No. 87 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - Oct. 1999
BILLION HUMANS - HOW MANY MORE ?
On or around October 12th, a
baby will be born somewhere on the Earth, and our human population will hit
six billion, increasing by another 214,000 people during the course of the
The figures for the recent increase
are truly staggering :
First billion: 10 million years
Second billion : 130 years (1930)
Third billion : 30 years (1960)
Fourth billion : 14 years (1974)
Fifth billion : 13 years (1987)
Sixth billion : 12 years (1999)
The good news is that the increase
is slowing, from 80 million a year to 78 million. The consensus at the United
Nations is that we will level off at 9 billion in the year 2050, and then
So why the turnaround ? According
to the Worldwatch Institute, two thirds of the reason is due to falling fertility
in countries in the east and Latin America which have made progress with rising
living standards, family planning and the education of women. The other third
is due to rising mortality : more people will die as a result of AIDS, the
depletion of fresh water aquifers, and the shrinking amount of available farmland.
In the developed world, population
has already stabilized : there is not a single industrialized country where
population is expected to grow except as a result of immigration. South Korea,
Taiwan and Thailand have all reduced their population growth rates to approximately
1%, and are approaching stability. Even Brazil has reduced its growth to 1.4%.
In Ethiopia, Pakistan and Nigeria,
by contrast, populations are expected to double or even triple over the next
50 years. Ethiopia (61 million), is expected to grow to 169 million.
If AIDS reaches Ethiopia the way
is has reached southern Africa, however, where 20 - 25% of the adult population
is infected, that increase may never happen. In some hospitals in South Africa,
70% of the beds are occupied by AIDS patients. In 14th century Europe, the
Black Death killed a quarter of the population. Unless some miracle occurs,
AIDS will kill far more - an enormous human tragedy which is happening right
The depletion of freshwater aquifers
is another factor that is likely to dent the predicted global increase. All
over the world, we are pumping water out of our aquifers faster than we are
replacing it. In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, water tables have fallen
by 30 meters since the 1970s. The same is happening in China, the USA and
North Africa. As the aquifers dry up, farm production levels will fall back
to their pre-irrigation volumes. As with our forests and oceans, we are harvesting
our fresh water unsustainably.
The world is full of surprises.
Alongside these trends comes another, which may prevent the population from
reaching 9 billion.
Throughout North America and Europe,
male sperm counts are falling. (Vital Signs 1999, p 148 - WorldWatch Institute).
In 1940, the average North American male had 120 million sperm in each milliliter
of semen. By 1990, this had fallen to 43 million. If the trend continues,
by 2010 it will be lower than 20 million.
Twenty million sperm may sound
like a lot, but that is the threshold for infertility. In Europe, the trend
is faster - when the studies are put together, they show European males falling
below 20 milliliters in the year 2000 - except in Finland, where cold plunges
after saunas may make the difference. Maybe the testicles respond to cold
water in the same way that a poorly performing apple tree responds to something
that threatens its life.
If the collapse in male sperm
count spreads to other countries, the world's population may plummet to under
a billion within a few generations, giving nature a much-needed chance to
Why is it happening ? The evidence
points to industrial pollution, including exposure to pesticides and estrogenic
pollutants - environmental chemicals that masquerade as hormones, such as
phthalates. Phthalates are commonly used in products ranging from food and
beverage containers to fabrics, and have been widely detected in drinking
water and milk. Male mice exposed in the womb to butyl benzene phthalate,
a component in many plastics, had substantially reduced testicles, and 20%
less sperm count in adulthood than mice whose mothers had not been exposed.
Is chemical pollution going to
be the ultimate contraceptive ? Is this the planet's secret self-defense mechanism
against a species which got too smart for its own good ? Studies that are
currently underway will tell. It all goes to show how little we know, or understand.
- Guy Dauncey
note: the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.
Published as a monthly
service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature
and community, funded by your donations.
[Note: $153 was spent on
tables for the mailout.]
Many thanks to Roger Colwill,
Sarah Verstegen & Nikki Wright, Sandra McConnell, Kate Stevens, Yvonne
Bondarchuk, Dana & John McPherson, Darlene Monkman, Henry Gautier, Gillian
Elcock, Marlyn Horsdal, Andrea Tischauser, Marlene & Steve Smith and Bruce
* Donations can
be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V8X 3X1.For a receipt, please
include a stamped addressed envelope.
* To receive EcoNews call (250)
881-1304. To receive EcoNews by email, fill out the form at the top of the
* Donations can be made to EcoNews,
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* To receive EcoNews call (250)
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Our deep apologies that we muddled
the name of the new provincial Minister of Environment, who is (of course)
Joan Sawicki. The Ministry has just returned $5 million of the $50 million
that Glen Clark took away. In a future EcoNews, we hope to profile key initiatives
that the Minister is working on.
