Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Musings: Cockeyed Thinking

It was a dove grey kind of morning, soft, with muted colors, when Koko and I went walking on streets wet from last night's rain. Mist crept up the flanks of the cinder cones and kissed the Giant’s cheeks as Haupu and Waialeale floated like islands in a foamy white sea.

The day arrived as a steadily intensifying saturation of pink in feathery clouds to the east, followed by a brief appearance of a vibrant orange disc, before the gray curtains were drawn again.

Along the way we passed a roadside recycling stand run by a man who sometimes leaves signs exhorting people to do this or don’t do that. Today it was a plea scrawled on the discarded lid of a cooler: I’m begging you, stop leaving trash here. I can’t magically turn your trash into something useful.

Hmmm, maybe he needs to tell that to the county, which remains infatuated with expensive and highly questionable “waste-to-energy” technology that promises to magically turn trash into that which we treasure above all else: electricity.

Jan Ten Bruggencate wrote a post the other day in which he compared the risks to birds of various types of power source and astutely noted:

The first fact, of course, is that EVERY form of energy production has impacts on the natural environment.

He then went on to say:

It may also be that wind energy has more potential for mitigation of wildlife impacts than other forms of power.

An example: Using a windpower firm's money to fence dogs out of a shearwater colony may save more shearwaters in a single season than a windmill will kill in its useful life.

Actually, that approach could be applied to other energy producers, and is, with varying degrees of success, since mitigation measures aren’t so cut and dried as EIS writers like to pretend, given that we often know so little about the creatures we’re wantonly destroying. KIUC is trying to avoid undergrounding the power lines that kill Newell’s shearwaters — I heard two flying overhead the other night, as a thin crescent of light held the darkened whole of the moon — by funding the SOS program. It was started decades ago by state wildlife biologist Tom Telfer as a way to collect fledglings downed by lights and wires on their maiden flight from their mountain burrows to the sea, and has since been co-opted by the co-op as a mitigation measure.

Is SOS having a net benefit on the Newell's population, and if so, does it give KIUC license to keep killing the birds when such deaths could be avoided? And how long do these mitigation programs have to be conducted? For the life of the electric lines (or windmill blades) that are killing the bats and birds? Or just for a year or two, until the scrutiny associated with getting a permit wanes?

More important, why are we continually in this mode of determining how much of nature can be destroyed, and how many species — including humans — killed solely to serve our selfish, and so often wasteful, purposes? What will it take to change this cockeyed way of thinking, which can only lead to our eventual demise?

Meanwhile, just to hasten things along, deaths and destruction stemming from our addiction to oil continue unabated around the world….

Here at home, the mayor paid a visit to the planning commission yesterday, purportedly to share his “visions and goals” for the county and outline the direction he wants the commission and planning department to take. According to The Garden Island:

Describing himself as “an ex-officio member” of all of the bodies to which he appoints volunteer [sic], Carvalho told the commission where they [sic] fit into his five broader goals — supporting the local economy; becoming more sustainable now; planning wisely for the future; caring for families, communities and visitors; and delivering customer service.

He told the commissioners and planners they “would be critical in helping plan for the future.” Gee, and all this time they were doing their part to support the local economy by never saying no. Good thing he stopped by to set them straight about their real purpose.

Of course, it’s impossible to set some cock-eyed thinking straight, like the Republican reaction to Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rep. Lamar Smith, of Texas (where else?) really put his foot in it when he issued a statement saying that:

...he's concerned Sotomayor has shown "personal bias based on ethnicity and gender."

"Judge Sotomayor will need to reassure the country that she will set aside her biases, uphold the rule of law and interpret the Constitution as written, not as she believes it should have been written," said Smith, who will have no vote in the matter, as the confirmation is a Senate matter.

Yeah, Sonia. Don’t you know that only privileged white males are allowed to express personal bias based on ethnicity and gender? Not that they do, of course. They always set aside their biases, uphold the rule of law and interpret the Constitution — and the Bible — solely as written.


Anonymous said...

What's the problem with interpreting those documents solely as written?

Joan Conrow said...

Nothing. I was being sarcastic.

darwin_was_pretty_smart said...

"Don’t you know that only privileged white males are allowed to express personal bias based on ethnicity and gender?"

-- people in hawaii and bloggers do a pretty good job too ;)

RE strict construction, the problem is that you get scalias and no roe v wades (as where when applied to religious literature, you get bushes and no obamas)

otherwise, that sotomayor lady seems really interesting. i like the early life background she has

Anonymous said...

Hey Hey...I turn 60 today..sharing that not-so-singular event with "the Arnold", ex-Pres Bush, and Dusty Hill from ZZ Top.

Now, what a person be like if those 3 were combined in one person? A muscular musician with a secret service escort!

At these decade milestones, it's interesting to Google "this day in history" as well as "turning XX today", putting your current age in for the XX, of course.

Joan Conrow said...

Oh, well in that case, a very hearty and heartfelt, "Happy Birthday, dear Anonymous, Happy Birthday to you."

And as my siblings used to say, here's a pinch to grow an inch and a sock to grow a block.....

Anonymous said...

no violence, please!

Anonymous said...


Saying that a minority cannot be guilty of race or gender bias is like saying that a jew cannot be guilty of genocide. Get a clue!!!