Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Musings: Occupy Da `Aina

Last night I went out and looked up to see a fattening half moon surrounded by a golden halo, the kind you find in pictures of saints, and next to it, a fiery dot — Mars. The sight served as a reminder of the great planet action in store for us this month. And then this morning, rainbows and a 5-gallon bucket full of gardenias, just in time for May Day. Make like a bee and Occupy flowers!

Some have called for a May 1st general strike — no work, no school, no shopping. I can understand the “no shopping” bit, since our consumer culture is directly linked to fattening corporate coffers and crashing ecosystems. A new study correlates “above-trend world GDP with greater increases in CO2 concentrations,” prompting one of the authors to state:

If ‘business as usual’ conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2,” says Tapia Granados, who is a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

Which is why we ain't gonna be reducing atmospheric levels of CO2. Because people want not just business as usual, but even more robust business than usual.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual in terms of the mainstream media reporting bogus stories. I'm specifically referencing two recent pieces about Hanalei: a Hawaii News Now report about native water birds supposedly destroying the taro there, and yesterday's front page story in The Garden Island about toxic heavy metals in the river and bay.

I'll start with toxins piece. It was based on information from Terry Lilley, who seems to share the Kardashian's love of publicity, even if it means he has to manufacture threats. In this case, he claims his organization — whose board is led by boatyard owner Michael Sheehan — financed a mud study that found high levels of arsenic, barium, chromium and lead. This prompted Terry, a self-proclaimed marine biologist with no credentials or training, to sound the alarm:

We have a major problem that needs to be fixed.”

Dr. Carl Berg, a bonafide marine biologist who regularly conducts water sampling around the island, responded to Terry with an email that read, in part:

2. These  values are lower than those reported in the scientific paper done by USGS and myself way back in 2001 which you should have read by now (attached) and quoted. We looked at water, sediment and tissues for a wide range of metals and organic compounds.
3. Our values were below toxicity levels of ecological concern.
4.They were below EPA "probable adverse effects level" for aquatic organisms. Your single values are even less.

And Maka`ala Ka`aumoana, executive director of the Hanalei Watershed Hui, sent out an email stating:

The Hanalei Watershed Hui has confirmed with Hawaii Department of Health Environmental Health Administration Deputy Director, Gary Gill (586-4424), that the analysis report of recent sampling in the Hanalei area as reported by Mr. Terry Lilley appears to reflect “background levels” of these substances often found in the environment in Hawaii.

And then there was the similarly shibai taro piece. It has Rodney Haraguchi, who pays just $25 per acre to farm in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, blaming endangered native water birds for crop losses. Rodney regularly makes this claim, threatening taro eaters with higher prices if something isn't done.

But since he's Japanese, and supports GMO taro, he doesn't hold much sway with the Hawaiian community. For this he trotted out Haunani Pacheco, who claims her family has been farming taro for 100 years. Well, Haunani also happens to be married to Gary, who serves on the board of Rodney's historic rice mill, so she's not exactly an impartial source.

Never mind that Rodney could go farm at Mahaulepu if he doesn't like the refuge, or that his own heavy chem operations and the winter floods might have something to do with his crop losses. 

And there's absolutely no mention at all that the perennial taro shortage is most likely due to the fact that many acres of viable taro land lie fallow because no will or can them. This includes the loi behind the Hanalei Shopping Center, where nearly all the farmers were inexplicably evicted by Hanalei Poi on behalf of the Wilcox family. Now fertile loi that once produced copious amounts of taro is overgrown with trash trees. And Rodney never said a word while all this was going down.

Yeah, just blame it on the birds. Cause we all know humans can't be at fault.

Forget the streets and the banks. Occupy da `aina.


Anonymous said...

Mahalo for occupying da narrative! In the face of the self-seving culture foisted upon Hawai'i we must show everyone we all occupy da 'aina.

Kalamaika`i said...

Where does Haunani Pacheco's family raise taro? Till today? Yeah, Rodney trooped out with TV/Media crews in tow to whine about the birds on tv news last week. He doesn't only support GMO, he actively engages in it and THAT'S why his kalo is turning to crap. You can't dick around with Haloa and expect him to malama you in return. We were raised to respect Haloa as the hiapo, the firstborn and "older brother" who has sustained us and our `ohana for generations. Tsa! Rodney pays $25/acre in Hanalei? OMG!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Maka'ala Kaaumoana one of these fake Hawaiians just because she married one? There's something seriously wrong with Hanalei Bay. It's gotten murkier over the years.

