Venus alone was shining boldly in a pink-tinged sky when Koko and I went out walking this cool, fragrant morning. Rain fell onto Waialeale from a black-fringed cloud that was slowly turning gold around its upper edges as a scarlet orb rose from a fiery flush in the east.
A dead piglet, about the size of Koko, but much heavier, lay alongside the road, victim of a hit and run, which fortunately wasn’t gory, so I moved it off the pavement so it wouldn’t turn gory, and thought of how death is an inextricable part of life.
Yesterday I got a report, sent via Twitter by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker, about how the tsunami affected Midway. The Laysan albatross are raising their chicks right now, and they got hit hard:
People are OK. No damage to infrastructure. The Short-tailed albatross nest was washed over again and the chick was found unharmed about 35 m away and carried back to its nest cup. Minimum of 1000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of Laysan Albatross chicks lost. Spit Island completely washed over. Eastern and Sand Island 60% and 20% washed over, respectively.
The report included a link to the "Pete at Midway" blog, which has a more detailed narrative report and a lot of photos depicting how the wildlife were impacted when the wave washed over the low-lying atolls.
Meanwhile, the surge at Wainiha washed out and/or tangled great swaths of the vegetation that was planted by oceanfront landowners seeking to expand their lots onto the public beach.
It also washed in a lot of fresh sand, which is a good thing, because that's how nature replenishes a beach, except that now the beach has been planted as lawns in front of vacation rentals.
At one house, a gardener was trying to clean the sand mixed with debris off the lawn, and when asked what he was going to do with it, said, “I don’t know, I guess take it the dump.”
How sad that a public resource has been turned into garbage because people are building too close to the ocean.
If you’re wondering why the county allows so many off-island landowners to build so close to the water, and so many hapless tourists to stay there, perhaps the mission statement of Kauai Civil Defense offers a clue:
Mission Statement: To protect the lives and property of all the people living in Kauai County during emergencies or disaster events.
Guess the transients and their accommodations just get screwed.
Hopefully all of us downwinders won’t be screwed as Japan “faces its biggest catastrophe since the dawn of the nuclear age,” to borrow the headline from a disturbing Democracy Now! report that included an interview with nuclear waste specialist Kevin Kamps:
[I]f the U.S. Navy, which is a hundred miles away, has to move an aircraft carrier away from the shore because the radioactivity levels are of concern, then all of these assurances by Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government that everything’s really OK—I mean, a statement made two days ago by the chief spokesman for the government, the secretary of the cabinet, was that the evacuation is underway, and the wind is blowing out to sea, so everything is really going to be OK. Well, we have indications that the wind direction may change towards the mainland of Japan. So, those false assurances are not helping the situation.
And another question that needs to be asked is, well, if the wind is blowing out to sea, what’s in that direction? Well, the United States is in that direction. And we see, again, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying no harmful level of radioactivity could reach the United States. While we’re in the middle of this crisis, a new reactor is now melting down. How did they determine that the containments are going to hold? How did they determine that the radioactivity will not blow in large quantities to the United States?
If you want to keep an eye on things yourself, here’s a link to a handy site that monitors environmental radiation levels in the USA — but not Hawaii, apparently because we aren't really part of the U.S. It was sent by a friend who reports on nuclear issues and noted in an email:
Hmm, you guys kinda get zapped first on the way around the Globe.
Meanwhile, the birds are singing and the flowers are in bloom.