Newsletter No. 77 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - Nov. 1998
IT'S CO2 WHICH IS THE REAL GLITCH, NOT Y2K
Over the next few months, we are going to see
increasing media coverage about the forthcoming Y2K disruptions leading up to and beyond
January 1st, 2000. 'Y2K' means 'Year 2 Thousand', and the trouble stems from the fact that
most of the world's computers and embedded microchips are unable to read "2000".
They were designed with 2 digits for the year, so when 99 runs out, the next year is 00,
which is kind of confusing if you are a computer of little brain.
The potential for disruption to our lives is
considerable, since so much of our communications, transport, medical, financial and power
equipment depends on computers, and it's becoming clear that a lot of businesses and
government organizations are not going to be ready in time, either here or around the
world. That's why the RCMP and the Canadian military haveancelled all leave for that
period, and why people who understand what's coming are beginning to plan ahead. November
28th is International 'Buy Nothing Day'. Well, the Year 2000 may be 'Buy Nothing Year', as
our spoilt, overweight consumer societies go on a much needed diet of involuntary
simplicity and neighbourly support for a while.
We've grown so used to our comforts, our
shopping malls being crammed full of every kind of convenience, our power being available
at the flick of a switch. Ever since the 1890s, we've been riding the fast train to
material glory, to escape the degrading and painful memories of hunger and poverty.
But this obsession with wealth masks the fact
that our whole way of life is based on our use of fossil fuels - those dark, black
remnants of trees and other life-forms that lived millions of years ago, whose
carbon-filled remnants we now pour into our cars, our homes and our factories to give us
the speed, the warmth and the wealth that we crave.
The larger problem, larger by far than Y2K
disruptions (unless the computer systems that control the nuclear missiles and the
high-security labs that study deadly toxins like exotic strains of influenza, ebola, and
anthrax start misbehaving, as some fear they may), lies with the fossil fuels, and all the
carbon we are pouring into the atmosphere. Converted into carbon dioxide, it traps the
sun's heat and steadily warms the planet, while we drink and make merry. Fossil fuels are
the nipple of nature's past which we have been sucking on for far too long.
Global climate change is not just another
environmental problem - its the single biggest global problem that we face, which is going
to create worldwide disruption, not just for a few weeks to a year, but for a hundred
years or more. That's how long it takes for the C02 and other greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere to start returning to normal, once we stop burning fossil fuels.
The increased intensity of hurricanes, forest
fires, droughts, floods and insect plagues will continue - as will the likelihood of major
sea level rises, caused by melting ice-caps and the break-up of the West Antarctic
ice-shelf. The temperature in continental north America was 1.5°C warmer that normal this
summer. The temperature in Antarctica has been a full 9°C warmer.
The critical leap that we need to make is the
leap into the solar age, to free ourselves entirely from using fossil fuels. The
technologies are ready, but the coal and oil industries are furiously determined not to
yield any ground. Talk about being on the nipple - they receive $21 billion a year in the
USA in subsidies and tax breaks - that's $57 million per day.
Right now, the world is teetering on the edge
of a global slump, with the Y2K glitch lurking as yet another doomster, threatening
bankruptcies among businesses which have not been wise enough to prepare. Think 1930s, but
applied to the planet as a whole. Investment confidence dried up, closing businesses,
creating a negative spiral. The only thing that ended it was the massive rearmament for
World War II. It was only after the war that we understood the need for major government
investment at a time of slump and recession, to kickstart the economy back into life. Only
this time, the investment will have to be global in its scope.
The one rational way through all this, which
could get us out of the recession, past the Y2K fears and off the fossil fuel nipple, all
at the same time, is a huge global solar 'Marshall Plan'. We could fund it through a Tobin
tax on currency trading and an international tax on aviation, and use the money to pour
huge investments into the family of renewable energy technologies - solar, wind, biomass,
geothermal, tidal, microhydro, ground source heat, hydrogen, efficiency retrofits and
reforestation, just as we did for tanks, bombs, ships and fighter planes in the 1940s.
