Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Musings: Wonderings

I got to wondering, when I saw the New York Times article about the California farmer who developed a Frankenstein pumpkin, how he would have fared on Kauai, under Councilman Tim Bynum's bill to raise land taxes on experimental crops.
The farmer experimented for years, and spent about $400,000, before he mastered the technique of growing his “pumpkinsteins” in plastic molds. This year he grew about 5,500 "pumpkin steins," and they're wholesaling for $75 each. Now that's the kind of innovative, value-added product that would make any farmer drool.

But under an ag land tax proposal — advanced by Bynum and Councilman Gary Hooser to punish the seed companies — he'd be seriously dinged for experimenting on a non-edible crop, even though it was organically grown.

And I got to wondering what would have happened to that pumpkin farmer if he hadn't been able to experiment, seeing as how, according to the NYT:

For more than a decade, he mostly lost money as a small organic farmer, growing kale, lettuce, berries, tomatoes and whatever else he could on the fertile ground, selling primarily to nearby organic markets.

Then I got to wondering whether the eco-advantages of growing those fancy pumpkins organically were offset, even negated, by the environmental cost of producing those 5,500 plastic molds. Which got me wondering whether the eco-advantages of organic cultivation are also lost when that pretty produce is tucked into a non-recyclable clamshell and flown  from South America to Kauai for the virtuous to purchase at Papaya's.

Which got me wondering about the recent letter to the editor from Ned Whitlock,  the one intended to induce more fear by claiming women who lived within a mile of fields where organophosphates are used have a 60 percent higher chance of having kids with autism, based on an apparently flawed study; the one that singled out only the seed companies for their use of such products, as if, by some miracle, they don't have the same effect when applied to a golf course, or a park; the one that ended with a call for “the county to levy a stiff tax (100 percent?) on restricted use pesticides and glyphosate products, while urging our legislators to ban chlorpyrifos pronto.”

What I wondered was whether Ned and those who reprinted his letter on Facebook with the comment, “let's get rid of those companies, nuff already,” had heard about Judge Kurren's ruling, the one that found the county does not have the authority to regulate pesticides, much less boot out an agricultural operation.

I got to wondering how it is that they still don't understand the ramifications of Bill 2491, that they gambled and lost with a legally flawed bill and now pre-emption is codified and the county's hands are seriously tied until Kurren's ruling is overturned, which is, at best, a very long shot. 

I got to wondering how it is they still think Gary and Tim are heroes when they accomplished nothing but clarifying the county can't do shit when it comes to the seed companies and their use of pesticides, which got me wondering how it is that people can be so deluded, in such denial.

Which got me wondering how any thinking, conscious, moral person could possibly support Dustin Barca's mayoral candidacy, especially when he flat-out lied at Tuesday's candidate forum, claiming no one ever wanted to shut down the seed companies, when his very own website lists campaigns that include “evict Monsanto” and "GMO-Free Kauai," and at the previous forum, he said:

For me, I have no personal gain from going after these companies except for the health and well-being of the future of our people and our natural resources. So, 500 jobs is not worth 70,000 people’s health and well-being.

Later I got to wondering how it is that people are still bemoaning the lack of action on climate change when all of us, including me, are loathe to give up our cars, our AC, our travel, our worldwide shipment of goods, our ravenous appetites.  Who, exactly, is supposed to reverse the trend of carbon emissions if not each and every one of us? And why is it, I wondered, that people think marching in the streets — especially when one must fly or drive to a protest — is an effective way of demanding action when we citizens are so reluctant to change our own behavior, our own lifestyles, even when we know how much is at stake?

Then I got to wondering why people are so frigging freaked out about Ebola, which has killed just 4,447 people worldwide, when in 2011, some 73,831 Americans died from diabetes, a disease that is largely preventable and treatable, according to the CDC, and 596,577 died from heart disease, also largely preventable, and 39,518 died from suicide, totally preventable.

Just today I got an email from Avaaz urging people to volunteer for health care in Africa with this alarmist call to action: 

If Ebola spirals further out of control, it could soon threaten us all.  This monster threatens the entire world. 

Out of the darkest places come our brightest lights. Out of the depths of the Ebola nightmare, let's bring the light of a new world of one people, connected through love, and willing to fight, and sacrifice, for each other.