As far as Haraguchi's GMO taro, thanks for the heads up. Now I know I don't want to eat any of it at all.

Anonymous said...

All those issues, in fact ALL SUCH ISSUES pale in comparison to what we will be facing if, and it seems most likely when reactor #4 goes into meltdown in Fukushima Japan. While reactors 1,2 and 3 are in full meltdown mode spewing huge amounts of radiation into the world, reactor 4 has 1,565 fuel rods of the most toxic radioactive type sitting in a cracked and damaged cooling tank that is a small earthquake away from failing, causing a nuclear disaster of truly "Biblical" proportions and there seems to be no easy way or any way whatsoever to remedy the situation.

Anonymous said...

RE the toxins in Hanalei blurb:
1. Trashing people (i.e. Lilley and Sheehan) has no place in a respectful discussion of the issues. Why say "Lilley is a self proclaimed marine bilogist with no credentials or training" when a quick google search shows a B.S. degree in Biology from Cal Poly SLO and a long career in marine science. A discredit of research I'll listen to, but this one was a classic example of trashing a person to trash the research results. And, Lilley "shares a love of publicity" because he has tons of experience in ocean filmmaking? Come-on. Is the reseach valid or not? That's what we all want to know. And since Sheehan is on the Board of the Heritage River Foundation we should discount the research? Pul-ease! Sheehan was a founder of Hale Opio; should we trash that organization too? Snide innuendos on character have no place in a discussion on whether there is or is not high levels of arsenic in the mud sediments of the Hanalei River Mouth. Personally, I don't know either Lilley or Sheehan and I don't know whether the research is valid. But I'm not going to trash the messenger because someone doesn't like the message. Seems to me that a little more focus on facts and not personal digs is what is needed here.

And finally, aren't we all above the slam about "fake Hawaiians?" If Makaala marries a Hawaiian, so what? The issue is arsenic in the river mouth and bay - not how much blood quantum someone has or doesn't have. Me thinks it's far too easy (and a cheap shot at best) to trash a person to discredit a theory, fact, or finding. Is there junk in the mud samples or not?

Anonymous said...

Hanalei Bay does look worse than a few years ago, toxins or not. Something is causing it. What is wrong by drawing attention to it?

Anonymous said...

Lilley research showed recent arsenic levels of 29mg/kg in the mud at Hanalei river mouth. The USGS survey in 2001 showed 12mg/kg in the mud at Hanalei River Mouth. How is that lower? And more importantly, what is the accepted or preferred levels for arsenic? Are there real research studies for Gills statement that the Lilley arsenic levels are at "reasonable background levels" for what is often found in the Hawaii environment? With recent budget cutbacks, are there really recent studies of "average arsenic" levels in the diverse Hawaii environment? Arsenic research studies in specific rivermouths in New Zealand showed signficant variation by month and by site - is that possible here too? A little more info would be helpful (and per above) a little less character assassination wouldn't hurt either. As in: a discussion on the real impact of bird damages on taro and the amount of chem operations used for taro seem a lot more important than the ethnicity of Mr. Haraguchi and/or who Haunani is married to(!). Or else this starts to read like a gossip sheet instead of a very important source for alternative info.

Joan Conrow said...

To Anon. 12:12 The bio I found on Terry says he has a degree in field biology and was a pro surfer, SCUBA diver, author, photographer, and reptile zoo director.

So I stand by my characterization of him as a self-proclaimed marine biologist.

Since I'm on here, I'd also like to respond to the other comments and say I don't believe Rodney is growing GMO taro. But he'd like to.

KamaKele said...

The guy sounds like he's trying to make mountains out of molehills. Is there any credence to his statements that people were getting sick and marine life is dying around the area?

Anonymous said...

So with this enlightening information Sheehan has decided to halt all boating actions (to further protect the environment) and will be donating his 'contaminated' land to the county? Didn't this guy once claim Black Pot Beach was his due to the deposited soil coming from his property?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't most of his taro go to Honolulu Poi Co.that supports GMO kalo? If he's worried about poi shortages due to crop losses perhaps he should grow different varieties to better resist a wipe out from disease vs going the genetically modified route. We wouldn't have poi shortages if water diversion by big landowners of former plantation land stopped and small farmers could grow kalo as in east Maui. We are too susceptible when most of our kalo production comes from one location. Auwe to rodney and gary for disrespecting the cultural values surrounding kalo. Its not just business...do what is pono.