Art Vanden Berg also pointed out
that in last month's story on residential hydrogen fuel cells, since the hydrogen
is to be manufactured using natural gas or propane, the fuel cells are hardly
"pollution-free", as the Texas developer claims. For fuel cell technology
to become a real solution, the hydrogen will need to be manufactured by solar,
wind, or some other renewable energy. Thanks Art.
* The Northwest Earth Institute
is starting Study Circles in Voluntary Simplicity and Deep Ecology. If interested,
call Jackie Robson, 361-9446.
* Two organic farmers looking for 5 - 10 acres of good arable land on Saanich
Peninsula, with available water, lease for five years minimum. Shannon 361-3414
* Contagious Acts of Compassion - Cultivating Sustainable Community through
Collective Creativity. Redesign your responses to personal and social issues
while learning concrete communications and improvisation skills. For dates
: Esther Muirhead, 380-0036.
* 1 bedroom apartment for rent to quiet, environmentally responsible non-smoker,
Gorge-Burnside area, close to Galloping Goose, in lovely house, quiet street.
Sunny garden, washer, dryer, Shaw cable, $625/month all included. 681-5196.
* The CRD is looking for five new members of the public willing to sit on
the Regional Growth Strategy Public Advisory Committee, to serve as a community
sounding board. For an application form, call 360-3228. For questions, call
Mark Hornell 360-3244. Deadline October 22nd.
* Do you have fruit trees you don't have time to pick ? The volunteers at
the Victoria Fruit Tree Project would like to help, and donate some of the
fruit to food banks and community events. 519-0091.
For over a year, EcoNews has
been "localized" and copied electronically to folks in the Nanaimo
If you live in the Cowichan Valley, the Comox Valley, Clayoquot Sound or the
Sunshine Coast, I encourage you to do the same : take whatever parts of EcoNews
you like, add your own local Green Diary, and send it out to local people.
It's all part of sharing the vision.
On Monday October 25th, there's
an evening meeting to plan the future of EcoNews, at 395 Conway Rd. If you
are interested to help, to share your ideas, or to become a Director of the
non-profit society we'll be setting up, please give me (Guy) a call at 881-1304.
In July, the City of San Francisco
became one of the nation's first municipalities to adopt a green building
ordinance for City-owned projects. The additions to the San Francisco Municipal
Code, known as the Resource Efficient Building Ordinance, consist of two distinct
parts. The first part specifies a few requirements for water conservation,
energy-efficient lighting, indoor air quality, and recycling. The second part
requires the City to designate a number of pilot green building projects that
will demonstrate innovative designs and materials. Each of these projects
will be evaluated after construction, and their performance reported to the
City's Board of Supervisors. Source : Greenclips
WHAT IS GREENCLIPS
GreenClips is a wonderful, free
email news service that is published every two weeks by Chris Hammer, providing
an easy-to-read digest of the latest news about environmentally friendly building,
design, architecture, planning, recycling and municipal progress. The archives
are great, too. Send an email to <GreenClipsemail@example.com>.
In the body of the message type : subscribe <your internet email address>.
for Victoria City Councillors
on 20th November, 1999
Walter Meyer zu Erpen
Art Vanden Berg
or to help our
campaign, please phone
Here's another Internet goody.
The Urban Land Institute in the USA has launched "Smart Growth News,"
a weekly newsletter available at no charge by e-mail subscription. Each issue
contains 25 to 30 abstracts of articles culled from 1,400 information sources
focusing on housing, development, regional planning initiatives, transportation,
affordable and infill housing, open space conservation, master-planned communities,
economic development, urban revitalization and retail. To subscribe, send
an e-mail to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. A recent
issue described how Arizona's new Smart Growth legislation will put together
a pool of $440 million per year to purchase open space for preservation reasons.
Here in B.C., a new society is
in the making called Smart Growth B.C. More on this in the next issue.
of Our Watersheds'
Wed, October 13th,
Garry Oak Rm, 1335 Thurlow Rd
Sierra Club, Victoria
The Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse
is a resource center which provides information, advice, and referrals on
issues related to sprawl, smart growth and livable communities. The Clearinghouse
helps community groups, public officials, developers, planners, policymakers,
architects and others to revitalize existing communities and reduce urban
sprawl. To join the mailing list, send your request to <email@example.com>
In the message area of your e-mail screen write : subscribe <email address>.
October is the month of sweetcorn,
pumpkins, and a celebration of the year's harvest - so don't miss the Harvest
Barn Dance on October 16th ! It's really a night to enjoy. October is also
a time to consider how we can increase the wretchedly small proportion of
our food that we grow on the island - some say it's 10%, others that it's
5% of our fruits and veggies (and 50% of our dairy). Either way, how can we
boost the amount, and increase our food security ? On World Food Day, Oct
16th, the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR)
is hosting a community food mapping session at the Moss Street Market (Garry
Oak Room). Community mapping is a participatory educational tool that provides
a framework for people to affirm and pool their knowledge about their place,
and use this knowledge to envision and work towards a more sustainable future.