It sounded an awful lot like the call to action that urged folks to fight GMOs, a "one love" movement that was supposedly seeded with aloha, yet sowed divisiveness, polarization, death threats and hate.

And that got me wondering why Ebola (and GMOs) are getting so much more media play — including TGI's super silly story on the Ebola transport plane landing in Kauai — than diabetes or heart disease or suicides. 
I mean, it seems rather bizarre, considering folks are far more likely to die of almost anything but Ebola, even in Africa, where an estimated 627,000 people — most of them children — died from malaria in 2012, a disease that is both preventable and curable.

Which got me wondering, maybe people just like to be scared?


Anonymous said...

Very interesting how this video of Barca and GMO's doesn't show the westside where the GMO's are actually grown and instead repeatedly shows the Hanalei taro fields. Why?

Anonymous said...

Joan I think you are incorrect about the agricultural research re: frankenstein pumpkins. The definition has been updated on what types of agriculture would be affected. I don't think it is about whether the product is edible. It needs to be sold to a consumer. Please provide the specific language that would prevent organic frankenstein pumpkins if you feel you are correct.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought your picture of the Franken pumpkin heads was Tim Bynum carrying the heads of the Ag owners.
He and da Hoos are really on a vendetta to get those guys.
Tim and Hooser are throwing any old anti-Ag bills out willy nilly. Some might stick.
We all know it is pure pandering to the EnviroNuts.
There is a lot of anger toward Jay as he allows Timmy and da Hoos to get away with hi-jacking the Council. He is a real disappointment and a poor leader.
As far as your comment regarding the Fistees, "I got to wondering how it is they still think Gary and Tim are heroes when they accomplished nothing but clarifying the county can't do shit", Tim and Gary have done a great deal....they have fractured a community, stopped meaningful dialogue, turned the Council into their personal vendetta playground and have totally pissed off most business owners. These 2 have done a lot...ALL bad, but still a lot.

Anonymous said...

What I can't understand is how Rapozo and Kagawa supporters also support Carvalho. Is everyone in denial that Rapazo and Kagawa block/vote no against most legislation introduced by Carvalho? When they hear Mel and Ross ranting and raving about tax reform don't they understand that they are bashing Carvalho's legislation? These are the people in severe denial.

Anonymous said...

A face on a pumpkin adds no value.

Anonymous said...

Not all people who care about the environment are nuts

Anonymous said...

i agree with 10:42 and i am sure the pumpkins can be eaten, made into pumpkin pie if the consumer wanted to--not to waste it before it rots!

Joan Conrow said...

10:42 -- Here's the language: properties that use their land primarily for science, research and development of crops, which do not directly gain monetary profit from the ultimate consumer.

Sure sounds like it would've covered pumpkinstein research, and folks who wholesale.

11:51 -- The farmer specifically said he moved to these pumpkins from watermelons because he didn't have to worry about how they tasted.

And 11:10 -- I remain a staunch defender of the environment. It's environmental groups and movements that turn me off.

Anonymous said...

11:40 Totally agree :) My 11:10 was meant to be an encouraging reminder, as I miss Joan's environmental work.

Joan Conrow said...

I just did an environmental post yesterday!

Anonymous said...

An enviro-nut was not intended to be all encompassing.
And it is arguable, that Miss Joan's venture into the TVRs put more lead into the enviro pencil (than all past attempts) by showing the Council and Mayor, that one woman with digital ink could cause an uproar. Miss Joan is a hero, but a realistic person as well. A powerful realist, and she writes real good too.

I say, that the Big land owners have done more to protect water source, water delivery, birds, plants and open space than all of the Fistees combined. Every day Big land protects the interior (and much of the Coastline) of the island by keeping the BS feel gooders out. There is a reason Kauai has so many rare birds and is Big Land. And these are Private Lands.....State lands get f*cked up by the mere involvement of people who think they know land, but have a hard time mowing their own yard. IE da Hoos and Jackpot Bynum, JoAnn and Chock.....these four know-it- alls, no nuttin' about land or water. These four can't even put a landfill into place, control rampant TVRs, allow TVRs on Ag lands, fix the bad roads, etc....Big Land don't got no Ag TVRs, these confusing land uses are direct results of the Bynum's of the world...Big land has been working the land, protecting the land for generations.
Tim can't even control his own Fistee pencil throwing antics for one Council session.

Anonymous said...

