to take up the sustainability challenge. In
his wonderful eulogy to Ray, Paul Hawken said, “For Ray,
re-imagining the world was a responsibility, something owed to our
children’s children, a gift to the future that is begging for
selflessness and vision…. his life was about the sacred. His
covenant was with God; the marketplace is where he labored.” I
do urge you to read Paul’s words, which are here:
ECONEWS 20th ANNIVERSARY
Yes, it was in October 1991 that I produced the first issue of ‘The
Network’, designed to serve the needs of the ‘Network for
Spiritual and Ecological Change’ that Lillian van Pelt, Ben
Dolf, Valerie Stanley-Jones, Chris Pegg, Carolyn Herriot, Tom Wuest,
Margaret MacGregor, Larry Monterey and I were hoping to establish.
The Network with its fancy dinners did not survive, but the
newsletter did. By February 1992 it included a Green Diary, and by
August 1992 it had been renamed Greater Victoria EcoNews, printing
300 copies. By 1999 I was printing 2,300 copies. The printed version
is now 1500, and over 3,000 read it by email.
Throughout these years, I have been supported by a wonderful cast of
volunteers who have prepped the labels and envelopes and met every
month to fold, stuff, seal and stamp the newsletter, sometimes late
into the night way when not enough people showed up. The years pass
by, and sometimes the past gets forgotten, but if you have ever been
among this wonderful crew, I thank you. There may come a point when I
stop doing the printed version, but the response from readers begging
me to continue was strong, and there were enough kind donations
flowing in enough to keep going, including very generous gifts from
the congregation of the First Unitarian Church in Saanich and The
Pinch Group at Raymond James.
In the intervening twenty years I have seen the green movement on
Vancouver Island grow in strength, and the public increase its
embrace of the need to love and protect Nature. We still have an
awfully long way to go, however. We’re no more than 10% of
where we need to be if we’re going to make it around Cape
Sustainability and back to the calmer waters of a peaceful green
world in time, so the more we do and the greater our inspiration and
persistence, the better it will be for all of us. We need all the
urgency we can muster, but we also need the clear vision and the
joyfulness of living that vision today. Let us be the change that we
want to see in the world!
EcoNews provides this electronic version of the
newsletter without charge even though it costs around $1,100 CDN
to produce each month.
If you can help by making a donation, whether
$5 or $100, that would be most welcome. Please send it to: EcoNews,
395 Conway Rd, Victoria, B.C. V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks ! (Not tax-deductible;
if you want a receipt, please send a stamped addressed envelope).