Creativity and time evade me this morning, so let’s skip the intro and get down to business.
That seems appropriate in light of what I see as the most pressing story: scientists are saying the impacts of climate change are happening far faster and sooner than they expected even two years ago. A report issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicates temperature increases of 6.3 F are likely by the end of the century.
According to an article in The Washington Post:
The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change.
"It's accelerating," he [Robert Corell, chair of the Climate Action Initiative] said. "We're not going in the right direction."
Here’s the kicker — UNEP is saying the increase is likely to occur even if nations enact every climate policy now proposed. And since we know that has zero probability of occurring, how much faster and sooner do you suppose the “catastrophic consequences including rising sea-levels, droughts and famine, and the loss of up to a third of the world’s plant and animal species” that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns of will arrive?
As the Post reported:
He [Achim Steiner, UNEP's executive director] noted that since 2000 alone, the average rate of melting at 30 glaciers in nine mountain ranges has doubled compared with the rate during the previous two decades.
"These are not things that are in dispute in terms of data," he said. "They are actually physically measurable."
Other findings include the fact that sea level might rise by as much as six feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as the IPCC had projected, and the Arctic may experience a sea-ice summer by 2030, rather than by the end of the century.
Now six feet is a big deal in an island chain. Over at Raising Islands Jan TenBruggencate has a post on two initiatives aimed at exploring what climate change could mean locally.
One interesting, and scary, aspect of all this is that the predictions are being revised in part because scientists are continually gaining a better understanding of how natural systems work. So since we’re still learning as we go on this one, what might we be overlooking that could change the predictions even more dramatically?
If that bums you out, you can always go talk story with Mitzi Gaynor, the star of “South Pacific,” on Oct. 4. Bringing Mitzi here for the 50th anniversary of that movie is just one of the bright ideas that the Kauai Visitors Bureau has come up with to spend some of the unprecedented $1 million the county forked over to re-attract tourists. In a broadcast on Hawaii Public Radio, KVB Director Sue Kanoho notes that Mitzi has a big following. Mmmm, maybe. But big enough to make a dent in the 20 percent decline in tourism on Kauai? I don’t think so. As a friend noted: “That generation is gone.”
But the plastic bags aren’t. Yes, the bill to ban ‘em hit another snag when county attorney Al Castillo jumped in, citing legal concerns and enforcement issues. So why hasn’t he piped up about the ag vacation rental bill when the very same issues of enforceability and legality have been raised about it?
Speaking of enforcement and legality, I learned a few interesting things while interviewing Police Chief Darryl Perry on KKCR yesterday, including that no disciplinary actions had been taken for the three years prior to his arrival. OK, boys, you just go ahead and have your fun, with no consequences. Yikes.
Further, he started work in a scorched earth environment, with no transitional reports — not even basic office supplies. That doesn’t say much for former Chief Lum’s professionalism, while it does speak volumes about the hostile, unwelcoming environment that greeted Perry.
I’ll be filing an article about the interview on The Hawaii Independent later today, so I’ll provide a link if you’d like to learn more about what the chief had to say.
One caller raised concerns about asset forfeiture laws, which are yet another troubling outgrowth of the war on drugs. As I reported in a 1996 Star-Bulletin story:
A Kauai case, in which Brian Lentz lost his Kilauea land and home in federal civil proceedings this year even though he was not convicted of selling marijuana from the home, drew a spate of letters and editorials in local newspapers from those who feared government was going too far.
Police said they found 31/2 pounds of marijuana in a 1992 raid on Lentz's house, after he allegedly sold five ounces of marijuana to an informant from the home.
"One of the problems with forfeiture is it has nothing to do with a criminal conviction," said Hilo attorney Chris Yuen, who argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court that hearings should be required before property is seized. "The amazing thing is that it can be imposed on an innocent person."
That’s right. They used to take the assets first, depriving you of your ability to use their value in financing your defense, and then you had to prove they weren’t linked to drug or other illegal activity — even if you were never convicted. There have been some reforms — now there has to be a hearing before they take it — but like much of the legal system, if you don't have money, it's hard to fight it, and since law enforcement agencies get to keep the booty, it does open the door to abuse, especially when the pickings are so good and resources are otherwise so tight.