Joan I liked the first part of yesterday's post about cess pools, but then it just turned into a reason to bash those who haven't made a big enough "stink" about it so far. I don't think that's fair. You have not been a champion of EVERY environmental cause because one person cannot address every issue at once and you also need support of others to make effective change. Just like you have chosen to strongly pursue TVR violations, others have pursued pesticide violations. You still claim to be an environmentalist even though you did not pursue county pesticide regulation. Are those that have not actively pursued cess pool regulation then excluded as environmentalist?

Joan Conrow said...

My point was that Ohana O Kauai should clean up their own back yard, or at least show some interest in what's happening in it. If you look at my old posts you'll find I've championed a very wide range of environmental issues, so people can be up on more than just one.

And actually I did pursue county pesticide regulation, which would have been the smart place to start. But then Gary went off on his own tangent and focused just on the Big 5 and GMOs and we lost in court.

Anonymous said...

Saw Pleuger get sentenced today. I was actually in the courtroom. Slap on the wrist but at least Valenciano didn't take the 350,000 he tried to drop, er bribe the court with. Watching him get hauled off to prison: Priceless.

Beware the rest of you. Karma is a bitch and it will always catch up with you. The days of big ag and big land owners on Kaua'i swingin their big sticks around and acting like they own the joint, with a bribe here, some lost paperwork here, some good ol boy nudging there is over.

When the people say you effed up you effed up and the people are like pitbulls. They don't give up.

You can call people that care about the environment nuts, but most on this planet do care. That makes Joan nuts too, since she also cares for the environment.

That is just Blue Shirt mentality Philosophy. Stray an inch from their self prescribed rhetoric, and they call you an enviro-nut.

Justice and truth will always rule the day. No matter how long it takes to do it.

Anonymous said...

These people are all useless nuts.

Anonymous said...

1:10 I like the way you think. Good points all around.

Anonymous said...

I'm always fascinated at how people seems to always gravitate to extremes. Evil this or corrupt that. But I think this is what less than astute people think is the way one should approach any issue. Claim that the other side is entirely on one end or the other without the wit to realized than most people are actually somewhere in the middle. I think this is the mistake that Hooser/Bynum made in that they thought that the majority of Kauaians were extreme environmentalists. Extremists think everyone else is extreme.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Kusaka in prison ?

Anonymous said...

A bit of comedy for the morning

Unknown said...

I need to set the cesspool record straight for Realtors on Kauai. Kauai had the foresight to have stopped allowing cesspools years ago or we would be facing a bigger problem like the Big Island that still allows them today. I don't know where the concept came from that Realtors are opposed to getting rid of cesspools (unless it was The Garden Island taking information out of context to create a controversy) because that is not true. What is true is that what is proposed by the Dept. of Health, which is point of sale replacement is not a good idea. We average 150 sales per year that have cesspools. This info is taken from MLS records. There are approximately 14,000 cesspools on Kauai. That equates to 93 years if all cesspool properties were to be sold and changed. Then throw into that equation the problems that point of sale will create with lenders, lower end and older homes. Primarily hurting those that can least afford it. We want cesspools gone. We just believe there is a better way to do it than point of sale. What I personally would like to see, as a Realtor, is a 10 year deadline to get rid of all cesspools. First focusing on the most critical areas that have been identified. I would like to see no interest or low interest loans so that the replacement can take place prior to a sale and not create withholding issues for lenders. The cost of replacement is $20,000 to $30,000 per property. The smaller lots, under 10,000 sq. ft., must use a system that fits down into the cesspool that now costs $30,000. You can see how that may be cost prohibitive for some families. There should also be tax credits just like solar. Last but not least there has to be enforcement. I think that the Dept. of Health feels it will be easy to monitor at point of sale. Though monitoring may be easier 1) It will not get the job done in a timely manner and 2) we need to offer some assistance for those that were complying with the law when they built their homes and not penalize those that can least afford it. I am hoping you can assist us in setting the record straight and work with us in getting those areas done that were identified by the UH study as critical. I have loved your blog and know you play a critical roll in our information food chain. I hate to see reporting for sensationalism. If you want to know what the Realtors think, call us. F.Lee Morey, PB

Joan Conrow said...

Thank you for your comment and the clarification. I'll revisit this issue in a post so readers who may not see this comment can better understand the Realtors concerns.