Thursday, July 28, 2016

Musings: Simply Grateful

While America is obsessed with the upcoming election, climate change is already disrupting lives around the world.

According to the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC):

On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That's one person forced to flee every second.

Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.

And that number is expected to climb as the impacts of climate change bring more frequent and severe weather events.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is predicting the world will be grappling with some 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, as people — many of them now living in coastal areas — move within their countries or across borders.

As William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organisation for Migration, warned:

“It is quite clear that we will have more and more conflicts over shortages of food and water that are going to be exacerbated by climate change.”

But no worries, that won't be an issue in Hawaii. Just ask the folks at Maui's Living Aloha magazine. Tucked in amongst such headlines as “Malama Da Aina” — uh, I gotta tell you folks, there ain't no "da" in Hawaiian — was this observation:

When demand and supply rise for local food, people will hear how lucrative and simple growing food is and a new wave of gardeners and farmers will start popping up to meet the demand.

Oh, yes. It's so lucrative — just ask the many farmers who are forced to hold jobs outside the farm.

And so simple. Especially when it's being done solely by people with hand tools, as depicted in a graphic in the magazine:
But apparently not so simple that the talkers are actually doing it.

A friend who grew up on a farm was visiting recently, and I was bemoaning some weird rot that was destroying my carefully tended pot of banana peppers. 

“Just imagine you had a whole field like that, and you owed money it,” she said. “That's what farmers face.”

They also face a helluva lot of flack from people who know nothing about ag.

A reader yesterday sent me a link to an article about how the EPA wants the Department of Health to post a sign at the south side's Waiopili ditch stating the water does not meet recreational standards. The email included the message: The dairy takes a hit.

Of course, the pollution at Waiopilli ditch — it is not a stream —has nothing to do with the proposed Mahaulepu dairy, since it has yet to introduce a single cow. But dairy opponents will use the high enterococcus bacteria count to rally against introducing any other potential source of contamination to the area.

In addition to posting a warning sign, the EPA “strongly advised” the state to take other protective measures, such as “limiting access.”

The state should advise people about polluted water, though it should not limit access to beaches. What bothers me is when these issues are pursued selectively due to anti-ag or anti-development sentiments.

We all know that many Kauai streams — Hanamaulu, Nawiliwili and Wainiha among them — have suffered similar problems for decades now.

But Surfrider, though pushing for sign posting for years, has gone to the mat only on Waiopili. Why? Because it opposes the dairy.

Ironically, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is funding both the Ulupono Initiative, which is creating the dairy as part of its effort to increase the local food supply, and Surfrider, which is trying its damndest to destroy the dairy.

I wonder how that's gonna shake out.

Meanwhile, despite intense opposition to GMO crops — and the Hawaii seed operations that support them — they've been widely adopted by farmers in the U.S. since their commercial introduction in 1996.

According to a new report by the USDA, herbicide-tolerant (HT) traits are found in 94% of America's soybean production; HT and insect-resistant varieties account for 93% of the cotton acreage, and 92% of all corn is GE.

The U.S. accounts for 40% of the 179.7 million hectares of GE crops planted worldwide.

Though activists are quick to dismiss commodity crops, they comprise the foundation of America's food supply. And farmers in the Midwest are already feeling the effects of drought and high temperatures, which reduce yield.

It's easy to indulge in the luxury of squabbling over GMO vs organic when you're well-fed and affluent. But given the painful realities of climate change and a growing population, it's not unrealistic to think we may soon see a time when even spoiled Americans are simply grateful to have food.

27 comments:

Katie Pickett said...

I think our parents might have uttered the phrase..but I reiterate, we are living in crazy times.

Mervyn Tano said...

Google "farmer suicide"

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the pests, wild boars, and just plain thievery of my produce.

Takes me months, sometimes over a year to produce certain food/fruit on my land in Kilauea and just seconds to lose it to boars and hippy thieves.

aloha

Anonymous said...

Of course if you look at Fern Rosenstiel, who has about a much brains a the plant she's named after, didn't get so porky from eating purely organics. What a fake!

Anonymous said...

I did Mervyn...now what?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a well rounded, intelligent article. I love Kauai and I will continue any part I can to keep it healthy.

