This past month the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) became the latest international body to commit to convincing the tourism industry to be part of the climate change solution, not part of the problem.
Bears are on the move, wandering to consume as much food as possible to prepare for hibernation. In the Okanagan this means dining in orchards and gardens and in patches of wild berries as well as looking for insects to feed on.
The BC government has ideas on how it wants to react to climate change. It also has an idea about how it wants to spend it's carbon offset investment. All of these ideas are linked in some way to the new carbon tax. This little known document, should you decide to open it, will give you some idea about those ideas.
Earth Hour gave a good example of how a global effort might be designed to have the public voluntarily create a blackout so that big utilities can save energy....so they can sell it to someone else. The Monster Guide examines Rolling Blackouts and Brownouts. Learn about how an energy shortage is managed by utilities.
Last summer, a bird playing havoc on a transmission line caused 10,000 Kelowna area residents to be without power for a couple of hours, we might complain that this is a heck of a lot of damage resulting from a bird on a wire, but keep in mind, it was a broken branch that caused 50 million people to be without hydro a few years back.
Ecological planning has been around for a long time, and continues to re-surface as a method by which we can approach sustainability, and every time it does, it’s gift wrapped in a different way. But each time it fails because when the wrapping is removed, the same package appears which has a lack of substance.
Why? Because often the people promoting it don’t really believe the message.
More People, Less Valley – More Homeless
Riding the rails in Kamloops during the Great Depression
To further the problem, this lack of substance is combined with a negligent belief that delivering good ecological planning requires more money than not doing anything at all.
A few weekends back the Globe and Mail ran a two-page spread featuring playwright and novelist Rick Salutin’s musings following his stroll through the newly opened ‘Newseum’ in Washington, D.C.
Far more interesting, not that I have anything against musings, was a timeline that ran as a sidebar to the main piece, bulleting the entire history of the media from the first known wood-block-printed Buddhist scripture sometime before the year 705 right up to Google’s recent failed attempt to acquire Yahoo! for 47.5 billion bucks.
The medium is the message still…gotta go pulp free…Over 100 lbs of direct mail flyers in your mail box every year? Okanagan-wide that’s 30,000,000 pounds of advertising paper that no one asks for. Kevin Allman shares his thoughts about the waste of it all – Read his blog
It was interesting less for the 70 or so specific stops in the quick tour of nearly two millennia, fascinating though they were, than for it’s graphic illustration of a reality that those of us who love newspapers – or any other mainstream media for that matter – may not welcome but that we would nonetheless be idiotic to ignore.
Representatives of NORD and the City of Vernon suffered the traditional fate of messengers at an information meeting about the Agricultural Land Reserve last Tuesday as several frustrated farmers in an audience of about 40 dominated a question and answer period at the end of the meeting by venting their frustration with the land reserve.
Farmers: ‘If you save the farmer you save the land’
Sparks fly at NORD-City of Vernon ALR info session
“What happened to making sure farming is viable?” came the first shot from the audience, indicating controversy is another thing about the ALR that remains unchanged in roughly 35 years. The farmer asking the question reminded Passmore the act had at one time included provision for aid for struggling producers.
Passmore acknowledged the commission has shifted focus to a more regulatory role. “So they just forgot about it,” the farmer suggested. Another producer in the audience waded in with an angry denouncement of newly implemented meat processing regulations. “They’ve shut down beef and poultry producers in this community".
An ancient, living and intelligent plant poised to drive the planet
By Don Elzer
Presently, plants struggle as humans continue to be the primary consumers on the planet, and now blue-green algae is being positioned to once again become an instrument of the planetary continuum,
only this time its role might prove to question the motives of the human experience on this planet. When it comes to converting sunlight into biomass, algae is the most productive type of plant. Biodiesel from algae has the potential to produce enough fuel to drive a Prius-type car 370,000 miles per acre per year (MAY), compared to 2,000 to 31,000 MAY for conventional biodiesel crops, while ethanol from switchgrass could produce 32,500 MAY. Furthermore, some strains of algae are as much as 40% oil by weight, leading to the hope of a large supply of oil which is much easier to convert into biodiesel than it is to ferment corn into ethanol.