The Y2K glitch is a perfect symbol of our
carelessness. The C02 glitch is far bigger, and more dangerous. And the solution is right
here, in front of us.
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
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Many thanks to Lois Marcoux, Al
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Milburn, Nina Corley Smith, Miriam Thorn, E.Lacroix, Art & Marg Simons, Daphne Squire,
Roger Colwill, Dave Secco, Felix Ruben, John McMahen, Diana Angus, Pamela Morninglight (in
memory of Stephen Morninglight), Alan Austin, Taannia Dancer, Kelly Wilson, Mallory Pred,
P & R Consulting, Pat Simpson, Ann Gower, Lawrence Smith, Margaret Jervis, Ronski
& Kiyoshi Kosky, Ted Hancock, Margaret Fear, Ann Richardson.
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THE ECO-PERSONALS !
Would you like to help with next year's Earthweek &
Earthwalk ? They're a very valuable contribution to our community each year. The theme
will be 'Into the new Millennium', and there's an open meeting on Nov 25th, if you're
interested, at 558 Cornwall St - or call Doug at 383-5765, for more details.
CHLORINE FREE PAPER
Want to buy paper from a great source for your non-profit
group or business? (Not forgetting EcoSource's great hemp paper.) Reach for Unbleached and
Paper Choice, suppliers of eco-friendly paper since 1989, are running a bulk paper buying
club for New Life Dual Purpose - a 100% recycled paper made in Quebec with 75% post
consumer fibre and no secondary use of chlorine compounds. A case of 5000 sheets of 8
1/2" x 11" costs $60, plus GST, PST and freight, saving 12% over regular prices.
If you're interested, contact Delores Broten at Reach by phone or fax at 250-935-6992 or
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll tell you the date of
delivery and total costs. Other sizes also available. Deadline for ordering - Nov 16th.
SIERRA CLUB COMMUNITY
Sooke Hills Wilderness Park
Thur November 12th, 7:30 - 10pm
Fairfield Community Place 1330 Fairfield
Together, Building Community !
FACTS THAT SOME PEOPLE
ARE DYING FOR
Some statistics collected from Kathleen Ruff, a human
rights activist, and Blaise Salmon, President of Results Canada. We may appear to be
insulated, here on our beautiful island, but there's something going very, very wrong with
** The 3 richest people in the world have assets that
exceed the combined GNP of the 48 least developed countries.
** It is estimated that the additional cost of achieving
and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all,
reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all, and clean water and safe
sewers for all the world's citizens is roughly $40 billion a year, less than 4% of the
combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world.
** The top 300 corporations have almost twice the economic
clout of the poorest 4/5ths of humanity.Their combined global employment is only 18.8
million, less than a third of 1% of the world's people.
** In 1996, the UN Development Program said "The
worlds 457 billionaires now possess more wealth than 50% of the planet's population
THE RED PAGES
Check this out - it's an address directory for the
world's politicians - monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, provincial governors for 194
countries, with mailing addresses for every nation's leaders and provincial governors
(almost), and phone, fax, e-mail and website addresses where they're available. The
address is www.trytel.com/~aberdeen/
NELSON MANDELA SPEAKS
Excerpts from President Mandela's address to the 53rd UN
General Assembly, New York, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the adoption of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Born in the aftermath of the defeat of the Nazi and
fascist crime against humanity, this Declaration held high the hope that all our societies
would, in future, be built on the foundations of the glorious vision spelt out in each of
its clauses. Today, we celebrate the fact that this historic document has survived a
turbulent five decades, which have seen some of the most extraordinary developments in the
evolution of human society. (...)"
"The world is gripped by an economic crisis which, as
President Clinton said in this city only a week ago, has plunged "millions into
sudden poverty around the world". (...) The tragedy President Clinton describes goes
far beyond the sudden impoverishment of the middle class.... Poverty has been and is the
condition of the daily existence of even larger numbers of ordinary working people.
