as i enter the jumbo jet, i'mstruck by the fact that it's empty. Just me, being escorted to the very back row by two armed cops. The foreign police are being careful. They don't want me to make a sudden run for it. My eight days in jail are behind me. I'm being deported.I have no regrets. I did my piece for peace.
The Dutch call it "knipping." One "knips" through a chain-link fence. Our newfound friends at the Vredes Aktie Kamp, the Peace Action Camp, are master knippers. And my friend Kelly and I decided to join them for the holiday season. Where better to put "peace on earth and goodwill toward all" into practice than at a nuclear weapons base?
We make our way on Christmas Eve to the forest named the Atoom Vrij Staat, the Nuclear Free State. The peace camp is just across the way from NATO's Volkel Air Force Base, home to 3,000 pilots and plumbers and three squadrons (54) of F16 fighter planes. And 11 nuclear bombs, under the control of the United States.
Around the campfire, we learn about the illegality of nuclear weapons. In 1996, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, determined that the use of nuclear weapons, and the preparation for the use of nuclear weapons, is illegal according to international law.
As well, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which the Netherlands and Canada are signatories, clearly requires action to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. Even though the nuclear threat has fallen off the radar screens of people around the world, the threat is probably greater now than ever before.
More countries have been joining the nuclear club. India and Pakistan both have the A-bomb, making for a tense situation, a catastrophe-in-waiting. The breakup of the Soviet Union has left nuclear scientists without money to buy food for their families, so they're looking to put their skills to work for whoever will pay them.
With 36,000 nuclear bombs peppered around the planet and $5.5 trillion having been spent by the U.S. alone on these weapons, one can't help but wonder how much pollution and poverty could have been eradicated with that kind of cash.
Consider garbage. When I returned home to Toronto, my eyes bugged out when I read that the city was going to scrap its restaurant composting pilot program.
For a measly $73,656, nutrient-rich food scraps are magically transformed into biogas and fertilizer rather than being hauled by truck 400 kilometres south to the U.S. to be dumped in a hole in the ground.
Mayor Mel has to answer for this madness. After all, recycling was his number-one election issue.
"Are you going to the mayor's office or is he coming here?" queries one of three of Toronto's boys in yellow, bike cops dressed in banana-yellow-and-black outfits. They await me as I pedal up to Queen West's Fressen restaurant and juice bar.
I'm there for the news conference organized by SCAM (Stop Considering the Adams Mine and Start Composting and Alternative Measures) about food scraps and biogas.
Then the cops' intelligence antennae reveal their high-security concern: "You're not going to dump it on the carpet or anything, are you?" one asks.
I assure him that all we're going to do is deliver some non-toxic compostables to the mayor's office. Like a letter or a petition. Then it will be up to the mayor to decide what to do with it.
Perhaps they're worried about biogas-powered Molotov cocktails?
Uninvited, they escort Jean and me with our basket of food scraps to City Hall, but not before giving us $310-worth of bogus tickets. Were they threatened by the bushel of orange peels and carrot pulp strapped on the back of my bike?
Good thing I didn't tell him that we're implementing a bicycle-powered compost pickup and delivery program. We pick up anywhere, and deliver to City Hall. You choose if you want it to go to the mayor, your councillor or some particular member of the city administration (Barry Gutteridge, head of the works department, is another obvious choice).
Fact is, commercial and residential composting could reduce our waste stream by a third or more in one fell swoop. Heck, we could be exporting the biogas produced, aka natural gas or methane, to Alberta!
And we could cut our city's total greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 5 per cent!
It's a simple technology. When Angela and I were in China three years ago, we discovered that tens of millions of Chinese families meet their own energy needs on a small-scale, household level. These households, from kitchen scraps, people and pig poop (two adults, one child, three pigs), generate in their backyards all the fuel for their cooking, hot water and lighting, not to mention fertilizer for their farms.
Then there are the 12 biogas-powered buses in Trollhättan, Norway. They run on a mixture of the residents' own sewage and waste from a nearby fish processing factory.
But it's happening right here, too, just north of Toronto, in Newmarket, where Canada Composting Inc. has a large operation turning food scraps into fuel. This is where the Toronto restaurant pilot food scraps were shipped before being scrapped by the city's shortsighted administration.
The only way to keep the Adams Mine monster from resurfacing is to invest in the alternatives --- with biogas and composting at the top of the heap.
And if you say we don't have the money for it, just make your choice: more nuclear arms, or clean energy, compost for the earth and local jobs. I'll knip to that.