Monday, October 4, 2010

What does salmon have to do with our new home?

In British Columbia this year something spectacular is happening. The sockeye salmon are returning to their birthing grounds in record numbers. Call this the 'Halley's Comet' of fish. Scientists haven't seen a return like this in 100 years. A good news story about nature seems to be a rare thing these days. Everything we read or see has to do with decline or destruction of the planet so Brendon and I leaped at the opportunity to see these healthy salmon make their voyage upstream.

Wow. Mother Nature still has a few tricks up her sleeve. 15 million salmon are making their way from the ocean up the Fraser River, travelling hundreds of kilometers inland to mate, lay their eggs and die - leaving their bodies to fertilize the rain forests, farms and grasslands touched by the Fraser. As they travel from salt water to fresh rivers, their bodies transform from a steely grey to a bright red, the colouring part of an elaborate mating ritual.

So what does this have to do with our home? On the surface, I'd say nothing. We're building in downtown Vancouver, and the fish will be spawning up in Salmon Arm. Yet, so many of our decisions will either help protect or destroy future fish stocks.
+ The energy efficiency of our home impacts how much carbon we emit and its contributions to the warming of our planet. As the rivers that the salmon travel warm, their survival rate plummets.
+ The paint and products we use in and on our home will end up off-gassing and leaching chemicals into our water ways and ultimately find their way into he bodies of fish like salmon. These days, you can source more innocuous products that do not harm people or animals - hopefully one day soon non-toxic products will just be business as usual.
+ The wood we use for our house will come from the forests around our home and to make sure it is harvested sustainably, it will be FSC certified. Maintaining forests is key to ensuring a healthy habitat for the animals and plants that depend on the salmon return for their food.

It was a good piece of perspective to gain, especially since both Brendon and I (with the serious support of Smallworks) have struggled over the last week with how to bring the budget down. We're nearly there and I'm happy that the sacrifices we've made aren't ones that will also have an impact on the earth.

P.s. We've got the permits!!!! Yeh!

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