Sunday, March 16, 2008

Musings: Masking the Stink

Even though it’s Sunday, my eyes popped open at 6 a.m., the same time Koko popped out of bed, so we hit the road through a neighborhood so quiet I wondered if a neutron bomb had gone off and I was somehow spared.

But despite the absence of human activity, the birds were twittering merrily beneath a cloudy sky and flowers and blossoms of all sorts enveloped me in fragrance along the way, just as each time I awoke in the night I smelled the gardenias that are always a welcome house guest.

It’s wonderful to live in a naturally perfumed world. It helps to make the stink of environmental degradation, militarism and political game playing more tolerable.

Yes, folks, today’s post will touch on all three of those cheery topics, starting with the news that Hawaiian monk seals are seriously on the ropes. Don’t be fooled by the ones you see sunning themselves on Kauai’s beaches, or even the poor buggers that haul up on Oahu.

Although numbers around the main Hawaiian Islands are slowly growing, the main population in the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument is now declining at a rate of 4 percent a year.

According to a summary of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Plan, “Biologists estimate the current population at about 1200 individuals, and modeling predicts that the species population will fall below 1000 animals within the next three to four years. This places the Hawaiian monk seal among the world’s most endangered species.”

I became aware of this when I called Dr. Mimi Olry, the state’s monk seal specialist, the other day to get her comments on how military activities within the monument might affect the seals.

“They’d be detrimental,” Mimi said. “The seals are in a crisis situation already.”

It seems that the young seals in the monument “aren’t making it the first year,” Mimi said. “They’re starving. Something’s not right in the ecosystem up there.”

So shoots, why not make it more worse by shooting down missiles over Nihoa and Mokumanamana (Necker), where seals live and cruise over to Niihau and Kauai? Why not blow up some old ships and stuff and put more toxins in the water? Why not harass the hell out of them with that incessant ping-ping-ping of sonar?

Don’t you love it when your federal tax dollars are used that way?

As for your state tax dollars, they’re being used — for reasons that have never been made clear — to pay for the Superferry EIS that is now under way. Usually those who are proposing a project pay for the EIS, but the state in its unending generosity toward the big boat is picking up the tab.

Scoping meetings to ask the public what should be addressed in the EIS are being held around the state, and according to a Star-Bulletin article that Brad Parsons cited in his blog yesterday, the first scoping meetings have already been held on Molokai, where 30 people turned out, and Oahu, where a total of 12 people showed up for two meetings.

By apparent way of explanation for the low turnout, the article offers this quote:

Neighbor island residents are much more aware than they are on Oahu" of harbor activities, said Mike Formby, deputy director of the state Harbors Division. "They are aware of when passenger ships are in, cargo ships are in, when milk's arriving. They seem to have a general awareness and consciousness."

I’m not sure that’s all there is to it. It might also have something to do with the fact that Oahu residents by and large didn’t seem much concerned about environmental impacts, while that was the big issue on the Neighbor Islands.

Garans there will be a bigger crowd than that when the hearings are held on Kauai — 2-5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at KCC — Maui and Big Island. And I’m sure one point that will be made is the need to study the impact on monk seals that use Nawiliwili Harbor.

Brad also noted a Star-Bulletin editorial that weighs in on the state audit — mandated by the Lege and delayed by the gov’s refusal to release documents — that is already significantly behind schedule.

In fact, it may not even be ready before the Lege adjourns. Now wouldn’t that be convenient for the gov and her cronies? And as the editorial points out, with the Superferry in drydock, the oversight task force that was formed to make recommendations on possible changes in operating conditions for the ferry won’t have much to report on before the Lege adjourns, either. Again, how convenient.

As the editorial states: ...the public is due an explanation to dispel a perception that something untoward was behind the February 2005 exemption [from an environmental review for the ferry].

Ass right, we’re due an explanation, not only about the exemption but the Administration’s delays. But so long as Gov. Lingle and her Attorney General, Mark Bennett, play the stall game and the Lege doesn’t push back, it doesn’t look like the public is gonna get its due.

Since we’re on the topic of folks getting their due, my Honolulu Weekly article on the proposed “ceded lands” settlement is now posted on line.

I don't want to bum you out completely, so here's some good news: black holes aren't really black! And they don't just suck stuff in, they also spew it out!

Heck, we're learning new stuff all the time. Maybe we'll figure our big problems out.

Have a nice day! ☺

(photo by Mimi Olry)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mahalo Joan for helping to get the word out. Spoke w/ Dennis Chun today. He's hoping folks will make time to show up at Wednesday EIS meeting @ KCC (Wed March 19 2-5pm and 6-9pm).

The public input may influence the outcomes of the DOT Belt Collins report(you'd hope so)but it's been hard to assess the impacts of a boat that hasn't delivered.

From military concerns, social impacts and environmental degradation there's many items needed to be reviewed and evaluated. Then there are all the extra costs to government and taxpayers for subsidized facilities and services(barges, inspections, liability insurance,etc..). Unforeseen costs and impacts are hard to project but the public has another opportunity to provide input regarding concerns and impacts of the HawaiiShibaiFerry.

Mahalo again for shining a little light in the dark corners of our world. Malama pono,........Jimmy T