Some surprising events continue to occur in the British Columbia interior that places us on center stage as we see our planet transforming as a result of environmental changes. On Wednesday October 10, 2007, the first of a swarm of small earthquakes was recorded by seismic monitoring equipment in place in the upper Baezaeko River region, about 100 km west of Quesnel.
Forget corn - buy yourself an algae reactor
A quest for building lots in pristine areas
A looming issue that’s about sprawl first and taxes second
By Don Elzer
In the Okanagan we know all to well how seasonal residents have impacted real estate prices. This part of the real estate market has caused a boom in our regional economy that will probably continue - at least that what we keep telling ourselves.
Golf resorts, ski villages and waterfront resorts remain key destinations for Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton residents seeking to purchase their summer or winter retreat here, then eager to place the property in a rental pool that promises to turn the property into a revenue generator.
Rural housing developments like this one in Invermere, BC might be "creating a new property tax class" - demand may also be positioning forest companies to become the new real estate development giants in our future.
When our provincial government launched its Resort Task Force, a key mission was to move crown land into resort housing, that action certainly primed the marketplace. Now, with the forest industry in a downward cycle many of those forest companies are turning to real estate development to prime revenues. The trend is not isolated to BC.
A regional trade deficit with a view of the American and Pacific Rim marketplace
By Don Elzer
As the North Okanagan begins to consider the idea of an inland port it would be wise for all of us to begin to ponder just how global trade will change in this upcoming decade.
The taste for Canadian made products remains very thin in both China and the US as they become preoccupied with competing against one another for economic dominance.
Regionally, the Okanagan has a trade imbalance, we demand consumer goods from overseas markets and we produce very little, and even our natural resources such as forest products remain in a slump. There’s much we can learn from China as they grow their economy from manufacturing.
A new study of worldwide technological competitiveness suggests China may soon rival
How we love and want our "stuff" by the container ship load.
rival the United States as the principal driver of the world's economy -- a position the U.S. has held since the end of World War II. If that happens, it will mark the first time in nearly a century that two nations have competed for leadership as equals.
Hidden dynamics of the local food security challenge
Tempers flare - multinationals make billions in the global food crisis
By Don Elzer
This past month three fields of genetically modified (GM) maize were destroyed in southwest France, where activists targeted corporate research facilities owned by Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta and Pioneer, a unit of DuPont Co, near the city of Condom and another target, near Mauroux, was owned by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto.
President George W. Bush touring the Dupont Labs - supporting a different idea of food security - many in the world cringe at the growing agribusiness domination
Attacks on GM tests have become common practice in France, Europe’s largest grain producer, where the use of biotech crops is widely opposed because of fears they could harm humans and wildlife by triggering an uncontrolled spread of modified genes.
We are now paying a Carbon Tax here in BC and the move represents one of many intended to bring about a new era of direct investment into our environment. Between now and the end of this year just about everyone will know what a carbon-offset is.
Carbon-offsets will be at the core of the US presidential race; they will be the chief point of discussion as we re-negotiate free trade; and they may be used to prime the financial resources to build Site C Dam here in BC if the province leverages its carbon tax with carbon-offset funds, a formula that could prime the construction of hundreds of other privately held energy related projects. The future under offsetting has governments creating a guidance framework, and handing the problem off to corporations who then invest in their own version of problem solving – or not.
The economic impacts of regional marijuana grow-ops have been significant for the past three decades and after 30 years of unbridled growth the industry has become mature and is far beyond the scope of resources that local law enforcement have to prevent continued growth.
Not knowing the details of this underground economy means not knowing how it really impacts us today and in the future. In fact, the grow-op economy has been an anchoring force for rural economies that have been struggling in the wake of natural resources being removed from local economies by governments.
A new road for rural communities approaches on the horizon as agricrime surfaces as a possible career choice for more and more residents unable to find well-paid work in the mainstream economy. This causes more residents to prefer less policing and government presence and moves them to reduce their environmental footprint even further so they can bring about their place within an invisible economy that flies under the radar of the mainstream economy.
