Koko and I timed our walk perfectly this morning, going out into the world in that special period that marks the passage between night and day. The sky was all a glitter and the crickets performed a symphony as we headed down the road, and at one point I turned to see a star shooting across the sky, headed for Anahola.
Slowly, the day began to brighten, turning first soft blue, then lavender, then growing orange all around the edges. Mars persisted as the stars slipped from view, until finally, even its brightness was no match for the forces of day, which arrived in a soft shimmer of pink that revealed the sweetest, most delicate draping of clouds atop Waialeale.
In the midst of all this splendor we ran into my neighbor Andy, much to Koko’s delight, as he was away for a few days, which meant no biscuit treats or head rubs for the poor, deprived pooch.
We got to talking about the threat to sue KIUC over the ongoing deaths of Newell’s shearwaters, which I wrote about for The Hawaii Independent. Andy said he had mixed feelings about it, wondering if KIUC really was primarily to blame, and the science that had provided that conclusion.
The science was actually done by some of the world’s leading experts on seabirds in research that was financed by the utility itself, and it showed that KIUC is, indeed, the single largest contributor to mortality among the now rare birds.
The lights at Princeville Resort are another big killer, as are the lights at county sports facilities. The state has a program that is working on light mitigation, but KIUC is being targeted for the lawsuit because it’s applying for a permit to to keep on killing the birds rather than adopt some of the measures that its own studies recommended to protect them years ago.
“Well, if the birds are too stupid to avoid power lines….” Andy started, and I made a sad/mad face and he stopped.
“I know you’re only trying to provoke me,” I said, and he said yes, he was, kind of.
“Most of the deaths have occurred since Iniki, when they strung all these lines on high poles in configurations that are especially dangerous,” I explained. “Eighteen years is a short time to adapt for a species that spends most of its life at sea.”
“But even if the power lines are changed, won’t the birds still have to adapt because they’re facing so many threats — dogs, habitat loss, lights?" Andy asked. "Won't they have to be constantly protected?” .
“So then do we just knowingly let the species disappear?” I asked. “The Endangered Species Act doesn’t really allow us to do that.”
And for me, there’s something terribly tragic about our own species if we’re willing to let another species that was in existence long before we were go extinct because we can’t be bothered to change our own behavior to live in harmony with it.
Andy softened a bit when I told him that some of those involved in the pending litigation have been meeting with Hawaii’s Congressional delegation to find funding for changing the power lines so the burden doesn’t have to fall on the ratepayers. They were getting a good reception, and apparently KIUC hadn’t been seeking such assistance.
“Well, then they deserve to be sued,” Andy said, before adding, “Ah, the bleeding heart Joan.”
I am, I’ll admit it, especially when it comes to animals and nature. But I’ll take a soft heart over a hard heart — or no heart — any day.
Speaking of which, if corporations didn’t have enough influence over our government already, the Supreme Court has opened the door even wider with its 5-4 decision to allow them to spend unlimited amounts of money in electoral campaigns.
What’s really creepy about this, aside from totally undermining the ability of citizens to effect the electoral process, is the way it further reinforces the ominous trend of giving corporations rights that have previously been reserved for real people.
As Jamin Raskin, an author, professor of constitutional law at American University and Maryland state senator, noted in a Democracy Now! interview:
The question here is the corporation, OK? And there’s an unbroken line of precedent, beginning with Chief Justice Marshall in the Dartmouth College case in the 1800s, all the way through Justice Rehnquist, even, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, saying that a corporation is an artificial creation of the state. It’s an instrumentality that the state legislatures charter in order to achieve economic purposes. And as Justice White put it, the state does not have to permit its own creature to consume it, to devour it.
And that’s precisely what the Supreme Court has done, suddenly declaring that a corporation is essentially a citizen, armed with all the political rights that we have, at the same time that the corporation has all kinds of economic perks and privileges like limited liability and perpetual life and bankruptcy protection and so on, that mean that we’re basically subsidizing these entities, and sometimes directly, as we saw with the Wall Street bailout, but then they’re allowed to turn around and spend money to determine our political future, our political destiny. So it’s a very dangerous moment for American political democracy.
Indeed it is. We are, quite frankly, up against a monster of our own making. And resisting the growing control of corporate power and corporate interests is one very important part of the Revolution of Values.
And finally, if you have thoughts about the newest proposal for the bike path route through Wailua, best get cracking, as Jan. 25 is the deadline. It's supposedly the “last chance” to give comments to the county, as well as state and federal transportation officials, who are especially interested in cultural and historical issues and were reportedly surprised to learn that the Hawaiians and other citizens weren’t on board with the mayor’s latest plan.
You can call Ray McCormick of the state DOT office at 241-3006 or Paul Harker of the federal DOT at 808-541-2309. The county email for comments is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I keep wondering why the option of the existing paved road along the canal isn’t on the table. Apparently OHA officials weren’t even aware of it until they were taken there a week or so ago. It would take the path off the beach and the highway, and since it’s already paved, the likelihood of disrupting burials should be minimal.