Anonymous said...

Some of the stream 'pollution' is natural. Nawiliwili is an example. It goes primarily thru forest and pasture, even if it does cut thru Lihue. The Ecoli is from animals, primarily rats and pigs. Likewise the lower bacterial concentrations.

Anonymous said...

People with causes love to scare us about apocalyptic scenarios.
When the Superferry was in trouble, the supporters were warning us how we will all suffer in the next hurricane without it.
When Trump needs votes he scares us with Muslim and Mexican crime stories.
The environmentalist seems to wish for catastrophic climate change to kill millions to prove they are right.
When we got the plastic bag ban, the opponents would have had us believe we were all going to die from food borne illnesses without the plastic bags.
When the anti-GMO crowd opposes, they try make us think our kids all gonna die from GMO.
Now, pro-GMO is doing the same - scaring us about the US food famine that only GMO can save.

We will be OK The world is not ending. People live, people die. GMO will probably hurt some things and some people and help others. Lots of soap boxes for such a small place.

Joan Conrow said...

@2:32. I have never heard any person who supports AG biotech saying there will be a US food famine that only GMO can save. Those of us involved in this work have repeatedly made it clear that biotech is one tool in the toolbox, and all tools will be needed to feed the growing populations, especially in the face of climate change.

But because you were reading through your own dismissive filter, you missed my point.

Anonymous said...

Pele is telling us all to lighten up and smile.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36921980

Anonymous said...

Kalapaki beach is like swimming in shit (human) water and that's where nawiliwili stream goes to. It's the same for hanalei (human shit water) bay.

John Kauai said...

While Reagan was President and I lived in Lafayette, CO, a local farmer drove his tractor into the bank. (Just a story for your consideration. Make it into whatever you like.)

In MN, a "farm" may now consist of over 3500 acres run by 5 guys. When you consider that is about 44 80-acre farms that used to exist there, which would employ 2 people (or maybe 1.5), one has to wonder where all these "great jobs" in agriculture are going to come from. (Don't get the impression I don't support the growth of ag, just saying the dairy is only going to have 5 guys full-time.)

Kauai needs to start worrying about its low-lying coast. Where are those people going to move to?

Population control is going to happen sooner or later. We can do it actively now or let future generations starve. The choice sucks.

Anonymous said...


Apparently the Mahalepu pollution is from a sludge dumping ground used by ? years ago. I heard it on the tv news. They mentioned it in passing like it was no big thing. That could have consequences for Grove Farm and the dumpers.
Plus it explains a lot.

Robert Zelkovsky said...

Surfrider, both at meetings in Honolulu and S.F. and letters from Kauai Surfrider and National Surfrider, asked that all chronically polluted streams on Kauai be posted. EPA focused on Waiopili because of Sanitary Study produced by DOH. Waiopili, the most polluted stream on Kauai and one of the worst in the State, even if classified as a ditch, is a waterway, with people using it and the ocean where it exits. We sent photos of children & adults playing in several polluted streams. A public health hazard exists, public needs to know and the State needs to be held accountable. Look up Flint, Michigan. Surfrider is anti-pollution whether hazardous chemical or waste, not anti-ag as falsely portrayed. Just look up any Surfrider web-site. Surfrider suggested to relocate the dairy but where else is 3,000,000 gallons of water a day, every day available?
And, yes, Surfrider did receive funding from Ulupono that was used for pesticide and herbicide testing both in urban and ag areas and we will be doing more testing with those funds. How that "shakes out" we shall see. We will continue on our volunteer mission of clean and healthy water for all.

Joan Conrow said...

Flint, Mich.? Talk about throwing out a red herring.

As for relocating the dairy, what does Surfrider know about what a dairy needs to operate? Why shouldn't Important Ag Land being used for agriculture? Just like what's wrong with an agricultural use using ag water? Or would you prefer it be used for another hotel and golf course?

As for Surfrider not being anti-ag, if that's true, I'm wondering why so many of your activities are directed toward ag. I never have seen you folks push back against the TVRs operating with cesspools. My guess is there's a lot more human shit and other waste coming out onto the reef at Haena right now than the dairy will generate at Mahaulepu.