Illegal activity is turning into a major part of our local economy
An RCMP chopper stands as a monument amidst hundreds of pot plants north of Sugar Lake on the Shuswap River. BC’s Marijuana growing industry to be worth $7 billion with 17,500 grow operations. Much of this industry exists either hidden indoors or outdoors in remote rural areas.
MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine
How to crash an economy:
Underestimating the value of a disaster
Our economic crash can be found in the winds of a hurricane
Economic Bad Karma
A grave on a once busy street in New Orleans, a disaster ignored by all of us now haunts the global economy.
By Don Elzer
After Katrina, which cost insurers $41.1 billion, 1992's Hurricane Andrew and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon rank as the No. 2 and No. 3 most-costly U.S. catastrophes, according to the institute. Insured losses from Hurricane Ike would have to top $17 billion to rank fourth.
Katrina ended up costing almost as much as two wars. Lining those disasters up in a row and squeezing them into an eight year time frame is proving to be much too costly for the North American economy.
The question remains, why didn’t the rebuilding of New Orleans cause an economic boom in the US? Certainly, rebuilding one of the largest cities in the US, is a project which might compare to staging 30 or 40 Olympic Games. The answer is simple, it wasn’t rebuilt. It remains an anomaly in US history, and one that we’re all paying for today. The decision will eventually prove to be negligent on the part of policy-makers and the insurance industry.
Canada reaching the “tipping point” as credit markets begin to crack
By Don Elzer
This past week Merrill Lynch has warned that Canada could face a meltdown that's similar to the one that has devastated the American economy. In a report just issued Merrill Lynch Canada economists said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the United States or Britain. They said it's only a matter of time before the "tipping point" is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada.
According to a September 22, 2008, article by Elizabeth Williamson in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Banks Rush to Shape Rescue Plan”: she said,
“Lobbyists and financial-services executives are working deep connections within the administration to ensure as many institutions as possible benefit from a $700 billion federal mechanism to buy distressed assets, then sell them off in better times. In a particularly controversial move, they also oppose proposals by Democrats in Congress to provide mortgage reductions for homeowners facing bankruptcy. Bankers say such a move would raise rates for mortgage seekers, as banks factor in the possibility that a loan would be restructured in court.”
So as the economic crises begins to gain a foothold in Canada and as Election Day approaches, we should be asking candidates about how they will offer up a real solution that will offer homeowner relief that considers consumers and regions at risk.
“How you publicly oppose loan modifications and bankruptcy law while at the same time advocating a huge taxpayer bailout is beyond me. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”
bc gov newswire
Double Vision within the Okanagan Valley
Competing Perspectives Are Impacting How We
Determine the Destiny of the Okanagan Valley?
Part 2 of Don Elzer's interpretive commentary on the state of planning in the Okanagan, and the issues that impact our future. The first part - How Green Was My Valley - is here.
What will planners have to reflect on as they discover troubling trends that surprise our existing community strategies? The trends that will change our lives and our landscape, impact our investments, question our safety and our faith.
There really are two Okanagan Valleys. One has a future driven by prosperity and the other a future slowed by the comfort of the landscape. One is economic, the other seeded
in ecology both claim an ideal of livability and sustainability and both present risks of degradation and social collapse.
As the local civic vote takes place it remains important for local residents to examine the many issues facing local government including those that go beyond community political boundaries and local economic interests.
Okanagan candidates and voters everywhere should take note, this past month the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO) released the summary of a study they call the Major Lakes Recreational Marine Facilities Study. The report claims that
More marinas and boat traffic on Okanagan Lake?
Study suggests more marine facilities in our big lakes
Four New Marinas?
Are lakeshore communities really considering the health of our big lakes?
the Central Okanagan is home to a $39 million boating and marine industry that is in jeopardy due to the deteriorating quality of the boating experience. That conclusion is one of a number that suggests the industry should be rescued and indicates the economic impact of boating in the Central Okanagan has the potential to grow to an estimated $68.7 million which is almost double of what it is today.
The RDCO commissioned the study in an effort to prepare a comprehensive plan for development of future recreational marine facilities on major lakes within the Central Okanagan which includes Okanagan Lake, Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake.
