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The Butterfly Effect:
DMFTalk: Bill Toone
- Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

Bill Toone.
Photo Bill Morris.
Click to enlarge.

Butterflies, a point to point trip about the world with a focus on exotic stops, and the tale of turning a felled Torrey Pine tree into 50’ long tables were the topics of Bill Toone’s DMFTalk in November. Toone, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Ecolife, began by showing a brief news clip about his work reclaiming a Torrey Pine log from a dead tree damaged by the 2007 wildfire, bark beetles and the ongoing draught. Toone rescued it from a future as fire wood and is transforming the wood into furniture. He and friends sliced the log lengthwise into the largest wood tables in the world “because it can be done.” So far one of the tables weighing in at 5000 pounds has been sold.

He went on to connect a scattering of seemingly unrelated subjects that he wove together to illustrate the Butterfly Effect in action: what happens in one place of the planet affects a variety of others and are all connected. In pointing out problem conditions he reminded the audience that many peoples live without electricity in huts where food is regularly cooked inside on fires fueled by wood. The smoke-filled air is toxic, the equivalent of inhaling 400 cigarettes every day. The forests are cut for wood. Migrating butterflies, other insects and animals lose habitat. His answer is providing fuel efficient stoves that vent to the outside. The inside air is cleared, far less wood is used for fuel, the forests survive and wildlife is safe.

Another major danger to the world’s people and animals is the loss of wilderness through urban land development and agriculture. Trees are cleared. Herbicides poison more than just the intended pests. Toone’s alternative is aquaponics, a method of growing produce and fish within a single system that saves water, energy, and fertilizer.

Bill Toone has a master’s degree from the University of California, Davis, where he studied the reproductive behavior of the California condor. He then worked for the Zoological Society of San Diego and the California Condor Recovery Team. While working at the Zoo, Bill co-founded ECOLIFE Conservation in 2003. In 2008, Bill resigned from the zoo to devote full-time effort to ECOLIFE to use conservation as a tool to both protect our natural world and improve human lives. He and his wife Sunni travel and work around the world. www.Ecolifeconservation.org/ .



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