Paradoxically, the challenge of poverty across the globe has been brought into sharp focus
by the fact of the destructive "fast movements of currents" of wealth from one
part of the world to the other. Put starkly, we have a situation in which the
further accumulation of wealth, rather than contributing to the improvement of the quality
of life of all humanity, is generating poverty at a frighteningly accelerated pace.
"Born as the First World War came to a close ... I
have reached that part of the long walk when the opportunity is granted, as it should be
to all men and women, to retire to some rest and tranquility in the village of my birth.
As I sit in Qunu and grow as ancient as its hills, I will continue to entertain the hope
that there has emerged a cadre of leaders in my own country and region, on my continent
and in the world, which will not allow that any should be denied their freedom as we were;
that any should be turned into refugees as we were; that any should be condemned to
go hungry as we were; that any should be stripped of their human dignity as we were. ...
Were all these hopes to translate into a realisable dream and not a nightmare to torment
the soul of the aged, then will I, indeed, have peace and tranquility. Then would history
and the billions throughout the world proclaim that it was right that we dreamt and that
we toiled to give life to a workable dream."
We love you, Nelson.
Cadboro Bay Chiropractic
Dr Barry Curran
2571 Penrhyn St
University / Gyro Park Area
TROPICAL STORM EXXON
Green Party members in the European Parliament recently
proposed that storms and hurricanes be named after Global Climate Coalition members like
Ford, General Motors and Exxon, who deny that carbon emissions contribute to climate
change. The Greens said the new names would change headlines to read, for example:
"Exxon Kills 20 in Miami." Parliament rejected the measure (Leah Garchick, San
Francisco Chronicle, 8/31).
BUILDING A GREEN BUSINESS
It's a complex affair, turning your business green,
especially if you're small. There's just so much to think about ! To make life a lot
easier, the Environmental Affairs Branch at Industry Canada has just put the finishing
touches on a virtual office called the Canadian Business Environmental Performance Office
(BEPO), targeting 55 industry sectors (from marine freight to pesticides to restaurants).
For each sector, the office gives information on waste management, emergencies, health,
safety, environmental technologies, pollution prevention and climate change - with an
email facility to their staff. So here's the address you want:
STRAW BALE BUILDING
Construction crew available for hire
from Design to Completion
CITY WIDE BROOM BASH
There's so many community events to pull broom this month
that I've had to list them here, separately. The results, where the broom is removed and
the native wildflowers return, are stunning :
Mount Tolmie (Eric, 595-7270), every Sun, 9-3pm.
Horticultural Centre of Pacific (Paul, 592-9089), every Wed, 9am.
John Dean Park (Edo, 656-9276), every Sat, 9am.
Highrock/ Cairn Park (Ron, 386-7886), Sat 14th, 21st, 28th, 1pm.
View Royal Park (Andria, 479-1947), Sat 7th, all day.
Rithet's Bog (Sharon, 479-0491), Sat 14th, 9am.
Christmas Hill (Joan, 479-0211), Sun 15th, 1-3pm.
Government House (Fran, 370-2541), Sat 21st, 10am.
Summit Hill Park (Deirdre, 385-6359), Sat 28th, 10am.
THE MID-ISLAND HOUSEHOLD
Under the sink, in the bathroom, in the garage, in the
basement, in the garden shed - they're lurking everywhere. Nature didn't make them - we
made them, by mixing up various chemicals and then not pausing to find out what their
effect was on our brains, glands, immune systems - or (pity the children) our eggs and
sperm. Yes, it's those deadly chemicals again, the toxic party-poopers of the consumer
binge, just waiting for the moment when we'll take off their lid and breathe in their
fumes, or do something weird like pour the contents over our heads. Now why would a
sensible person do a stupid thing like that? Because we use shampoos and hair colorants,
we do it all the time, and many shampoos contain laureth or lauryl compounds, which can
contain 1,4-dioxane, which is carcinogenic. How do I know this ? Because I have a copy of
The Safe Shopper's Bible - A Consumer's Guide to Nontoxic Household Products, Cosmetics
and Food (Macmillan, 1995). And so should you, if you care about your health - and the
health of the soil, the air, the water and the local wildlife, who have no say in the
affair, but still get poisoned.