Leaders need to tell us more about their wide view of the Okanagan
There appears to be an over-all consensus everywhere for municipal candidates to support local Official Community Plans. OCP’s have become a refreshing process that helps to solidify a direction for local government. But alone, they are not enough to address the deeper issues which need to link neighbourhood power with valley-wide stewardship.
We have two threats in the Okanagan Valley, one that’s slowly eroding local
Please Ask Us the Question:
Do we want a Valley Population of 400,000
or 5 million people?
representation in hopes of amalgamation into more central urban bodies of government; and the other, a lack of engaging the public to address valley-wide issues that considers the Okanagan as a single watershed or bio-region.
Premier Gordon Campbell suggests that the Okanagan will become “British Columbia’s third great urban center.” Those words were stated with very little disagreement due to the fact that in a valley-wide population of 300,000 there was no advocate that could claim the authority to disagree with the premier.
Another reservoir expansion this time impacting the Kettle River
By Don Elzer
Another somewhat unexpected development linked to a local ski resort is now raising questions about the health of yet another watershed that feeds the Columbia River system.
The Kettle River is the sixth most endangered river in BC due to excessive water extraction, development and small scale hydro development, and now according to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. (ORCBC), Big White has applied to dam three creeks in the
watershed to create reservoirs for the storage of more than 350 million gallons or 935,000,000 litres of water to supply the needs of the growing resort and such an event will further impact the Kettle River.
Schumann Resorts owns both Big White and Silver Star Ski Resorts and have been aggressively growing development. Presently a reservoir capable of holding 240,000 cubic metres of water is being completed at Silver Star, and in 2005 the company dug a reservoir at Big White capable of holding more than 60 million gallons of water.
It appears both resorts are planning to secure water demands in order to grow resort populations high up in the upper reaches of the Okanagan.
Creating the Vance Creek Reservoir at Silver Star Resort - Dig first, dialogue later?
By Don Elzer
By 11pm at the campground, boredom had set in at the mud bog and the crowd of graduate-something’s had become one collective drunken stupor no longer capable of navigating a truck stuck in mud. Five campsites down the drive, someone started a chainsaw to buck up some firewood. Now I’m speculating on this since starting a chainsaw at night, and to be bold enough to do it in a
public campground where people including kids were trying to sleep indicated a person, with their friends, who are so stupid that it would certainly qualify them to be dangerously insane.
Presently the provincial government is developing a province-wide trail strategy which is supposed to set out a structure by which trails can be developed and managed. The Draft Recreation Trail Strategy for British Columbia describes a set of broad strategic, provincial level actions needed to develop a sustainable trail program in BC.
The problem with this development process is that few people who actually build trails new about this planning process. In fact when one examines the provincial organizations participating in the planning the majority of participants are from bodies representing mechanized travel, like snowmobilers, and other off road types.
Off-road negligence by some is turning fun into a destructive joy ride
Will the province be able to fix this?
By Don Elzer - December 30, 2008
Every year at this time I reflect upon just how far we have advanced in a century. In our lifetime we have known people who are or were alive in 1909.
For myself, I would use my late grandparents as an example and even my father or mother who saw the western world go from horse as the primary mode of transportation to the vast array of personal vehicles we have today. Of course flying was something of a myth for much of their lives, jet travel would become commonplace, not to mention space travel.
1909 – 2009: One hundred years of radical change
The idea of day-trading, a floating currency or even an industry called tourism were not even concepts.
In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded in the US and at the time it would have been unimaginable that an Afro-American could ever become president, but almost to the day, one hundred years later, Barrack Obama will be sworn in as president.
Much can change in a century. Some things are gained, others lost. In fact most of the political visions that envelop our lives today came within this period: universal health care, minimum wage, consumer protection, public schools and environmental protection.
It’s impossible to determine the exact impacts but there could be as many as 4000 ships docked at bay, without a cargo and with no place to go. It obviously means lower revenues for retailers, the transport industry and for manufactures in China, but this past year those 4000 ships that brought us TV’s and fake Christmas trees consumed the equivalent of 70.7 billion gallons of gasoline which not only places stress on world oil reserves but remains a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Remember this is a meager portion of the total fuel consumption from all merchant ships - but this amount is actually equal to the total fuel consumed by every automobile and motorcycle in the United States annually.
