Monday, July 7, 2008

Musings: Tick, Tick, Ticking

Jupiter was glowing away in the southwest, hovering just above the horizon, when Koko and I set out this morning under a mostly cloudy sky. The birds were singing their little hearts out, and we actually stopped awhile beneath one tree to listen to an especially passionate song.

As we walked, we passed a lot of fallen mango on the road. Some trees are so tall and big you don’t really know what they are until they start dropping fruit. It’s definitely a bumper crop for the wild pigs, and for us humans, too. I’ve been drying mango and freezing some for future cobblers and the like. There’s something about putting up food that I find so satisfying, perhaps because it’s such an ancient ritual for us humans — and yet another one we’ve largely abandoned.

An ancient ritual of another sort — paying homage to the dead — was playing out yesterday at the Convention Hall, where Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s services were held. I didn't attend, but I heard from a couple of folks who did that too many people wanted to talk, and so it went on way too long.

All the political big wigs were there, ranging from Sen. Akaka and Gov. Lingle — who certainly found a more receptive crowd than the last time she appeared on the stage at that venue — to all of Kauai’s Council members.

One friend likened the scene to “a bunch of dogs sniffing each others’ butts,” and said he was a little disgusted, because “here it is, the guy’s memorial service, and the air was just charged with that political atmosphere. You could see all the Council members making their rounds, the whispered conversations, everyone jockeying for position.”

Of course, they had no politicking time to spare, since today is the big day when the Council will choose a mayor to serve until Dec. 1. And since there’s nothing in the County Charter to prohibit the interim mayor from running for the remaining two years of Bryan’s term — and ostensibly two four-year terms after that — the stakes are high. Because we all know an incumbent has the advantage.

Not that anyone can do much in five months, except get in a good position to run again on Nov. 4 and begin recruiting people to serve in one’s administration.

There’s been talk of a rapid, wholesale sweep of Baptiste appointees, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Who would want to take one of those jobs for just a few months — unless they’re assured that a chance to serve for at least another two years is likely?

I’m wondering if all of Baptiste’s initiatives are also dead, like the ag land development moratorium. (Btw, I’ve got an article in the Honolulu Weekly on the whole issue of farm dwellings, and how non-enforcement of that law is affecting ag land prices and farming.)

And then there’s the question of who will pick up all his supporters. As my friend noted, Baptiste managed to bring together a large group of people, of all races, so who is going to get them now?

Hmmm. Perhaps whichever candidate managed yesterday to convey the greatest degree of fawning concern for the bereaved.

Meanwhile, as Kauai deals with such mundane matters as a new mayor, life continues on in the rest of the world, where a study by UH scientists has shown that our carbon emissions have begun altering the chemistry of the oceans, too.

According to the Advertiser article:

In the article, the team of chemical oceanographers, led by Richard Zeebe from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, conclude that the ecological and economic consequences are difficult to predict but possibly calamitous.
The researchers warn that halting the changes already underway will likely require even steeper cuts in carbon emissions than those currently proposed to curb climate change.

It seems the oceans have been absorbing a lot of those emissions, which has slowed global warming, but with the result that the seas are getting more acidic, which can damage marine organisms like coral reefs.

"If we continue with business as usual and don't cut carbon dioxide emissions, carbonate reefs will ultimately start to dissolve. This is basic chemistry," Zeebe says in the [Science] article. "The biology is a bit trickier. Most lab and field experiments show that calcifying organisms struggle under high-CO2 conditions but it's very difficult to predict their long-term reaction, let alone responses of entire marine ecosystems."

Yet it seems like continuing with business as usual is exactly what’s planned. Ever get the feeling that the clock is tick, tick, ticking?


Anonymous said...

Baptiste didn't build that large a coalition. He was pushed over the top by the "anybody but Ron" crowd in 2002. He only won by 1650 votes (12,174 to 10,517). He had no real opposition in 2006. The Dems just put up a sacrificial lamb.

This election will pit the greenies and Japanese (Yukimura) vs. the good old boy Portuguese and exotic dancers -- Rapozo, vs. the Dem machine/UH football -- Carvalho.

We are so screwed.

Anonymous said...

what's wrong with incumbent phone guy Asing?