I was outside at about 4 a.m. — it was Koko's idea, not Paele's or mine — and once the sleep left my eyes I was entranced by the stars, so long hidden by clouds. I could only discern Triangle, pointing southwest, before the curtain was drawn and the overcast returned and now, four hours later on this new moon morning, raindrops are glistening on the ironwood needles.
You probably didn't realize this, but it's officially “Hawaii Pollinator Week,” as in the guv has recognized the value of honey bees, and the fact that they're declining, which, as the proclamation proclaims, “is a threat to the agricultural economy across the state.”
Not to mention all the backyard fruit that we take for granted here in the Islands, and the overall fabric of life. So he's gonna give some money — small kine, cuz the Lege has more important stuff to fund, ya know — to the UH for bee hive research, which is grand. But what if we dig just a little bit deeper, into some of the causes of this decline, with all arrows pointing toward chemicals, including those used by the seed companies that presently, and unfortunately, pretty much comprise the agricultural economy of this state?
Lately, I've become increasingly annoyed whenever I see the word “sustainability,” and not just because it's used ad ad nauseam. It's more because it is a word that has been used so carelessly, and wrongly, that is has been rendered meaningless, when it has a perfectly good definition: Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment.
Two recent examples of sustainability shibai: the 769-unit Kapaa Highlands II project proposed near Kapaa middle school is being billed as a “sustainable community,” even though it takes land out of agriculture. The developer apparently gave it this designation because a solar facility has already been built on one part of the land, the homes will have energy-efficient light fixtures, and bikeways and walkways will lead to a newly-built county swimming pool and a commercial center. Sorry, but there's a bit more to sustainability than that.
Then there's the county's energy sustainability plan, which is supposed to chart the course for Kauai to achieve total energy sustainability by 2030. Some of the “tips” Ben Sullivan recently shared to help us get there — buy an electric car, install solar water heaters, upgrade appliances — are based on the inherently unsustainable actions of purchasing stuff elsewhere and shipping it here. While some of the other pointers — wash clothes in cold water and hang them on the line, take the bus — would result in some valid energy savings, they aren't going to get us to that goal.
I'm a big fan of conservation, and we all can do our part, the plan totally ignores the giant unsustainable elephant in the room: tourism.
Even as the county is urging us to carpool and minimize unnecessary trips, we have some 25,000 visitors daily on this island piloting rental cars — many of them gas guzzlers — and driving around to see the sights. As the county pushes us to use microwaves to heat small portions of food, the air conditioning is billowing out of shops and resorts that cater to tourists.
Consider this: the Hyatt, which is one of the “greenest” hotels on the island, with a number of energy saving measures in place, is still burning some $300,000 worth of electricity each and every month — or the equivalent of about 2,700 households like mine. And that doesn't include the liquid propane that heats all of its hot water.
Yet this sort of information — and the county's desire to keep expanding unsustainable tourism — is missing from the discussion on energy awareness. So long as it is, we are never going to achieve sustainability, much less within 18 years, no matter how many towels we hang on the line.
Hydro Electricity has always been cheaper than Solar and Oil. If we can use solar, wind, hydro, and oil to help reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our costs then we are moving in the right direction. We need Balance to have a sustainable future.
sustainability is just one of those buzzwords that gets tossed around in every day conversation on this island. same goes for ethics, sunshine, and aloha.
The county should lease the lands that they got near the airport as gardens for farmers markets. KCC has leaders that could help Kauai move to a more food sustainable community. We cannot put all of our eggs in the tourism basket, have we not learned from the collapse of the banks, housing markets, inflation of food prices, gas, electricity, travel and other expenses. I guest most don't remember what a hurricane did or can do to us in all aspects of life.
MLK had a dream so why can't we live it the sustainability dream. It's because all men are evil and the good are too busy, that's why our dream must not be lost. We must fight and never give up.
During the Depression the aveage American citizen realized that they cannot trust or rely on their own government. In the past 50 years America has had a recession in every decade, something is starting to get suspicious about how our country is being Controlled. Our County is trying to replicate the demise.
Ha ha! You got it right Joan! I'm tired of the abuse of the word "sustainability" too. Developers are generally the worst abusers. And you're right, tourists need to be reined in! Put them on a bus instead of clogging up our roads!
Easy put a cap on rental cars! The county use to have a cap but greed like always changes people and infects their decisions.
at 9:25 AM
In what universe does 2700 homes average $111/month electricity?? We (family of 4) live modestly with CFL's, no AC, etc and our electric bill is 300-350/month. I blame our stupid electric water heater but landlord makes that call.
The reference was to "2,700 households like mine" -- as in one person. I recognize larger households have bigger bills. But still, I hope you got my point: resorts suck a lot of energy!
Just read TGI and even the friendship house has a garden like KCCC. Too bad we dont have smarter people in government. Stop hiring your cousins, friends, family, girlfriends, fathers girlfriends, and the rest of the incompetents.
Unplug all of your devices when not in use. Everything that is not in use! If you have it plugged in it generates electricity. Get energy star appliances and you can also use garden solar lights for your house lighting. Dry your close on lines or at laundry mats and use hot water sparingly. You will save 100 dollars a month 1,200 Dollars a yr, I did.
Where's the money going to come from if you significantly reduce tourism?
People earning on-island money from on-island employers, spending on-island money to buy on-island goods (what there is of them...mostly off-island goods being bought).
Just circulating the same stuff.
BTW - Castle & Cook is selling the island of Lanai. Maybe they could use the money to buy Kauai and solve all this BS.
Tourism dollars are good but a diversified economy is great for everyone. Just saying as a parent would you just buy one item and force feed your children that everyday or would you have a different assortment of foods to keep your family healthy, happy and strong. Dont buy into the junk that their feeding you, choice is what they dont want you to have. Say No to GMO
You are right....Joan.
Sustainability has become a "cheap" buzz word. Means nothing any more just like the word "natural"....
oil is natural.
Its all smoke and mirrors in politics....hypocrisy as usual.
No bees....no food.
Got pesticides and GMO....got no bees? Duh? Wonder why? Such a mystery. Let investigate if at the U of H.
Look to the big money donors for the answer... that support our governor and the local bureaucrats .... such as Monsanto and company.....the key to the bee decline is sitting in our own backyards.
The basic, fundamental, fact is that Hawaii will never have sustainablity when it is dependent on fossil fuels to transport tourists here or to support the military ships, vehicles, airplanes.
The total structure of the Hawaii economy is based upon fossil fuels, which are not inherently sustainable.
We need to focus on being self sufficient and that will lead to sustainability.
I believe it is impossible for the state of Hawaii to become self-sufficient given the size of resident population coupled with the additional average size of the tourist population, which cannot be "legislated away"...it's a free country, you know...
We will always, always be tied to out-of-state providers regardless of the oil situation.
There are now nuke-powered military ships. What makes you think that the future will not hold nuke-powered commercial freight vessels and possibly passenger vessels?
We can stop/limit the endless development of infrastructure to accomodate tourism to control numbers. Hotels should be "encouraged" to provide shuttle services for their guests to/from airport and bus routes could be added to service tourist destinations. Capping the number of car rentals would facilitate usage of buses/shuttles. Limiting the number of vehicles per household would encourage more bus ridership, increasing routes/hours of service. Changes in mindset and behavior won't happen overnight but we should be weaning ourselves gradually from our over-dependence in preparation for the future when we won't have a choice!
Ae, tourism (a jewel of the economic dependence forced on Hawaiians) is one eye of the American monster, the other being the military and all its attendent evils. Neither one is sustainable.
Just why aren't both sustainable, if one defines "sustainable" as including off-island supply lines?
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