So by cutting back on our consumer spending similar to what we did in the past 6 months only this time for an entire year, we might as well have collectively park our cars for a year. Keep in mind, when we add truck and rail transport into the consumption mix that’s another 70 billion gallons in fuel we consume every year.
Our planet is poised for an era of soft protectionism
By Don Elzer
January 28, 2009
When our economy was hot, approximately 156,000 merchant ships worked steady to move goods around the planet, a booming industry under the banner of globalization. But since we slowed our buying power because of the economic downturn, we fueled the collapse of the shipping industry which is now in crises.
To the south, is the “Okanogan” and to the north, is the “Okanagan”, and connecting the two is the gentle and meandering Similkameen River with a place called Shankers Bend which is now poised to challenge two nations as they both react to issues of climate change and energy.
The Okanogan County Public Utility District is proposing that a dam be built at Shankers Bend which would create an 18,000-acre
reservoir that holds 1.7 million acre feet of water — with half of it in Canada. The reservoir would be larger than Lake Osoyoos and would potentially affect two B.C. protected areas: the 25,889-hectare Snowy Protected Area and the 9,364-hectare South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, as well as flooding aboriginal reserve lands. The reservoir would flood a delicate ecosystem that is home to 16 federally listed species at risk.
In British Columbia there are only a few critics of the project, which seems surprising since it will flood one of the most scenic regions in British Columbia.
Will we overcome flawed forecasting and a lack of political action?
The Colorado River Aqueduct
The water that supplies between 12 and 36 million people in the US is dwindling.
Where will they get their water in the future?
By Don Elzer – June 9, 2009
Residents in the southern interior of BC should take note as they consider this regions water supply. Our water future may be unfolding in the American southwest today as drought conditions move northward.
"All water-use planning is based on the idea that the next 100 years will be like the last 100," said research marine physicist Tim Barnett.
"We considered the question: Can the Colorado River deliver water at the levels currently scheduled if the climate changes as we expect it to. The answer is no."
The drying trend that exists in the inland region between Coast Mountains and the Rockies continues to spread and is creeping close to home. In the Okanagan, the South East Kelowna Irrigation District announced, that effective immediately, the allotment for metered agricultural users will be reduced 20 per cent in order to get through summer without running out of water.
Feds eradicate ecosystems as invasive fish move into salmon habitat
By Don Elzer
Today, there may be a creepy discomfort of horror meandering through the Shuswap and in particular Gardom Lake near Enderby, as government contractors begin to spread the pesticide Rotenone through the entire lake ecosystem in order to kill just about everything, including their target, the yellow perch, an invasive spiny-ray fish that is over-populating that lake – and others.
Kill a yellow perch – save a salmon; this is a reality that may be surfacing in the southcentral BC Interior and it may be one that is linked to the mystery of disappearing sockeye salmon and a possibility that the event is linked to aquatic invasive species. Provincial and federal fisheries biologists have been aware for a decade that perch were present in the region, but typically, they were in "pothole" lakes that were not connected to bigger systems.
One idea gaining traction from the Copenhagen Summit sees a global Financial Transactions Tax implemented that would raise capital for developing countries to combat climate change.
It's not a new idea. One of the world's foremost thinkers in the field of monetary reform is a long time resident of the Okanagan Valley. Darcy Craig Milligan’s work has become both renowned and vilified in the world of international banking as he has both exposed and proposed alternatives that would see our economic framework returned to more local control. His theories have for the most part flown under the radar of
Will a Financial Transactions Tax save our world?
Monetary reform people have a better idea, and Copenhagen listened
We have the technology and the economic will. But do we have the courage?
mainstream media and have been unnoticed by Canada’s governments, but that may shift.
Much of what Milligan has focused on over the past three decades is what’s described as Constitutional Money, which is the foundation to monetary reform, but there’s a component of that reform movement that could prove to be just what we need right now - not just to fight global warming but to reinvent local economies. A small Financial Transactions Tax is capable of reducing and even totally eliminating most if not all taxes that we pay today, as well as injecting huge amounts of capital into local economies for the paying down of interest-bearing debt and the building of publicly-owned capital assets within communities.