Eric Toulon said...

The one thing I worry about with the dairy in that site is it is in an area known as "hurricane alley" where the wind hits Mahaulepu with increased velocity with the venturi affect and flies up to Kalaheo.
When the plantations were stopped from dumping straight into the ocean and required to put in a holding pond by the mill the odor was pronounced, and with certain wind patterns would blow down to Poipu.
I remember the smell very well with the Waimea and Moloa'a Dairy, I remember being able to smell Greely Colorado about 8 miles before you got there as a result of the feed lots. Their smells were far more pronounced than the holding ponds.
Kauai's hotels have historically led the state in occupancy and room rate with the south side hotels leading the island.
To put an industry people have known for centuries is foul is foolhardy at best. Look at the pig farm in Omao and how unpleasant the smell is even after it's been improved.
Let's assume the dairy goes in and their studies are wrong, and it negatively impacts Poipu and Kukuiula.
Do you think for a moment the people negatively impacted won't sue? The dairy, the land owner and the County?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it would be helpful to know the who, how, quality assurance and the protocol involved by which Surfrider conducts and widely reports its water testing. My current understanding that it is all done by a member of Surfrider, and that would not necessarily give me confidence in the reported results.

Robert Zelkovsky said...

Blue Water Task Force sampling is done according to federal standards. Proper collecting, labeling, chain of custody and testing is used. The BWTF has also precipitated the establishment of state and local government water quality monitoring programs in many communities and continues to fill in data gaps, improving the public's knowledge of the safety of their beach wate.

Anonymous said...

Interesting:

This Lawsuit Has Put Big Ag On The Defensive In A Major Way

Earlier this month, the Iowa Soybean Association had a big announcement to make.

The group, which represents some 11,000 growers of the state’s second-most-lucrative crop, pledged $150,000 in support for three highly agricultural counties — Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac — named in a controversial lawsuit brought by the Des Moines Water Works.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, claims that nitrogen-rich water flowing off the area’s farms pollutes the Raccoon River, which, along with the Des Moines River, provides drinking water for half a million people. The water authority wants the counties to pick up the dramatically higher treatment costs for the water. The counties, who want the case dismissed, counter that there’s no proof that agriculture is directly responsible for the nitrates.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/des-moines-water-iowa-farm-lawsuit_us_579a4957e4b0d3568f867e28?ir=Green&section=us_green&utm_hp_ref=green

Anonymous said...

"Proper collecting, labeling, chain of custody and testing is used"....etc., etc. is advertising as opposed to a direct answer. Thank you, nevertheless, for the reply.

Robert Zelkovsky said...

The State does not post even with its own results which correlate closely with Surfriders.

Anonymous said...

Joan and her cheerleaders should get out and remove tons of nets and ocean debris annually like Surfrider does, and then there would be room to talk foul about Surfrider. How about a Kauai Eclectic sponsored beach clean-up? Now that would be amazing...never gonna happen.

As a member of the Blue Water Task Force and an organic farmer who does frequent soil testing and other scientific collections of water as a drinking system operator, I can attest to the scientific methodology and protocol followed by Surfrider in its monthly collections.

SURFRIDER ROCKS!!!

Joan Conrow said...

Surfrider should stick to its beach clean ups, which I've participated in and praised, and stay out of agriculture and phony honey studies.

And truly, we're supposed to accept the word of an anonymous member of Surfrider's own Blue Water Task Force re: the validity of the group's scientific methodology and protocol? Please. If anyone else made that claim you'd laugh them off the island.

Anonymous said...

I know what the State of Hawaii does. I was simply asking about Surfrider, and I am sorry I bothered to ask.

Anonymous said...

Hawaii Department of Health does not trust Surfrider to do pesticide sampling studies. Surfrider staff/volunteers are not qualified to do that and they have a major conflict of interest due to their well-known bias.

Anonymous said...

So why is the EPA going after DOH??

Anonymous said...

9:47 AM:
You throw out a question that is unanswerable since you provided no information whatsoever.
Be specific, if you have any idea what you're talking about.....what issue? What Division? What Branch? Do you have any idea how many laws and regulations DOH is responsible for?