By mapping sources of food in our community we hope to raise awareness about
local food systems and the importance of "buying local." The session
starts at 8:30 am, and at 10:00 we will proceed to the Market area to begin
hands-on mapping and encourage Market patrons to participate. Come and learn
more about our local food systems! Everyone is welcome to attend; materials
will be provided. Kathleen Gibson, 598-4280.
with the Mad Cowboy!
If you want a different kind of
harvest celebration, VIVA and EarthSave have invited Howard Lyman to join
them for "Thanksgiving with a Mad Cowboy" on Monday Oct 11th. Howard
is the farmer who persuaded Oprah Winfrey never to touch another hamburger,
which led to their both being sued by the Texas cattlemen for slander. Needless
to say, no meat on the menu - see Diary.
my land - I can do what I like with it."
For years, this has been the attitude
of some private land-owners when it comes to forestry. While activists have
been working towards a vision of sustainable, ecologically-managed community
forests, whole landscapes on southern Vancouver Island have been scalped and
ecologically raped, with landowners using this 19th century value-system to
justify their acts.
On Denman Island, the conflict
has been very intense. About one third of the island is privately owned, and
frequently sold and resold - like buying and selling slaves, except that the
slave is an ecosystem, not a human. That's what happens when private greed
meets a beautiful forest, in the absence of any governing laws.
The mandate of the Islands Trust,
however, is "to protect and preserve the...unique amenities and environment"
of islands such as Denman, and for two years, a group of islanders worked
with the Trust to put together amendments to the community bylaws that created
Development Permit (DP) areas on private land which limited the amount of
trees that could be cut and removed from a DP area - essentially disallowing
the clearcutting of forested private lands within these areas. While the bylaw
was being created, the landowner who was doing all the damage - Mike Jenks,
and 4064 Investments Ltd - responded by logging the forest as fast as he could,
restricted only by the ability of the island's ferry to haul his trees away.
He's not a popular man on the island, and he loves it.
The bylaws were passed and approved
by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in May, and complaints were immediately
filed against Mike Jenks. The Islands Trust warned that they would enforce
the bylaws. His reaction was to accelerate his rate of cutting. The Trust
sought an injunction to stop 4064 from further logging, until further investigation
could be undertaken. Meanwhile, a group of islanders set up an information
table at the entrance to the site of the bylaw violations, allowing workers
to enter, but stopping logging trucks from leaving until they had been counted
by a Bylaw Enforcement Officer. After 8 days, they were served with a summons
to appear in a Superior Court (a SLAPP suit), alleging interference with business.
Altogether, 13 people have been SLAPPed.
Three days later, faced with
the possibility of an injunction restraining its logging activities on Denman,
Mike Jenks and 4064 voluntarily agreed to cease all cutting on ecologically
sensitive lands, to strictly abide by the new cutting limits, and to allow
inspection of his lands by the Island Trustee and the chair of the Advisory
Planning Commission. Because of his climb-down, the injunction application
has been put on hold, and the Islands Trust has hired an additional By-law
Enforcement Officer with expertise in forestry to investigate 4064's logging
So - the bad news is that 13 community
heros have to raise the funds to defend their actions in court; the good news
is that Denman Islanders have found a way to restrict ecological pillage on
private forest lands which may be applicable in all municipalities and regional
districts in B.C. (See www.denmanis.bc.ca/bylaws.htm).
To help with the SLAPP suit, and for more information, call Kim Salas, (250)
OF THE MONTH :
When I was in England last month,
the papers were full of the open revolt that is taking place against genetically
modified (GM) food. A council committee in Hampshire voted to exclude GM foods
from children's school meals after January 2000. Pubs, restaurants and even
hot dog stands will face fines of up to $12,000 if they fail to identify genetically
modified ingredients on their menus. Not content with labeling GM food, the
government is pressing for European legislation to require labeling for GM
additives and flavourings. In response to all this, the food and drugs giant
Novartis is rethinking its role in GM foods, and considering spinning off
its GM division. Supermarket chains Iceland, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Marks and
Spencer and food giants Unilever and Nestle have all pledged to remove GM
ingredients from their products.
So what about us, here in Canada
? I believe there is just as much resistance, but without labeling, consumers
have yet to register what is happening to our food, at a frightening pace.
So PLEASE, now is the time to
be writing to Agriculture Minister Corky Evans, to tell him what you think
about GM food, and request that British Columbia bring in mandatory labeling
of GM food, so that we, as consumers, can choose what we are going to eat.
(On October 21st, there is a public forum on GM food, with the farmer who
is being sued by Monsanto for allowing their pollen to pollute his fields.
Action : Write to Corky Evans,
Minister of Agriculture, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. Fax 387-1522.
Quote of the Year : Monsanto's
official response to the evidence that Monarch butterflies died when fed genetically
altered Bt cotton pollen : "Most corn pollen remains within the corn
field and monarch larvae can choose to avoid feeding on Bt pollen by feeding
on the underside of leaves or on other milkweed leaves with little or no Bt
pollen." I hope the larvae can read.