So what about all those detergents and bleaches and
toilet cleaners and flea sprays and weed killers and moth balls ? What are all these
things doing to the environment both outside and inside our homes? Reports indicate that
the air quality in the average North American home is up to 5 times worse than outdoor
air, even in heavily industrialized cities. For 550 lucky households in the mid-Island
Region, the Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) has been running a year-long Household De-Tox
Challenge. Phase 1 focussed on cleaning and laundry products, Phase 2 on pest control, and
Phase 3 is looking at home workshops and hobby rooms, always with an eye to weeding out
the toxic threats and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. It's a really
well-designed program. All six participating communities scored C+ for their toxicity at
the start of the project, and entering the home stretch, Gabriola participants now have
the highest (least toxic) score of 74%; (Ladysmith 70%; Qualicum & Bowser 68%;
Parkesville 67%, Nanaimo 66%). If you want to learn how to detoxify your own household,
write to the Georgia Strait Alliance for their 8-page factsheets : 195 Commercial
St, Nanaimo BC V9R 5G5 (250) 753-3459 email@example.com
A donation would surely be welcome. And check out their information at www.island.net/~gsa
GREEN APARTMENT MANAGER FOR HIRE
Simple living couple, healthy housing practitioners.
toxic-free cleaning, tenant-friendly interpersonal skills. 6 years
experience. Live-in. Call Andrew, (250) 595-5460
CANADIANS THINK GREEN
Canadians think green, a 1997 Environics poll revealed :
73% choose protection of the environment over economic progress - up from 67% six years
ago. The trend cuts across age groups, sexes and geographic regions. 60% of Canadians
believe cuts to greenhouse gas emissions from burning fuels would hurt the economy today,
but 84% believe doing nothing to reduce these emissions would hurt the economy in the
future. 45% said driving a car is the most environmentally damaging thing they do.
"That's a gut feeling of Canadians,'' said Mr. Miller, President of Environics.
"We have to buy some insurance against future costs'' by reducing the greenhouse
gases that threaten our climate". The growing trend has been evident for more than a
year, and was confirmed by Environics' latest survey. Mr Miller expects it to hit fully
within four years. By far the greatest issue on Canadians' minds is the quality of the air
not just where we live, but globally. The thinning ozone layer is the top worry. "The
ozone hole is as powerful an image to Canadians as the picture of the Earth from space.''
No. 2, but catching up, is climate change. ``People believe the atmosphere is coming
unravelled. Beyond that they don't have a lot of understanding of what's going on.''
ACTION OF THE MONTH :
Fact No 1 : Monsanto, the world's giant agrochemical
company, wants to put rBST, a bovine growth hormone, into Canada's cows, to increase their
milk production. They have spend millions developing rBST, and want their return.
Fact No 2 : Five Health Canada scientists have flagged
serious problems in the drug approval process, before a Senate Committee. They speak of
being pressured to approve rBST without enough evidence to confirm the safety of the milk
for human consumption.
ACTION : Write to Alan Rock, Health
Minister, House of Parliament, Ottawa K1A 0A6, urging that he listen to his department's
scientists, and not approve rBST. We already have an abundance of milk, and we really
don't need their suspect hormone additives. The USA has approved it, but Europe is also
Deadline for December: Nov 28th
The Green Diary has moved! Click HERE to see
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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Sustainable Communities Consultancy
Author of 'After the Crash : The
Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
Forthcoming 'Journey into the
Future : 2000 - 2015'
An ecofictional novel
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